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What to Watch: ‘The Muppets’ and ‘The Fugitive’ Are Rebooted for Streaming

July 30
14:36 2020

By Chris Kornelis

Streamers continue to make history at the Emmys. When the 2020 nominees were announced this week, HBO’s “Watchmen” led among titles with 26 nominations while Netflix set a record among services with a total of 160.

Other big winners included Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” with 15 nominations. Nominations for Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show” include outstanding lead actor (Steve Carell) and actress (Jennifer Aniston) in a drama series. Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini from Netflix’s “Dead to Me” both were nominated for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series. Ramy Youssef picked up a nomination for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for Hulu’s “Ramy,” about an Egyptian-American in New Jersey pursuing his faith.

Once you have caught up on the nominees, here is a look at what else to stream this week:

New Release: “The Fugitive” (Quibi)

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“The Fugitive,” a reboot that premieres Monday on Quibi, stars Boyd Holbrook as Mike Ferro, who steps off a Los Angeles subway train moments before it explodes. He becomes the prime suspect and finds himself in a cat-and-mouse chase lead by Kiefer Sutherland’s Detective Clay Bryce.

It is a similar concept but also a significant departure from both the classic TV show “The Fugitive” from the 1960s (starring David Janssen) and the 1993 movie. In the film, Harrison Ford played Dr. Richard Kimble, who is wrongfully convicted of killing his wife. The reboot has neither a Dr. Kimble nor a dead wife.

Nick Santora, who created the show for Quibi, says he resisted digging too much into the old favorites when he was writing the script for the new series.

“I was afraid that it might subconsciously bleed into this project too much,” he says. “I knew Quibi wanted the heart and soul of the concept of ‘The Fugitive,’ but at the same time, something new and fresh.”

An Expert Recommends: “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (Netflix)

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Jeff Kinney is the author of the bestselling “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books. A spinoff, “Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure,” is out Tuesday. Here, he recommends a TV show that ran on Nickelodeon between 2005 and 2008 and became a surprise streaming hit this summer.

“I’d caught glimpses of ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ when it was airing on Nickelodeon, but I never sat down and really gave it a chance until my son discovered it on Netflix and asked my wife and I to watch it with him.”

What to Watch: ‘The Muppets’ and ‘The Fugitive’ Are Rebooted for Streaming 5
An image from Season 2 of ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender.’PHOTO: EVERETT COLLECTION

“The show is an epic adventure story about a land in which there are four nations—the Fire Nation, the Air Nomads, the Water Tribes and the Earth Kingdom—and the main character, a kid named Aang, whose job it is to unite the four kingdoms.

Even though Aang has this awesome power, he is much happier to be a kid and act his age. And that’s what makes the show work. It’s not heavy, even though the themes are heavy, because the main character is just an authentic kid.

I was really impressed by the show’s willingness to take risks. One episode might be all humor, and then the next episode might be horror. I tip my hat to them because they could have played it safe and they didn’t. That’s one of the many reasons this series is so beloved by so many people.”

New Release: “Maxxx” (Hulu)

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One painful lesson of O-T Fagbenle’s youth was realizing he was a better actor than basketball player. When, to his surprise, he was accepted into drama school, he recalled, “I was like, oh, I guess this is the direction of my life.”

Mr. Fagbenle, who is 39 years old, is known for his performance in “The Handmaid’s Tale” as Luke Bankole, the husband of Elisabeth Moss’s June/Offred, and will appear in Marvel’s “Black Widow,” scheduled for release this year. This week, Hulu began streaming the comedy “Maxxx,” a show he created and co-directed, as part of its “British Binge-Cation,” in which the service releases five shows from across the pond. Mr. Fagbenle plays the title character, a washed-up pop star desperate for a comeback and social-media attention. “I was kind of fascinated by this society that kind of mistook likes for love and mistook followers for friends and mistook being famous for being respected,” he says, adding: “I wanted to kind of talk about that bit in all of us.”

Pursuing acting hasn’t meant abandoning basketball. He spent part of the pandemic helping build a court in Tanzania and uses lessons learned from the game. “Everything worthwhile is on the other side of your discomfort,” he says. “And the more one can tolerate that, embrace it, I think, the more one has the best chance of utilizing the most of one’s potential. That’s something I learned playing basketball.”

Family Hour: “Muppets Now” (Disney+)

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“Muppets Now,” which premieres Friday on Disney+ is the crew’s first new series since “The Muppets,” which premiered on ABC in 2015 and was canceled after a single season. Bill Barretta, a longtime Muppets performer and an executive producer on both shows, says the problem with the “The Muppets” was the tone. “It became more about the pathos and the struggle than the fun,” he says. “I think it lost its sense of play and fun.”

Each episode of “Muppets Now” is a collection of shorts stitched together. Segments include a lifestyle show hosted by Miss Piggy; a cooking show hosted by a new character, a turkey named Beverly Bloome, as well as the Swedish Chef (performed by Mr. Barretta); and a science segment hosted by Beaker and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew.

The show is unscripted, Mr. Barretta says: There are a few beats and jokes that have to be hit, but between marks Kermit and company—along with guests like Taye Diggs and Aubrey Plaza—roam free.

Mr. Barretta says the tone is about “getting back to the heart of these characters and playing and making people feel good. That’s what we do.”

SOURCE : WALL STREET JOURNAL

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Tarannum Naaz

Tarannum Naaz

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