Anthology television is back with a vengeance. From Netflix’s “Black Mirror” to Hulu’s just-launched “Into the Dark” series, streaming services are experimenting with stand-alone stories linked by common themes. CBS All Access has commissioned Jordan Peele (“Get Out”) to revamp “The Twilight Zone.”
Today, Amazon Prime launches “The Romanoffs,” a series of eight completely individual movie-length installments, linked only by stories about characters who believe they are descended from the Romanoffs, the last czars of Russia, executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
Created by Matthew Weiner (“Mad Men,” “The Sopranos”), the series is opulently produced and features a wealth of acting talent, including a few familiar faces (John Slattery and Christina Hendricks) from Weiner’s richly praised Madison Avenue epic.
While uniformly lovely to behold, “The Romanoffs” presents a mixed bag. The first two installments stream today. New episodes arrive on a weekly basis. The first “Romanoff,” entitled “The Violet Hour,” is basically a foreign film. It takes place in Paris and most of the dialogue is in subtitled French and Arabic. It’s also gorgeous, engaging and as sophisticated as anything you’d see in a movie theater.
Aaron Eckhart stars as an American adrift in Paris with few prospects beyond inheriting his Russian-French mother Anushka’s (Marthe Keller) to-die-for apartment. Worried about her advanced years, he hires a home health aide. When the agency sends Hajar (Ines Melab), a young Algerian woman, life changes for everyone in ways few, including viewers, can anticipate.
Anushka’s links to the Russian royal family are barely mentioned here and substantiated by a single Faberge egg of dubious provenance.
The second helping, “The Royal We,” centers around a bored wife’s (Kerry Bishe) attempts to indulge her impossible husband’s (Corey Stoll) moods by booking a stateroom on an ocean cruise reserved only for Romanoff descendants. The fact that he’s more interested in his jury-duty service says something about his interest in his roots and the state of their marriage.
Like “Violet,” this episode goes places few would expect. But it lacks the first helping’s graceful touch. Noah Wyle and Janet Montgomery also star.
- Netflix has adapted “The Haunting of Hill House” into an episodic series. It’s been touted as a “reimagining” of the Shirley Jackson novel, but its links to the 1959 classic (or 1963 film) extend little beyond the title.
- Also streaming on Netflix, the documentary “Feminists: What Were They Thinking?” recalls radicals and their notions from the 1970s.
- Hulu launches the supernatural series “Light as a Feather” about an innocent children’s game that unleashes unspeakable evil.
- HBO will air four episodes of “Pod Save America” (10 p.m.), a talk show based on a podcast, between now and Election Day.
- Jane may have been poisoned on “Blindspot” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
- Fallon carries the Carrington torch on “Dynasty” (7 p.m., CW, TV-14).
- Rebecca faces the consequences of her plea on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).
- Helen Hunt explores “Much Ado About Nothing” on “Shakespeare Uncovered” (8 p.m., PBS).
- A corporate suitor divides Mike and Ed on “Last Man Standing” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).
- Online dating madness on “The Cool Kids” (7:30 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).
- Danny has his doubts about a seemingly closed case on “Blue Bloods” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
- Rowan Atkinson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Gary Barlow, Jeff Goldblum and Imelda May share a couch on “The Graham Norton Show” (10 p.m., BBC America, TV-14).
- Director Toshio Matsumoto explores Tokyo’s transvestite subculture in the 1969 documentary-style art film “Funeral Parade of Roses” (1:15 a.m. Saturday, TCM).
Terrorists seek campus recruits on “MacGyver” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... Jessica pitches in on “Fresh Off the Boat” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... Maya asks her dad for a favor on “Speechless” (7:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
Crime doesn’t stop for a heat wave on “Hawaii Five-0” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... “Dateline” (8 p.m., NBC) ... Contestants prepare a meal for Marines on “Hell’s Kitchen” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) ... A juvenile jury chimes in on “Child Support” (8 p.m., ABC) ... “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC).
John Krasinski and Yvonne Orji are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (10:35 p.m., CBS, r) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Alec Baldwin, Anthony Mackie and LeClerc Andre on “The Tonight Show” (10:35 p.m., NBC).
Kenan Thompson, Jameela Jamil, the Broadway cast of “Mean Girls” and Daxx Nielsen visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Mel B, Dr. Phil McGraw, Olivia Munn and Good Charlotte appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (11:37 p.m., CBS).
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