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Update 11/10/2020 PC: 1.68.154.1020 / Mac: 1.68.154.1220 Console: Version: 1.33
Welcome, Simmers! A relaxing getaway sure sounds nice right about now. We’re inviting you to take a trip with your Sims to your favorite destination with the newly added ability to vacation anywhere within The Sims 4! Here at Maxis, we’ll be hitting the slopes of Mt. Komorebi with the release of The Sims 4 Snowy Escape in just a few short days. Curious how it works? Read on! We’ve got a big haul of new features and requested fixes in this major update to The Sims 4.
-SimGuruGraham and SimGuruRusskii
NEW & IMPROVED FEATURES
Platforms
Platforms enable you to build rooms at varying heights within a story level. As much as we’d love to sit here and go on and on about how incredible platforms are and how they completely revolutionize Build Mode, you’ll see that for yourself as soon as you try them out in-game! Here are some basics for how they function and how you start building with them.
You either can use the new Platform Tool directly in or you can place preset platforms that come in various shapes and sizes. You’ll find both of these within the “Walls and Empty Rooms” section of Build Mode.
You easily can add or adjust the height of a platform in any room. Simply click on a room to select it, and the new up & down arrows in the widget that appears will allow you to add or adjust the height of a platform within that space.
Because platforms can have their height adjusted up or down, you can even create platforms that sink down beneath ground… like, really, really deep down. I don’t know why anyone would want to do that \cough\ devious players *cough*, but the option’s there! This ability to go deep is reserved for the ground level and basements.**
You can stack platforms on top of platforms, on top of platforms, on top of platforms, on top of platforms, on top of platforms… Seriously, go nuts. Get creative. Make something nobody has ever seen in The Sims before!... On top of platforms…
When a platform’s height is a single step higher or lower than the adjacent floor, Sims are able to step onto it. For anything higher than a single step, connecting a set of stairs or a ladder between the different surfaces will allow Sims to reach them. Here’s your first advanced lesson in platforming: Remember that callout about stacking platforms on top of each other? If each stacked platform is a single step in height, you could certainly make some interesting custom staircases…
  • One notable exception - platforms can’t connect across multiple levels. If you build a stack of platforms all the way to the ceiling, the very last step will need to be a staircase or ladder to connect two separate floors of a building together.
Platforms can be utilized as fully functional space or be purely decorative areas - the choice is yours! As you adjust the height of a platform, your Sims will intelligently adapt to that space. For example, you could create a platform with only enough head clearance for a child to enter. The possibilities are endless!
The visual look of platforms can be customized in a variety of ways. The “Walls and Empty Rooms” section of Build Mode now has a “Platform Trims” subcategory. Here you’ll find trims that match all of our foundations as well as some new trims with basic materials that look perfect in the interior of a building. Want to go even further? Try wrapping the edge of a platform with half walls and then customize the edge with any wall material. Mix and match these methods for creative results!
Even More Half-Walls
Speaking of Half-Walls, we’re pleased to share that we’ve created 12 additional Half-Wall heights to choose from, adding to the 7 heights previously available. One could factually say this is our most sizable Half-Wall update ever! Pity the poor person who was tasked with writing uniquely descriptive names for each of these 19 height variations.
Sentiments
Sentiments are those special fuzzy feelings that form between Sims when they share a memorable moment together. Shared experiences between Sims now offer the opportunity for Sims to develop long-lasting sentiments between each other, which in turn affects how they feel and act in the presence of (or the absence of) another particular Sim. Unlike relationships between Sims, Sentiments can be a one-sided affair. When two or more Sims share an experience together, you may find that all, some, or none of them walk away from that moment having formed a lasting impression of the other Sims that were involved. The base game includes a wide variety of these Sentiments and Snowy Escape has additional ones tied to experiences within that pack.
Sentiments that have formed between Sims can be viewed in two locations. When socializing with another Sim, click on the heart-covered notebook that appears in the social UI at the top of your screen. Alternatively, you can view the Sentiments that exist between two Sims at any time within the new Sim Profile within the Relationship Panel. Read on for more information on this new Sim Profile ...
Sim Profiles
Have you ever gone to check out the other Sims in your Sims’ life, only to be greeted with an overwhelmingly large tooltip that extended from the tippy top all the way to the bottom of your screen? We certainly have, and we weren’t happy with it. There has to be a better way! ...And there is! Introducing: Sim Profiles! Within the Relationship Panel, you can now click on the portrait of any Sim and select “Open Sim Profile” for a full breakdown of all the info the active Sim knows about that Sim. It even includes those nifty new Sentiments everyone’s been talking about!
Skin Tone Update Console & Community Identified Issues
We saw your feedback about the October skin tones update and, to improve clarity and transparency, we shared a first look on Twitter of the fix in progress.
With this patch, the Console game gets the October fixes for texture compression, resolving the banding on the cheeks and foreheads as well as discoloration on the tip of the nose.
In addition, this patch addresses the two community-identified issues of red dots around the lips and a dark blotch between the eyes. The red dots around the lips should be completely resolved at this time. The dark blotch between the eyes was softened to remove the hard edge, but the darkening is expected as part of the shadowing around the nose.
Vacation Anywhere
Couldn’t we all use a good vacation right about now? Your Sims certainly could, and now they can go anywhere! The ability to go on a vacation to any of your worlds has been added to the game for all players along with the “Rental” lot type.
To vacation to a world, a rental lot must exist within it. Should you purchase Snowy Escape, you’ll find the residential world of Mt. Komorebi includes some pre-built rental lots - a ready getaway awaiting your Sims. If you prefer to vacation in another world (Sulani, anyone?), you’ll first need to enter Manage Worlds mode and update at least one of the lots within the desired world to become a rental lot.
During a vacation, if your Sims are lacking any necessities, they now can “Order Supplies Now” from the rental’s mailbox or from their phone. Happy travels!
Toddler Slippers
We figured it’d be nice to give toddlers a pair of slippers to wear. So we did. Cozy feet!
S-Pop Radio Station
You may remember S-Pop (short for “Sim-Pop”) as a radio station in the City Living expansion pack. While the music tracks that originally came with that station will remain exclusive to City Living, the station itself is now available for all players with five new songs for all players to enjoy:
“keep on rocking” Performed by CHAI Written by Yuki Mizutani (p/k/a/ Yuki), Kanae Obata (p/k/a Kana) and Manami Obata (p/k/a Mana) Published by Sony Music Publishing (Japan) (JASRAC) Recording courtesy of Sony Music Japan by arrangement with Sony Music Entertainment
“Kanzen Houki Sengen (Simlish Version)” Performed by Nanawoakari Written by Nanawoakari & Tamaya2060 Published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing Recording courtesy of Sony Music Japan by arrangement with Sony Music Entertainment
“Part. 2” Performed by SASUKE Written by SASUKE Published by Warner Chappell Publishing Recording courtesy of Warner Music Japan Inc. by arrangement with Warner Music Group Video Game Licensing
“Ninhursag’s Tone” Performed by Unite Satisfy Written by Shintaro Aoki Published by Syn Songs Recording courtesy of NNN Records & Cross Groove/Syn Songs
“Harujion” Performed by YOASOBI Written by Takuya Shimizu (p/k/a Takuya) and Akira Tsubono (p/k/a Akira) Published by Sony Music Publishing (Japan) (JASRAC) Recording courtesy of Sony Music Japan by arrangement with Sony Music Entertainment
And now, onto the fixes:
The Sims 4
  • Freelancer Sims now can complete Gigs they have signed up for and harvest the fruits of their labor. Simoleons, Simoleons, Simoooleons… SIMOOOLEOOONS.
