What to Watch: “Luke Cage” and the Return of Kevin Costner

From a weed-based cooking show to comic book television, relive your twenties this weekend.

June 22, 2018 5:00 am
Kevin Costner in 'Yellowstone.' (Paramount)
Kevin Costner in 'Yellowstone.' (Paramount)

Welcome to What to Watch, a series where we tell you the best shows, movies and series out right now, both on networks and streaming services.

Yellowstone (Paramount)

Kevin Costner finally noticed that television is where you go to get award season hardware…especially if you are an older actor in need of relevancy-injection. It’s true! What Quentin Tarantino did for Travolta’s career in Pulp Fiction can now be achieved just by starring in a “prestige” drama. (Which explains how HBO managed to snag Sir Anthony Hopkins, Geoffrey Wright, Thandie Newton and Ed Harris to star in a show about the struggles of amusement park robots.)

Still, Paramount is an odd choice for a former leading man to lay down his oats, mostly because we’re not really sure where to find Paramount on our channel listings. Yellowstone, meanwhile, is a perfect vehicle for Costner: “John Dutton tries to protect his ranch, the largest in the United States, from land developers, an Indian reservation and America’s first National Park.”

That’s essentially the same concept as Field of Dreams, but without the ghosts.

Marvel’s Luke Cage (Netflix)

The first season of Luke Cage wasn’t the worst piece of programming in the world–hell, with Mahershala Ali as the big bad, Luke Cage wasn’t even the worst Marvel show on Netflix. (Sorry, Iron Fist, you will always be the worst.)

Still, Marvel’s Luke Cage fell into the same trap as the rest of that MCU-on-Netflix: it was too long, too overly-stuffed with unnecessary B-plots and flashbacks, too self-serious where it could have used a lighter touch. Still, it was worth watching for Mike Colter’s take on the bulletproof superhero saving Harlem.

Season 2 of the series premiered on Thursday, and it’s clear the show is taking notes from its critics: focusing more on the allegiance-swapping of the villains (including the amazing Alfre Woodard, Theo Rossi and newcomer Mustafa Shakir), while putting Luke’s own burgeoning relationship with Night Nurse Claire (Rosario Dawson) on the backburner. Finally, someone working on a Marvel TV show understood that it’s infinity more interesting to watch bad guys fight amongst themselves than it is to have them all simultaneously go head-to-head with a superhero.

Love Means Zero (Showtime)

It may sound a little glib to try to sum up this documentary as “Whiplash but for tennis,” but, no, that’s exactly what we’re dealing with here. At 86-years-old, Nick Bollettieri is an infamous legend, having trained winners like from Jim Courier, Monica Seles, Kathleen Horvath, Carling Bassett and Boris Becker and Andre Agassi. Unfortunately, Bollettieri’s openly-hostile and volatile persona has cost him exactly eight failed marriages, financial ruin and a rift between himself and Agassi, his surrogate son on the court.

It’s a fascinating look at the strange relationship between coaches and their players, warts and all. If you need any other reason to watch, Love Means Zero had a prestigious premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival before being picked up by Showtime.

Preacher (AMC)

Seth Rogen, Sam Catlin and  Evan Goldberg’s adaptation of  Garth Ennis’ Vertigo comic series premieres its third season this weekend, and what a strange and welcome palet-cleanser it is after 2018’s oversaturated superhero landscape. At this point, I’m just happy when a show like Preacher–with its ultra-violent weirdness–can survive and thrive without being immediately franchised into a Six Flags ride.

In that way, Preacher isn’t unlike Legion, Noah Hawley’s purposely perplexing, if visually stunning, series over at FX. Both exist in a world independent from “expanded universe” crossovers, allowing you to enjoy the story on its own merits, instead of just a piece of a larger story. Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga and Joseph Gilgun return as the series’ lead as Jesse Custer, a former preacher turned criminal who can make people do his bidding; his ex, Tulip and Cassidy, a young Irish vampire. This season they’ll be joined by a truly enviable supporting cast including Tony winner Betty Buckley, Colin Cunningham and Liz McGeever. For fans of the New Weird, Preacher is your perfect poison.

Cooking on High (Netflix)

In the last several years, there’s been an overhaul in public perception about cannabis: it’s now so mainstream, thanks to legalization and decriminalization (and, of course, well-paid lobbyists) that a whole boutique industry of weed-related food events can thrive openly. Hell, if Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg can do it, surely it’s okay for the rest of us.

Where, once upon a time, a show like Cooking on High would have been regulated to a Vice show or at least a late-night Adult Swim programming, it’s now a part of Netflix’s bingeable content, adding to the streaming service’s increasing foodie-related coverage that doesn’t take itself so seriously. (Think: Nailed It! The Great British Bake-Off, Chef’s Table, Cooked, I’ll Have What Phil’s Having, The Mind of a Chef, etc.) 

In a twist on conventional cooking competitions, Cooking on High has two contestants each episode cook THC-spiked meals for a panel of celebrity guests. YouTube celebrity Josh Leyva hosts.

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