(Photo by © Netflix)

Special effects are keeping Stranger Things 3 from dropping until next summer, Netflix Vice President of Original Series Cindy Holland revealed at the streaming giant’s Television Critics Association press tour presentation on Sunday. Holland offered intel on several big Netflix titles, including The OA, Marvel series, and season 3 of 13 Reasons Why. For Ozark, Jason Bateman himself was available to speak about his show’s second season.

Here’s the scoop Rotten Tomatoes got on six Netflix series.


1. WHY WAITING UNTIL SUMMER FOR STRANGER THINGS WILL BE WORTH IT.


Season 3 of Stranger Things was supposed to drop on Netflix this year – somewhere in the fall, as usual — but won’t be available until at least summer 2019. There’s little good news about waiting another six months or more, but here is one silver lining: Netflix says the Duffer Brothers needed more time to execute some big plans they have for season 3, and now they’re getting it.

“There are more special effects, and I think it’s going to be a really exciting season, but it just takes a little more time,” Holland said. “It’s a hand-crafted show. The Duffer Brothers and Shawn Levy have worked really hard, and they understand the stakes are high. They want to deliver something bigger and better than what they did last year. I think it’s going to be a fantastic season, worth the wait.”


2. THERE’S ROOM FOR ANOTHER MARVEL SPIN-OFF.

(Photo by © Netflix)

Netflix hasn’t announced any new Marvel shows. Holland reiterated that they’re sticking to the original plan to do four shows: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the miniseries The Defenders.

And yet, The Punisher was a bonus, but she indicated that means some of your other favorite characters from other Marvel series could get their own spin-offs too.

“There’s always an ongoing discussion as to whether we might spin off a couple of characters into additional properties,” Holland said.

Some are placing bets on a series for the Daughters of the Dragon, Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) and Misty Knight (Simone Missick), for a possible new series.


3. THE OA COULD RUN FOR FIVE YEARS.

Holland said that when Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij pitched The OA, they pitched a five-year story. So that’s what Netflix accepted and since it was a hit, it’s looking good for fans of the series. Season 2 is in production, but no premiere has been announced. Co-star Jason Isaacs, who plays Dr. Hap Percy in the series, suggested to Rotten Tomatoes in January that the show could return in December 2018.


4. MASTER OF NONE COULD RETURN, IF AZIZ ANSARI WANTS IT TO.

(Photo by © Netflix)

We haven’t seen much of Aziz Ansari this year. As Master of None was winning awards for its second season, a woman from Ansari’s past came forward with a story that embroiled the actor in the #MeToo discussion. Ansari subsequently released a statement acknowledging that he was surprised to learn she had been uncomfortable and reached out to her privately after learning this.

While Ansari has kept a low profile ever since, Netflix says their door is open to him. If he decides he wants to make a third season of his hit and acclaimed Netflix comedy – ranked as the streamer’s best series on our list of Netflix’s top shows and movies – they are interested.

“We certainly have given some thought to it,” Holland said. “We would be happy to make another season of Master of None when Aziz is ready.”


5. 13 REASONS WHY SEASON 3 IS BEING WRITTEN, TAKING SEASON 2 CRITICISMS TO HEART.

13 Reasons Why SEASON Season 2 EPISODE 1 PHOTO CREDIT Beth Dubber/Netflix PICTURED Dylan Minnette

(Photo by © Netflix)

13 Reasons Why led our list of shows with the biggest sophomore slumps, but Netflix still renewed it for a third season despite talk about the series’ big drop in quality. Creator Brian Yorkey and his writing staff are already working on it, and Holland said they listened to the feedback on season 2.

“Well, look, it’s a controversial show from the beginning,” Holland said. “I think Brian felt very strongly about the topics covered in season 2. He is always taking feedback from fans and from the community and seeking to be mindful of it in his work.”


6. OZARK’S MAIN CHARACTERS ARE TRYING TO END THE SHOW.

The story of Marty Byrde’s (Bateman) efforts to untangle his family from the money laundering he’d done for a drug cartel is only going to get more entangled in season 2. Of course, if they did, Ozark would be over, but fans probably want to see them struggle for another four or five years.

“The Byrde family is trying to end this show,” Bateman said. “The Byrde family is not interested in season 2, 3, 4, 5. They want to get home. They want to be done with it. So, all the decisions are made to end this and make this healthy again, get boring again.”

Bateman did hint that Marty would let his emotions out more in the second season.

