Scout Tafoya, author at Cult of Mac

Truth Be Told goes deeper into our crime-fighter’s crusade [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★★☆


Haneefah Wood, Octavia Spencer and Tracie Thoms in ★★★★☆
This case isn't getting any easier.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewThere’s a funeral this week on true-crime-inflected Apple TV+ show Truth Be Told. Drea is dead, and everyone’s guilty — whether they pulled the trigger or not.

The more Poppy, Eva and Markus pull up rocks looking for clues, the more insects they find running around in the darkness. “Her, Armed With Sorrow Sore” stands out as a strongly performed and nicely paced episode of the show about a podcaster’s crusade to help her city.

Servant shakes things up with a séance [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★★


Leanne (played by Nell Tiger Free) in a seance scene from Apple TV+ chiller ★★★★
Just light the candles and let 'er rip!
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewWe’re having a séance this week on Apple TV+ chiller Servant, the wonderfully cracked show about a magical nanny who uses murder and mayhem to maintain her grip on the Philadelphia family who summoned her.

Leanne hates the two new nurses Dorothy hired to look after her during her recovery, but she’s losing her favor with Sean and Julian by acting so suspicious. Sean desperately wants Dorothy to go back to her old self, and is realizing Leanne might be the problem.

It’s a tense and sharply directed episode of the best show on Apple TV+.

New comedy Shrinking can’t kick the ‘straight talk’ [Apple TV+ recap] ★★☆☆☆


Jason Segel in a still from new Apple TV+ comedy ★★☆☆☆
Jason Segel plays James, a therapist who's got his own problems to deal with.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewNew Apple TV+ series Shrinking centers on a man who loses everything and finally decides to start doing something about it. The comedy stars Jason Segel and Harrison Ford (in his first major TV role). And, with the creative team behind Ted Lasso and the star of How I Met Your Mother, Apple TV+ execs are clearly hoping for success on a par with the streamer’s biggest moneymakers.

They might have it. However, Shrinking will need to overcome its major flaws to become something truly worth watching.

Servant unleashes a bed bug blitz [Apple TV+ recap]


Servant cast members in hazmat suits and gas masks.
Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse ... bed bugs!
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewDorothy is back in the bizarre Turner household this week on Apple TV+ thriller Servant — and she’s not happy to be home. Leanne insists on normalcy, but considering the things that have happened, that’s asking a lot.

To make matters worse, Tobe and Julian are stuck in the house together. Plus, the Turners have a big bug problem, Sean can’t stand up for either Leanne or Dorothy, and Dorothy keeps throwing a monkey wrench in Leanne’s plans.

In Truth Be Told season 3, podcaster Poppy tackles sex trafficking [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★


Podcaster Poppy Scoville-Parnell (played by Olivia Spencer, left) jumps on a kidnapping case in season three of Truth Be Told on Apple TV+.★★★
Podcaster Poppy Scoville-Parnell (played by Olivia Spencer, left) jumps on a kidnapping case in season three of Truth Be Told.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewTruth Be Told, the Apple TV+ drama created by Nichelle D. Tramble about a true crime podcaster, returns for its third season this week. This season, Poppy Scoville-Parnell — the intrepid reporter played by Oscar winner Octavia Spencer — must blow the lid off a sex-trafficking ring that resulted in at least one kidnapping, maybe more.

Politics, tech money, school board in-fighting, and police reform are all tied up in this case — and our podcasting hero Poppy is at the center of the swirl, as usual.

Shape Island squares the circle: It’s stop-motion perfection for kids and parents [Apple TV+ review] ★★★★★


Circle, Square and Triangle from stop-motion animation show ★★★★★
Minor problems deliver major entertainment in excellent new stop-motion animation series Shape Island. on Apple TV+.
Image: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewShape Island arrives on Apple TV+ today to teach kids about social interactions and to help them ward off the anxiety inherent in such things. Based on the critically acclaimed books by illustrator Jon Klassen and author Mac Barnett, this charming stop-motion show is as cute as it is thoughtful — a good way to make kids laugh while slyly making them learn.

This is one of the first Apple TV+ kids’ shows with enough joyous anarchy for parents as well as children.

Super League: The War for Football details a sordid cash grab [Apple TV+ review] ★★☆☆


Aleksander Čeferin, president of the Union of European Football Associations, in a still from four-part Apple TV+ docuseries ★★☆☆
Aleksander Čeferin, president of the Union of European Football Associations, faces a major battle in Super League: The War for Football.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewNew Apple TV+ documentary series Super League: The War for Football examines a dark and very recent chapter in the beloved sport’s history when the bubble threatened to burst.

Capitalism’s slowly tightening stranglehold over the sport meant that some owners saw the potential for growth that meant cutting off not just more than half of the European teams, but the thousands of fans of those teams. This is the story of the people who saved football … for now.

Echo 3 comes to a miserable, maddening end [Apple TV+ recap] ☆☆☆☆


Jessica Ann Collins as Amber in a still from Apple TV+ series Echo 3.☆☆☆☆
At least Amber (played by Jessica Ann Collins) made it out alive.

TV+ ReviewEnervating Apple TV+ series Echo 3 comes to a close this week. The show finally springs kidnapped CIA plant Amber from her prison, but there’s a lot more to freedom than no longer seeing the same four walls.

This bizarro, jingoistic wife-guy fantasy comes to a screeching halt with a conclusion preordained from its first incredibly strange seconds. Come for the last gunfight, stay for the most risible attitude toward human life I’ve yet encountered on scripted television.

Servant returns with one hell of a season 4 opener [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★★


The Turners' witchy nanny Leanne (played by Nell Tiger Free) in a still from Apple TV+ psychological thriller ★★★★
It's time for a homecoming as Servant begins its final season.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewServant, the most joyous and unhinged show on Apple TV+, returns for its fourth and final season this week. The saga of the Turner family and their live-in nanny can’t help but disappoint, just because it’s going away. Never mind whether it wraps up its plot threads or not.

A show unbound from ordinary televisual constraints, both dramatically and visually, Servant serves as a vivid representation of its creators’ raging id. As such, its first three seasons became one of the most wonderful pleasures on television. Let’s see how M. Night Shyamalan and Co. are set to send off this family of arch-weirdos.

Black Bird’s prime directive: Giving serial killers the finger


Paul Walter Hauser playing serial killer Larry Hall in Black Bird on Apple TV+.
Paul Walter Hauser lit up Black Bird with his depiction of suspected serial killer Larry Hall.
Photo: Apple TV+

BOSTON — Before he put pen to paper and gave us violent sagas of lowlife P.I.s and desperate criminals, Dennis Lehane used to deliver flowers to a hospital next door to the Liberty Hotel. Now the novelist, who acted as writer and showrunner for the brilliant Apple TV+ miniseries Black Bird, is sitting here in the Liberty, so named because of its former vocation: a prison.

It’s an appropriate setting. Black Bird tells the true story of Jimmy Keene, a prison informant who risked his life to nail a serial killer. (The series is based on Keene’s autobiographical novel, In With the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption.)

Lehane and his chilling Black Bird star Paul Walter Hauser sat down with Cult of Mac and other journalists recently to discuss their critically acclaimed Apple TV+ show, which is racking up nominations as awards season gets underway. If Black Bird’s outstanding cast and crew receive the recognition they deserve, the show stands a good chance of picking up a handful of awards — and adding to the growing glow of prestige programming on Apple TV+. (Update: Hauser won the Golden Globe on Tuesday night for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.)

In the group interview, Lehane and Hauser talked motivation, working conditions and seeing into the mind of a psychopath, among other things.