Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Amazon scares up more Etheria and HBO Max has a Haute Dog

Illustration for article titled Amazon scares up more iEtheria/i and HBO Max has a iHaute Dog/i
Screenshot: YouTube (Fair Use), Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO Max

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Thursday, September 24. All times are Eastern.

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Top picks

Etheria (Amazon, 3:01 a.m., complete second season): A new round of horror and sci-fi arrives on Amazon today with the release of season two of Etheria, the genre-based anthology series featuring short films all helmed by women directors. If the breadth of concepts and ideas feels a little narrower than it did in season one—there’s an awful lot of stalk-and-kill yarns this time out—it’s certainly not lacking ambition. Several of the new installments feel like feature-length stories crammed into 10-minute runtimes, leaving them rushed as they sprint through their narratives. The best ones wisely play to the strengths of the limited format, taking a single kernel of an idea and teasing it out without overcomplicating the setup, leaving plenty of room for stylistic flourishes. The first and last chapters are the strongest, executing the trusting-the-wrong-person idea with nightmarish glee, while multiple installments (including one shot by Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Amber Benson) play with the conventions of the feminist-revenge tale. There’s even some star power, though Elizabeth Debicki mostly looks lost in the nonsensical sci-fi romance of “Gödel. Incomplete,” which is nothing if not a proof-of-concept video for a longer film. Anne Ramsay fares better in the efficient, Rod Serling-like fallout shelter tale “Zone 2,” and fans of torture porn will enjoy the redneck-meets-lucha gross-out of director Gigi Saul Guerrero’s “El Gigante.” As with any anthology, the quality runs the gamut from good to almost startlingly bad; but then, horror fans are used to panning for gold among the silt. [Alex McLevy]

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Can you binge it? Yep, Amazon’s got the first season as well.

Haute Dog (HBO Max, 3:01 a.m., first half of first season): One of the first shows to complete its filming during These Troubled Times, HBO Max’s dog-grooming competition series deserves a treat for managing to safely exist at all (and with zero positive test results, no less.) But Haute Dog—which should not be confused with Well Groomed, HBO’s dog-grooming documentary, nor with The Dog House: U.K., HBO Max’s unscripted reality series about dog adoption—would be worth a look even if it weren’t, you know, 2020. Hosted by comedian Matt Rogers (Gayme Show) alongside judges Robin Thede (the show’s “haute expert”) and Jess Rona (the dog/grooming/dog-grooming expert), the series follows a familiar format in brisk and genial style: Three groomers compete in two challenges to become Top Dog and win $10,000. Winning dogs are presented with the option of a lavish, Wheel Of Fortune-style prize package or a treat. You can guess which they choose. The series combines a nice-reality vibe (à la Bake Off or Making It, the latter of which shares a producer with Haute Dog) with the efficiency of Chopped and the wink-wink, nudge-nudge energy of RuPaul’s Drag Race, a blend that’s undeniably appealing but oddly static at times. But by episode three, the sincerity of the contestants and judges makes its way to the fore and Haute Dog becomes exactly the kind of breezy comfort-food show promised by its premise. All that, plus dogs getting glamour shots in front of a wind machine. What more could you want in your television programming? [Allison Shoemaker]

Regular coverage

Raised By Wolves (HBO Max, 3:01 a.m., episodes 8 and 9): A quick reminder that HBO Max has accelerated its schedule for this series, so two new episodes arrive today. Look for Arielle Bernstein’s recap of episode eight this morning; her recap of episode nine will post tomorrow.

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Wild cards

Agents Of Chaos (HBO, 9 p.m., finale): “If you still can’t clearly define even one of the many tangled aspects of the hellish 2016 election, the new HBO docuseries Agents Of Chaos is here to give viewers a crash course on what Russian interference consisted of during the presidential campaign.” Read the rest of Ines Bellina’s review of this two-part documentary. Part one aired yesterday and can be streamed through HBO.

The Murders At White House Farm (HBO Max, 3:01 a.m., complete limited series): This “dramatized true crime story based on extensive research, interviews and published accounts” also serves as a sort of Game Of Thrones mini-reunion; Mark Addy, Alfie Allen, and Gemma Whelan all star.

Match Game (ABC, 10:01 p.m.): We’re just calling your attention to this one because Ross Matthews is on the panel, and there’s a lovely ourobouros thing happening as Ross is also a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race and thus an expert on the Match Game-inspired Snatch Game challenge. Also, he’s quick! Go get ’em, Ross. It’s also the totally meaningless “58th episode celebration,” so that’s fun. No trailer, so here’s Rita Moreno and Charles Nelson Reilly on the 58th episode of the original Match Game.

Alex McLevy is a writer and editor at The A.V. Club, and would kindly appreciate additional videos of robots failing to accomplish basic tasks.

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!

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