  • Does your Sim look bored all the time? Even when you think they are having fun, they look bored to you? Not a problem anymore. It’s been… taken care of.
  • Calls Dropping? Is your Cell Phone behaving like a certain network is just not up to snuff? We have upgraded all Sims to Simgular - Llama’s Choice Network that does not allow Off-the-Grid shenanigans when your Sims are not Off-the-Grid.
  • The NanoCan Touchless Trash Can has been recalled and fixed so now all your trash can be cash in a flash.
  • Did you ever experience the Honey I Shrunk the Basil and Sage Plants issue in-game? No longer! \No Sage or Basil Plants were harmed in the fixing of this issue*.*
  • Ever had Sims show up looking like a product of a bad makeover? Did your Debate Judge just show up to the debate wearing a mascot hat when they're not the mascot? Did your fellow Spellcasters show up in the Magic Realm wearing not so magical clothes? Say no more… We have applied a fix so that non-playable Sims can be a bit more appropriately coordinated in their outfits and per occasion.
    • To explain a bit further, we created a much more robust set of internal tools that allows us to have greater control over the outfits that the Sims choose to wear in unique situations. We’ve improved a lot of the wacky townie fashion you’ve seen previously (it’s called fashion sweaty - look it up), but if you still see oddities - let us know. It’ll be an easier issue for us to “iron out” moving forward! Together, we can defeat the dreaded eyeball ring.
  • Door lock settings now persist when Sims travel. That’s right! If I disallow everybody, it should stay that way when I travel… or when I exit the game… and the occasional restart, too... hmpf!
  • Sims who have passed away no longer sometimes disappear from their Genealogy. This is not retroactive, so any Sims that already disappeared will not return.
  • Sims no longer ignore the kitchen sink and dishwasher to wash their dishes in the bathroom sink. Okay.
  • Oasis Springs’ World Map now shows lots in the correct locations. I see you, Yuma Heights - don’t be sneaky now.
  • Sims now can propose to their beloved without rejection (congratulations!). On the same note, Sims with multiple romantic partners now can propose and marry one of them and not get sabotaged by their partners’ predicament of not being able to get married because they are employed together, even when they are not.
  • Sims who have finished their workday now get back to things sooner instead of sometimes staring off into space.
  • Ever wished your delicious food just never… ended? We thought we did until our Sims were unable to finish their meals. Now they are able to finish Eating Leftovers. They are leftovers, not leftFOREVERS.
  • Sims sharing double beds now can Nap or Sleep in any combination. Sim A can nap and Sim B can Sleep… or Sim A can Sleep and Sim B can nap… or they can both Sleep… or nap… well, you get the picture.
  • Shower Tubs now can be cleaned enough to be visibly squeaky-clean.
  • Another one bites the dust. The issue that generated Error Code: 110:c875d8ff on game load has been fixed.
  • Style Influencer Sims now perform Quick Sketch Impression without breaking the Digital Sketchpad. Be kind with your tools and toys.
  • Removed incorrect Moodlets such as “Awkward Hug” when Unflirty Sims hugged kids. In the same fashion, we made sure Unflirty Sims no longer receive the “Witnessed Crass Act” Moodlet when parents and children hug or kiss cheeks.
  • Adult Sims now Teach Blocks to their Toddlers. Learning in early life is important!
  • Sims on vacation now can hire a Nanny and/or a Butler to take care of things while they are away.
  • Toddlers no longer will show as “At Daycare” when they are taken back home via the “Care for Self” option. No Toddler clones here... you can’t be two places at once!
  • Toddlers left at home while the rest of the household goes on Vacation now receive proper care and otherwise can join the Vacation. THINK OF THE CHILDREN. Toddlers deserve fun and relaxation in new places, too!
  • Toddlers no longer get the “Silly Ocean” Moodlet from playing in rivers.
  • Children once again can earn Adult skills. *sniff* They grow up so fast!
  • Simmers in social events now get a warning when switching to a Sim in another neighborhood rather than the event cancelling automatically.
  • Sims with enough Simoleons now can move into empty lots.
  • Splitting households and then moving no longer causes an infinite load.
  • We told Sims that they should probably not take 45 minutes to drink a single cup of Coffee. As you guys know, I am a coffee fiend, but nursing the same cup for that long is not in the coffee lover’s manual for enjoying fresh coffee.
  • We met with our wonderful Sim Firefighters and came to the agreement that they now also will extinguish fires on wall objects such as paintings.
  • Action progress bars no longer are interrupted when a new action is added to a Sim's queue.
  • Sometimes items could disappear from your Sim's inventory after travelling. This should no longer happen. Where is my cup of coffee? Oh, okay, it is here….
  • Sims no longer have Clay Blobs, Future Cubes, and/or Sketch Pads spawn infinitely in their Inventory. This felt like grabbing something out of Felix the Cat’s bag… just a never-ending bag of Clay Blobs, Future Cubes, and Sketch Pads… what did it all mean!? We may never know.
  • Opening a stack of Inventory items and then going back now highlights the correct item.
  • In reviewing items in Inventory, we realized that some item stacks were showing the number 99+ incorrectly on Multiselect. What’s the number? - Stomp, Stomp! - What’s the number? - Stomp, Stomp! - The number of the day… you’re about to see the number is the actual number of items you have! Ah ha ha. That’s the number of the day!
  • Sims no longer endlessly play games such as Chess, Sabacc (if you own Journey to Batuu), Voidcritter Cards (if you own Kids Stuff), and your regular Card games. I could play with Meduso forever though… #Meduso4ever.
  • Page Up/Page Down and Home/End Keys now work in Free Cam Mode.
  • The Aspiration Panel now shows the gender of Sims regardless of whether they are active.
  • Now only Gardeners autonomously remove wild plants. Sims with Green Fiend Trait (if you own Eco Lifestyle) were being a bit overly eager in removing plants everywhere, so the professionals will handle it from now on.
  • “Listen To Together” on a Stereo no longer resets Sims.
  • Sims no longer get “Poorly Decorated” and “Dismally Decorated” Moodlets when decorations are in the room. This applies to new Saves as it is not retroactive, but, my, how judgemental Lots were….
  • Columns now can rotate 45 degrees and in Free Rotation. Spin them right round, Simmers, right round.
  • The liveeditobjects cheat no longer surfaces items with broken thumbnails that were not meant to be part of that cheat. Pardon our dust.
