Watching: What to Watch This Weekend

Fake space. Real nature.

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By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

I enjoyed this oral history of the monorail episode of “The Simpsons,” but it’s not for everyone — it’s more of a Shelbyville idea.

Have a safe weekend. See you Monday.


This weekend I have … a half-hour, and I’m spacey

From left, Tim Heidecker, Fred Armisen and John C. Reilly in a scene from “Moonbase 8.”A24 and Showtime

‘Moonbase 8’
When to watch: Sunday at 11 p.m., on Showtime.

This new comedy feels light enough to float away, more like a web series than a premium-cable comedy — somehow an appropriate serving for such joy-starved times, like eating ice chips when you’re too weak to swallow. Tim Heidecker, Fred Armisen and John C. Reilly, who created the show with Jonathan Krisel, star as earthbound astronauts training on a simulated lunar base in Arizona. Petty grievances and bureaucratic minutiae abound, but the show feels easy and fun and silly. If that setup sounds cool but you want something more substantive, try the fantastic nonfiction podcast “The Habitat,” about volunteers who live in a faux Mars outpost as part of a NASA study.


… an hour, and I’m at ‘bite through the night guard’

Hey, Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom?David Rasmus/BBC America

‘Earth’s Great Seasons’
When to watch: Saturday at 8 p.m., on BBC America.

For those who already plowed through “World of Calm” and need more onscreen serenity, or for anyone who is considering getting a drone, this new documentary is on the chill “enjoy this time-lapse sunset” end of the spectrum rather than the savage “behold nature’s microscopic murder machines” end. Narrated by Andrew Scott, the show has all the restrained marvel and sumptuous landscape footage one could hope for. This week’s premiere is about spring, which means lots of baby animals clomping around being goofballs, but I’m partial to the fourth episode, about winter.


… 12 hours, and I want a British crime show

Lennie James in a scene (and yellow coat) from “Save Me Too.”Alison Painter/Sky UK Limited, via Peacock

‘Save Me’ and ‘Save Me Too’
When to watch: Now, on Peacock and Peacock Premium.

Lennie James wrote and stars in this tense missing-kid thriller. His character Nelly is a charismatic dirtbag jolted into action when his teenage daughter, with whom he has no relationship, disappears after posting a video saying she was going to visit him. “Save Me” and its second season, “Save Me Too,” are solid entries in the British Crime Show genre: lots of familiar performers (including Suranne Jones as Nelly’s ex), an engrossing mystery, the requisite sexual violence of society’s vile underbelly. It’s also a superb entry in the Distinctive Coats genre. All six episodes of Season 1 and the first episode of Season 2 are available on Peacock, which is free; the rest of Season 2 requires a subscription to Peacock Premium.

Your newly available movies

Marin Ireland in “The Dark and the Wicked.”RLJE Films/Shudder

Twelve years after his exceptionally confident debut feature, “The Strangers,” the director Bryan Bertino returns with “The Dark and the Wicked,” another insinuating, down-to-earth chiller. But our critics are less enthralled by the rest of this week’s batch of new movies, including “Operation Christmas Drop,” the latest in Netflix’s holiday blitz.

Some independent films are available via “virtual cinemas,” which share the rental fees between distributors and theaters. Unless otherwise noted, other titles can generally be rented on the usual platforms, including Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube. — Scott Tobias

‘The Dark and the Wicked’ (A Critic’s Pick)

As he showed in his masterly 2008 debut, “The Strangers,” Bryan Bertino understands the power in simplicity and the horror in a hush. Not for him a screeching soundtrack and screaming ghouls; instead, he subtly coaxes terror from familiar situations and everyday objects. — Jeannette Catsoulis (Read the full review here.)

‘The Informer’

The movie, based on a Swedish novel and transplanted to New York, escalates quite nicely, laying out how Pete, caught in a web of bureaucratic secrecy, can’t trust his motivationally opposed handlers to protect him or his family. And Joel Kinnaman, beefy enough to convincingly fend off a violent prison hit, helps “The Informer” make a few satisfying late forays into action territory. — Ben Kenigsberg (Read the full review here.)

‘Operation Christmas Drop’ (Netflix only)

Even if the goal of “Operation Christmas Drop” is to highlight humanitarian efforts made by the military while being a commercial for the U.S. Air Force, its forced yet halfhearted merriment makes the whole enterprise fatiguing and unconvincing. The one thing this movie most manages to drop is the ball on enjoyable holiday entertainment. — Kyle Turner (Read the full review here.)


Torn between the maternal and the cosmic, the tactile and the unearthly, “Proxima” feels as unsettled as its heroine. And while the film’s feminist thrust is admirable, [the director Alice Winocour’s] decision to sacrifice this for a cheap, sentimental finale is infuriating. — Jeannette Catsoulis (Read the full review here.)


Melding “Saw” with “The Hunger Games,” “Triggered” wins no points for originality or distinctiveness, not least of its cookie-cutter characters. But its relentlessness, and the gusto with which it embraces its mandate to make a mess, is tough to resist. — Ben Kenigsberg (Read the full review here.)

Also newly available:


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