Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone who’s ready for a take on the tragic plane crash trope that doesn’t owe anything to “Lost.”
As Jason Katims tells staff writer Yvonne Villarreal in this week’s Guest Spot, his new series, “Dear Edward,” may begin with a similar animating incident as Damon Lindelof’s broadcast classic and successors like “Manifest” and “Yellowjackets,” but — as will be no surprise to Jason Katims fans — goes in a very different dramatic direction.
Also in Screen Gab No. 69, a tribute to the original “Addams Family,” a livestream of a Broadway show, a plea to catch up with HBO’s “The Last of Us,” a reader recommendation and more. Plus, we want to know what you’re watching! Pretend we’re at the water cooler and give us your review of a TV show or streaming movie you’ve loved and it may be included in a future edition of Screen Gab. (Submissions should be approximately 100 to 150 words and sent to email@example.com with your name and location.)
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Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times
With the Netflix series “Wednesday” creating a stir, and with the recent death of Lisa Loring, the first actor to play the character, let me direct you to where it all began: the great mid-1960s “The Addams Family” (Pluto TV, some episodes on YouTube), the only iteration that Charles Addams, on whose single-panel New Yorker cartoons the series is based, had anything to do with. It’s where the characters got their names and (beyond being creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky and altogether ooky) their personae, and where Thing and Cousin Itt were born. The light-is-dark/dark-is-light jokes notwithstanding, the tone is buoyant. The sitcom Addamses are a loving family, welcoming to the strangers who often leave their house in a state of nervous exhaustion, and a model to viewers who might consider themselves more eccentric than normal. And unlike some of her grim, deadpan successors, Loring’s Wednesday is a polite, happy little girl who just happens to like decapitating her dolls. Only 6 when she took on the role, Loring speaks with precision, outlining each word as she carefully places it in a sentence — it’s her voice I associate with the phrase “Thank you, Thing.” But she can also cut loose and dance. All later Wednesdays, however they spin the character, owe her a debt, and she’ll forever be my favorite. —Robert Lloyd
I can now say that I’ve watched a Broadway show while snacking on chips and cuddling with my dog! All because performances of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Between Riverside and Crazy” are currently being livestreamed through Feb. 12. The profanity-packed dark comedy goes inside the rent-controlled apartment of Walter, a former New York City cop (Stephen McKinley Henderson) who was shot by a co-worker and is now being pressured to accept a payout from the city. Among the show’s ensemble cast: Common, making his Broadway debut as Walter’s frustrated son. (Each simulcast — matinee or evening — is $68, a relatively high price in comparison to most Screen Gab recommendations. But remember, this one’s live every time, intermission and all.) —Ashley Lee
Everything you need to know about the film or TV series everyone’s talking about
It seems silly to tout one of the hottest shows going, but, Dear Reader, I urge you to binge the first three episodes of “The Last of Us” (HBO, HBO Max) — right now! — to allow time to pick yourself off the floor before this week’s return to Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie’s (Bella Ramsey) harrowing road trip in Sunday’s fourth episode.
No spoilers ever, but Episode 3, the near-standalone “Long, Long Time,” demonstrates the versatility, depth of writing and fully realized performances that set this series apart from most postapocalyptic fare — much less all other video game-inspired movies and TV. Nick Offerman had better win an Emmy for it, or fans’ fury will make cordyceps look like athlete’s foot. His character’s journey is a thing of beauty, executed with a disarming mix of strength and fragility by an undersung veteran actor. Here’s your chance to find out what everyone’s talking about. So do it! —Michael Ordoña
A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching
It’s easy to think the premise for the latest TV series from Jason Katims, the TV writer behind heartfelt shows like “Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood” and “As We See It,” feels all too familiar: A plane full of passengers bound for Los Angeles from New York City crashes, with just one survivor amid the wreckage. But if you know Katims’ work, you know that “Dear Edward,” premiering Friday on Apple TV+, isn’t run through with conspiracy theories like recent dramas “Yellowjackets” and “Manifest.” Based on the novel by Ann Napolitano, the series is a study of grief that brings together the stories of the many people who lost a loved one on the flight as they try to move forward; and as the lone survivor of the crash, 12-year-old Edward (Colin O’Brien) — who had been traveling with his mother, father and older brother — struggles to settle into life with his aunt and her husband. Katims stopped by Screen Gab to discuss reuniting with “Friday Night Lights” alumna Connie Britton for the project, what he’s watching and more. —Yvonne Villarreal
“Dear Edward” author Ann Napolitano has said that the book was inspired by the true story of Ruben Van Assouw, the sole survivor of a plane crash in 2010. What was it about its premise — moving through personal tragedy and finding meaning in that experience — that grabbed you?