“He’s emotionally repressed,” Bateman said. “That’s something his wife gets on him about in the second season so he tries to emote a little more.”

Season 2 of Ozark premieres August 31.

During the season finale of Master of None, Netflix’s new comedy from Aziz Ansari, Dev (Ansari) finds himself at a friend’s wedding with a date. It’s a perfect, sunny day at a fancy New York City location, with a waterfront view of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

As the couple enjoys their drinks and the sights, the father of the groom walks up to Dev and greets him by name. Then the man, Mr. Ryan, introduces himself to Dev’s date Rachel (Noel Wells).

Mr. Ryan then decides to open their slice of cocktail conversation with, “Aw, that’s nice. I love seeing ethnically mixed couples. You two are beautiful together.”

After that, he turns to Rachel – who happens to be white — ceasing to acknowledge Dev altogether. “Had you ever dated an ethnic man before this, Rachel?”

It’s exchanges like this that make Master of None possibly the most socially intelligent comedy series on TV right now. That’s because Ansari and his co-writer Alan Yang don’t make a big deal out of these moments and others like them; they’re just part of what Dev and his friends encounter in daily life.

Master of None premiered in early November and has since received wide critical acclaim, particularly for two episodes: “Indians on TV,” in which Dev navigates a brutal audition process that exposes him to the racial barriers imposed within the entertainment industry; and “Parents,” which takes a poke at first-generation kids who underappreciate the struggles faced by their immigrant parents. (“Parents” also made minor celebrities out of Ansari’s father Shoukath and his mother Fatima, who stole the show as Dev’s dad and mom.)

But Netflix doesn’t promote Master of None as a show about what it means to be Indian in America, or about any kind of racial prejudice, because it isn’t. This bears pointing out, not just because racial tensions have once again hit a boiling point — something a broadcast network, NBC, attempted to capitalize on this season with its comedy Truth Be Told. That show is a standard network half-hour sitcom featuring two best friends – one white, and one black – who joke about race all the time. (And truth be told, its initial episode order has been cut from 13 to 10; the series currently is gasping for air on Friday nights.)

Ansari’s viewpoint in Master of None, in contrast, makes the challenges of cultural relations part of a broader conversation about the bounty of choices available to thirty-something urbanites. If Seinfeld, still considered to be a quintessential New York-based series, was a show about nothing that featured unlikable people, Master of None is a comedy of microaggressions, one that mirrors urban life as it truly is, with diverse cultures and socio-economic groups rubbing shoulders with one another and still failing to blend with ease.

Master of None also is intentionally diverse, an issue about which Ansari has been vocal while promoting the show, even in front of audiences as broad as that of CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Dev’s main clique consists of his friends Brian (Kelvin Yu), Denise (Lena Waithe), and Arnold (Eric Wareheim). Brian is Asian, while Denise is black and, we eventually discover, a lesbian. Arnold is a childlike, awkward white giant, creating a stark contrast with Ansari’s short, wiry Dev.

Dev’s friends look as if they’ve been hanging out for years. And in the same way that their individual relationships with Dev appear natural and genuine, the situations they deal with — and the microaggressions that come out of them — feel equally realistic.

Dev’s exchange with the well-meaning if casually bigoted father of the groom was a brief scene in an episode that examined the meaning of commitment.  Yet to stand back and think about this moment and others Dev faces in aggregate, these tiny doses of ignorance speak volumes about where we are as a culture. In that conversation, a man Dev obviously knows reduces him to a category, “an ethnic.” He’s no longer his son’s friend, but an exotic spice that the nice white girl decided to sprinkle into her life.

“I think his heart’s in the right place,” Dev remarks after Mr. Ryan walks away, “but he really shouldn’t be saying ‘ethnic’ that much.”

So, as one character put it…there’s a thing.

The beauty of Ansari and Yang’s approach is that it demonstrate that these small slights, intentional or otherwise, are part of human nature. Everybody gets to be a target, and even Dev finds himself as the aggressor, or an accessory, at various points during the season.

The episode that best demonstrates this, “Ladies and Gentlemen,” isn’t about racism, but the covert sexism and dangerous objectification women have to deal with on a regular basis. Rachel becomes angry at Dev when he refuses to acknowledge that a guy intentionally ignored her and Denise as he stopped to shake the hands of the men around them.

“Seems like you might be reading a bit much into it,” Dev tells her.

“We’re telling you that this is something that definitely happens to women, all the time,” Rachel retorts, “but, fine. Deny our perception of the world.”

