Watching: What to Watch This Weekend

Ring in 2021.

Author Headshot

By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

Happy New Year! Please oh please oh please.

Have a safe and beautiful weekend.

ADVERTISEMENT

This weekend I have … a half-hour, and I love ‘Bob’s Burgers’

Judy, voiced by Jenny Slate, and Alanis Morissette, voiced by Alanis Morissette, in the premiere of “The Great North.”Fox

‘The Great North’

When to watch: Sunday at 8:30 p.m., on Fox.

This new comedy by some of the folks from “Bob’s Burgers” isn’t technically a spinoff, but it might as well be — in a good way! We could all use an extra dose of emotional warmth and goofy songs. “North” follows the offbeat Tobin family of Alaska, which includes a teen daughter, Judy, whose imaginary friend and trusted adviser is a celestial version of Alanis Morissette. Fox is airing the pilot this weekend, but the show starts in earnest this February; like many comedies, it gets funnier as it goes along, but it has a silly sweetness from the start.

ADVERTISEMENT

… several hours, and there’s meaning in repetition

Ralph Macchio and William Zabka in Season 3 of “Cobra Kai.”Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix

‘Cobra Kai’

When to watch: Now, on Netflix.

Season 3 of this surprisingly robust revival continues to bring familiar faces back to the “Karate Kid” arena, this time drawing mostly from “The Karate Kid Part II.” The show is obsessed with absent fathers and the dangerous ways men seek validation, and it can be a little heavy on predictable back story. But it’s also bright and punchy, and the ongoing rivalry and psychodrama between Daniel and Johnny (Ralph Macchio and William Zabka) somehow still has legs. I’ll warn you that the show can be shockingly violent. Be prepared to watch children savagely beat the living daylights out of each other on multiple occasions.

ADVERTISEMENT

Your newly available movies

Chloë Grace Moretz in “Shadow in the Cloud,” directed by Roseanne Liang.Vertical Entertainment

A noble crook takes on crooked cops in “Honest Thief,” but it isn’t up to the usual bone-crushing standards of a Liam Neeson thriller. Our critics were lukewarm or worse on the rest of this week’s fare, too, but “Shadow in the Cloud,” a World War II adventure starring Chloë Grace Moretz, at least leans into its schlocky excess.

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

‘Happy Face’ (virtual cinema)

A defiant, generically unclassifiable film that dares viewers to question its sensitivity. — Ben Kenigsberg (Read the full review here.)

‘Honest Thief’

Even when the plot twists, viewers won’t be surprised, having already been warned of winding roads ahead. It’s an inoffensive movie, full of such familiar tropes, it hardly matters if you can keep your eyes open to the end. — Teo Bugbee (Read the full review here.)

‘Two Ways Home’

Put kindly, the director Ron Vignone shoots this straightforward film in a utilitarian style. Put less kindly, the images appear flat and washed out. Though the characters squabble over a beautiful plot of land, the majority of the drama transpires in over-lit, under-designed living rooms. — Teo Bugbee (Read the full review here.)

‘Shadow in the Cloud’

The twists come rapidly in the movie’s first half; in the second, the narrative dissolves into a zigzag of flying bodies and explosions that bend the laws of space-time. But the implausibility of it all is a perk: There’s never a moment in this rollicking film when you can tell what’s coming next. — Devika Girish (Read the full review here.)

‘Night of the Kings’ (Angelika Film Center virtual cinema)

The movie keeps edging from compressed into sketchy, with Zama King oddly remaining a blank. But having also sat through two and a half hours of “Wonder Woman 1984,” I found myself daydreaming that the superhero’s time could be magically yielded to [the director Philippe Lacôte] to flesh out his evocative mythmaking. — Nicolas Rapold (Read the full review here.)

EXTRA-CREDIT READING

11 Things Our Critics Are Looking Forward to in 2021

Nicolas Cage hosts the history of swearing. Lorde writes a book and Julie Mehretu takes over the Whitney. This new year has to be better, right?

Article Image

weekend roundup

5 Things to Do This New Year’s Weekend

Our critics and writers have selected noteworthy cultural events to experience virtually.

Article Image

10 Classical Concerts to Stream in January

A Verdi opera from the Met and composers on the border of classical and pop are among the highlights.

Article Image

A Sci-Fi Dreamer’s Poisoning Death Shocks China

The “billionaire millennial” Lin Qi was working with Netflix and the “Game of Thrones” creators to bring a Chinese best seller to the screen. The police have a suspect, and fans have questions.

By Paul Mozur and Elsie Chen

Article Image

‘Ratatouille,’ the Musical: How This TikTok Creation Came Together

We talked to the Broadway stars behind a virtual performance of the animated film. Inspiration started with quirky TikTok segments circulating this fall.

By Christina Morales

Article Image

Like this email?

Forward it to your friends, and let them know they can sign up here.

Tips and advice to help you live a little smarter

Since you receive Watching, we think you’ll like the Smarter Living newsletter as well. Every Monday, get a weekly roundup of the best advice from The Times on living a better, more fulfilling life. Sign up here.

Need help? Review our newsletter help page or contact us for assistance.

You received this email because you signed up for Watching from The New York Times.

To stop receiving these emails, unsubscribe or manage your email preferences.

Subscribe to The Times

Connect with us on:

facebook twitter instagram

Change Your EmailPrivacy PolicyContact UsCalifornia Notices

The New York Times Company. 620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018