Watching: What to Watch This Weekend

if you love the British «Office.»

Author Headshot

By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

Peacock announced this week that a TV show adaptation of the game “Frogger” is in the works. Your move, “Paperboy.”

Have a good, safe weekend.


This weekend I have … a half-hour, and I like late-night shows

Amber Ruffin.Peter Kramer/Peacock

‘The Amber Ruffin Show’

When to watch: Now, on Peacock, and Saturday at 1:30 a.m., on NBC.

Amber Ruffin has been anchoring her late-night show on Peacock since September, and this week and next, NBC will also air the show in a bleak slot usually reserved for reruns of “A Little Late With Lilly Singh.” Here’s hoping it’s the first of many steps to raise the show’s profile because it seems to be doing just about everything right. Ruffin is funny and original, and in a genre where plenty of segments seem blah and interchangeable, the show is finding its own distinctive footing.


… a few hours, and I’m anxious

Les Stroud in a Season 4 episode of “Survivorman.”Laura Bombier/Discovery Channel


When to watch: Now, on Discovery+, Hulu or Pluto TV.

Nothing is quite as good as the poetic deprivation of “Alone,” but “Survivorman,” which came out in 2005, paved the way not only for the survival genre on reality TV but also for its flourishing YouTube counterparts. Les Stroud films himself on various wilderness adventures, offering instruction on how to brave the elements and modeling safety-oriented ruggedness. On the one hand, sure, I miss being part of the world at large. But watching “Survivorman” is a good reminder that being on the couch is better than eating scavenged Norwegian moose fat while wearing boots made out of car upholstery.


… six hours, and I prefer the British ‘Office’

Natasia Demetriou, left, and Jamie Demetriou in a scene from “Stath Lets Flats.”HBO Max

‘Stath Lets Flats’

When to watch: Now, on HBO Max.

This British workplace comedy has plenty of the cringe of “The Office” but not its intense misery; instead, there’s some of the wildness of “Peep Show” and even a little bit of warmth. Jamie Demetriou created the series and stars as Stath, a dopey real estate agent whose earring is so tacky and specific it could have its own Bravo show. (Stath’s sister is played by Demetriou’s real-life sister Natasia Demetriou, of “What We Do in the Shadows.”)

Stath is super cocky but wildly insecure, and Jamie Demetriou achieves a tricky comedy feat: Although the character’s behavior is often loathsome, there’s still a well for pity and compassion, even tenderness, toward him. There are only 12 episodes; assume you will watch them all twice.

Your newly available movies

Yeri Han and Steven Yeun in “Minari,” about a Korean-American family that moves to the Ozarks.Josh Ethan Johnson/A24

With documentaries about Billie Eilish (“Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry”) and the ’90s California hip-hop scene (Ava DuVernay’s “This Is the Life”) and a biopic about Billie Holiday (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”), the week in film is dominated by music. But Lee Isaac Chung’s semiautobiographical “Minari,” about a Korean family settling in rural Arkansas in the 1980s, may be the stand out.

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

‘Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry’ (Apple + only)

It moves forward without narration, and sometimes without narrative rhythm — often it feels almost observational, like a nature film. The abundance of footage, and the space it’s given to breathe — the movie is almost two and a half hours long — captures the restless loneliness of superstardom. — Jon Caramanica (Read the full review here.)

‘Un Film Dramatique’ (A Critic’s Pick, via Cinema Guild virtual cinema)

It’s the cumulative effect of seeing the world through the eyes of these children that makes this movie so deeply joyful. This is a heartening project, a philosophical excavation of a school that abounds with playful optimism. — Teo Bugbee (Read the full review here.)

‘Minari’ (A Critic’s Pick)

The chronicle of an immigrant family, often told through the eyes of a child, is a staple of American literature and popular culture. But every family — every family member, for that matter — has a distinct set of experiences and memories, and the fidelity to those is what makes “Minari,” in its circumspect, gentle way, moving and downright revelatory. — A.O. Scott (Read the full review here.)

‘This Is the Life’ (A Critic’s Pick; Netflix only)

Outside of the film’s director, however, few from the Good Life became household names. But in the illuminating “This Is the Life,” DuVernay not only fills in an important formative gap in California’s hip-hop history, she displays the inventive eye that would later lead to her future cinematic successes. — Robert Daniels (Read the full review here.)

‘Tom & Jerry: The Movie’ (HBO Max only)

There is some value to “Tom & Jerry,” though, in that it lays bare the unacknowledged truth at the center of the entertainment industry’s undying fealty to existing intellectual property. Put simply: Just because it was on television when you were a kid, doesn’t mean it was good. — Jason Bailey (Read the full review here.)

The United States vs. Billie Holiday’ (Hulu only)

And while [the director Lee Daniels and the actress Andra Day] convey a plausible sense of Holiday’s magnetism in front of an audience, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” shows little interest in the discipline and craft that made those indelible nightclub and concert-hall moments possible. — A.O. Scott (Read the full review here.)

Also newly available:

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The awards show is Sunday night

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“The Real World Homecoming: New York” brings back the housemates from the inaugural season of the MTV series that set the standards of reality television, for better and for worse.

By Dave Itzkoff

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Netflix Productions Are More Diverse Than Studio Films, Study Shows

The study, which the streaming giant commissioned, looked at films and TV series from 2018 and 2019.

By Nicole Sperling

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Podcasting Is Booming. Will Hollywood Help or Hurt Its Future?

A frothy adaptation market is just one sign of the rapid evolution of the industry. But some worry that big money will stifle the D.I.Y. spirit that has driven much of its success.

By Ben Sisario

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