“Past is prologue to the present” is a running theme through new and highly anticipated viewing fare this year

By Laura D.C. Kolnoski

Today’s stars portray giants of the Civil Rights movement in a fictionalized account of their fateful meeting, based on the play of the same name. Following the 1964 legendary Muhammad Ali/Sonny Liston fight, Ali (Eli Goree), football great Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), soulful crooner Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and political iconoclast Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben Adir), gather in a Miami hotel room. Directed by actress Regina King, the film also stars Beau Bridges, along with Michael Imperioli as Ali’s famed trainer Angelo Dundee. Begins streaming January 15. Rated R

Debuting on YouTube in 2018, this popular action/comedy/drama updates 1984’s Karate Kid. Original “kid” Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) now owns successful California auto dealerships, but is using his dormant home dojo only for storage. His high school nemesis Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) is a dejected deadbeat dad subsisting on odd jobs and beer. Fates collide, sending them back to their karate roots Johnny resurrecting the Cobra Kai dojo and Daniel returning his to glory, adorned with a photo of his mentor and Sensei Mr. Miyagi, (the late Pat Morita). Flashbacks aptly fill in the blanks. Language and fight scenes are best suited for a PG 13 audience. Season three starts airing January 8.

A new generation of young sleuths began enjoying a retelling of the venerable Hardy Boys mystery books in December when this original series debuted. Hardy brothers Frank (16) and Joe (12), along with their father Fenton, leave the city for suburban Bridgeport and set out to uncover the truth behind the recent tragedy that changed their lives. They soon uncover something more sinister. Now streaming. Rated PG

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The Swiss Family Robinson meets Cast Away with a pinch of Survivor in this new six episode series. Join The Grand Tour’s Richard Hammond and Mythbusters’ Tory Belleci for a new reality/adventure series as they attempt to survive on a deserted island. The pair utilizes their engineering and scientific skills to stay alive while constructing an exotic paradise island playground from the remnants of their shipwreck and native materials. As Hammond told Variety, “Somebody needs to take hold of Popular Science as a genre and reinvent it for a new age.”

A blast from the prehistoric past returns with seasons 1-4 on January 29. Conceived by Muppets creator Jim Henson, the satiric sitcom aired from 1991-94, referencing predecessors like The Honeymooners and The Flintstones. “The idea that we could tell powerful stories, but do it through these goofy, ignorant dinosaurs who are so irresponsible they will eventually bring about their own extinction, was the gem,” said Brian Henson in December. “That was my dad’s idea before he died. It was very ambitious and really fun.” The central family is named Sinclair, and the patriarch works for BP Richfi eld (the late Sherman Hemsley of The Jeffer sons) at the WeSaySo Oil Company. All In the Family’s Sally Struthers voices teen daughter Charlene.

And In That Galaxy Far, Far Away…
There will be plenty to speculate and debate as Star Wars devotees await Season Three of The Mandalorian, and the return of Ewan McGregor (Ben Kanobi/Obi Wan Kenobi) and Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader), who will reprise their roles in a new series on Disney+. But that’s not all, folks! Jedi Ahsoka Tano, played by Rosario Dawson in The Mandalorian in Season Two, gets her own spin off, and X wing pilots will be helming Rangers of the New Republic. Other recently announced series include a prequel to 2016’s Rogue One and one focused on droids C 3PO and R2 D2. That’s a lot of Force to reckon with!