Originals-only means quality over quantity on Apple TV+

Stars descend on series and movies made for Apple only.

Since it only shows original material, there’s not a lot of content — relatively speaking — on Apple TV+ yet, but there are still plenty of gems to be found, including exclusive movies and slickly produced series. Here are the “honey crisp” equivalents among  the Apple+ offerings.

Screenshot from The Tragedy of Macbeth

The Tragedy of Macbeth

New and Notable

Where: Apple TV+
What: Movie, 105 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Shakespearean tragedy
Why you should watch: Legendary auteur and cheap wine pitchman Orson Welles made a version of Macbeth in the mid 1940s, around the same time as his magnificent film, The Third Man. If the great filmmaker were alive today, this is the film he might have made with top-of-their-game actors Francis McDormand and Denzel Washington masterfully playing key roles. Shot in stark and beautiful black and white that feels like the colour has been surgically drained from it (like removing blood), writer, director and McDormand’s spouse Joel Cohen — working without his brother for the first time — delivers a disturbing and compelling film that justifies dusting off the Bard. Watch with subtitles on and count on major Oscar buzz, especially for Washington.

Screenshot form The Afterparty

The After Party

Where: Apple TV+
What: Series, 8 episodes, 35 – 48 mins.
When: new episodes every Friday starting Jan. 28
Genre: Crime, comedy
Why you should watch: Apple gets in one the whimsical crime whodunit shows similar in vibe to Disney+ Only Murders in the Building. A Class of 2006 high school reunion afterparty, hosted at the California beachside mansion of Bieber-esque school show-off masterfully, vacuously played by Dave Franco — James’s little brother — goes tragically awry, and mystery, mayhem and mirth follow.

Tiffany Haddish plays the laidback detective who shows up determined to grill the disheveled guests and find the murderer. When her goofy sidekick assistant, examining the crime scene, declares, “There’s shrimp everywhere, cooked shrimp so, not from the ocean,” we know there will be laughs along with the skullduggery. Haddish’s declaration to “get the corn starch, the plot thickens” confirms the light-hearted tone on a show that still manages to engage viewers with mystery. Fun, clever escapism worth it for the fake Hall and Oates Private Eyes bio pic trailer alone.

Schmigadoon! screenshot


Recent and Recommended

Where: Apple TV+
What: Series, 6 episodes, 38 mins.
When: Now, second season coming
Genre: Musical comedy
Why you should watch: SNLers deliver an upbeat and bizarre series that appeals both to people who love musicals and those who hate them. Cicely Strong (Saturday Night Live) and Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele, Veep)  play a pair whose ill-fated couple’s therapy hike lands them in a world that’s a non-stop musical from the Golden Age of Hollywood (the ’40s and ’50s to be exact). There is much absurd singing and dancing as well as hilarious, sly asides.

Read More

Screenshot from The Shrink Next Door

The Shrink Next Door

Where: Apple TV+
What: Series, 8 episodes, 40 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: Based on the Bloomberg podcast of the same name, this pit-in-your-stomach watch dives headfirst into the true story of a power-hungry New York therapist conning his patient out of millions of dollars and into controlling his entire life. With comedy stars Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Kathryn Hahn and Casey Wilson leading the cast, one might assume this true story would be a quirky Judd Apatow-type production about the shenanigans millionaire textile businessman Martin “Marty” Markowitz and his charming therapist, Dr. Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf, get up to together. Spoiler alert: it’s not.

Mr. Corman screenshot

Mr. Corman

Where: Apple TV+
What: Series, 10 episodes, 30 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Dramedy
Why you should watch: Joseph Gordon-Levitt creates, directs and stars in this clever series about a millennial fifth-grade teacher stuck in a rut — his music career tanked, single after breaking off an engagement and not too fond of his friends. Gordon-Levitt’s vivid imagination takes what could be a clichéd storyline and makes it a spellbinding and wholly unique watch.

For All Mankind screenshot

For All Mankind

Where: Apple TV+
What: Series, 2 seasons, 60 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Drama
Why you should watch: Mankind presumes the 1960sspace race, the Soviet Union and the Cold War just kept on going, processing misogyny, racism, homophobia and more along the way. The first season is set in the ’60s while the just-wrapped second season offers a twisted version of Ronald Reagan’s America in the ’80s with a satisfying soap opera-esque narrative that bounces between the moon and the Earth. Season three confirmed.

Screenshot from 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything

1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything

Where: Apple TV+
What: TV series, 8 episodes, 50 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Docuseries
Why you should watch: During a period of intense political and cultural upheaval, rock was the voice of the people, as this series shows with incredible footage from ’70s vaults. With narration by rock stars and their associates, both dead and alive — like Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell and Tina Turner — the viewing experience feels like being dropped right into the streets of 1971.

Screenshot from Beastie Boys Story

Beastie Boys Story

Where: Apple TV+
What: Movie, 119 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Documentary
Why you should watch: The two surviving Beastie Boys present a “live” documentary: The story of the band told through historical footage that’s commented on in front of a live audience by Mike D and Adam Horovitz. The “Boys” very much seem like men, kind of old men, when they are narrating on stage with a kind of after-dinner-speech energy, but the insights and video clips make up for the reminders of verbose uncles. Fans will appreciate this largely honest look at the band while Beastie-newbies will get much-needed insights into the band’s role in helping expand the hip-hop revolution.

Screenshot from The Morning Show

The Morning Show

Where: Apple TV+
What: Series, 2 seasons, 20 episodes, 60 mins.
When: Now, new season in 2022
Genre: Dramedy:
Why you should watch: Your enjoyment of The Morning Show directly depends on how much empathy you can muster for extremely good looking, mostly well-employed, wealthy people who muse about their problems in private jets and chauffeur-driven limos. And they do have real problems, including misogyny, racism and the emergence of COVID-19. The show is set on a network TV morning show — duh — as Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon play the show’s anchors who battle networks, sexism and each other.

Billy Crudup is superb as the network CEO who occasionally explores having a conscience and the slickly made show has all the crispness — coldness? — of an Aaron Sorkin-produced show, which it is not. Fun in a Gripe-styles of the Rich and Famous kind of way, it does tackle big issues; just don’t use your Hermès scarf to wipe away any tears.

Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry screenshot

Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry

Where: Apple TV+
What: Movie, 140 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Documentary
Why you should watch: Disney+ might have the latest Billie Eilish performance film — the spectacular Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles — but this film is the more rewarding and revealing documentary. While Eilish was already on top of the world when this doc was made, it’s still remarkably intimate and personal, with adorable footage of Eilish and her now-also-a-star brother, Finneas, as they collaborate musically and just goof around in her childhood bedroom. Her loving parents emerge as adorable and supportive while a No-Good Boyfriend doesn’t last the film. Eilish meeting her hero, Justin Bieber, at Coachella is a touching and raw moment, and their unique friendship is credible and sweet. Feels like we’ll never again get such a close look at Eilish, whose star has, remarkably, risen even higher since this film.

You Might Also Like

Hockey team posing
TV & Movies / Reviews

‘Letterkenny’ crew goes for twofer with great new hockey series, Shorsey

The story relocates the titular Shoresy to Sudbury, with no real mention or [...]

By Michael Hollett