A subsequent observation drives home the message of witnessing all of these small snubs and how they affect Dev and others: “There are a lot of subtle little things that happen to me, and all women, even in our little progressive world. And when somebody, especially my boyfriend, tells me that I’m wrong without having any way of knowing my personal experience, it’s insulting.”

Thankfully, Master of None also shows us that every offender can learn from his or her mistakes. Upon meeting Rachel’s grandmother for the first time, Dev admits he was afraid that she’d be prejudiced about him at first sight, to which she replies with a smile, “Oh, I see. You assumed I was a racist just because I’m old! That’s nice.”

Again, this is a blip in a larger story about Dev and Rachel’s grandma. The pair go on to have a wild time hanging out together, telling each other stories about their lives, and eventually indulging in one of Dev’s favorite pastimes: eating pasta.

Life is full of barbs, and all of us toss in our share of sharpness in one way or another. But as Master of None proves, sometimes the best that we can do is acknowledge these stumbles and keep moving along to get to the good stuff.

Melanie McFarland is a Seattle-based TV critic and an executive member of the Television Critics Association. Follow her on Twitter: @McTelevision

 

November’s not only turkey time, but it also marks the start of the holiday shopping season — which means some exciting new titles will be heading to DVD and Blu-ray this month. Check out Rotten Tomatoes picks’ for what to binge-watch in November, whether you’re trying to catch up on a show in time for the next season, looking for a new series to stream over a long weekend, or giving something a try before you re-gift it as a stocking stuffer next month!


Better Call Saul: Season 1 (2015) 97%

What it is: Before he was Saul Goodman, Albuquerque’s shadiest (and funniest) lawyer was Jimmy McGill aka “Slipping Jimmy” (Bob Odenkirk) in AMC’s Breaking Bad prequel.

Why you should watch it: Essential viewing for Breaking Bad fans, Better Call Saul is also a stand-alone drama, engrossing and darkly comic, with knock-out performances by Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks. The complete first season hits DVD on Nov. 10, so you better binge Saul!

Where to watch: All ten episodes of season one are also available on Amazon, Google PlayiTunes, PlayStation VideoVudu, and Xbox Video.

Commitment: About nine hours.


The Man in the High Castle: Season 1 (2015) 95%

What it is: Based on a Philip K. Dick novel, this show of the same name tells an alternate history of the Axis Powers winning World War II and the resistance movement growing throughout America in the early 1960s.

Why you should watch it: By executive producer Ridley Scott, The Man in the High Castle is unlike anything else on TV, with an immediately engrossing plot driven by quickly developed characters. Part of Amazon’s fourth “pilot season,” this fully realized post-war dystopia was the best-reviewed show of the lot in 2014.

Where to watch: The complete first season will be available on Amazon Prime on Friday, Nov. 20.

Commitment: 10 hours.


Inside Amy Schumer: Season 3 (2015) 100%

What it is: Comedy Central’s half-hour sketch show features a series of vignettes — many of which feature the comic’s biting feminist commentary — strung together by Schumer’s hilarious woman-on-the-street interviews.

Why you should watch it: Three seasons in, Trainwreck star Schumer is finally a household name, thanks in large part to a handful of sketches that went viral this year, including her parody of 12 Angry Men starring Paul Giamatti and the show’s musical spoof of One Direction’s “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful.”

Where to watch: All three season are available on Amazon, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, PlayStation Video, and Vudu. The DVD of season three hits the streets on Nov. 24.

Commitment: 15 hours.


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What it is: Based on the award-winning novels by Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall recounts the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, as observed by Thomas Cromwell during his own ascension within the court of Henry VIII.

Why you should watch it: Mark Rylance‘s performance as Cromwell is enough reason to watch, but Damian Lewis and Claire Foy are also not to be missed. An exceptional supporting cast brings this cutthroat Tudor world to vivid life.

Where to watch: Season one is currently available on Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, and Xbox Video, as well as DVD and Blu-ray. It will also arrive on Amazon Prime on Nov. 11.

Commitment: Six hours.


Master of None: Season 1 (2015) 100%

Master of None

What it is: Aziz Ansari is the creator of Master of None, a new show on Netflix that is loosely based on his life. We follow Dev as he makes his way in NYC as an actor who, along with his friends, discovers what 30-something means today.

Why you should watch it: For all those that fell in love with Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation, you will see a more nuanced, intimate kind of Ansari love here. Master of None’s cultural commentary is on-point, the weirdness of today’s romantic struggles are highlighted in all their awkward glory, and the cast is a talented bunch. Binge your hearts out; it’s a funny, sweet, neurotic ride.

