Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.
COVID has had quite the impact on our lives over the past two and half years. Everything has changed. The way we work. The way we live. And yes, the way we watch TV.
Being stuck at home opened up the world of television to everyone during the pandemic. It was the primary form of outside entertainment and a bridge into the real world. It provided a much-needed escape. And there were plenty of options to explore.
I watch a lot of TV, but there were certain shows that became my COVID shows. I would not have otherwise indulged in these programs, but I had more time and was willing to explore. With COVID now slowly shifting into our rear-view mirrors, those programs remain with us within that context.
Manifest was one of the most popular COVID shows, and it was rescued by fans to return for a fourth and final season on Netflix this Friday. A Lost wannabe that had aired on NBC, Manifest is an intriguing supernatural mystery that got more and more convoluted as its three seasons marched on. Still, I wanted to know what happened to Flight 828 and its passengers who landed seemingly unchanged after five years on the ground had passed by.
Did the storylines get more ridiculous? Of course, they did. Were there never-ending new passenger twists to explore? It's a big plane. Did the supernatural leave opportunities to take the plot to ridiculous places? Absolutely. Was it entertaining and able to distract us from what was going on in the real world? You betcha, and that's the show’s greatest strength.
NBC cancelled Manifest last summer, but the series fate mirrored its plot as it was resurrected by Netflix for a fourth season. Season 3 left things in total chaos with a fatal stabbing, a baby kidnapping, a child who aged 5 years, and another disappearing plane. There's always been plenty of weirdness going on with Flight 828.
I'm glad to report that the main cast of characters is back, and the 828'ers continued to be praised and persecuted as the 2024 death date draws near. Two years have passed, but the show flashes back to the fateful final night of the last season and brings everyone up to speed relatively quickly. What follows is more of the same, the epitome of comfort TV.
Manifest’s biggest challenge will be seeing if anyone cares now that much of the population is adjusting back to "normal" living. 15 months doesn't seem like a long time, but in TV terms it's a lengthy hiatus. This season isn’t likely to win any Emmys, but it will satisfy those who invested in the first three seasons.
I continue to be entertained by Manifest, but if Ben and Michaela don't have any explanations by the end of this fourth and final season, it will feel like I circled for a long time on Flight 828 and never landed.
Here’s what else is worth watching on TV this week…
Thursday, November 3rd
The documentary on the last surviving Blockbuster Video store in Bend, Oregon was a good watch. Now here's a workplace comedy led by Randall Park that is set in this timeless location. Expect many "Be Kind, Rewind" and other nostalgic jokes as we yearn for a time where VHS tapes and late fees dominated home entertainment.
Sunday, November 6th 9:00 PM ET
Phil Spector is a legendary music producer who created the infamous "wall of sound"… and that's the least interesting thing about him. This four-part docuseries focuses on his enigmatic life and eventual murder trial as it attempts to make sense of the man behind the music. Watch trailer.
Inside Man (Netflix) – A classic UK murder mystery revolving around a death row inmate and those British townspeople who just can't stay out of trouble. Monday. Watch trailer.
THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)
The Independent (Peacock) – Political thriller with one female and one male groundbreaking candidate vying for the Presidency and dealing with the press. Wednesday.
Dangerous Liasions (Starz) – Yet another incarnation of this 18th-century novel that is set in Paris. Sunday at 9p ET. Watch trailer.
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)
This Week's Pick: Warrior (HBO Max) - Based on a story by Bruce Lee, 19th-century San Francisco is the backdrop for Chinatown wars between those trying to assimilate in America. The action is top notch and the struggles over cultural identity in an unforgiving city resonate sharply. Cinemax stopped producing originals, but a third season is on its way courtesy of HBO Max.
Oz (HBO Max)
Monty Python's Flying Circus (Netflix)
It's Garry Shandling's Show (Prime Video)
The Office (UK) (Hulu)
The Prisoner (Prime Video)
The Twilight Zone (Paramount+)
Black Mirror (Netflix)
The Leftovers (HBO Max)
Deadwood (HBO Max)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
Downton Abbey (Peacock)
Banshee (HBO Max)
Police Squad! (Prime Video)
Party Down (Starz)
The Great (Hulu)
Magic City (Peacock)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Prime Video)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Get vaccinated and boosted. Stay healthy and safe!
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.
TOPICS: Manifest, NBC, Netflix