  • Shower descriptions in the catalog said they were “Uncomfortable.” Showers are meant to relax and be a place of meditation, so the catalog now says they provide “Discomfort Relief” unless the specific shower really is uncomfortable.
  • The Subtle Saucer and the Super Subtle Saucer now have images that are more distinct from each other in the catalog. Super Subtle, Super Saucer.
  • Removed the “Player Feats” door because it wasn’t really a door…
  • Dishwashers The Professional Dish Laborer, Washer Pro Free-Standing Dishwasher (from Dine Out), and Industrial Dishwasher Unit (from Parenthood) no longer have a gap between counters.
  • Digital World wall tiles have been polished. Shiny and new!
  • Career-unlockable outfits no longer show up when filtering for Custom Content.
  • Toddlers no longer have bald spots when zoomed out on Low Graphics Settings.
  • Frayed jean ymBottom_EF13JeansFrayedCrop_Black no longer clips with several tops.
  • Anniversary t-shirts yfTop_EF05ShirtTeeAnniversary and ymTop_EF05ShirtTeeAnniversary fit better on more body types.
  • Sims with certain feminine frames now look better when wearing Pants or Full Body outfits.
  • Fixed some Create a Sim item backgrounds.
  • Selecting what you want to do next at the end of the tutorial on console no longer has the mysterious word "Label" in the background.
  • Gallery filters no longer cut off some venue type names in some languages. This was particularly egregious for French and Brazilian Portuguese text.
  • Game fonts got some spiffing up to keep all characters looking their best.
  • As with every update, the localization team has tweaked, improved, and fixed text across all Packs and previous updates.
Get to Work
  • Scientist Sims placing collected crystals and metals in their Laboratory no longer crash the game. Do you ever science so hard, the simulation crashes?
  • The “Test Serum” action on a Scientist co-worker no longer causes an error.
Get Together
  • Stone Frame Window (window1x1_EP02TUDstoneFrame2Tile_set1), Holey Geometry (window1x1_EP02TUDLow_03_2Tile_set1), and King of Diamonds Classical Door (doorSingle2x1_EP02TUDHigh3Tile_set1) now place properly.
  • Sims in Clubs with a Read rule now finish the books they choose to read. No cheating, my friends.
  • Wearing their Earbuds (if you own Fitness Stuff) and participating in Club Gatherings no longer causes an error.
  • Club affiliation on University Housing (if you own Discover University) now persists after entering Build/Buy Mode.
City Living
  • Ultra Speed now works while Festivals are in progress. Some conspiracy can be said about Festivals wanting Simmers to enjoy them in all their glory… at a normal speed at every speed, but these are just conjectures… yes.
  • Sims no longer read their mail aloud while conversing with their apartment neighbors. Talk about rude, right?
  • “Read about Festival” now consistently displays festival information.
  • Sims from specific San Myshuno neighborhoods now have more variety on their appearance.
Cats and Dogs
  • Stencils in Create a Sim (Pet) now consistently paint your furry friends without crashing.
Seasons
  • The holiday tradition New Skill Day now focuses on starting new skills and improving low level skills so skills that are maxed out don’t count.
  • Toddlers who are inside during a blizzard and in a high chair no longer want to Run Inside, so their caretakers won’t take them out of the chair prematurely. You are safe little one; you are safe.
  • Now all onions, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, apples, tomatoes, and growfruits can be planted indoors during freezing weather.
  • Plants no longer change their quality or evolve on their own after Sims traveling.
  • Some Outdoor Plants that were stuck in summefall now turn brown and lose their flowers when winter starts.
  • Sims now can book Vacations on the computer during holidays.
  • Simmers who have disabled Rain and Snow no longer should see them during Mysterious Weather. Mysterious indeed.
  • Male Sims now wear appropriate shoes when working as a Floral Designer or Botanist.
  • The beanie hat cuHat_EP05BeaniePom now looks a bit better.
  • Sims scheduling an event in the Calendar for a Rental Lot no longer end up in a Lot where they have not been greeted.
Get Famous
  • Stans (“stalker fans”) and Kleptomaniac Sims no longer steal Pet food bowls or Cat litter. I have no words for this one. I have nothing.
  • Sims with maxed out Atrocious Reputation now maintain their reputation when traveling. Atrocious you shall be forever.
Island Living
  • Conservationist Sims now Write Conservation Articles at the appropriate career level (level 4). On the same note, the task for Research Conservation now can be completed.
  • Odd Jobs no longer get stuck in a state where Inventory and Build Mode cannot be accessed.
  • We had long conversations with Island Celebration Participants and agreed that no random Sims should enter a Sim’s home without permission, barging in as if they owned the place. Excuse you, privacy, and property are a thing, you know?
Discover University
  • We chatted with the registrar at Britechester University and got them to agree that students should receive class time reminders before class instead of after. You’re welcome. Now, make sure you go on time, alright?
  • School Spirit Day no longer schedules multiple instances at the same time. But… Did you know it is Spirit Day?
  • Club gatherings no longer have Sims with their bikes indoors in a disruptive manner.
  • Sims traveling long distances including stairs now properly walk the stairs and then hop their bikes and they don’t leave their bike behind. You can’t just abandon your bicycle - what about the poor bike’s feelings?
  • Sims now properly get off bikes while on a slope.
  • Lawyer Sims now File Court Documents as their tasks dictate at levels after 5. Just because you move up doesn’t mean you stop filing docs.
  • Students in a different neighborhood from their University now go to school instead of work when choosing “Go to Class” from the Career Panel.
  • Students now can receive only one merit scholarship per term.
  • Sims no longer are listed as being at University when they are at home.
  • The game no longer sometimes freezes when Sims enroll in University. We get that attending University is life-changing, but freezing a game is taking it a bit to extremes.
  • Students now return to Campuses in their leisure time to cloud gaze and play Soccer in the surrounding areas of Britechester University and Foxbury Institute respectively.
  • Sims jogging in an Exo-Mech suit no longer get fatigue-related Moodlets.
  • For Eco Lifestyle Simmers, “Throw Away” and “Compost” now are available on piles of discarded food. The consequences of not having these were especially egregious at University Dorms.
  • Sweatpants yfBottom_EP08LooseSweatpants now look better when paired with scarf yfTop_EP08SweaterScarf in Create a Sim.
Eco Lifestyle
  • Recycle Disciple Sims without the Kleptomaniac Trait now swipe household objects less often. We get it, we are all trying to do our best for the environment, but going after your Dumpster was a bit too far… we kinda need that.
  • Eco Footprints no longer change very quickly from “Green” to “Neutral.” Knox rejoices.
  • Eco Footprints in Worlds no longer become Neutral when entering Manage Worlds.
  • We had a chat with Eco Inspectors and they agreed that they should display the correct occupation from now on. And they shall be known as Eco Inspectors… forever.
  • Bulldozing Pinecrest Apartments now is possible without damaging the lot.
  • Harvestables obtained via a Dumpster no longer disappear from Inventory a few minutes later. Easy come, easy go… would you not disappear, though?