Where to watch: Season one will be available on Nov. 6 exclusively on Netflix.

Commitment: Five hours.


Mr. Show With Bob and David: Season 1 () 100%

What it is: Before Bob Odenkirk and David Cross broke through with Breaking Bad and Arrested Development, respectively, they were the oddball duo behind Mr. Show, an anarchic sketch comedy that blended goofiness and edginess in a way that resembles Chappelle’s Show for the indie rock set.

Why you should watch it: Since W/ Bob & David is premiering on Netflix on Nov. 13, now’s as good a time as any to dive into one of the weirdest programs of the mid to late 1990s. For inspired randomness, absurdist satire, and some of the best segues in television history, you can’t beat Mr. Show. In addition to its leading men, the show served as an incubator for a number of the brightest lights of alt-comedy, including Jack Black, Sarah Silverman, Paul F. Tompkins, and Scott Aukerman.

Where to watch: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, and DVD.

Commitment: 15 hours.


Black Sails: Season 2 (2015) 100%

What it is: Starz’s Black Sails is a period drama that follows the trials and triumphs of the most notorious men to sail the seven seas during piracy’s golden age.

Why you should watch it: This prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island offers a grittier take on the usual swashbuckling fare we’ve come to expect from our famous pirates.  So you can count on the action to build as the intrigue deepens.  With two seasons under its belt, there is already plenty of adventure to be had before Black Sails comes back for a third season in January 2016.

Where to watch: Both seasons are on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, PlayStation Video, Starz Play (with cable subscription), VuduXbox Video, and Xfinity (with cable subscription), and season two hits DVD and Blu-ray on Nov. 3.

Commitment: 18 hours.


Getting On: Season 2 (2010) 100%

What it is: The adaptation of the UK BBC comedy series of the same name showcases the careers and personal lives of doctors and nurses in a Long Beach hospital extended-care wing.

Why you should watch it: Folks who like their brilliant slapstick comedy to suddenly jolt you with empathy and smash your heart against the wall — and watch it slither to the floor where it gets rolled over by a squeaky, old wheelchair occupied by a vibrant but terminally-ill senior citizen who screams something naughty as she begins to dance naked in the hallways of the hospital wing, bringing you to tears of laughter once again — will love Getting On.

Where to watch: Season three premieres Nov. 8 at 10 p.m. on HBO. The first two seasons are streaming on Amazon, Google PlayHBO Go (with subscription), iTunes, Playstation Video, Vudu, and Xfinity (with cable subscription).

Commitment: Six hours.


Mike Tyson Mysteries: Season 1 (2014) 82%

What it is: In this animated series, Mike Tyson (voiced by Tyson himself) embarks on a series of hilarious investigations with his adopted Korean daughter, an irritable ghost, and a vulgar talking pigeon in tow. Their shenanigans take them everywhere from Cormac McCarthy’s ranch to outer space.

Why you should watch it: Mike Tyson appears to have embraced his newly reformed public persona as a big, unpredictable teddy bear with a knack for self-parody and just a touch of insanity. Mike Tyson Mysteries takes full advantage of this, and the result is an absurd comedy that alternates between high concept Scooby-Doo-esque hijinks and upended sitcom tropes. In other words, if you’re an Adult Swim fan, this will fit right into your schedule, and since the second season premieres on Sunday, it’s the perfect time to catch up.

Where to watch: The Adult Swim website has the first four episodes and the season finale of season one available to watch, and you can get the rest on AmazonGoogle PlayiTunes, or Vudu. You can also purchase the first season (uncensored) on DVD.

Commitment: Each episode is only 11 or 12 minutes long, so you should be able to finish the whole season in two hours.


Last Tango in Halifax: Season 3 (2014) 100%

What it is: In this touching British comedy-drama, Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid play school-day sweethearts who fall in love 60 years later, after the spouses of each have passed.

Why you should watch it: It’s a series about maturation, relationships, mistakes, forgiveness, and the metamorphoses that accompany such change, for those directly involved and for their often dysfunctional families. Influenced by writer Sally Wainwright’s mother’s second marriage, the life-changing events play out fervidly with understated realism. In a time when sensationalism and special effects can dominate the airwaves, Halifax brings an invigorating genuineness to relationships with subtle profundity.

Where to watch: Seasons one through three two are available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and Vudu. Seasons one and two are also on Netflix.

Commitment: 18 hours. 

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