Apple TV+ in 2021, Part 1 - Jonathan’s Picks

11 Jan

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Apple TV+ is now in its second year of existence.

As I discussed previously, it’s starting to find it’s voice. Apple’s approach, as with other areas in the company, has been slow and steady with a focus on quality.

Lot’s of TV+ original content has been announced for year two. While there are no premiere dates for new shows and some haven’t even started filming, there’s already some that are standing out for me. Sigmund will be back tomorrow with his picks.

Here are the new shows I have my eye on:

The Afterparty - A murder mystery comedy from Phil Lord & Chris Miller, the two genius writer/directors responsible for Clone High, 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie and getting fired from ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ for being too funny. As if this wasn't reason enough to tune in the cast is stacked with comedy talent. Deep breath: Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Ben Schwartz, Ike Barinholtz, Ilana Glazer, Dave Franco, Jamie Demetriou, and John Early. The concept is also intriguing. Per The AV Club: "Each episode (eight in total) will focus on a different character’s perspective of the same night, and the film genre and visual format will change to suit the character’s personality". Being a huge fan of the creators and many of the cast this is probably the show I'm most excited for.

Earthsound - A series showcasing the sounds of the natural world from Offspring Films, a company created by a lot of the team behind the BBC David Attenborough series. I’m really hoping that this will utilise the Spatial Audio abilities of AirPods Pro & Max. As I mentioned on Magic Rays of Light, the biggest disappointment of the new AirPods Max is that they can’t utilise Spatial Audio with an Apple TV, just iPhones and iPads.

Five Days at Memorial - This is an adaptation of Sheri Fink's book, telling the story of the first five days in a New Orleans hospital after Hurricane Katrina. The hospital lost power, and while they waited to be rescued, people had to make life or death decisions on patients, including the question of euthanasia. Fink is producing, and it will be written by John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, Guerilla) and Carlton Cuse (Bates Motel, Lost). This promises to be a powerful story.

Shantaram - This series follows a bank robber who escapes to Mumbai but gets stranded there and is forced to reinvent himself living in the slums. It’s been plagued by production shutdowns due to weather and departing writers. However, late last year, Steve Lightfoot was installed as head writer and things are back on track. I’m a big fan of his work on the near-perfect series Hannibal and flawed-but-engrossing series The Punisher, so along with the intriguing premise, this has my eye.

Severance - A workplace thriller about a company that offers a procedure that separates workplace memories from other memories. I always love a high-concept series, and this thriller seems very much like that. It also has a fantastic cast with Adam Scott, Patricia Arquette, John Turturro, Christopher Walken, and is directed by Ben Stiller.

Schmigadoon! - This musical comedy from the writers of Despicable me and produced by Lorne Michaels(SNL) starring Cecily Strong, Keegan-Michael Key, Alan Cumming, Fred Armisen, Kristin Chenoweth, Jane Krakowski. Having read the series description here, it sounds wonderfully nutty in the vein of other Lorne Michaels-produced comedies like 30 Rock, The Other Two, The Mapleworth Murders and Miracle Workers.

Slow Horses - When Apple talks about prestige content, this exemplifies what they mean. With an A-List cast including Gary Oldman, Kristen Scott Thomas, Jonathan Pryce, Olivia Cooke and Jack Lowden there’s no arguing with the talent. Though again, it’s the writer I’m most excited about. Graham Yost was responsible for Justified, one of the most underrated of the last 20 years. He also wrote on The Americans, Band of Brothers & The Pacific. He’s a great showrunner, and I'm excited to see what he does on this.

Finally, there’s Masters of the Air - This is the third in the series of war dramas from Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg (also produced by Graham Yost, see above) following on from Band of Brothers and The Pacific. Several episodes will be directed by Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, No Time To Die) who promises to bring some fantastic thrills to the screen. In case you need reminding he was responsible for this amazing one-shot.

There are many other big names like Brie Larson and Damien Chazelle coming too, but these are the ones I have my eye on in particular.

‍Jonathan Reed
Jonathan, ScreenTimes’ Contributing Editor has been lucky enough to work on Apple products his whole life, ever since his Dad brought home a Mac Performa aged 11 (him, not his Dad). Apple is just engrained in his life, especially nowadays, as a graphic designer. His nerdy enthusiasm for Apple is only matched by his love of TV and film. Whether a buzz-worthy new show or blockbuster, a small cult show or an indie film, he’ll watch it. So Apple TV meets right in the middle of that Venn diagram! He also writes on his personal site, He lives in London and is writing his own bio in the third person.