  • Recycling is a wonderful thing. Recycling for Inventory exposed missing text on some Grand Meals, so we filled in those names.
  • Toddlers living in Lots with the Reduce and Recycle Lot Trait mayyyybe were taking it a bit too far generating trash piles in their inventories. Put that down - No more trash in your pockets.
  • Did your floor patterns experience a glow that never went away after selecting all of them? That’s not a problem anymore.
  • The Wallpaper formerly known as sheetStandingSeam01GEN has been renamed to Corrugated Metal.
  • The Fabricator’s Fabricated Couch (no dye) recipe now creates the correct item.
  • Residential Wall Speaker is renamed to Venue Wall Speaker: Americana to accurately reflect its function and music.
  • Venue Wall Speaker: Americana now looks correct with the neutral wood option.
  • Women’s sandals yfShoes_EP09PlatformSandals now look better when paired with jumpsuit yfBody_EP09JumpsuitUtility.
  • Men’s hairstyles ymHair_EP09CurlyBun_Black and ymHair_EP09CrimpedLong_Black have cleaner hairlines now.
Dine Out
  • Sims no longer get up from their seats at restaurants randomly and create chaos by speaking to other patrons, grabbing food from their table, putting it somewhere else, and taking over the place by playing the piano or singing. But it was quite the show, wasn’t it?
  • Xbox One Simmers now can edit Restaurant Staff Uniforms in Build Mode along with other Simmers.
Vampires
  • Vampire Spar no longer negatively affects Conflict resolution for Simmers with Parenthood.
Realm of Magic
  • Spellcasters with all spells learned and maxed out no longer lose those when downloaded from the Library/Gallery Muscle memory perhaps?
  • Create a Sim no longer has the less-than-attractive skin type that was intended only for cursed Sims as an option.
  • Spellcasters have reviewed the terms of their “Always Transportalate” Spell and now can actually teleport anywhere, even places with stairs.
Journey To Batuu
  • Sims now are able to complete First Order or Resistance missions and then choose the Hope vs Order - First Steps Aspiration and complete all goals.
  • The Lightsaber Collection plaque now has a proper name and description so you can display it with pride.
  • The First Order sent a memo stating to change the First Order Blast Door to not accept any decals or wall decorations.
  • Create a Sim asset yfBottom_GP09VillagerPatchVertical now goes better with different styles of shoes across multiple Packs.
  • The Career Panel now displays the active Mission chosen from the Mission Panel.
  • The game no longer freezes when Sims “Freshen up at the Dwelling” at Black Spire Outpost.
Luxury Party
  • Create a Sim asset yfBody_SP01SleevesFlutter_SolidBrown fits better when wearing Get to Work’s ymHair_EP01LongWavySwept_Platinum hairstyle.
Movie Hangout
  • Movie night has been reclaimed! Sims now can watch complete films from start to finish without getting stuck in a never-ending loop… or I should say not in a Neverending Story? STTOOooooryyyyyYYYY.
Knifty Knitting
  • Create a Sim boots cuShoes_SP17BootsBuckled_SolidRedPin work better with jeans cfBottom_SP07JeansPrint_FloralBlueLt.
submitted by kaechan1989 to thesims

6

It's been 1 year since Apple TV+ began, and I have watched every one of their shows (except the kids stuff)! Here's my ranking... [No Spoilers]

In one year, Apple TV+ has released a pretty solid slate of original material. Not including children-oriented content, Apple TV+ has released 20 series, 3 miniseries, 9 movies, and 2 talk shows. From the start, Apple has said that the goal of the content is on quality, not quantity. But…has it lived up to that?
34 - Greatness Code - Documentary
Summary: Each episode features a different athlete talking about a key moment in their careers. The show features athletes from many different sports, including basketball’s LeBron James, soccer’s Alex Morgan (sorry…footballer Alex Morgan), snowboarder Shaun White, sprinter Usain Bolt, swimmer Katie Ledecky, surfer Kelly Slater, and (American) footballer Tom Brady (who is a co-producer).
My Take: This is the easy winner for the worst thing on Apple TV+. The only good thing about this “show” is that the episodes are usually no more than 10 minutes long. The monologues by the athletes are…fine. There’s nothing you haven’t really heard before here. The problem is that the special effects take away from actually seeing the athlete in action. Almost every bit of action has some animation or filter or something over it, so we almost never actually see the events being discussed. It’s pretty ridiculous. After watching this, I genuinely wondered if this series was intended to be part of Apple TV+’s children’s offerings, because that is the only level where it could at all seem “great”.
33 - Oprah Talks Covid-19 - News (Miniseries)
Summary: Not long after the COVID-19 pandemic started major lockdowns across the United States, Oprah quickly began to do online interviews with people who she hoped would bring perspective and uplifting messages, from celebrities to pastors to nurses to people who had experienced isolation in prison and the holocaust. This series ran for nearly a month from mid-March to mid-April in 2020.
My Take: One of Oprah’s three series, this one is the lowest ranked just because much of the information within it is out of date, and is aimed at people at a certain time, which was months ago. But in a way, it’s a bit of a time capsule of the early parts of the pandemic in the public eye, which is interesting. It’s almost as interesting to see the production value (or lack there of), as the majority of the episodes are screen recordings of online interviews. It’s perhaps only worth watching now for being a curiosity, but Apple and Oprah did good getting something up in a timely fashion.
32 - Amazing Stories - Adventure
Summary: An anthology series executive produced by Steven Spielberg, the show brings back the “Amazing Stories” brand with five independent stories about incredible adventures that play with sci-fi and fantasy about regular people put in amazing situations.
My Take: Amazing Stories was to be one of Apple TV’s tentpoles for the summer. Unfortunately, the series landed flat, and is by far the biggest disappointment. It’s yet another TV series that original co-Producer Bryan Fuller left. The show was originally to have ten episodes, it ended up with just five. The stories were not very groundbreaking, though they were beautifully shot. It might be worth checking out for Robert Forster’s last project before he died (Dynoman and the Volt), and for the touching “The Heat” about high school runners from Oakland.
31 - Home - Documentary
Summary: As you might imagine, this documentary series is not just about the architecture of a house, but about the people behind building and designing them. Each episode features a different house and story, with houses chosen from around the world, from urban environments like Chicago and Hong Kong to remote locations in Maine and Bali.
My Take: Although cable and streaming is littered with television programs about houses and architecture, this show passes on the drama, which helps Home become a documentary, and not a reality show. The cinematography is predictably beautiful, but the pacing is slow, and it’s very hard to really get into. It doesn’t help that a couple of the home builders behind the stories are honestly not very likable. The final episode of the first season is really good, but ultimately, this show is a bit of a snooze beyond the real enthusiasts.
30 - Dads - Documentary (Movie)
Summary: Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, this movie looks at fathers across the many levels of fatherhood, anchored by Howard’s own relationship with her father, actodirector Ron Howard, and her grandfather Archie, as well as Bryce’s non-celebrity brother who is an expecting father. The movie shifts to stories about fathers from around the world, and back to the Howards, to celebrate the ever-shifting role of fatherhood in modern society.
