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

Disney+ remembers Howard and Pan Y Circo starts a conversation

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken; Diego Luna
Howard Ashman and Alan Menken; Diego Luna
Photo: Courtesy of Disney+, Courtesy of Amazon

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Friday, August 7, and Saturday, August 8. All times are Eastern.


Top picks

Howard (Disney+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., premiere): “As time marches on, there’s concern about how to make the scope of the AIDS crisis understandable to a generation too young to remember it. One answer comes in the form of Don Hahn’s new Disney+ documentary, Howard, which centers on a gay, HIV-positive man who played a major role in so many Millennial and Gen Z childhoods, even if they don’t know him by name. Ashman and his songwriting partner, Alan Menken, penned iconic songs for The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty And The Beast, as well as the beloved cult musical Little Shop Of Horrors. In exploring Ashman’s phenomenal creative output, Howard inspires bittersweet reflections about just how much more he—and by extension, a whole generation of artists—could’ve accomplished had their lives not been cut short by AIDS.” Read the rest of Caroline Siede’s film review.

Pan Y Circo (Amazon Prime, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): Diego Luna’s Pan Y Circo is among the most substantive offerings on the menu of “famous person consults experts on a topic” shows. The series is made up of seven episodes, each devoted to a different weighty subject: decriminalization of abortion, gender violence, climate change, the war on drugs and the efforts toward legalization, racism and identity, as well as immigration. Because the show was in production when the pandemic hit, there’s also a remote episode that centers on COVID-19 and how we’re all dealing with quarantine (namely, by watching Pan Y Circo). Luna, who created and executive produces the series, does more than nosh and nod—he moderates the discussion among an impressive array of politicians, activists, artists, and actors from Mexico and across Latin America over tantalizing meals created by chefs Enrique Olvera, Alejandra Barbosa, and Alexander Suástegui. There are no disingenuous questions, no moments of “debate me”—just thoughtful and gracious conversation paired with mezcal. As Luna says at the end of the episode devoted to decriminalization of drugs, “I don’t know if you heard each other, but I heard all of you.” We’ll have more on this Amazon Original series in the coming days. [Danette Chavez]

Regular coverage

The Umbrella Academy (Netflix): binge coverage continues

For kids

The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Kids In Space (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m., premiere): Kate McKinnon’s Ms. Frizzle gets behind the wheel again to take her young charges on a journey through the final frontier in this one-off special.

Wild cards

Time for another wild card lightning round!

Work It (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m, premiere): Sabrina Carpenter, Liza Koshy, and Jordan “John Ambrose McClaren” Fisher star in a movie in which a bunch of misfit youngsters form a dance team. Lovers of the mighty dance film as a genre, assemble.

Tiny Creatures (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): Mike Colter narrates this natures series that, as you might guess, focuses on some of the smaller critters out there in nature.

Wizards: Tales Of Arcadia (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete limited series): The third installment of the Tales Of Arcadia series from Guillermo del Toro and Dreamworks arrives this weekend; expect voice performances from the likes of Stephanie Beatriz, Clancy Brown, Steven Yeun, and others.

High Seas (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete third season): If you’ve never had the pleasure of stepping aboard this seafaring Spanish mystery series, it’s about time and you should start at the beginning. If you have, then why are you still reading this? It’s just sitting there, waiting for you to watch. Bon voyage.

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!