I was so moved by Ann’s book and that’s what grabbed me. For a show, I always think about it as moving forward — so what hooked me into doing an adaptation was the idea of looking at how this tragedy affects a tapestry of people who grieve in different ways. I was excited by the notion of resilience, of the power of the human spirit to go on even when something unfathomable happens. I was excited about the idea of these people who never would have met each other becoming essential to each other. Ultimately, I think of the show as a show about human connection more than a show about grief.
Plane crashes have been used as a storytelling catalyst on TV for years — “Lost,” “Yellowjackets” and “Manifest” are just some examples. Why do you think that premise has made for such compelling drama? And did you worry how a more grounded, less conspiracy theory-heavy approach would stand out against the rest?
Plane crashes have been the launching point of some great dramas, but I relate “Dear Edward” more to something like that movie “Fearless” than a show like “Lost.” It’s really a character story that gets launched through this tragedy. The plane crash launches a show about a group of people thrown together by circumstance who change each other’s lives forever. The show is born from tragedy but to me is really about hope and resilience.
This project reunites you with “Friday Night Lights” star Connie Britton. She plays Dee Dee, a wealthy wife and mother who loses her husband in the crash. What made this the perfect project to make that call to her?
There was something about the character of Dee Dee that really charmed me. Just the thought of Connie playing the role deepened [it] for me. I imagined her doling out those cupcakes and hugging people, and then imagined her being gutted when she learned that she had been deceived for so many years by a man she thought she knew. … We have a collaborative process and a shorthand and we fell right back into that. This was such a vastly different character than Tami Taylor, and in a way that was freeing for both of us. We never had to compare one role to the other.
What have you watched recently that you are recommending to everyone you know?
“The Great” [Hulu] has been the show I have loved recently. It’s so bold and funny and surprising. The tone is so unique — in one sense broad and at times bawdy, and yet you feel as deeply for those characters as you do in any show. Another show: Over the holiday I had COVID and I finally binged “The Wire” [HBO Max] after thousands of people have expressed such contempt for me for never watching it. They were right to feel contempt. The show is stunning and brilliant. And I thank it for getting me through COVID.
What’s your go-to “comfort watch,” the movie or TV show you go back to again and again?
My comfort watch shows are comedies, I guess because I’m not evaluating and dissecting as intensely as when I watch dramas. I can lose myself more easily in them. For many years it was “The Office” [Peacock]. Lately, I’ve been rotating between “Curb Your Enthusiasm” [HBO Max] and “Schitt’s Creek” [Hulu]. I don’t know what it is about certain shows that you can watch them over and over. I wish I knew — I’d make one of them.
Recommendations from Screen Gab readers
I recommend “Workin’ Moms” on Netflix (originally CBC Canada), all seven seasons. It’s very true to life, outrageously funny — especially the teen daughter — and was produced by the two stars (and real-life spouses), Phillip Sternberg and creator Catherine Reitman, who are terrific actors too.
Listings coordinator Matt Cooper highlights the TV shows and streaming movies to keep an eye on
Fri., Feb. 3
“Children Ruin Everything” (Roku): Those hapless breeders from north of the border are back in new episodes of this Canadian sitcom.
“Dear Edward” (Apple TV+): A young boy finds himself the sole survivor of a plane crash that claimed the lives of his entire family in this new drama based the Ann Napolitano bestseller. With Connie Britton and “OITNB’s” Taylor Schilling.
“Harlem” (Prime Video): This comedy drama about four longtime gal pals trying to have it all in NYC returns for a second season. Meagan Good stars.
“Rowdy” (Freevee): Get up close and personal with two-time NASCAR champ Kyle Busch in this new sports doc.
“Stand” (Showtime, 9 p.m.): This new sports documentary profiles former NBA star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who made headlines in the 1990s for his controversial stance on not standing for the national anthem.
Sat., Feb. 4
“Sweeter Than Chocolate” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): A bakery owner hooks up with a hunky TV reporter in this new TV movie. With Eloise Mumford.
“Gwen Shamblin: Starving for Salvation” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): “Dirty Dancing’s” Jennifer Grey portrays the controversial megachurch pastor/diet guru in this new fact-based TV movie.
“Say Yes to the Dress” (TLC, 8 p.m.): Got gowns? They sure do as the matrimonially-minded reality series returns for a 22nd season.
“Austin City Limits” (KOCE, 11:30 p.m.): Indie rock veterans Pavement take the stage in a new episode of the concert series.
Sun., Feb. 5
2023 Pro Bowl Games (ABC, ESPN, noon): The reimagined competition concludes with skills challenges and flag football games.
“65th Annual Grammy Awards” (CBS, 5 p.m.): Trevor Noah hosts, Harry Styles, Bad Bunny and Lizzo perform, and Beyoncé leads the field with nine nominations.
“Clash at the Coliseum” (Fox, 5 p.m.): NASCAR’s finest take to the track as this annual exhibition race returns to Exposition Park.
