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What to Watch This Week: February 3 to 9

From the return of acclaimed comedy Abbott Elementary to the arrival of new B.C.-set reality series Timber Titans, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week

1. Genius: MLK/X – Sunday, February 4, National Geographic | Season Premiere

Genius: MLK/X on National Geographic. Pictured: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X
National Geographic

Previous seasons of this Emmy-winning anthology series focused on the lives of titular geniuses Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso and Aretha Franklin. The fourth season, for the first time ever, focuses on two famous figures: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) and Malcolm X (Aaron Pierre), exploring how their parallel but markedly different paths in their respective battles for the rights of African-Americans may have diverged, yet ultimately came together to usher America through the Civil Rights Movement. Genius: MLK/X follows the journeys of both men, from their formative years — in which both were molded by strong fathers and traumatic injustices — to their radically different roles as disturbers of the status quo. While King preached non-violent resistance, Malcolm X found his voice through the Nation of Islam, demanding that Black people rise up in self-defense against the racial violence inflicted upon them. 

2. Timber Titans – Monday, February 5, Discovery | Series Premiere

Timber Titans on Discovery. Pictured: Logger in forest.

A new series from the folks behind Highway Thru Hell takes viewers deep into the woods of B.C., tagging along with four logging companies as they harvest one of the Great White North’s most valuable resources — battling harsh weather, rough terrain and personality clashes every last step of the way.

3. Raël: The Last Prophet – Wednesday, February 7, Netflix | Series Premiere

Rael: The Last Prophet on Netflix. Pictured: Rael who, more than 40 years ago, claimed to have had an encounter with aliens.

More than 40 years ago, French journalist and and race car driver Claude Vorilhon claimed to have had an encounter with aliens from outer space. He emerged from that alleged experience as Raël, a self-professed prophet who claimed that the extraterrestrials he met were members of an alien race called the Elohim, who were responsible for no less a feat than the creation of humanity. Raël went on to found what has become the world’s largest UFO-centred religion, boasting more than 130,000 adherents in 80 different nations, all awaiting the day when the Elohim will return to Earth.

 While the Raëlians describe the group as an organization, it’s more often been characterized as a cult, and has experienced plenty of controversy over the years — such as the Raëlians’ claim a few years back that they’d successfully cloned human babies, along with the group’s use of the swastika in its symbology, and its reputation as a free-love sex cult. Featuring interviews with his followers, critics and Raël himself, this new Netflix docuseries traces how a UFO-inspired religion with a few devotees spiralled into the massive movement it’s become. “I’m the last prophet, a messenger, nothing more,” Raël says at one point in the show. Former Raëlians, however, offer a different view, claiming they were used as sex slaves by an avaricious cult leader. 

4. Abbott Elementary – Wednesday, February 7, Global & ABC | Series Premiere

Abbott Elementary on Global & ABC. Pictured: A group of teachers brought together in one of the worst public schools in the country, simply because they love teaching.

There are plenty of “popular” sitcoms on the air — shows that score well in the all-important Nielsen ratings. Much rarer is a show that gives its viewers the visceral thrills they’re after (i.e. non-stop chuckles) while also striking a more profound chord with the specific life experience being explored. Yet that’s what Abbott Elementary has achieved in its two seasons thus far.

Created by and starring Quinta Brunson — loosely inspired by the experiences of her own mother, who worked as a teacher in the public school system — the ABC hit follows the eclectic array of educators at a Philadelphia school as they laugh through the pain of their underfunded, overworked existence.

The show was an immediate hit with viewers and critics alike, ultimately scoring Brunson an Emmy in season one for Best Writing — and, just a few weeks ago, a Best Leading Actress trophy for season two.

Season three arrives tonight with a special one-hour premiere in which the indefatigable Janine (Brunson) plans a district-wide career day. Meanwhile, Melissa must respond to a “surprising question” and Ava changes up her approach to the job.  

Speaking with Deadline about what’s to come, Brunson said: “I have planned out season three. I really think of writing Abbott, or writing maybe any good TV show, like you’re writing a book. And I think a lot of people, a lot of authors, they know what the end of the book is, but the journey on the way is just about getting there and finding exciting turns. It’s different with 22 episodes of network television because while I have specific points I want to hit, we have so many episodes . . . But I know what I want the ending of Abbott to be, which helps me. We’re just going toward that point. And I don’t know how many seasons we’ll have, [but] as long as I keep that ending in mind, we can always move toward it.”

5. Allegiance – Wednesday, February 7, CBC | Series Premiere

Allegiance on CBC. Pictured: Supinder Wraich as Sabrian Sohal.

This B.C.-shot crime drama stars Supinder Wraich (Sort Of) as Sabrina Sohal, a rising star rookie cop in Surrey who finds herself grappling with the limits of the justice system as she polices the streets, while also fighting to exonerate her politician father (Stephen Lobo, Continuum). She’s under the watchful eye of veteran training officer Vince Brambilla (Enrico Colantoni, interviewed on page 62 of this issue), who sees her potential but doesn’t always agree with her methods.