My Take: This documentary is a sweet, if simple, tribute to modern fatherhood. There’s nothing special here, it does exactly what you would expect it to. It has cameo interviews from comedian fathers, interspersed with random recordings of fathers from home movies and social media, and stories of fathers in different situations. There’s nothing bad about it, but it’s pretty dry overall. It’s not a waste, but it’ll probably end up being the thing you see in the list and say “Oh, I’ll watch that another time…”, which might as well be next Father’s Day with your dad.
29 - Dear… - Documentary
Summary: A documentary series that details the history and life of various individual celebrities, and uses letters written by people they have affected to frame those celebrities’ impact on people and society.
My Take: Apple has used the advertising method of using letters written to Apple or Tim Cook about how things have changed their lives (particularly the Apple Watch), and in that context this series feels like, well, advertising. Not to take anything away from the celebrities involved, but the marketing push feels very heavy here. And, of course, one of the celebrities featured is Oprah, who is a big presence in ATV+. It also gets absurd with one episode around Big Bird (in character); of course, the Muppets have a spin-off in the kids section of ATV+ called Helpsters. It’s best with the smaller names, where even I learned a little bit. It’s a decent feel-good if that’s what you’re looking for.
28 - Long Way Up - Documentary (Miniseries)
Summary: The third docu-series by Ewan McGregor and his best friend Charley Boorman as they take a long road trip by motorcycle. This trip, they are traveling from the southern tip of South America up to Los Angeles, and are doing it (almost) entirely on electric vehicles. The series highlights both the places they visit along the way, and the travails (and successes) of using these new, custom-made electric motorcycles. (The other two series Long Way Round and Long Way Down have also been added to ATV+, though they are not ‘Apple Originals’.)
My Take: I’ve got to be honest, it’s hard to get into watching others take a road trip. It’s nice enough. The footage is beautiful, as they use everything from GoPro helmet cams to drones to capture the scenery. But the major source of tension here is Range Anxiety, and the biggest drama is in whether or not they can do it all on electric bikes. Still, it’s interesting to see parts of South America many aren’t familiar with, including deserts and the vast Patagonia. And Ewan does seem like someone that would be a great bloke to be mates with. Some people will really enjoy this, I’m just not one of them.
27 - The Elephant Queen - Documentary (Movie)
Summary: Narrated by the soft-spoken Chiwetel Ejiofor, an elephant herd must navigate the climate of the savannah to survive. Led by the matriarch, they must migrate before the dry season hits to stay around water, and then return to their normal grazing land. Along the way, we meet the many other creatures of the savannah and face the changing climates and droughts that get in the way of these pachyderms.
My Take: A documentary much in the style of the old Disney documentaries, the Elephant Queen does a lot of anthropomorphizing its subjects, who range from elephants to dung beetles, and follows them through a difficult season. It is borderline kids-oriented, but adults might enjoy this as well. It’s not afraid to delve into some sad situations, and there is an overriding theme of what happens in droughts that can not be ignored. A sweet film, perhaps a bit saccharine.
26 - Hala - Drama (Movie)
Summary: Hala is a Pakistani-American teenage girl and her trying to balance her family and cultural pressures with being a teen in America. She longs to be out of the pressures of her family’s culture as she interacts with friends and teachers outside of the home. When she does try to act out, she begins to discover more about her family, both discovering secrets and sides she never knew about, as she discovers more about herself.
My Take: Apple TV+’s first fictional feature film release, this coming of age film is never really surprising, but it is a well made film that hits all the right nuances in trying to share Hala’s experience. It’s not a perfect film, as there are some shifts in tone and character that are rather sudden and jarring for the viewer, though all things considered, that’s probably what writedirector Minhal Baig was trying for. The emotions shift quickly and non-family characters disappear quickly, as it’s clear that this is Hala’s story, and not anyone else’s. It’s a solid watch.
25 - Trying - Comedy
Summary: A British couple, Nikki and Jason, have decided to adopt when they have trouble conceiving. They struggle with the truly difficult process of adopting, as well as insecurities about whether or not the two (who could be called slackers) are truly ready to be, or even worthy of being, parents.
My Take: This is a British comedy co-produced by BBC that is about an intensely serious subject. If you know British humor, you know that it will be very intentionally awkward, and this series can definitely hit that mark. While the show is certainly has about its two main characters (Rafe Spall and Esther Smith as the couple), it has a surprisingly large cast of supporting characters, but with only one star most Americans would know (Imelda Staunton as the most unintimidating social worker ever). It’s an interesting concept, and it finds some sweet moments, but not as many funny ones. It’s not bad, but is just okay.
24 - Oprah’s Book Club - Talk Show
Summary: This was the first Oprah show to appear on Apple TV+, serving as a cross-section of Apple services (which advertises Books and Podcasts), and the only one that got to meet the pre-pandemic style of Oprah’s shows. The idea was that Oprah would interview authors and let an audience ask questions. But the series also shows the effects of the pandemic. Once the pandemic hits, the audience is gone, and it becomes direct virtual interviews for a couple of episodes before Apple and Oprah find a way to have a virtual audience.
My Take: I admit, I didn’t read any of the books selected for this list. I still got something out of these shows, but more of an analysis of Oprah than the books. It did show off one of her worst traits, which is how she answers for an interviewee when they were slow to find a point, and she talked over a lot of people. But you could also see her energy change when she had a live audience versus online interviews, and even different with a virtual audience. You could also see her energy change about what books she is passionate about versus those less so. So this wasn’t a waste, but I wasn’t enthusiastic.
23 - Truth Be Told - Drama
Summary: Poppy Parnell (Octavia Spencer) is a true crime podcaster after a successful career as an investigative reporter, but she comes to dwell on the first case that made her famous, where a teenager was put away for murdering his neighbor. Now an adult (played by Aaron Paul), Poppy begins talking with him to see if she made a mistake. Meanwhile, the victim’s family is forced to revisit the crime, including twin daughters (both played by Lizzy Caplan), and Poppy’s family confronts her for supporting Cave, who has joined a white supremacist gang in prison.
My Take: This show has an incredible cast, with Michael Beach, Mekhi Phifer, and Ron Cephas Jones in big supporting roles. Race is an unavoidable part of this story, but so is culture, as Poppy is split between her family’s blue-collar roots in Oakland, and the Silicon Valley lifestyle she now lives with her husband across the bay. The Bay Area setting of this series is a big part of the symbolism. The problem is that the mystery viewers came for was never really important. This would’ve been a good third season of a show, once a status quo for these characters had been found, rather than a confusing first season with lots of subplots.
22 - Central Park - Animation
Summary: Animated by the people behind Bob’s Burgers and created in part by Josh Gad, Central Park is an animated musical. The show revolves around the family of the manager of Central Park (Leslie Odom Jr.), and the villainous hotel owner (Stanley Tucci) who wants to undermine the park to buy it and develop it. Gad plays the busker at the park who serves as the audience’s narrator, and it plays like musical theater, with songs written by a range of artists, including Fiona Apple, Sara Bareilles, Cyndi Lauper, Aimee Mann, Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, and Meghan Trainor, among many others.
