Watching: Koality Programming

And a great batch of newly available movies.

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By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

As shows make their way back into production, we’re going to see a lot of new ostensible safety measures in place. For example, “Wheel of Fortune” contestants will now hold a plastic sheath when spinning the wheel so as not to touch the pegs.

If you need some TV guidance, I have a TV advice column, and I’d love to answer your questions. You can read previous installments here and send your Qs to

See you Wednesday.


I need something for the elementary school set

Seems better than Zoom class. (That’s Chompy.)Netflix

‘Izzy’s Koala World’

When to watch: Arrives Tuesday, on Netflix.

Prepare for extreme cuteness in the form of constant koala cuddles. Also prepare for calm wisdom and impressive emotional literacy from an 11-year-old in this new reality series about a girl named Izzy who helps her veterinarian mom tend to injured and abandoned koalas before releasing them back to the wild. They tell you right in the dang theme song that eventually the koalas leave the hospital, but despite that — and despite a lifetime of shows and movies in which this happens! — I was still wrecked when it came time for Izzy’s beloved Princess Leia to return to the bush.


Along the way, we also meet Baby Chompy, Twinkle, Muffin, Mango, StormBoy, Juliet, Cinderella and others, some of whom have gnarly injuries. Izzy thoughtfully describes each koala’s temperament and needs, partially because she organizes their roommate matches but also because that’s just essential koala stuff.

If you’re used to animal-oriented reality shows that are endlessly repetitive and contrived, or kid shows that are shouty and grating, this is a welcome break. “Izzy’s Koala World” has a relaxed vibe and a happy attitude, and maybe half the show is soothing speech directed at the koalas: telling them they’re safe now at a koala hospital, cooing that they are going to have so much fun during their rehabilitation, promising not to take away their leafy snacks, congratulating them on their bravery.

Sure, sure, you’ll learn a decent amount about koalas, but there’s also a lot here about care-taking and especially about imagining how others feel. There are only eight episodes, and they each clock in at under 20 minutes.

Also this week

Jude Law in a scene from “The Third Day.”Robert Ludovic/HBO

  • Dancing With the Stars” returns for its 29th season Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC.
  • If you like “we do things our own way here” creepy tales, opaque mysteries, Jude Law or Naomie Harris, watch “The Third Day,” which premieres on Monday at 9 p.m. on HBO. The first three episodes, collectively called “Summer,” follow Law’s character, Sam, as he finds himself on a spooky island. The second three, “Winter,” follow Harris’s Helen and her trip to the same place.
  • The Academy of Country Music Awards are Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBS.
  • “Archer” returns for its 11th season on Wednesday at 10 p.m. on FX.


Your newly available movies

Sarm Heng as Chakra, a 14-year-old Cambodian who is forced to work on a Thai fishing boat in “Buoyancy.”Kino Lorber

The pandemic has largely halted productions over the past six months, but HBO is giving quaran-tainment a shot with “Coastal Elites,” a series of webcam monologues written by Paul Rudnick and delivered by stars like Sarah Paulson, Bette Midler and Issa Rae. But the most acclaimed films this week are the bleakest, including “Buoyancy,” a drama about a Cambodian teenager sold into slavery, and “Gather,” a documentary about the legacy of violence against Native Americans.

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

‘Buoyancy’ (A Critic’s Pick, via Kino Marquee virtual cinema)

There is evil and it helps keep the world running, our clothes and food coming. This is the greatest, most difficult, most unspeakable violence laid bare in Rodd Rathjen’s measured, insistently political movie. — Manohla Dargis (Read the full review here.)

‘Coastal Elites’ (HBO only)

To cap these clever, spartan stories, “Coastal Elites” closes with a plain-spoken address from Kaitlyn Dever, playing a nurse who’s just wrapped a 14-hour shift at Mount Sinai. “If you start crying, you’ll never stop,” she says. Her sigh holds no fury, but signifies everything. — Amy Nicholson (Read the full review here.)

‘Gather’ (A Critic’s Pick)

The film wonderfully weaves personal stories with archival footage that contextualizes the continued violence against Native Americans. [The director Sanjay Rawal] covers a substantial amount of ground and deftly balances the dense material without losing sight of the mission driving the bigger story: Healing from generational trauma sometimes starts with just one person. — Lovia Gyarkye (Read the full review here.)

Props to the director, Justine Triet, though (she also had a hand in writing the script): It isn’t easy to bore with a plot containing abortion, attempted suicide, medical malpractice and caution-to-the-winds nudity. — Jeannette Catsoulis (Read the full review here.)

‘Unpregnant’ (HBO Max only)

There are traces of “Booksmart” and, preceding that, “Superbad,” in their silly, often improbably reckless adventuring, as when they ditch the vehicle Bailey admits she nicked from her mom’s boyfriend. “Unpregnant,” directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg, never quite reaches the sharp comic style of those other raucous movies, but it distinguishes itself in its destination. — Natalia Winkelman (Read the full review here.)

Also newly available:


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