What if UFOs were real? What if the supposed perpetrators of one of sports' biggest scandals weren't at fault? What if Marvel had a series called What If...? that had what if scenarios for its famous characters? Wonder no more, as these questions and several others will (maybe) be answered in this week's TV recommendations.
Our list of editors' picks for the week of August 8-14 is below, but if that's not enough and you're looking for even more hand-picked recommendations, check out our picks for last week or sign up for our free, spam-free Watch This Now newsletter that delivers the best TV show picks straight to your inbox. You can also look at our massive collection of recommendations, as well as our list of suggestions of what to watch next based on shows you already like.
Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/5 a.m. PT on NBC, live at 7 a.m. ET on Peacock
They came and went, so watch them go. The 2021 Tokyo Olympics Closing Ceremony will take place and be streamed on Peacock at the butt crack of dawn here in the U.S. (well, 7 a.m. ET, but that's too early for me), but you can watch the replay at night like a normal person who likes to sleep in on the weekend. Just stay off the interwebs to avoid spoilers.
Sunday at 9/8c on Showtime, entire series streams on Showtime.com Sunday
Sunday night is also the premiere of Season 17 of Ancient Aliens, a crackpot crockumentary about the existence of aliens in ancient times that has been debunked to dust, yet still airs as entertainment. It's fact-light shows like this, and Netflix's recent Top Secret UFO Projects: Declassfiied, that give viewers pause whenever a UFO docuseries is released, but Showtime's four-part series UFO comes packed with cred. It's produced by bona fide nerd J.J. Abrams and directed by Mark Monroe (director of the Oscar-winning documentary Icarus, also very good and streaming on Netflix), and focuses on the 2017 bombshell report by The New York Times that found the government had been investigating the existence of UFOs. Things heat up in Episode 2 when military members talk about their encounter with a "tic-tac-shaped object" that was covered up by their superiors as Monroe chips away at doubt. Is there undeniable proof that aliens exist within? No, but it will make you feel better about believing that there are. [TRAILER]
Series premiere Monday on Hulu
Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo co-created this comedy about four teenagers living on a reservation in Oklahoma who, after the death of their friend, turn to petty crime in order to make money in the hopes of getting out of their hometown. The series is a laid-back good time that sparkles because of Waititi's signature comedic style, and in her review for TV Guide, Candice Frederick described it as "the chillest time you'll spend watching TV." I can't think of a better endorsement than that. Two episodes air Monday, others will release weekly. -Allison Picurro [TRAILER]
Tuesday on Netflix
The latest season of the always incredible Hard Knocks, focusing on the Dallas Cowboys this season, premieres Tuesday night (HBO, 9/8c), but sports fans should also check out the premiere episode of this new Netflix docuseries that dives deep into sports stories of the past. Tuesday's episode covers the infamous Malice at the Palace, made infamous when Indiana Pacers player Ron Artest went into the stands at Detroit's Palace at Auburn Hills and brawled with fans. What makes this event so great to revisit now is how differently it would have been handled today. Back then, Artest and his teammates were villainized as "thugs," with little blame pinned on the fans who overstepped their bounds and the lack of security provided by the Pistons. Seeing it all again -- with new footage! -- is just as insane as seeing it for the first time, and with a new narrative, the careers of several of these players would have been drastically altered. [TRAILER]
Series premiere Wednesday on Disney+
Marvel's multiverse is essentially a cheat code for an anything-goes format untethered by things like "rules" and "canon," which is essential for Marvel to pump out as much content as it can as it continues to commercially dominate our monoverse. The latest Marvel show, a series of animated adventures, takes several of its characters and gives them alternate trajectories. Say what? I'll give you an example: What if Agent Peggy Carter (Haley Atwell) took the super soldier serum instead of Steve "Captain America" Rogers? You'll see that, and other fan-fic scenarios, play out. [TRAILER]
Final season premieres Thursday at 8/7c on NBC, Friday on Hulu
It's been so long since we've seen the gang over at the Nine-Nine, and now Brooklyn's favorite precinct is closing its doors for good. In its final season, Jake (Andy Samberg) and Amy (Melissa Fumero) adjust to life as new parents, and in an attempt to comment on the ways the world has changed during the hiatus, the series will apparently address police brutality in its final episodes. Two episodes will air per week. -Allison Picurro [TRAILER]
Friday on Apple TV+
Apple paid $25 million buckaroos for the rights to distribute this film after it won armfuls of awards at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, so you'd better watch this so Apple doesn't go bankrupt. A remake of the 2014 French film La Famille Bélier, CODA (which stands for Child of Deaf Adults) is a coming-of-age story about a 17-year-old girl (Emilia Jones) who is the only hearing member of her Deaf family, and must choose between pursuing her own dreams of becoming a singer or helping her mother and father with the family business. It's a crowd-pleasing tearjerker, with a wonderful performance from Jones. [TRAILER]