My Take: The show is silly, but not always in a funny way. The music is reminiscent of the irreverent nature of Avenue Q, and has some star power behind it, though a lot of the music is just meh. I’m not surprised my favorite song, “Spoiler Alert”, was cowritten by Alan Menken of 90’s Disney musical fame. The story, however, very often deviates from the main thrust of the plot and doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere at times, as it’s more bothered with the humor in ridiculous situations, like the park manager’s son being obsessed with the villain’s dog Champagne. Ultimately, though, the show is just meh. The humor is fine, the story is barely relevant, and the majority of the music will not be found on many people’s playlists going forward, although of course you can find it all on Apple Music.
This show has been one of Apple TV’s only controversies, however. The cast is made from many of Gad’s friends. That led to some controversy, as Gad chose stars before choosing parts. Kristen Bell was put into the role of a bi-racial character, and the two villainous women in the series were played by men (Stanley Tucci and Daveed Diggs, though it’s hard to fault either performance). The controversy was first brought up over the winter. After the summer’s social upheaval, Bell stepped down from the role and her former character will be played in season 2 by Emmy Raver-Lampman. Bell will return as a new character in season 2.
21 - On The Rocks - Comedy (Movie)
Summary: Laura (Rashida Jones) is worried that her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) may have gotten bored in their marriage and having an affair with a coworker. Laura’s father (Bill Murrary), a charming and unabashed ladies man, tries to help her figure out her suspicions as they follow Dean around.
My Take: Well, Apple TV+ paid for a Sofia Coppola film, and boy, did they get one. What this means is that this is a movie where the plot is less important than the conversation, and in particular, this might as well be a 2-person play between Jones and Murray. Murray is charming as basically a more chauvinistic version of himself, and Jones deadpan is the perfect counter. Ultimately the conversations are predictable, and the very obvious plot takes away any suspense. This lets the movie’s most emotionally revelatory scene go almost completely under the radar. Ultimately, it and any lessons from this film get lost in conversation. Luckily, though, Murray and Jones are enough to carry the film and stop it from becoming just plain lost.
20 - See - Drama
Summary: In the future, the world was hit with a virus that made all humans blind, and predictably led to a societal downfall. The remains of civilization live either in a world wildness has mostly reclaimed, or the ruins of what once was. The story centers on a family where two children have been born with sight, and their adoptive father (Jason Momoa) and their mother (Hera Hilmar), with friends, try to find others with sight, while being chased by a religious monarch and her soldiers, trying to rid the world of the sin of sight.
My Take: One of Apple TV+’s first showcase shows, with a bankable action star in Jason Momoa and a huge budget, See ended up as one of the platform’s disappointments. The show suffers because it’s trying to world build throughout its first season, but is constantly changing the status quo of the world through its first season. Time flies for the characters, as the kids born in the first episode are teens in 3 episodes. Supporting characters are set up and then lost in the shuffle. The show does a fantastic job putting together a realistic world of how the sightless would build a civilization, but it’s not enough to make up for a plot that barely sets a status quo before blowing it up for a new quo.
19 - Bruce Springsteen’s Letter To You - Documentary (Movie)
Summary: A documentary recorded while Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band recorded their first studio album since 2012, Letter To You was inspired as Springsteen lost a former bandmate from The Castiles, his band in the 1960’s. The documentary goes between the band playing the songs, and talking about themselves and their history.
My Take: This is a solid musical documentary, but there’s nothing groundbreaking here. It was filmed in 2019, when Springsteen was 70, and there’s no avoiding that this is and old white rocker feeling nostalgic and sharing wisdom and concerns of a life having survived rock and roll. Filmed in black and white, the documentary is comfortable and the music is nice, but it kind of fades into the background even while people are talking. Bruce and 80’s rock fans will love this. Others might turn it on and forget it’s playing.
18 - Little America - Comedy
Summary: A serial about the immigrant experience, Little America tells different stories about the immigrant life in America, from different time periods and different original countries. Whether it be a child prodigy who is left behind when his parents are deported, an African immigrant interested in becoming a cowboy, or a silent retreat where language is not a barrier, this serial tries to tell stories from every background
My Take: With Executive Producers Kumail Nanjiani and Emiliy V. Gordon as the true star power, this anthology series looks at eight different stories about immigrants living in America, all inspired by real life stories. Quality varies per episode, and sometimes it gets a little predictable and repetitive. Still, it has enough high points to work overall. My personal favorites were “The Manager” and “The Grand Prize Expo Winner”, the latter doing an amazing job of humanizing an often-mocked stereotype in media.
17 - The Oprah Conversation - Talk Show
Summary: Oprah’s intended talk show to bring in celebrities and experts and talk to them, but because of the pandemic, it is without a live audience. However, Oprah brings guests in remotely with huge and small screens that feels futuristic, not limiting in the way many pandemic shows have been. Oprah and the guest are in separate spaces but both are professionally filmed, and the limited audience members are present like portraits on the wall in a gallery.
My Take: Of the three Oprah shows, this feels most like “Oprah”. Due to the timing of the show after social upheaval, many episodes take on the subject of race and race relations. But others are oddly promotional, like Mariah Carey (who coincidentally has a holiday special coming with Apple TV) and Matthew McConaughey (and his new book). The episodes about race are particularly worth watching (as a white man, who is often uncomfortable talking about race). This is definitely peak Oprah.
16 - Little Voice - Drama
Summary: Sara Bareilles, Jordy Nelson, and. J.J. Abrams are the powerhouses behind this series, a sweet but not exactly groundbreaking story about a singer-songwriter trying to make it in New York. Bess (Brittany O’Grady) is a songwriter with anxiety about performing, despite a father in the business. As Bess tries to overcome her anxiety, she has to deal with her autistic brother (Kevin Valdez, an actor who is actually on the spectrum), her roommate/best friend, a coworker at the bar who wants to be her manager, a new musician partner, a potential love interest or two, and her alcoholic father and absent mother. That’s all.
My Take: It works on the back of star Brittany O’Grady, and a compelling cast of people around her life, especially Valdez’s performance, which is one of the most realistic portrayals of autism you’ll find. Bareilles wrote the music, which is beautiful as usual. Where the show falters is that it seems like it’s trying to do every single possible story at once, and every episode feels manic. It almost seems to exhaust every possible plot point and stumbling block in one season. But O’Grady and the music help you keep watching.
15 - The Banker - Drama (Movie)
Summary: Inspired by a true story, this movie follows Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie), an African-American prodigy, as he makes himself a success in Los Angeles real estate in the 1950’s and 60’s, and tries to move into banking in his home state of Texas. He and his wife (Nia Long) partners with businessman Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson) and white front-man Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult) to try and succeed in two racist industries.
