Familiar tales revisited, returning favorites, biopics, and a new animated series featuring chef José Andrés and Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi premieres this fall
BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI
HOUSE OF THE DRAGON HBO & HBO Max
Ten million people watched the premiere of the Game of Thrones prequel, the largest audience in HBO history. Fans and critics remain in fierce debate over the show versus creator George R.R. Martin’s source book, Fire and Blood. Journey 200 years into the past to the beginnings of the House Targaryen. The ten-episode series features Matt Smith (Dr. Who) as ancestor Prince Daemon Targaryn. IMDb quoted Martin, “I expect to be involved in House of the Dragon…and I may even be able to script a few episodes.” Martin said he continues to work on the saga’s final chapter, Winds of Winter, adding, “Winter is still coming.”
Mixing live action with CGI, Disney remakes its 1940 animated classic starring Tom Hanks as the woodcarver Geppetto, Cynthia Erivo as the Blue Fairy, and Joseph GordonLevitt as the voice of Jiminy Cricket. Special effects pioneer Robert Zemeckis (Who Framed Roger Rabbit), wrote and directs this version, based on the 1880s tales by Carlo Collodi. Kindly Geppetto’s wish for his puppet creation to become a real boy is partly granted, prompting Pinocchio’s perilous journey. Other voices are provided by Keegan-Michael Key, Lorraine Bracco, and Luke Evans. Erivo sings “When you Wish Upon a Star.” Filmed in Tuscany, it has a PG rating. Hanks and Zemeckis previously collaborated on Forrest Gump (1994), Cast Away (2000), and Polar Express (2004).
COBRA KAI NETFLIX
It’s season five of the comedy/drama/action mash-up, a fury of flying fists, sweeping kicks, nostalgia, teen angst, excessive property damage, and ever-changing alliances. With Kreese (Martin Kove) focused on surviving incarceration, evil former ally Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) continues his violent crusade to rule the valley’s karate dojos. Johnny (William Zabka) and son Robby (Tanner Buchanan) trail Miguel (Xolo Mariduena), who is searching for his biological dad in Mexico. Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) adds his Mr. Miyagi-taught skills, working with former rival Daniel (Ralph Macchio). Executive Producer Josh Heald told TV Guide, “Chozen’s journey will be thrilling to watch.” And then there are all those other characters to catch up with.
Wednesday Addams goes to Hogwarts, uh, Nevermore. With his mastery of the macabre, director Tim Burton twists the tale of the gothic Addams family to focus on daughter Wednesday, who arrives at Nevermore Academy after being forced out of “normal” schools. As she tests her skills, horrific occurrences ensue, including a murder mystery. Catherine Zeta-Jones is mom Morticia, Luis Guzmán is patriarch Gomez, Gwendoline Christie plays a school administrator, and Christina Ricci (Wednesday in the 1990s films) is a dorm mom. The 20-year-old Jenna Ortega portrays Wednesday. From the creators of Smallville.
HOCUS POCUS 2 Disney+
The 17th century Sanderson sisters get an origin story revealing much more than the 1993 original film that introduced the magically evil trio. Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker, in their original roles, clash with three present-day high school girls in Salem, Massachusetts, who unknowingly summon the witchy women just in time for Halloween and must face the aftermath. Co-starring Tony Hale as the mayor and Doug Jones reprising his role as Billy Butcherson. Filmed in Rhode Island and Astoria, Queens, in and around Kaufman Studios. Rated PG for macabre and suggestive language.
FIREBUDS Disney Junior & Disney+
The novel new animated musical series follows three children of first responders. Along with their talking emergency vehicles, the crew embarks on adventures and rescues of their own, learning the true meaning of “hero.” Voice actors include Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory), “Weird Al” Yankovic, Lisa Loeb, Patton Oswalt, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Lou Diamond Phillips. World Central Kitchen founder and chef/restaurateur/humanitarian José Andrés and celebrity food show host/cookbook author Padma Lakshmi voice two chefs.
WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY ROKU
Incredulity greeted the news that Daniel Radcli e was cast as parody master “Weird Al” Yankovic in a fictionalized version of Yankovic’s career and spoof of traditional biopics. Yankovic, who co-wrote the film, said he knew the former Harry Potter star was ideal for the part 14 years ago. Watching a British TV show, Yankovic saw Radclie sing Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements,” breathlessly delivering the names of all the elements to a Gilbert and Sullivan tune while Rihanna and Colin Ferrell watched. The Roku original opened the Toronto Film Festival with Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna and Rainn Wilson embodying radio DJ Dr. Demento.
WELCOME TO CHIPPENDALES HULU
Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, Eternals), embodies Chippendales male stripper troupe founder Somen Banerjee in a limited true crime/biography series chronicling the Indian immigrant’s quest for the American Dream, and his eventual tragic descent. His is a swirling journey through drugs, crime, and murder in 1980s L.A. As in real life, Banerjee interacts with Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten (Nicola Peltz Beckham) and the husband who killed her, legendary filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, and troubled Emmy-winning choreographer Nick De Noia.