No major feature films are being released this weekend, probably because the studios figure anyone who catches a matinee during 2019’s first Walk of Shame will just see Aquaman. (Flash mob! Let’s all meet at the first IMAX 3D screening on Tuesday morning in smeared makeup, tousled hair, and crumpled dresses. I’ll be the one arguing that we should be at Mary Poppins Returns instead.) But if you’re planning on staying home, there were plenty of great new and returning streamables this past year.
Dallas & Robo
One of 2018’s most criminally overlooked shows, the animated adventures of disgraced-racer-turned-space-trucker Dallas Moonshiner (Kat Denning) and her AI-but-not-technically-a-robot partner Robo (John Cena) are hilarious, profane, and compulsively re-watchable. Bonus points for the show eventually acknowledging Dallas’s alcoholism as the impairment that it is while still mining it for laughs, as well as the silly running joke about Venn Diagrams that somehow gets funnier every time.
Standout Episode: “The Joy of Cooking.”
The Haunting of Hill House
This generous reinterpretation of Shirley Jackson’s novel is addictive in the “Why am I voluntarily doing this to my nerves?” way that defines the best horror. It also got quite a lot of press for its abundance of background ghosts, but as the first five minutes of “The Twin Thing” demonstrate, even without the supernatural elements it would still be a harrowing drama. When night falls on Hill House, though…
Standout Episode: “Screaming Meemies.”
Star Trek: Discovery
CBS All Access
The second half of its inaugural season fulfilled the promise the first half never quite showed, and in the end it became what Star Trek hasn’t been in decades: relevant.
Standout episode: “What’s Past is Prologue.”
Another object lesson in how to adapt books for television. Luke Pearson’s expansion of his graphic novels had already developed its own voice even before the introduction of Trolberg’s mysterious librarian, a new character who may well be this writer’s residual self-image.
Standout Episode: “The House in the Woods,” and your new favorite song is Björn Olsson’s “Annika.”
Joe Pera Talks with You
How a show this warm and friendly even exists in the maelstrom of 2018 is a minor miracle. The super-mellow comedian Joe Pera plays a choir teacher in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who imparts his wisdom on a wide range of topics to you, the viewer — at least when life doesn’t get in the way, as it so often does.
Standout Episode: “Joe Pera Talks You Back to Sleep.”
The second season of Nick Kroll’s thoughtfully raunchy cartoon about the terrors, horrors, and overall nightmarishness of adolescence as experienced by teenage friends Nick (Kroll), Andrew (John Mulaney), and Jessi (Jessi Klein) raised the stakes with the introduction of the Shame Wizard (David Thewlis), the yin to the wang — er, to the yang of the Hormone Monster (also Kroll). But the truly wise move was the foregrounding of the Hormone Monster’s counterpart the Hormone Monstress, voiced by Maya Rudolph, who is never not the best part of whatever she’s in.
Standout Episode: “Dark Side of the Boob.”
Speaking of Maya Rudolph, all you need to know is that she’s in the majority of scenes of all but one episode, and she’s usually opposite Fred Armisen or Catherine Keener. Don’t read anything else about it; just watch.
Standout Episode: “Another Place” (but srsly, start from the beginning).