My Take: One of Apple TV’s first movies, The Banker has big name stars in Avengers stars Mackie and Jackson and a big-time story. The movie is fast paced and at times feels like skimming a book. It doesn’t skimp on laughs in the first half (with Jackson providing his own laugh track), but it does get much more serious in the second half as it and the characters directly address the racism around them. This is the first Apple TV+ movie that feels distinctly “Hollywood”, both in style in structure. That helps raise ATV+’s profile, but it puts limits this film as well. It’s a good story and worth watching, but is not ground-breaking, and clearly is not an in-depth or entirely accurate look at the story.
It was also a source of a major controversy, as the movie’s release was delayed by allegations of childhood sexual abuse were levied against Bernard Garrett Jr., the son of the main character and a producer on the film, by his half sisters and their mother.
14 - Tehran - Thriller
Summary: An “Apple Original” in title only, this show was made in Israel for their public channel Kan 11, and Apple purchased the international rights. It follows Tamar Rabinyan (Niv Sultan), a young Jewish spy who was born in Iran, as she is inserted into Tehran to try and neutralize Iran’s air defenses so Israel can bomb their nuclear plant. The plot is foiled in the first episode, and Tamar is sent on the run in an enemy city, pursued by the head investigator of the Revolutionary Guard Faraz Kamali (Shaun Toub).
My Take: In many ways, this is a fairly standard spy thriller. There’s a mission, it goes wrong, and everyone is sent scrambling. Tehran gets points, from this American viewer, for exploring the largely unexplored environment of urban Iran (albeit filmed in Athens). The characters switch between Hebrew, Farsi, and English very quickly, which is challenging to hearead. But ultimately, this is a personal spy story of pawns in a bigger war, as the scope grows with each episode. There’s plenty of grey in every side of this conflict. Even with the scope, Tehran gets bogged down and the middle episodes feel filled with filler. Ultimately, it’s solid, and does feel different than most spy shows. And though we get a satisfying resolution, the door is left open for season 2, which is as yet officially unannounced (but reported that they are signed on for two more seasons).
13 - Boys State - Documentary (Movie)
Summary: Every year, young men are brought together in the Texas State Capitol for what is basically a political science camp, where they are broken into their own political parties, and must come up with a platform and compete in an election for roles inspired by state government. During it, these 16-18-year old boys must work together while competing against each other, and learning what politics are.
My Take: A documentary about young men’s mock political competition in Texas, you’ve probably just envisioned something about what this looks like, and no doubt, you’ll probably see exactly that in this documentary. But this Sundance Documentary-winning film doesn’t quite go the way you think, but also close enough that it might not matter. These teens have more nuance than I would’ve expected, and I wish adults had in politics. But it has too much nuance to be received well, I think. Still, if you want a reason to watch this, I’d put money that at least one of the featured boys in this becomes a politician of note in the near future. Also, I am interested in seeing a documentary about the same event for girls, Girls State.
12 - Tiny World - Documentary
Summary: Narrated by Ant-Man’s Paul Rudd, Tiny World takes a look at the world of small animals living in diverse natural habitats around the world. Ranging from the African savannah to the Australian outback to the north American backyard, the show features animals from monkeys that can fit in the palm of your hand, down to the ants that are ever-present.
My Take: Nature documentaries are everywhere, but the cinematography on this is mind-blowing to the point you truly wonder how some of this was shot. Clearly, a large amount of it was manipulated, with rare parts where the CGI shows through, but it doesn’t take away from just how beautiful the shots are. With Rudd’s occasionally wry narration, it makes this a nature documentary that competes with the best stuff on Netflix. The nature never gets too gory, but it does deal with the life and death (sometimes brutal) of tiny nature. And it’s even a great follow-up to the movie “The Elephant Queen” because the first episode features what could be the same dung beetle that featured in that movie! (The movie and this series were not done by the same company, though, so it might just be a look-alike dung beetle they hired.)
11 - Beastie Boys Story - Documentary
Summary: A telling of the Beastie Boys career, by the surviving members Mike “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz themselves. Directed by Spike Jonze, this documentary is shot as the two tell their story to a live audience in a theater, alternating between them on stage laughing and joking around, and video sequences they narrate about their career, and their friends, especially the late Adam “MCA” Yauch.
My Take: This is such an unusual format for a documentary, and it works so well. It allows for some of the goofing off that one might expect from the stars, but it’s still coherent and interesting, especially for me as a casual fan of the band growing up. On a service with a lot of traditionally-made documentaries, this stands out because of both its style and its quality, and if you like pop music at all, you should enjoy this.
10 - For All Mankind - Drama
Summary: An alternate history series based off a simple question: What if the Soviet Union beat America to the moon? From Battlestar Galactica’s Ronald D. Moore, the answer is that the Americans, more competitive than ever, try to push for more ambitious goals than just landing on the moon and leaving.
My Take: One of the first Apple TV shows, it is a sometimes nerdy but very interesting look at the space race. It balances fictional characters with real life figures (sometimes making interesting decisions when changing their fate), and really tries to focus on the science side of science fiction. The show jumps across years of development, so it’s not as tedious and slow as it could be. It hasn’t captured fans’ imaginations as much as it obviously has its creators’ imaginations, but it’s a quality drama that could get better in future seasons, although it is clearly now swerving to the fiction side of science fiction.
9 - Home Before Dark - Drama
Summary: Hilde Lisko (Brooklynn Prince) is a 9-year old daughter of a journalist who wants to do what he does. When her family moves from New York to her father’s small hometown in Washington, she stumbles onto a mysterious death and does what any reporter would do: writes about it in her blog. But as the mystery expands to her father’s past, she challenges an entire city’s reluctance to face up to a tragedy from decades ago, in the name of journalism.
My Take: A dark horse series that did not get much press, Home Before Dark seems like a show for kids, but is a show is made for adults, with a mystery of twists and turns more like Gone Girl than any children’s show. Prince is the star of this show and keeps viewers attached, even as the mystery’s twists get harder to follow. The show is vaguely inspired by a real life young journalist, but realistically is not at all the same story. It doesn’t matter, as this is as much about family and youthful stubbornness as anything else.
8 - Dickinson - Comedy
Summary: A historical comedy-drama about the life of poet Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld), this show follows her as a modern-thinking woman in a restrictive 19th century setting, growing up as a teenager. It shows both what’s going on around her, and into her imaginative flights of fancy as she deals with romantic trysts, less-than-friendly friends, and restrictive parents (notably Jane Krakowski as her mother Emily).
My Take: One of the first series from Apple TV+, Dickinson is an ambitious series, but shifts between being a period piece with setting-appropriate acting, and characters acting like modern people but set in the past. As great as parts are, it does struggle with focus and tone, particularly John Mulaney’s guest role as Henry David Thoreau, which feels better suited for a Will Ferrell absurdist comedy than what this show is trying to be. Steinfeld shines in the lead role, but Ella Hunt as Dickinson’s best friend Sue and Jane Krakowski as her mother both are fantastic. The relationship between Dickinson and her best friend Sue, and hints about Dickinson’s deteriorating mental health, are both handled very well. This is a show that has a chance to really find its footing in future seasons.
