Your TV GPS, Globe critic Matthew Gilbert’s guide to what’s on television, appears at the beginning of each week at BostonGlobe.com. Today’s column covers Aug. 26-Sept. 1.
FAREWELL TO ENDINGS
I guess I’m evolving. For a long, long time, I was inclined to dislike prequel, sequel, and revival series, simply because they are so often created to milk the financial potential of the source material. Generally, the sequel or prequel didn’t need to be written; the story did not need to be told. But the show was made anyway, as a kind of fan service.
I have one title for you: “AfterMASH.” And I have another: “The Carrie Diaries.”
But it seems as though reboot fever isn’t a fever anymore. It’s just the way TV and the rest of pop culture operate now. Shows never really end; they just return to TV in different iterations, with no particular shame attached to them. That’s the way it is, from the lousy shows to the good ones.
“Breaking Bad” is on my mind. One of the finest TV dramas of all time has spawned a beloved prequel series, “Better Call Saul,” and, coming to Netflix on Oct. 11, a sequel movie called “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.”
The sequel movie, written and directed by “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan, is about Jesse Pinkman right after the events of the (supposed) series finale. Here’s the Netflix summary: “In the wake of his dramatic escape from captivity, Jesse must come to terms with his past in order to forge some kind of future.” There’s no word yet on whether other “Breaking Bad” characters, including those played by Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, or Bryan Cranston, will appear in the movie. “All I can say, I think people will be really happy with what they see,” Paul told the New York Times.
Meanwhile, a prequel series to another one of TV’s best-ever dramas, “The Sopranos,” is also on the way — in this case, to movie theaters. Called “The Many Saints of Newark,” and set in the 1960s, it will be released in September 2020. And then the “Downton Abbey” movie will be in theaters on Sept. 20.
Next thing you know, we’ll be hearing about a sequel series to that other great modern drama series, “Mad Men,” called “Sally!” or “Blankenship: The Early Years,” or “Not Great, Bob: A Pete Campbell Mystery.”
So I’m going to stop with the stink eye when I watch these revisitations. It’s time for me to drop my bias. I hereby swear that I will no longer automatically look down on a show or movie sequel, prequel, or revival. I will no longer presume that the end is really the end.
WHAT I’M WATCHING THIS WEEK
1. Most awards shows double as product pushers. Yes, sure, such and such an organization is honoring those who contribute to the art of such and such. On that level, it is about merit and vision and blah-bedy-blah-blah-bloh. But for the most part, they are amazing promotional opportunities, where industry people get to sell their movies and albums and TV shows and where stars get to expand their brands. And no awards show is more purely promotional than the “MTV Video Music Awards,” which airs on Monday at 8 p.m. on MTV and VH1 (the MTV preshow is at 7). Comic Sebastian Maniscalco is hosting from Newark’s Prudential Center, with performers including Taylor Swift, Lil Nas X, Lizzo, H.E.R., Jonas Brothers, and Shawn Mendes.
2. “Dave Chappelle: Sticks and Stones” is the latest release in Netflix’s never-ending stream of stand-up specials. The comedian takes on gun culture and celebrity scandals in his Atlanta set, which will be released on Monday. It’s Chappelle’s fifth Netflix special, and it arrives two months before he will be honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
3. Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne costar in a new Amazon series called “Carnival Row,” due Friday. It’s a Victorian fantasy world filled with mythological immigrant creatures who are controlled out of public fear. Hmm. Sounds very allegorical. Bloom is a human detective, and Delevingne is a fairy, and I am so totally going to watch the first episode out of obligation but I don’t feel optimistic.
4. The first season of the dark fantasy series “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” is available on Netflix Friday. It’s a prequel show to the 1982 Jim Henson/Frank Oz movie “The Dark Crystal,” with power-hungry overlords on the planet Thra. The voices behind the puppets are pretty impressive. Here are some of them: Alicia Vikander, Andy Samberg, Awkwafina, Harvey Fierstein, Helena Bonham Carter, Keegan-Michael Key, Lena Headey, Mark Hamill, and Sigourney Weaver.
5. “Suits” is in the middle of its final season, and USA is going to re-air the show’s pilot on Wednesday at 9 p.m. featuring special cast interviews. Why? Well to bring fans back to where it all started, of course. Oh yeah, and to maybe bring in some lookyloos who remember that Meghan Markle is in the pilot.
6. It got mixed reviews when it aired in the U.K. in 2016-17, but Ovation is bringing us Rowan Atkinson’s take on George Simenon’s detective “Maigret” nonetheless. The channel will air two two-episode seasons of the mystery series in the coming weeks, set in 1950s Paris, with Fiona Shaw, Lucy Cohu, and Shaun Dingwall also in the cast. Mr. Bean with a pipe premieres Sunday at 7 p.m.
“Falling Inn Love”
A romantic comedy starring Christina Milian and Adam Demos. Netflix, Thursday
“Jay Leno’s Garage”
The show returns with guest Kevin Hart. CNBC, Wednesday, 10 p.m.
In this new series, Jason Bolden and Adair Curtis of JSN Studio connect famous clientele with the chic-est looks. Neflix, Friday
“What Just Happened??!”
Fred Savage’s pretend aftershow ends its first season. Fox, Sunday, 9:30 p.m.
DISNEY+ VS. Binge-Watching
Disney+ is coming at us fast. The new streaming service is set to launch on Nov. 12, with all kinds of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and 20th Century Fox goodies.
There will also be original Disney+ series ready at the launch, including “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” a deep dive into Meta-ville that follows a group of students getting ready for their school’s production of “High School Musical,” and “The Mandalorian,” the first live-action “Star Wars” TV series, set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. Also ready on Nov. 12: The nonfiction series “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” and “Encore,” on which Kristen Bell reunites castmates from high school musicals.
Here’s the thing: Disney+ is going to release episodes of its new shows weekly. The service will make only one episode available per week, flying in the face of the trend toward season-binging. Sure, if you wait until the entire season airs, you can go back and binge your heart out. But initially, you’ll need to wait seven days in between each episode.
I’m a little surprised, since viewers don’t tend to want to wait; waiting is so old school. So is savoring episodes. It’s all about speed. And I’m a little pleased, because I prefer the weekly model, especially when it comes to dramas. I like to let each episode breathe before rushing into the next.