“30 for 30” (ESPN, 5:30 p.m.): The rough-and-tumble 2000 Baltimore Ravens are remembered in the new doc “Bullies of Baltimore.”
“American Pain” (CNN, 6 p.m.): This new documentary tells the tale of twin brothers who made millions trafficking pain pills during the opioid epidemic.
“My Landlord Wants Me Dead” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): And he hasn’t gotten around to fixing the water heater either, in this new TV movie.
“Superchef Grudge Match” (Food Network, 9 p.m.): Culinary rivals settle their scores in the kitchen in this new competition series.
“Titanic: 25 Years Later With James Cameron” (Nat Geo, 9 p.m.): The “Avatar” filmmaker revisits the story of the ill-fated luxury liner in this new docuspecial.
“Murf the Surf: Jewels, Jesus, and Mayhem in the USA” (MGM+, 10 p.m.): This new four-part true-crime series recalls the mastermind behind a headline-making heist in 1960s NYC.
“Murder in Big Horn” (Showtime, 10 p.m.): The epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women in one Montana community is investigated in this new three-part docuseries.
Mon., Feb. 6
“C.B. Strike” (HBO, 9 p.m.): This detective drama based on the pseudonymous novels by J.K. Rowling returns for a fifth season.
“Independent Lens” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): Life in one small, predominantly Black community in the Florida Everglades is explored in the new documentary “Out of the Muck.”
“History’s Greatest of All Time With Peyton Manning” (History, 10 p.m.): Experts rank everything from cars to candy in the NFL great’s new series.
“Black Travel Across America” (Nat Geo, 10 p.m.): This new special recalls the travel guide created by and for African Americans that inspired the Oscar-winning 2018 drama “Green Book.”
Tue., Feb. 7
“Empire of Light” (HBO Max): “The Crown’s” Olivia Colman plays a movie-theater manager in 1980s England in Sam Mendes’ 2022 romantic drama.
“State of the Union” (various channels, 6 p.m.): President Biden delivers the annual address to Congress and the nation.
“Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” (KOCE, 8 p.m.): “Magic Mike’s” Joe Manganiello and NFL great Tony Gonzalez explore their family histories.
“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” (Bravo, 9 p.m.): Drinks, shade, etc. will be thrown as the reality franchise entry returns for a 13th season.
“All That Breathes” (HBO, 9 p.m.): This new documentary profiles two brothers who care for pollution-stricken birds in New Delhi.
“History’s Greatest Heists With Pierce Brosnan” (History, 10 p.m.): The onetime Agent 007 is your guide to spectacular robberies in this new series.
Wed., Feb. 8
“Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm” (HBO Max): A milkshake, a box of fries and a meatball walk into an all-new TV movie based on the adult-themed animated comedy.
“Bill Russell: Legend” (Netflix): The NBA great, a towering figure on an off the court, is remembered in this new sports doc.
“Super Bowl Commercials: Battle of the Decades” (CBS, 8 p.m.): This new special ranks the most memorable ads to air during the big contest.
“The Flash” (The CW, 8 p.m.): Blink and you’ll miss him! The superhero drama returns for a ninth season. Grant Gustin stars.
“Dogs in the Wild, A Nature Miniseries” (KOCE, 8 p.m.): Run with the pack in this new series featuring a wide variety of undomesticated breeds in their natural habitats.
“Not Dead Yet” (ABC, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.): A down-on-her-luck journalist (“Jane the Virgin’s” Gina Rodriguez) gets a gig writing obituaries in this new fantasy comedy.
“Nova” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): The new episode “Star Chasers of Senegal” traces the storied history of astronomy on the African continent.
“A Million Little Things” (ABC, 10 p.m.): The Boston-set multicharacter drama returns for its fourth and final season.
“South Park” (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.): The irreverent animated series returns for a 26th season.
Thu., Feb. 9
“Harley Quinn” (HBO Max): Love is in the air for gal pals Harley and Poison Ivy (voices of Kaley Cuoco, Lake Bell) in “A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special.”
“My Dad the Bounty Hunter” (Netflix): Two youngsters accompany their father on his intergalactic adventures in this new family-friendly animated series.
“Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence” (Hulu): College students who fell under the sway of a con man share their stories in this new documentary series.
“You” (Netflix): Our “hero” (Penn Badgley) will be doing his stalking in London this time ’round as the mystery drama returns with the first half of a fourth season.
“Ghosts” (CBS, 8:30 p.m.): “Sharknado’s” Tara Reid puts in a cameo on a new episode of the supernatural sitcom.
“Ex on the Beach Couples” (MTV, 9 p.m.): Three’s a crowd in this new reality TV spinoff.
“12th Annual NFL Honors” (NBC, 9 p.m.): Pro football’s finest assemble in Phoenix in this new special hosted by Kelly Clarkson.
“Impractical Jokers” (TBS, truTV, 10 p.m.): They’re up to their old tricks in new episodes of this hidden-camera prank show.