7 - Greyhound - Action (Movie)
Summary: Captain Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks) has been given command of a destroyer, and a convoy of supply ships to cross the U-Boat infested Atlantic early in World War II. Without air cover, he spends days awake, attempting to outmaneuver an enemy he can not see, or even count. As ships in his convoy are attacked one by one, he must save as many as he can before getting back under the protective air cover from Great Britain.
My Take: A movie that really was meant for the big screen, Greyhound is not interested in your character development or subplots or mandatory romances (mostly). After an initial scene introducing Krause in the lone bit of character development, this movie is about the tense travel of the Atlantic with submarines hunting you. It never shows the human villains, only the occasional peak at the metal beasts when they surface. It also doesn’t jump between ships on this convoy. Strictly a single viewpoint, which makes for a fascinatingly and a little fatiguingly tense film that is shorter than it feels (only 91 minutes!) because of the thrills. This movie is a fantastically different take on the war films we know, and especially for those with military experience, a strong film.
6 - Servant - Drama
Summary: Without significant spoilers, the show focuses on a couple who recently suffered the loss of a child, and have undertaken a real doll therapy, where they take care of a doll to help the psychological effects of losing a child, and go so far as to bring in a mysterious young girl to be the doll’s nanny. Over the span of the series, secrets about the nanny, and the troubles of the couple themselves, slowly leak out.
My Take: M. Night Shymalan’s first television show is a return to the Shymalan of his early years. With the space of a series instead of a movie, Shymalan has the room to explore each character: the almost-grieving mother (Lauren Ambrose), the disaffected and disbelieving husband (Toby Kebbell), the mysterious nanny (Nell Tiger Free), and the doubtful brother of the wife (Rupert Grint, Ron from Harry Potter), who acts as an outside world anchor. By the end, it feels a bit as if the original mystery has become a subplot, but it’s left on a cliffhanger the will leap the plot forward. And throughout the series, Shymalan allows food to be a visual cue and cinematographic toy, setting the mood. This ranks as one of Shymalan’s better stories from his long career.
5 - Visible: Out on Television - Documentary (Miniseries)
Episodes: 5; Stauts: Completed
Summary: A documentary series about how all facets of LGBTQ people have been represented on television, from the 1950’s through today. As a series, the documentary takes time with many the facets of every letter in LGBTQ, and all the letters hidden within it, talking about struggles of people of color. With interviews and clips, it takes it’s time with different eras and weaves it all together. And it’s all done with an undertone of how storytelling works, and the tool that television is, both for misinformation but also for connection.
My Take: Making this a series really allows the time to give this topic the time to really explore it. It’s an engaging documentary, especially for anyone who’s spent any time watching television. There’s nuggets of memory for all of us, where we can connect to the shows we used to watch, both their flaws and triumphs. Certain critics might point to this as Apple trying to force representation down our throats, but this documentary is excellent at telling a compelling story with both history and context.
4 - The Morning Show - Drama
Summary: Apple TV+’s centerpiece, with superstar stars Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carrell, and yet a scene-stealing supporting cast of Gugu Mbahta-Raw, Billy Crudup (who won an Emmy for his role), Mark Duplass, and Jack Davenport (who is never not good), the show is about a, believe it or not, morning show whose male lead is fired in a sexual misconduct scandal and the after-effects. Witherspoon’s character is unexpectedly brought in to replace him, as power battles go on behind the scenes with everyone from the network head down to the assistant producers, as the secrets spill out about the truth.
My Take: What could be a preachy show about the MeToo movement never gets that way, and attempts a nuanced discussion about the less clear-cut issues. It’s not done perfectly, as some conflicts from the episodic storyline seem to disappear in the next episode, and Mitch is frustratingly (and probably intentionally) likable even as he is hate-able, with Carell showing his range. One flaw of this show is that the extremely likable supporting cast pulls attention away from Aniston and Witherspoon, the former being appropriately lauded with praise but not getting enough to win awards, and the latter getting a little stuck in her character spot. The season finale flurry hits hard, even if it doesn’t feel completely earned, but this show has definitely become the first bankable piece ATV+ has.
3 - Defending Jacob - Drama (Miniseries)
Summary: A boy is murdered, and after an investigation, suspicion falls on one of his classmates, Jacob, who is the son of Andy Barber, one of the assistant district attorneys (Chris Evans). Andy and his wife Laurie (Michelle Dockery) must do their best to defend their son, investigating other leads, but also facing the possibility that their son is guilty, and hiding family secrets.
My Take: Starring Captain America’s Chris Evans, Defending Jacob became the summer hit for Apple TV+, drawing viewers in. The tension between Andy and his wife Laurie, and their slightly creepy son Jacob (Jaeden Martell) as the teen is accused of murder, is filled with tension and, unlike many of the series on Apple TV, comes to a full conclusion in one season. Fans of mysteries like Gone Girl will appreciate this series. Although it can feel slightly stretched, this series hits hard and makes the most of its star power.
2 - Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet - Comedy
Summary: Mythic Quest is an online game akin to World of Warcraft, and it’s launching a new expansion to keep its fans engaged. The studio is led by a charmingly sycophantic designer Ian (pronounced EYE-an, played by Rob Mcelhenney), and lead engineer Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao). With a staff of obsessive assistants, disinterested programmers, earnest game testers, snippy game streamers, and an elderly lead writer lost in technology, the show hops along the daily struggles of keeping a game going and its fans happy.
My Take: An absolute home run of a show, as one would expect from the team behind It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Mythic Quest is absurdist comedy at its best, with McElhenney and a breakout performance from Nicdao. However, it’s also an ensemble cast with no weak spots, and a wonderfully obvious premise that is contemporary. It is at its best in two standalone episodes. The first comes out of nowhere, not featuring the main cast but instead acts as a “How the Game Industry Got Here” prequel in heartbreakingly personal fashion. The second is a special Quarantine episode that was perhaps the best quarantine-focused special episode done anywhere.
1 - Ted Lasso - Comedy
Summary: An American Football coach is inexplicably hired as a Soccer…er, real Football coach in the Premiere League in London. The titular Lasso is genuine and earnest, openly saying he doesn’t think winning has to do with the score, and he faces a soccer world where the opposite is true. He faces disbelieving players, abusive fans, unsure team staff, and a devious owner, but he barely blinks in the face of it all, and tries to keep his team from relegation…once he learns what that means.
My Take: An absolute surprise of a show, based on NBC Sports comedy promos, that has no right to be so great. Ted Lasso is on its face a fish-out-of-water sports show about an American football coach going to Europe to coach football/soccer. But it’s really a movie about a polite man in an impolite world, and bending rather than breaking, and sticking to your principles. It’s not laugh out loud funny, but it is surprisingly emotional. It’s also a show that champions maturity in a way that hits harder in a 2020 world, and so it’s also very well-timed. The only problem with Ted Lasso the show is that even though it gives Apple TV+ a recognizable character to market, it’s not a must-subscribe show. But it’s unquestionably one of Apple TV+’s best.
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