As good as it can be for movies, Disney+ has been quite lacklustre when it comes to television. There’s WandaVision, there’s The Mandalorian – and, if you have kids, there’s the excellent Bluey – but the rest of it has all been inessential.
That all changes today, with the launch of Star, a new section of the platform that will bring in shows from FX, 20th Century Studios and 20th Television, as well as original offerings. In fact, such a glut of TV is coming to Star that it may initially be quite difficult to navigate. With that in mind, here’s the pick of the launch titles in the UK in alphabetical order.
If by some weird quirk you have never seen 24, then you are about to embark on the rollercoaster ride of your life. The thrill of seeing apparently mild-mannered family man Jack Bauer transform into an indestructible thrill-a-minute real-time one-man army. The agony of the season-one finale. The jolting realisation that a second season exists and Bauer has to go through the whole thing all over again. The spiritual deadening that comes when you realise that there are actually several seasons of this, and all the episodes have started to blur into one long grey mess of deaths and logic-defying plots, including the one in which a nuclear bomb goes off in Los Angeles at 10am and nobody in the world mentions it for the rest of the day. The very silly London-set season. The short-lived reboot that didn’t feature Kiefer Sutherland used a, retrospectively much-too-enthusiastic, quote of mine in the trailer. It’s all there. God, I love 24.
You have had plenty of chances to watch Atlanta by now, when it was on Now TV or BBC iPlayer. But if you missed it, this should be first on your list of Star offerings to watch. Donald Glover’s sprawling comedy-drama defies description, to the extent that even calling it a “comedy-drama” feels like a weird fit. Ostensibly a series about a down-on-his-luck college dropout, the series changes shape from episode to episode. It’s an issues-heavy meditation on 21st-century life. It’s a slapstick comedy about an alligator. It’s a cable news parody. In the episode Teddy Perkins, it’s the greatest horror film ever made. The whole thing is just perfect.
After the laborious toil of The Undoing, you may be forgiven for feeling a little David E Kelley-ed out. But Big Sky – an ABC series being marketed here as a Star original – may be enough to reinvigorate you. Ryan Phillippe plays a private detective who has to team up with his ex-wife to search for two missing sisters in Montana. Huge twists are promised from the first episode, and, although American reviews weren’t terribly kind, it might just prove to be the sort of pulpy escapism that everybody needs.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Well, this is awkward. Buffy’s arrival on Star coincides with more upsetting allegations made against its creator, Joss Whedon. Buffy the Vampire Slayer deserves to be held up as a groundbreaking television programme, and, until recently, it would have been an automatic recommendation. That said, to watch it now, knowing that some of the cast say they had a horrible time making it, may colour your enjoyment somewhat.
The Simpsons finding a home on Disney+ caused such a commotion that everyone appeared to forget about its younger cousin. At last, this has been rectified. Futurama never quite caught on with the same ferocity as The Simpsons, but, at its best, could more than hold its own. You can neatly cleave the Futurama episodes in two: the first four seasons aired on Fox before it was cancelled, and the final four after it was revived on Comedy Central. If you have plenty of time, watch the lot. If you’re pressed, stick to the unbeatable Fox episodes.
Helstrom will go down in history as a weird little orphan. A show that originally aired on Hulu and was cancelled after a single season, Helstrom was the last Marvel Television show to be made before it was reabsorbed in to the all-singing, all-dancing Marvel Studios umbrella. And, in fairness, it certainly feels like a relic from the pre-WandaVision age. A semi-convincing horror about the offspring of a serial killer who now dedicate their lives to murdering criminals with psychic powers, Helstrom managed to be obscure and generic in equal parts. But if you’re a Marvel completist who still resents the Agents of SHIELD ending, this could be for you.
That’s right, Lost is on Star in all its baffling glory. And this is your big chance to watch it all the way to the end. Yes, the first season is great. And, yes, it got all mixed up in seasons two and three as the showrunners struggled to invent enough story to keep the wheels spinning. But push past that and Lost gets really good. It’s when a show that revolved around flashbacks gained the audacity to tell time-travel stories. It’s when Jack – the clench-jawed hero of the pilot – curdled into something more toxic. It’s when the sight of a woman banging a nuclear bomb with a rock became a sequence of almost unbearable sincerity. Honestly, the balls on this show … I’m in the middle of rewatching it, for what may be the fourth time. I’d be delighted if you’d join me.
Now that Bridgerton has got the world giddy for Shonda Rhimes again, it may be time to revisit her greatest achievement. Yes, Grey’s Anatomy may be her longest-running and most successful show, but Scandal – in which Kerry Washington played a political management expert – was the sort of high-art trash that you could happily gorge yourself sick on. Turbo-powered and relentlessly soapy, Scandal thrived on the sort of outre narrative twists that would make Jack Bauer’s head fall off. Imagine House of Cards, but not awful. That’s Scandal.
It’s unlikely that you’ll want to watch The X-Files from beginning to end because the wheels fell off and the whole thing skidded around aimlessly for a good long time before it sputtered out. However, if ever there was a show to cherrypick, it’s this. The X-Files managed to encompass all sorts of tones and styles from week to week, and now they’re all for the taking. Like the conspiracy stuff? Watch the run between season two’s Anazari and season three’s Paper Clip. Like being scared? Try season one’s Squeezed, or season four’s Home. Prefer the silly, self-referential moments? Seek out X-Cops or Vince Gilligan’s masterpiece, Bad Blood. You’re welcome.