Watching: What to Watch This Weekend

Something super.

Author Headshot

By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

The Super Bowl is this weekend, with a slightly different setup for the halftime show. I was on a plane last year on Super Bowl Sunday, and I remember clearly that a handful of people were wearing masks; at the time, I rolled my eyes and thought it was a bit much. Whelp. …

Have a safe weekend.

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This weekend I have … a half-hour, and my knife skills need work

Selena Gomez in a scene from “Selena + Chef.”HBO Max

‘Selena + Chef’

When to watch: Now, on HBO Max.

Selena Gomez is an enthusiastic if not particularly knowledgeable home cook, and on this darling series, she gets remote one-on-one lessons from professional chefs. They teach her what leeks are, how her oven works, better ways to chop, a trick to make parchment paper lie flat on a cookie sheet (flick the pan with water first! aah!) and offer general guidance and encouragement. It’s all very endearing and gentle, and the show hits the right balance of affability and true instruction. If you’ve watched a lot of food and cooking shows on YouTube but want something a rung or two higher, watch this.

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… a few hours, and I’m tense

Bingo and Chip participate in Puppy Bowl XVII.Elias Weiss Friedman/Discovery+ and Animal Planet

Puppy Bowl XVII

When to watch: Sunday at 2 p.m., on Animal Planet and Discovery+.

This year’s Puppy Bowl, somehow hosted by Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg, airs on Sunday, and there are also Puppy Bowl-adjacent shows airing throughout the weekend, including two “Where are they now?” specials airing on Saturday at 11 p.m. and on Sunday at 11 a.m.; let no belly go unscratched, no ears unscritched. We would all be better off if the Puppy Bowl were less produced and was instead just dogs being adorable goofs. But if you have pandemic-induced tinnitus of the soul, there are way worse ways to treat it than with some time in a puppy end zone.

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… many, many hours, and should I get a robe?

Gabrielle Union stars in “Being Mary Jane.”Quantrell D. Colbert/BET

Being Mary Jane’

When to watch: Now, on CBS All Access and Hulu.

“Being Mary Jane” has come and gone from streaming a few times, but the prime-time soap is available again to meet your needs for juicy thrills, sharp dialogue, real ideas and aspirational lounge wear and real estate. Gabrielle Union stars as Mary Jane Paul, a successful Atlanta news anchor who can be her own worst enemy when it comes to personal relationships. The show takes a little while to settle into its rhythms, but Seasons 2 and 3, especially, combine fun sudsiness with grounded, difficult emotions. If you wish “This Is Us” had more righteous seething and less heart-string manipulation, watch this.

Your Newly Available Movies

Lance Henriksen and Viggo Mortensen in “Falling.”Brendan Adam-Zwelling/Perceval Pictures/Quiver Distribution

This week brings high-profile disappointments from Studio Ghibli, with its first C.G.I.-animated feature, “Earwig and the Witch,” and from the “Euphoria” team of Sam Levinson and Zendaya, with their pandemic two-hander “Malcolm & Marie.” But Viggo Mortensen’s directorial debut, “Falling,” is a Critic’s Pick, offering touchingly personal insight into a family’s struggles with dementia.

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

‘Bliss’ (Amazon Prime Video only)

There may be a way to justify the shoddiness of the movie’s images with a high-concept explanation — maybe it’s intentional that no matter what reality Greg and Isabel occupy, it looks grubby, flimsy and fake. But “Bliss” fails to engage the senses, resulting in cinematic disappointment. — Teo Bugbee (Read the full review here.)

‘Earwig and the Witch’ (HBO Max only)

Studio Ghibli’s latest, directed by Goro Miyazaki, the son of the famed animator Hayao Miyazaki, uses ingredients from the tried-and-true Ghibli recipe while serving a film that lacks the heart the studio has always brought to its best. — Maya Phillips (Read the full review here.)

‘Falling’ (A Critic’s Pick)

Though not entirely autobiographical, “Falling” is informed by [Viggo] Mortensen’s memories of caring for several family members stricken by dementia. The result is a movie keenly aware of the effort involved in reconciling the parent we have with the one we might have wished for. — Jeannette Catsoulis (Read the full review here.)

‘Malcolm & Marie’ (Netflix only)

A stylized stab at pandemic filmmaking, “Malcolm & Marie,” is at once mildly admirable and deeply unlikable. Beneath the film’s Old-Hollywood gleam and self-conscious sniping, serious questions are raised, only to lie fallow. — Jeannette Catsoulis (Read the full review here.)

‘Rams’

The main pleasures of “Rams” come from watching the three veteran lead actors play their eccentricities out. — Glenn Kenny (Read the full review here.)

Also newly available:

EXTRA-CREDIT READING

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A new series puts a woman in the gun-toting Robin Hood role previously played by Edward Woodward and Denzel Washington, but not much else has changed.

By Mike Hale

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Comfort Viewing: 3 Reasons I Love ‘Party Down’

The short-lived comedy about a Hollywood cater-waiter crew had an impeccable cast and an ironic sensibility. Its most comforting idea? Maybe parties were actually bad.

By Alexis Soloski

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How the Pandemic Is Coming to Prime Time (or Not)

As series roll out after pandemic delays, they’re trying to predict what audiences want: television that reflects our shared Covid reality? Or that provides a distraction from it?

By Alexis Soloski

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The Projectionist

SAG Award Nominations: ‘Minari’ Comes on Strong, ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Revived

“Da 5 Bloods,” snubbed by the Golden Globes, also advances with multiple nominations. Last year’s winner, “Parasite,” went on to take best picture at the Oscars.

By Kyle Buchanan

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Filmmakers Look at Woody Allen Abuse Allegations in Four-Part Series

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering are known for films exposing sexual abuse in institutions. Why did they delve into a thorny family tale? “We realized the full story had never gotten out.”

By Nicole Sperling

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On Ballet TikTok, a Place for Young Dancers to Be Real

“On TikTok, rather than your technique going viral, you could have your ideas about ballet go viral.”

By Margaret Fuhrer

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Christopher Plummer, Actor From Shakespeare to ‘The Sound of Music,’ Dies at 91

His performance as Captain von Trapp in one of the most popular movies of all time propelled a steady half-century parade of television and film roles.

By Bruce Weber

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critic’s notebook

Can an Abuser Make Amends? ‘The Color Purple’ Points the Way

After #MeToo, as movies and TV grapple with issues of rape, revenge and restorative justice, a survivor reconsiders a male character at a crossroads.

By Salamishah Tillet

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