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For All Mankind finally makes it to Mars, and it’s depressing [Apple TV+ recap] ★★☆☆☆

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For All Mankind recap: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner in the race to Mars.★★☆☆☆
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner in the race to Mars.
Photo: Apple TV+

In “Seven Minutes of Terror,” Apple TV+ alt-history space race show For All Mankind returns this week to where it left off last season, with America and Russia once more holding hands begrudgingly to fix some space problems.

Ed and Karen have the same trouble with authority. Danny’s cracking up. Margo’s head is in a noose. Kelly’s got a crush. And Sojourner 1 suffers from a serious a problem.

Behind the scenes, WALL-E helmer Andrew Stanton directs this week. His brand of post-classical Hollywood craftsmanship is much appreciated, if also a sad sign of where we are as a country.

Loot needs a spark to elevate it beyond the common sitcom [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★☆☆

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Loot recap: Someone needs a spa day!★★★☆☆
Someone needs a spa day!
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+ comedy Loot takes a spa day today as Molly tries to relive her old lifestyle without her old life, and the rest of the office bonds over shared drinks and massages. Arthur and Molly think about each other more than friends do, but everywhere she goes reminds her of the life she lost to a younger model.

The show continues to make good inroads on character dynamics. However, Loot needs a little electricity in the writing to keep it from feeling like just another sitcom.

Apple TV+ nabs record 53 Hollywood Critics Association Awards nominations

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Apple TV+ will clean up at this year's Hollywood Critics Association Awards.
Apple TV+ will clean up at this year's Hollywood Critics Association Awards.
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+ garnered a record 53 nominations for 16 shows across a range of genres — comedy, drama, documentary, anthology series, variety-sketch series — for the upcoming Hollywood Critics Association Awards.

Psychological thriller Severance and comedy Ted Lasso led the way with a dozen nominations apiece.

Physical puts a grim face on blackmail and adultery [Apple TV+ recap] ★★☆☆☆

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Physical recap: You can be sure any bright moment between Shiela (played by Rose Byrne) and Danny (Rory Scovel) won't last.★★☆☆☆
You can be sure any bright moment between Shiela (played by Rose Byrne) and Danny (Rory Scovel) won't last.
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+’s Physical has an incurable itch to break free this week. Both Sheila’s and John’s spouses know something is up. They try to help, but they can’t — because there’s no cure for being blackmailed by a vindictive Bunny.

John stares a new life in the face, a real one and an imaginary one. Sheila contemplates becoming an even worse version of herself. And Danny’s out of luck in every way he can be.

Brace yourself for more of the same bad behavior in this week’s episode, entitled “Don’t You Have Enough.”

Black Bird turns a stool pigeon into a hero [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★

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Black Bird recap on Apple TV+: Taron Egerton plays a Jimmy Keene, a drug dealer turned jailhouse informant, in the tense crime series.★★★
Taron Egerton plays a Jimmy Keene, a drug dealer turned jailhouse informant, in the tense crime series.
Photo: Apple TV+

Black Bird, the new Apple TV+ series about an inmate tasked with cozying up to a suspected serial killer, begins as a blustery and entirely too familiar tale of bad men doing bad things, without much to distract from the cliches.

However, armed with an impressive cast and crew — and one of the last performances by the great Ray Liotta — it eventually slots itself into good procedural habits.

The limited series, based on James Keene’s memoir In With the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption and developed by crime novelist Dennis Lehane, premieres Friday on Apple TV+. The first two episodes start off wobbly, but then chart a path toward true-crime greatness.

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Luck trailer: First full-length, 3D-animated film on Apple TV+ looks fun

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"Luck" takes you to where luck comes from.
Photo: Apple TV+

Feeling unlucky lately? Wouldn’t it be nice if a black cat who speaks English with a Scottish accent could take you to a magical land where luck is made?

Not bloody likely to happen, but you get the next best thing with Luck, the first full-length, 3D-animated film to hit Apple TV+, which offered a trailer for it Thursday.

It’s also the streamer’s first film through its exclusive deal with Skydance Animation. Look for Luck’s Apple TV+ debut on August 5.

Apple TV+ keeps finding new viewers to grow faster than rivals

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Apple TV+, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+
Apple TV+ growth stood out in the streaming market in Q2 2022.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple TV+ saw strong growth in spring 2022, according to a company that tracks viewership. It grew to 6% of the U.S. streaming market.

During the same quarter, Netflix stayed on top but dropped by two percentage points. It’s now just ahead of Amazon Prime Video.

10 best movies on Apple TV+

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Best movies on Apple TV+
Ready for movie night? These are the best movies on Apple TV+.
Photos: Apple TV+

From Irish folklore to ’60s New York, from culture clashes to meteors, here is a list of the very best films on Apple TV+ so far.

You can divine the company’s best impulses by seeing the best films it acquired, from arcane, auteurist curiosities and thoughtful genre pieces to documentaries that attempt to break free from the usual niches.

Physical can’t shake its annoying routine [Apple TV+ recap] ★★☆☆☆

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Physical recap: Just like Greta (Dierdre Friel) and Sheila (Rose Byrne), this show needs a plan.★★☆☆☆
Just like Greta (played by Dierdre Friel, left) and Sheila (Rose Byrne), this show needs a plan.
Photo: Apple TV+

1980s aerobics nightmare Physical goes in circles this week as Bunny and Tyler engage in surveillance for subterfuge, John and Sheila seek outside help, and Danny gets a hard dose of reality from Wanda.

In the episode, entitled “Don’t You Want to Watch,” the Apple TV+ series falls back into a familiar rut of Sheila facing problems and somehow solving them, with too little suspense and zero empathy generated for its ghoulish cast of characters.

Physical needs a Hail Mary in the worst way.

For All Mankind relishes its three-way race to Mars [Apple TV+ recap] ★★☆☆

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For All Mankind recap ★★☆☆
Next stop: Mars. (Maybe.)
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+’s lunar headache For All Mankind is headed to Mars for real this time. Three competing spaceships strive to make it to the red planet first to win a huge cash prize.

NASA holds some tricks up its sleeve to beat the wilier competition, but you can’t count out the Russians just yet. They’re always willing to do something stupid to make headlines. A mostly fine episode ends on a nice little cliffhanger to boot.