6. An Optimist’s Guide to the Planet – Thursday, February 8, HBO Canada | Series Premiere

An Optimist's Guide to the Planet: Crave. Pictured: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

This inspiring new docuseries follows Game of Thrones alum Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as he embarks on a globe-trotting journey in search of people in various parts of the world who are helping drive humanity toward a brighter, more sustainable future. 

7. Tokyo Vice – Thursday, February 8, Crave (Stream) | Season Premiere

Tokyo Vice on Crave. Pcitrued: Ansel Elgort

The filmmaker behind such indelible thrillers as The Last of the Mohicans, Heat and Collateral, Michael Mann is currently enjoying a box-office renaissance with hit biopic Ferrari. But he’s also still got one foot firmly planted in the TV landscape. Back in 2022, the man who wrote for NBC’s Miami Vice returned to the small screen as an exec producer on Tokyo Vice. Based on the memoir by Jake Adelstein (played here by West Side Story’s Ansel Elgort), the 1990s-set drama follows the ambitious U.S. journalist as he probes the Japanese capital’s criminal underworld. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, creator J.T. Rogers teased: “What you don’t want to do in a season two is let people get comfortable, either those of us making it or those onscreen. We tried to create voices that bring something new to the story and say, ‘No, we’re going to change the rules.’ ”

8. Halo – Thursday, February 8, Paramount+ | Season Premiere

Halo on Paramount+. Pictured: Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief

For decades upon decades, video game fans have suffered through sub-par adaptations of their favourite titles. But just recently, the tide has begun to turn, with HBO’s The Last of Us becoming the talk of television, and hits like The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Five Nights at Freddy’s dominating the box office. On top of that, we have Paramount+’s Halo — a big-budget TV spin on one of the most popular first-person shooters of all time, which debuted its first season back in 2022. 

Set in the 26th century, the sci-fi thriller follows a soldier codenamed Master Chief (Orange Is the New Black’s Pablo Schreiber) leading a team of intergalactic commandos against the alien hordes of the Covenant, who are out to conquer humanity. 

Season two blasts off on Thursday with two new episodes, as a disastrous evacuation mission gives our hero the sense that this war is changing . . . and that another threat is emerging closer to home. Meanwhile, Fleet Command undergoes a regime change. Later, Master Chief pushes his squad to the brink trying to locate some missing comrades, and Dr. Halsey tries to unmask her captors.  

9. One Day – Friday, February 9, Netflix

One Day on Netflix. Pictured: Ambika Mod as Emma and Leo Woodall as Dexter

Dropping just before Valentine’s Day, this decades-spanning romance explores the complexities of life and love with a big heart and a sharp wit. We open in Britain circa 1988, when university students Emma (Trying alum Ambika Mod) and Dexter (The White Lotus’s Leo Woodall) meet for the very first time on graduation day. These two strangers spend the entire evening together — getting emotionally intimate, but not physical. After that, they go their separate ways, yet are never far from each other’s thoughts. As the years trudge on, they grow and change, but always wind up together on the anniversary of their first encounter — July 15. They’re both secretly, hopelessly in love with each other, but twists of fate keep happily-ever-after out of reach.

If this all sounds familiar, that’s because One Day is based on a 2009 novel by British author David Nicholls, which in 2011 was adapted into a film starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. Now, we get a 14-part series — each episode representing another day in another year wherein these two should-be lovers meet, bond and maddeningly fail to get together. 

Like Disney+’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians, it’s a literary property that was adapted for the multiplex a decade ago and is now getting the chance to probe deeper into its themes than a two-hour runtime allows. 

But while original scribe David Nicholls is an executive producer here, the showrunner is Wild Rose’s Nicole Taylor — a woman Nicholls was happy to hand the creative reins to. As the author told Entertainment Weekly: “I spent so much time with [the story]. It felt like it needed a fresh pair of eyes.” He went on to say: “Between making the movie and making this version, it’s almost as if this new medium was invented. Streaming TV is much more analogous to the experience reading a novel than a movie.”

10. Lover, Stalker, Killer – Friday, February 9, Netflix | Series Premiere

Lover, Stalker, Killer on Netflix. Pictured: a knife blade piercing a smartphone.

Back in 2012, newly single Dave Kroupa moved to Omaha, Nebraska, and dove back into the dating game, having recently come out of a long-term relationship. He created an online dating profile and met single mom Liz Golyar. While they saw each other regularly, Kroupa told her he wasn’t ready to commit. Soon after, another single mother, Cari Farver, walked into Kroupa’s auto shop to have her car repaired. The two felt an instant connection, and began dating. What unfolded from there was a twisted, tragic love triangle that put him and everyone he cared about at risk, a shocking tale of harassment, digital deception and murder, all laid out in this disturbing docuseries.

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