Watching: What to Watch This Weekend

Spoofs, space, Shakespeare

Author Headshot

By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

Netflix canceled the wrestling dramedy “GLOW” this week, even though the series had already started filming its fourth season. It joins a growing list of shows that were renewed pre-pandemic but axed during this time of perpetual bummers.

But a piece of bright news: Season 7 of the French thriller “Spiral” will finally be available in the United States starting Nov. 17 on MHz Choice. (And Season 8 arrives in January.)

Have a safe weekend.

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This weekend I have … a half-hour, and I want something goofy

Daniel Mays, left, and Stephen Graham in a scene from “Code 404.”Andrea Southam/Sky UK Limited, via Peacock

‘Code 404’

When to watch: Now, on Peacock Premium.

If you miss “Angie Tribeca” or enjoy “Police Squad!”-style humor in general, try this British series that spoofs the tech-worshiping “Robocop”-adjacent subgenre. Detective Inspector John Major (Daniel Mays) dies in the line of duty and is brought back to life with some iffy technology, and his resurrection is quite disruptive for both his wife and his former partner. Crime dramas can be awfully self-serious, and “Code 404” has a blast poking fun at all the gloomy conventions — it’s gleefully stupid, but in a good way. The first episode is free on Peacock, but the next five require a Peacock Premium subscription.

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… two hours, and gosh, am I earnest

A scene from the TV adaptation of “The Right Stuff.”Gene Page/National Geographic

‘The Right Stuff’

When to watch: Starting Friday, on Disney+.

First came the Tom Wolfe book in 1979, then the film adaptation in 1983 and now a TV adaptation of Wolfe’s story about the Mercury 7 astronauts and the nascent American space program. There’s an almost wholesome absence of zip here, even as the series tries to layer in texture and back story for everyone; “I am going to space” obliterates a lot of nuance, which the show tries to portray but more often just enacts. I will caution you that if you have ever struggled with white-guy blindness, this show will be impossible to follow, but if you want something hopeful, watch this. The first two episodes arrive this week, and the rest debut weekly.

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… two hours, and I feel restless

Harriet Walter as Brutus in “Julius Caesar.”Helen Maybanks

The Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy

When to watch: Starting Friday at 7:30 p.m., on the St. Ann’s Warehouse website.

The director Phyllida Lloyd reimagined “Julius Caesar,” “Henry IV” and “The Tempest” with all-female casts and set within a women’s prison; the productions are riveting and intense, and the performances often spectacular. Beginning Friday, you can watch filmed versions of all three plays, free. “Julius Caesar” will be available from Friday to Oct. 15; “Henry IV,” Oct. 16 to 22; and “The Tempest,” Oct. 23 to 29. You can also stream all three on Halloween weekend. There’s never a bad time to think about power, violence, and the state, but perhaps now is a particularly good time for that.

Your Newly Available Movies

The naturalist David Attenborough in the documentary “A Life on Our Planet.”Netflix

Netflix subscribers will no doubt flock to “Hubie Halloween,” the latest lowbrow comedy from Adam Sandler and friends. But our critics suggest spending time with “David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet,” about the broadcast and nature-documentary giant, and with Radha Blank, who spits rhymes in her autobiographical debut feature, “The Forty-Year-Old Version.”

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

Black Box’ (A Critic’s Pick; Amazon Prime Video only)

This feature directing debut from Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr. has some presentation features that suggest a calling card for the mainstream (whatever that is nowadays), a crystal-clear narrative through-line, a conventionally supportive music score by Brandon Roberts among them. But it also brings some devilish ingenuity to its variations on “Memento” and other “who am I?” thrillers. — Glenn Kenny (Read the full review here.)

‘Charm City Kings’ (HBO Max only)

Things happen and then more things happen, little of it surprising. The movie was inspired by the documentary “12 O’Clock Boys” (2014), a beautifully impressionistic, tightly constructed look at the Baltimore dirt-bike scene. […] Coming in at just over two hours, “Charm City Kings” — the title refers to a nickname for Baltimore — doesn’t open up the story so much as overburden it. — Manohla Dargis (Read the full review here.)

‘David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet’ (A Critic’s Pick; Netflix only)

The film’s grand achievement is that it positions its subject as a mediator between humans and the natural world. Life cycles on, and if we make the right choices, ruin can become regrowth. — Natalia Winkelman (Read the full review here.)

‘The Forty-Year-Old Version’ (A Critic’s Pick; Netflix only)

The word that best captures “The Forty-Year-Old Version” might be “also.” It’s a romantic comedy and also a backstage farce; a classroom drama and also a grief memoir; a portrait of the artist as a no-longer-young woman and also a love letter to her hectic hometown. — A.O. Scott (Read the full review here.)

‘Hubie Halloween’ (Netflix only)

Hubie is a proudly regressive role for Sandler, in several senses, and the movie’s primary goal seems to be delivering callbacks to his earlier features. If you smile at a reference to “Billy Madison” or are strangely moved by seeing Sandler working with such past collaborators as Kevin James, Tim Meadows or the “Happy Gilmore” love interest Julie Bowen, then “Hubie Halloween” has accomplished its limited goals. — Ben Kenigsberg (Read the full review here.)

Also newly available:

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