What to Watch: Mahershala Ali Leads Season 3 of “True Detective”

Plus, two cop shows "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and Amazon's "Informer."

January 11, 2019 5:00 am

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.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine season 6 (NBC)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one of the most talked about shows on television right now. Mainly that’s because after Fox pulled the plug on the quirky cop sitcom due to declining viewership, only for a social media campaign so loud that NBC picked up the show the very next day. And why not? Andy Samberg, Terry Crews, Chelsea Peretti, and others make it one of the strongest sitcom casts ever. Thursday marks the premiere of the sixth season and it’s beginning on NBC. If you’ve been a fan you’ll notice per reviews not much has changed. If you’re wondering what all of the fuss is about and why Samberg (series lead) hosted the Oscars alongside the magnificent Sandra Oh, now would be a good time to turn your eyes towards Nine-Nine.

Informer (Prime Video)

If quirky, lighthearted sitcoms aren’t the way you prefer to watch detectives do their dirty work, Amazon has a new, darker U.K series dropping in full Friday. Nabhaan Rizwan plays Raza, a young Pakistani man who is coerced into joining Britain’s anti-terrorist unit after an untimely arrest for party drugs. Despite not knowing any terrorists, he’s used for the color of his skin to infiltrate organized crime and act as an informant for the force. Yeah, it’s f*cked up. The critically acclaimed BBC series Bodyguard was faulted for its lack of nuance in portraying current race relations in Britain, and Informer rewrites those wrongs. Even if you’re just an average guy like Raza, those in power can group you all together. How deep Raza entangles himself into Pakistani terrorism at the behest of British intelligence depends on how well he can prove he’s one of the good guys, despite the color of his skin.

The Last Laugh (Netflix)

Comedy legend Chevy Chase plays Al Hart, a retired comic manager, who runs into an old client, Buddy Green played by Richard Dreyfuss, at the retirement home. In Bad Grandpa fashion they break out of assisted living, literally escaping from the old folks’ community, to give Dreyfuss one last comedy tour and attempt to land a booking on The Tonight Show. Lewis Black , Kate Micucci, and Chris Parnell all make an appearance in the movie as well. 

Sex Education (Netflix)

Shows about young people learning life’s most sacred act will always be easy material for showrunners. Some are gritty (Skins), some are funny (Chewing Gum), and some are accurate (Big Mouth). The British series Sex Education seems to focus more on being funny than dramatic and realistic. Asa Butterfield plays Otis, a teen virgin with a sex therapist for a mom, who is convinced by another student to run a side business as the unofficial school sex therapist. Ya know, because if your mom is a doctor you naturally absorb that talent in the womb. His best friend sees it as a way to become more popular, and suddenly Otis is mentoring masturbation addicts and teaching students how to manage their new, unruly hair growth. But of course it’s a teen drama, so crushes will form, hearts will break, and Otis will eventually do, as the Brits say, some shagging.

True Detective season 3 (HBO)

I’m going to be honest. I’ve never seen True Detective. I watched four episodes of NCIS many years ago and decided I didn’t like crime dramas. The only time I feel like I’ve missed out on something special was FX’s The People v. O. J. Simpson. But Mahershala Ali, whose star power is still rising after winning an Oscar for Moonlight and more recently Golden Globe for Green Book, will be the reason I tune in to the third season of a long-troubled series.

True Detective has always been more about the star than the story. Often drama and plot twist lag behind character and setting development. Season 3 follows Ali as Wayne Hays, a retired, 70-year-old detective suffering from dementia and memory loss. Throughout the season Hays remembers a November 1980 kidnapping-murder case of two siblings in rural Arkansas. Flashing between the present (2015), his early days as a young detective struggling with Vietnam-related PTSD, and 10 years after the 1980 case when it’s reopened. Reviews are par for the course for True Detective, claiming the show focuses on “style over substance.” This third season will require a dedicated viewer, but you should watch if you want to understand the praise for Ali’s performance that will no doubt be remembered at the next awards season.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.