Watching: What to Watch This Weekend

Ghosts, gods and politicians.

Author Headshot

By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

Apple TV+ announced this week that Jon Stewart will host a new current-affairs show on the platform. He last hosted “The Daily Show” in 2015.

Have a happy Halloween.

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This weekend I have … an hour, and I want a drama

Iain De Caestecker, left, and Hugh Laurie in the British political drama  “Roadkill.”Steffan Hill/BBC

‘Roadkill’ on Masterpiece

When to watch: Sunday at 9 p.m., on PBS. (Check local listings.)

Hugh Laurie stars as a conservative politician who is flying high off a legal win but also hiding some unsavory secrets from his constituents and family. As far as political soaps that think they’re political thrillers go, this four-part British series hits all the marks: ample scheming and shouting, troubled people in loud nightclubs with red walls, improbable investigative strategies from sad reporters, a moody score, shoes clacking in somber hallways — you know the drill. Because “Roadkill” is about politics but not the actual politics of this moment, it feels like a transmission from a different, easier planet. Not happier or more just, but easier.

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… a few hours, and call me Jackie Daytona

Charlotte Ritchie and Kiell Smith-Bynoe, foreground, in a scene from “Ghosts.”HBO Max

‘Ghosts’

When to watch: Now, on HBO Max.

This comedy isn’t quite as clever as “What We Do in the Shadows,” but it has a similar setup, in which modernity clashes with the supernatural in ordinary, day-to-day contexts. Here, Alison and Mike (Charlotte Ritchie and Kiell Smith-Bynoe) inherit an old, decrepit house that is “haunted” by all the people who ever died there, including a scout leader with an arrow through his neck, a moony poet, a fussy noblewoman and a witch who was burned at the stake. There’s a warm, silly vibe to everything and occasional moments of real wistfulness. If you wish Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer would cross paths with Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Crashing,” or you love “Miracle Workers,” watch this.

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… a few hours, and I want an epic

A scene from “Blood of Zeus.”Netflix

‘Blood of Zeus’

When to watch: Now, on Netflix.

For something that scratches a “Game of Thrones” itch but feels special and dazzling, watch this anime that is inspired by Greek mythology but tells a story of its own. Heron (Derek Phillips) discovers he is more than a lowly outcast: His father is Zeus, but his mother is mortal, and Hera did not take kindly to his conception. Also, there are demons lurking, and somebody will need to fight them off. The eight episodes are fantastically engrossing, and the imagery is gorgeous, adding layers of beauty to righteous rage. I will warn you, though, if you are weird about eyeball violence, proceed with caution.

Your newly available movies

A scene from “Raining in the Mountain.”Film Movement

A ’90s cult favorite gets a belated revivification in “The Craft: Legacy,” and Netflix’s “Holidate” continues the platform’s tradition of mediocre seasonal rom-coms. But our critics are more excited by the work of two old masters: Frederick Wiseman’s four-and-a-half-hour documentary “City Hall,” about the inner workings of Boston’s government building, and a restoration of King Hu’s “Raining on the Mountain.”

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

‘City Hall’ (A Critic’s Pick; on Film Forum virtual cinema)

“City Hall” runs four and a half mostly engrossing hours, making it one of Wiseman’s longest. That sounds daunting, but I could have watched hours more of people simply talking to one another in auditoriums and across conference-room tables. — Manohla Dargis (Read the full review here.)

‘The Craft: Legacy’

Ultimately, this film lacks a bewitching quality. The witches get a music-video-like montage of their newfound powers, but it feels vapid without a strong motive. Gideon Adlon is given the comic relief role, but the other two friends (Lovie Simone, Zoey Luna) are superficially rendered. With that, this new film also recalls the original in its greatest flaw: by under-writing the characters of color. — Kristen Yoonsoo Kim (Read the full review here.)

‘Holidate’ (Netflix only)

Cycling through shindigs, these attractive party animals echo the couples in movies like “Friends With Benefits” and “Sleeping With Other People,” other rom-coms in which best pals trade jibes and roll their eyes at love stories while stifling their true feelings. But in “Holidate,” directed by John Whitesell, the leads are less acerbic than annoying. — Natalia Winkelman (Read the full review here.)

‘Raining in the Mountain’ (A Critic’s Pick; on Film Forum virtual cinema)

From the mid-60s to the end of the ’70s, the Hong Kong director King Hu (who died in 1997) made some of the most distinctive, daring and enjoyable wuxia (literally, “martial heroes”) films ever. […] This is spectacular, exhilarating entertainment. One might be moved to say, corny as it sounds, “All hail King Hu.” — Glenn Kenny (Read the full review here.)

The film generally strikes an optimistic tone — highlighting the resilience of these young activists and the community they created. But no amount of editing or overlaid emotional ballads can shake the unsettling fact that these teenagers, whose lives were disturbed by unthinkable acts of violence, feel abandoned by the systems meant to protect them. — Lovia Gyarkye (Read the full review here.)

Also newly available:

EXTRA-CREDIT READING

Correction: Oct. 30, 2020

The Watching newsletter on Wednesday misidentified the filmmakers behind the movie “Airplane II: The Sequel.” It was written and directed by Ken Finkleman, not by the makers of the original “Airplane!,” David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams.

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