Watching: Celebrate Black Authors

Or watch a show that almost makes BBQ look sexy.

Dear Watchers,

Recently Jeff Lowe announced that he would close the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, otherwise known as the “Tiger King” zoo, after the U.S.D.A. declined to renew his exhibitors license. (Can you believe it was only March when “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” premiered? Ha ha ha time has no meaning.) The tigers will apparently stay on as very large and potentially lethal pets.

If you long for related big cat content, a scripted series based on the Wondery podcast “Joe Exotic: Tiger King” — it actually preceded the Netflix documentary — has been ordered for NBC, Peacock and USA Network. Kate McKinnon will star as Carole Baskin. Baskin has asked that the production use C.G.I. cats only.

Keep cool. Spay and neuter your pets. See you Wednesday.


I want to raise anti-racist children

Lupita Nyong’o reads her own book for her segment of “Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices.”Netflix

‘Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices’
When to watch: Premieres Tuesday on Netflix and the Netflix Jr. YouTube channel.

Hosted by the 15-year-old Marley Dias, who created the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign, this wholesome Netflix read-to-me series spreads Black literary magic. In 12 fun-size episodes, celebrities like Jill Scott, Common and Tiffany Haddish choose and read their favorite children’s books by Black authors. Others, like Lupita Nyong’o and Misty Copeland read their own books. A companion site will have guides to spark post-book conversations.


I need more protein

Lennox Hastie brings the meat in a scene from “Chef’s Table: BBQ.”Netflix

‘Chef’s Table: BBQ’
When to watch: Arrives Wednesday on Netflix.

A spinoff of Netflix’s food-porn docu-series, this four-episode season devotes itself to all things grilled, smoked, roasted and charred. The first episode shadows Tootsie Tomanetz, the venerable 85-year-old pit master of Snow’s BBQ. Other episodes apprentice with Lennox Hastie, a chef in Sydney who cooks without the benefit of gas or electricity, and who will grill anything, even lettuce; Rodney Scott, a South Carolina virtuoso who specializes in whole-hog barbecue; and Rosalia Chay Chuc, a Mexican cook who prepares cochinita pibil using ancient Mayan techniques. The cinematography is luxurious, the underscoring classy, the food itself posed in attitudes of such unapologetic sensuality that I couldn’t tell if I was being invited to eat the brisket or accompany it to some hot-sheets hotel.


I still somehow think baselessly entitled white men deserve second chances

Glenn Howerton and Allisyn Snyder in a scene from “A.P. Bio.”Chris Hason/Peacock

‘A.P. Bio’
When to watch: Season 3 premieres Thursday on Peacock.

This cynical sitcom, which was canceled by NBC, has found new life on Peacock. Denied tenure at Harvard, a philosophy professor named Jack Griffin (Glenn Howerton) moves back to Toledo to teach high school science. Angry at the hand life has dealt him — a pair or two when he expected a full-house — he uses class time to rope students into his petty vendettas. As politicians and high-level administrators fumble school re-openings, this irresponsible view of public education may finally resonate. If not, ignore the A-plot and see it for the strong supporting cast, with Lyric Lewis, Mary Sohn and Jean Villepique as a weird-sisters trio of fellow teachers, and Paula Pell as the zealous school secretary.

Also this week

Amanda Collin in a scene from “Raised by Wolves,” which was directed in part by Ridley Scott.Coco Van Oppens/HBO Max

MTV debuts a four-part documentary series, “16 and Recovering,” which follows nine students in treatment for addiction. Premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m.

The comedian Felipe Esparza stars in two Netflix specials, one in English, “Felipe Esparza: Bad Decisions,” and one in Spanish, “Felipe Esparza: Malas Decisiones,” arriving on Tuesday.

“Raised by Wolves,” a sci-fi series about android parents, human children and the interplanetary conflict that ensues, arrives on Thursday on HBO Max. The show is executive produced by Ridley Scott, who also directed the first two episodes.

Was the Nordic detective Kurt Wallander born bleak? Find out when Netflix offers “Young Wallander,” a prequel devoted to the early career of Sweden’s most melancholy detective, arriving on Thursday.

Your newly available movies

Alex Winter, left, and Keanu Reeves in “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” an amiable, sloppy attempt to reassert the value of friendliness.Orion Pictures

After a most heinous 29-year wait, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter bring their teenage time-traveling adventurers into middle age with the amiable sequel “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” The once-precocious young Quebecois auteur Xavier Dolan shows signs of settling down, too, with “Matthias & Maxime,” an intimate drama about an evolving long-term friendship. And the indefatigable Werner Herzog returns with “Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin,” a visually arresting tribute to the writer and explorer.

Some independent films are available via “virtual cinemas,” which share the rental fee between the distributor and art-house theaters. Other titles can generally be rented on the usual platforms — Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube — unless otherwise noted. — Scott Tobias

‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’

Winningly modest and harmlessly silly. I don’t know if it made me feel young or old, but it was all in all a most non-bogus experience. — A.O. Scott (Read the full review here.)

‘Get Duked!’ (Amazon Prime Video only)

A three-minute cat-and-mouse cartoon optimistically stretched to feature length, the movie is loud, busy and cheerfully glib, though at one point — after the weapons and politics have been brandished — it takes a brief turn to sincerity. This doesn’t do much other than announce that it has more in mind than clichés and jokes about the lysergic dividends of rabbit scat. — Manohla Dargis (Read the full review here.)

‘Ghost Tropic’ (A Critic’s Pick, via Cinema Guild virtual cinema)

Contains resonant observations of life as it’s lived by people who are, to varying degrees, disenfranchised — like immigrants and single moms. “Everybody needs a place to rest,” Bruce Springsteen sings in one of his 1980s hits. This movie is a strong depiction of people who’ve richly earned such a place. — Glenn Kenny (Read the full review here.)

‘Matthias & Maxime’ (Mubi only)

This exploration of suppressed homoerotic longing would be infinitely more moving if the pair had even a smidgen of sexual chemistry. Or less noisy friends: In too many scenes, the group’s rowdy cross-talk only disrupts the fragile mood created by Max’s bewilderment. — Jeannette Catsoulis (Read the full review here.)

‘Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin’ (A Critic’s Pick, via virtual cinema)

Herzog doesn’t sidestep the idea of cultural appropriation, though he never introduces it as such. Rather, he implicitly argues that Chatwin was in the business of making connections of which we ought to always be mindful — a business Herzog himself is in. — Glenn Kenny (Read the full review here.)

Also newly available:


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