Watching: What to Watch This Weekend

Drama, docs, teens …

Author Headshot

By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

Showtime announced this week that “Dexter” will have a 10-episode revival, tentatively scheduled to air in the fall of 2021. If you recall, “Dexter” was bad for longer than it was good, and its series finale was hilariously terrible. Our world has a lot of problems right now, and I’m not sure which ones are solved by having more “Dexter,” but we’ll see!

If you want to watch “Dexter,” it’s on Netflix. There are nine seasons, but stop after Season 4. (For my money, stop after Season 1. But lots of people like Season 4, so live your truth.)

Have a safe weekend.

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This weekend I have … an hour, and I miss hot goss

Dawn French in the first episode of “The Trouble With Maggie Cole.”Glass Houses Genial Productions for ITV

‘The Trouble With Maggie Cole’

When to watch: Sunday at 8 p.m., on PBS. (Check local listings.)

Dawn French stars as Maggie in this light six-part drama. A local historian, she is delighted to be interviewed on the radio, only to accidentally spill all her small town’s secrets — and not just the juicy stuff, some hurtful stuff, too. “Residents of tight-knit British community deal with emotional fallout from personal catastrophe” is usually reserved for murder shows, so it’s nice to see a lot of well-earned seething without the horrible violence. If you miss what it was like as a kid to run into your mom’s friend at the grocery store and then stand there for 20 minutes, happily scandalized, while learning lots of dirt, or if you just want to wear tasteful tunics and feel free, watch this.

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… two hours, and I’m a completist

India Oxenberg, as seen in “Seduced: Inside the Nxivm Cult.”Starz

‘Seduced: Inside the Nxivm Cult’; ‘The Vow’

When to watch: Sunday at 9 p.m., on Starz; Sunday, 10 p.m., HBO.

HBO’s nine-part series about Nxivm ends this weekend, and Starz’s better four-part series begins. While that might be cult overkill for some, the shows’ different approaches reflect some of the exact social shortcomings that facilitate abuse, namely a reluctance to point out — and, ideally, stamp out — misogyny. “Seduced,” which centers on the story of India Oxenberg, sees that as the clear through line, whereas “The Vow” buries some of Nxivm’s most shocking teachings until its eighth episode. Many times in recent months I have wondered how so many people can believe so many lies from such obvious charlatans, and these shed some light on that.

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… 10 hours, and I miss ‘Gilmore Girls’

Anjelica Bette Fellini, left, and Maddie Phillips in a scene from “Teenage Bounty Hunters.”Netflix

‘Teenage Bounty Hunters’

When to watch: Now, on Netflix.

The bad news is that Netflix canceled this wonderful show, but the good news is that it exists at all. It’s quirky and naughty and funny, the show so many teen shows think they are but aren’t quite, satirical and earnest often in the same scene. The fraternal twins Blair and Sterling (Anjelica Bette Fellini and Maddie Phillips) are students at a froufy Christian high school who stumble into a side gig as bounty hunters, so there are strong “Veronica Mars” vibes. But where that show had a deep sense of cynicism, “Bounty” has an often happy whimsy to it, more adjacent to a “Pushing Daisies.” If you like banter or “Buffy,” watch this.

Your newly available movies

Kelli Dillon, testifying about her experience, in “Belly of the Beast,” a documentary directed by Erika Cohn.Idle Wild Films/PBS Independent Lens

Documentaries once again dominate our critics’ most recommended titles, led by “David Byrne’s American Utopia,” Spike Lee’s filming of the joyous stage show, and “Belly of the Beast,” a harrowing exposé of coercive sterilization in the California prison system.

Some independent films are available via “virtual cinemas,” which share the rental fees between distributors and theaters. Unless otherwise noted, other titles can generally be rented on the usual platforms, including Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube. — Scott Tobias

‘Belly of the Beast’ (A Critic’s Pick; virtual cinema)

“Belly of the Beast” does not reach for happy endings and is most absorbing in its thesis, which makes the stakes of this battle against human rights violations loud and clear. Whistleblower testimonies, expert commentary and powerful archival footage are well-paced throughout the film and reveal a darker truth when it comes to advocating for the rights of incarcerated people. — Lovia Gyarkye (Read the full review here.)

‘David Byrne’s American Utopia’ (A Critic’s Pick; arrives Saturday on HBO and HBO Max)

Some filmed stage shows die on the screen from a sheer lack of visual energy and invention. Lee, a master of the art, uses cinema’s plasticity to complement this production, making it come alive in two dimensions. — Manohla Dargis (Read the full review here.)

‘Martin Eden’ (A Critic’s Pick; Kino Marquee virtual cinema)

The Italian director Pietro Marcello takes an inventive, excitingly irreverent approach to Jack London’s novel, which was published in 1909 to great critical censure. The book is a stunning heartbreaker, and Marcello — who transports this very American story to Italy — follows its sweep as he lingers on some of the milestones in Martin’s transformational journey, his new friends and philosophies. — Manohla Dargis (Read the full review here.)

‘Totally Under Control’

Most of what’s in “Totally Under Control” has been thoroughly covered elsewhere, and even the particular clips of angry, maskless supermarket shoppers are likely to be familiar to many viewers. To the extent that this fast-paced recap has a method, it’s to distill the institutional failings of the past year to a continuously involving and outraging two-hour highlight reel. — Ben Kenigsberg (Read the full review here.)

‘White Riot’ (A Critic’s Pick; Film Movement virtual cinema)

The movie is especially compelling in its depiction of political organization in the analog age. — Glenn Kenny (Read the full review here.)

Also newly available:

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