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Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week.
— What’s better than a Mahershala Ali performance? How about two? In Benjamin Cleary’s “Swan Song,” Ali plays a terminally ill family man who turns to an experimental cloning lab (Glenn Close plays its lead doctor) in order to spare his pregnant wife (Naomie Harris) and young son (Dax Rey) the pain of losing him. The duplication process is total, right down to his most subconscious memories. It’s a somber and emotional sci-fi drama, full of existential quandary as Ali’s dying man struggles with his decision and the difficulty of letting go. It debuts Wednesday on Apple TV+ and in theaters.
— In “The Hand of God,” Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino, who directed the luminous Oscar-winning Roman odyssey “The Great Beauty” turns southward to his hometown of Naples for an autobiographical film based on his 1980s childhood. In my review, I wrote that “Sorrentino, a melancholy but ecstatic filmmaker with an eager, energetic camera, is in much the same mood here, finding divine splendor in the everyday and the profane.” “The Hand of God,” which begins streaming Wednesday on Netflix, was the Golden Lion winner at the Venice Film Festival, and a pick for The Associated Press’ best films of 2021.
— In an unusual twist, the recent Walt Disney Co. release “Ron’s Gone Wrong” will land on both Disney+ and HBO Max on Wednesday after its theatrical run. The unusual arrangement is because of a soon-to-be-phased-out output deal between 20th Century Fox (which Disney acquired) and Warner Bros. But for now you have the choice of either platform for streaming this comic animated adventure about technology addiction and human companionship. While all the other kids have sleeker, high-functioning computerized sidekicks, Barney Pudowski (Jack Dylan Grazer) has a damaged, malfunctioning bot that can’t connect to the Internet (voiced by Zach Galifianakis). In his review, the AP’s Mark Kennedy said the movie “thinks it’s being subversive when it’s really being very corporate.”
— AP Film Writer Jake Coyle
— Acorn TV’s “The Larkins” is a feel-good period family drama set in Kent, England, and based on the 1958 H.E. Bates’ novel “The Darling Buds of May” (credit Shakespeare for the title). The Larkins include Pop (Bradley Walsh), Ma (Joanna Scanlan) and their six children — among them restless Mariette (Sabrina Bartlett, who played Siena in “Bridgerton”). The ’50s rural setting is idyllic and the family generous and good-hearted, but Pop’s sketchy business dealings provoke village gossip. The series opens Monday, Dec. 13, with two episodes, with others out weekly on the streaming service.
— Two makers of the dearly departed “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Phil Augusta Jackson and Dan Goor, are jumping back into the sitcom pool with NBC’s “Grand Crew.” It’s set in a Los Angeles wine bar where young professional pals gather to hash out the highs and lows of their lives (“Cheers” minus the beer?). Among them: Nicole Byer (host of “Nailed It!”) as an ambitious real-estate agent and Anthony (Aaron Jennings, “Insecure”) who’s married to his career. “Grand Crew” gets a two-episode preview at 8 p.m. EST Tuesday, Dec. 14, settling into its 8:30 p.m. EST time slot Jan. 4.
— If the success of “Yellowstone” for Paramount+ makes it a hard act to follow, how about a prequel to the Dutton family saga? “Yellowstone” co-creator Taylor Sheridan is obliging with “1883,” described as a retelling of Western expansion though the impoverished family’s journey toward a new chapter in pre-statehood Montana. Sam Elliott, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Billy Bob Thornton star in the drama debuting Sunday, Dec. 19. “Yellowstone,” the modern Dutton story with Kevin Costner as the patriarch of a ranching empire, is in its fourth season on the streaming service.
— AP Television Writer Lynn Elber