More than Marvel and Mickey on packed Disney+ services

NEXT looks at streaming Best Bets all week, today, Disney+

As Omicron shuts down fun across Canada, we’ll be back spending more time in front of our screens. NEXT takes a look at Best Bets on all major streaming services this week. Today we start with Disney+.

Disney has been very explicit that its goal is nothing less than to replace Netflix as the world’s No. 1 streaming service. And to do it, it is aggressively assembling and creating content. A Disney+ stream not only includes the entire Disney, Marvel, Star Wars and The Simpsons catalogues but also other channels, including Star and National Geographic.

With all that inventory, it’s easy to lose track of hidden gems and recent releases. Here are some shows we don’t want you to miss and that might help during whatever version of semi-lockdown we are currently experiencing.

Scene from The Book of Boba Fett

The Book of Boba Fett

New and Notable

Where: Disney+
What: Series, 7 episodes, 38 – 51 mins.
When: New episodes released Wednesday, began Dec. 29, 2021
Genre: Science-fiction
Why you should watch: You don’t need to know all of the Star Wars backstory to jump into this tale of complicated bounty hunter Boba Fett as he takes over a gang territory from recently ousted Jabba the Hutt. Tons of cool creatures move casually through scenes delivering all of the trademark Star Wars fantastical delight. Hardly a good guy, Fett is certainly not all bad as he negotiates leading an unruly domain, he somewhat ambivalently rules, iron-fisted nonetheless. This show will more than satisfy those waiting for the return of The Mandalorian. And the slight Power Rangers vibe will satisfy ’90s nostalgia cravings.

Scene from Becoming Coustea

Becoming Cousteau

Recent and Recommended

Where: National Geographic
What: Movie, 94 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Documentary
Why you should watch: Watch legendary environmentalist Jacques Cousteau go from swashbuckling, macho undersea adventurer to dedicated earth warrior committed to saving the seas he once treated like an adventure playground. This honest doc shows how the oil industry attempted to seduce the seductive scientist, trying to get him to utilize technology he invented, like the aqualung and submersible cameras, to develop oil exploration. Cousteau eventually rejects this option, but it isn’t until his repeated voyages undersea creating incredibly popular, uncritical TV nature shows reveal a rapidly deteriorating ecosystem that he becomes one of the world’s most impassioned voices for the environment. Solid family man? Not so much.

Scene from The Rescue

The Rescue

Where: National Geographic
What: Movie, 114 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Documentary
Why you should watch: Deserving winner of audience choice best documentary honours at TIFF this year, The Rescue will likely get Oscar consideration. It’s a riveting doc detailing the remarkable rescue of 12 teenaged soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand in 2018. Real footage and some re-enactments by the actual heroes tell an inspiring tale of teamwork, with tension made bearable only because we know it has a happy ending.

Screenshot from Only Murders in the Building

Only Murders in the Building

Where: Disney +
What: Series, 11 episodes, 30 mins.
When: Now, second season coming
Genre: Whodunit mystery
Why you should watch: Selena Gomez keeps veteran comedians Steve Martin and Martin Short relevant as the quirky neighbours in a classy Upper West Side New York City apartment who get drawn into solving a murder in their building. Gomez is the edgy youth to the charming codgers on a show that cleverly taps into the true-crime podcast craze.

Screenshot from Reservation Dogs

Reservation Dogs

Where: Star
What: Series, 8 episodes, 28 mins.
When: Now, second season confirmed
Genre: Dramedy
Why you should watch: A group of wannabe-badass Indigenous teens on an Oklahoma reservation are determined to fund a move to L.A. with petty crime. Funny and searingly authentic — which is no surprise with its almost all-Indigenous cast and crew. Oscar winner Taika Waititi (Best Adapted Screenplay, Jojo Rabbit) is a show creator and Canadian D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai stars.

Screenshot from Happier Than Ever

Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles

Where: Disney+
What: Movie, 65 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Concert film
Why you should watch: Versatile director Robert Rodriguez (Spy KidsFrom Dusk Till Dawn) lushly presents Billie Eilish and brother, recent NEXT cover boy, Finneas, performing her new album in an eerily empty Hollywood Bowl — at times with the L.A. Philharmonic. Animated Eilish also appears in scenes around her favourite town, and while the film is a love letter to L.A., it’s also a love letter to the beautifully presented singer.

Screenshot from Get Back

Get Back

Where: Disney+
What: Limited series, 3 episodes, approx. 160 mins. each
When: Now
Genre: Documentary
Why you should watch: Astonishingly revealing and intimate look inside the creative process, and complicated relationships and friendships, between The Beatles in their final, incredibly productive days as a band.

Beatles fan and Academy Award-winning director Peter Jackson lets the band tell their own story, using their 50-year-old words to explain these miraculous days creating music for the Let it Be and Abbey Road albums. It’s worth watching just for the complete rooftop performance, The Beatles last ever as a band.

But there is so much more to enjoy in this feast of insight that ultimately humanizes four people that have become so iconic it is almost impossible to view them as flesh-and-blood creatures. This film changes that and ultimately, we can all take some pleasure in knowing that they had fun making music that has brought millions joy.

Screenshot from The Americans

The Americans

Where: Star
What: Series, 6 seasons, 75 episodes, 50 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Cold War drama
Why you should watch: Even if the Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR is the distant stuff of spy movies and grandparents’ tales, this story of two Soviet agents posing as a classic American family in ’70s Washington, D.C., is a remarkable domestic drama as well as riveting spy story of espionage, double crosses and just-how-far-will-they-go. Spectacular, complex performances from Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as cold-blooded killing Mom and Dad help propel a show with superior storytelling, fantastic ’70s art direction and awesome retro style.

Screenshot from The Great North

The Great North

Where: Star
What: Series, 3 seasons, 23 episodes, 21 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Adult animation
Why you should watch: In Alaska, a single dad with four kids, including teenaged twins, pretends their missing mom is deceased rather than has run away, and the 16-year-old daughter has visitations from Alanis Morrissette’s spirit (actually voiced by Alanis!). Dry and funny — sometimes awkwardly and sometimes fully laugh out loud — as kids seem to be raising their damaged father in the northern backwoods.

Screenshot from Dopesick

Dopesick

Where: Disney+
What: Mini-series, 8 episodes, 60 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Docu-drama
Why you should watch: A stellar cast and great storytelling propel this compelling, fact-based drama that digs deep into what — and who — has created the OxyContin-driven opioid crisis. Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard and Rosario Dawson are just some of the top talent telling a tale that’s part Succession, part classic crime procedural  and part family drama — all while probing an essential issue of our time. It works as a solid drama and feels like an expose.

Screenshot from Star Wars Visions

Star Wars: Visions

Where: Disney +
What: Limited series, 10 episodes, 12 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Anime
Why you should watch: Seven of Japan’s top anime studios are unleashed on the Star Wars universe, borrowing themes, characters, gadgets and more to create 10 gorgeous, self-contained episodes. And it’s as cool as it sounds as each studio takes its own inspired and often very different approach to the Star Wars universe — which originally borrowed from Japanese myths and culture.

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