Scout Tafoya, author at Cult of Mac

Puppy Place teaches kids all the right lessons [Apple TV+ review] ★★★☆☆

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Puppy Place season 2 review: Puppy Place can't stop being adorable.★★★☆☆
Puppy Place can't stop being adorable.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewPuppy Place returns to Apple TV+ this week with a second batch of adorable, low-stress hijinks centered on a family that fosters cute pooches.

The Petersons and their four-legged charges once again set out to teach us to love dogs — and ourselves in the process. The puppies are cute and plentiful, the lessons come hard and fast, and no problem is so difficult that it might stress out a child.

The show remains a pretty good afternoon time-waster for kids under 10.

Emancipation looks the horrors of slavery dead in the eye [Apple TV+ review] ★★★★☆

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Emancipation review: This action-packed look at the brutality of slavery should make you forget The Slap.★★★★☆
Emancipation is an action-packed look at the brutality of slavery that should make you forget The Slap.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewBased on a true story about a slave’s quest for freedom during the Civil War, Apple TV+’s oddly positioned Oscar contender Emancipation pairs action with an unflinching look at slavery’s brutality.

It stars Will Smith, whose bizarre post-Slap apology tour makes for strange bedfellows with Emancipation’s stark subject matter and the film’s action-oriented director, Antoine Fuqua. But this cautiously made movie is probably the best possible film this team could have produced. And indeed, it’s quite a bit better than an Oscar-ready slavery drama made in today’s Hollywood has any right to be.

New Carpool Karaoke episodes won’t make you reach for a hose and duct tape [Apple TV+ review] ★★☆☆

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Carpool Karaoke review season 5, part 2: It's all about the stars, like Duran Duran and Sandra Oh.★★☆☆
New episodes of Carpool Karaoke are all about the stars, like Duran Duran and Sandra Oh.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewNew episodes of Carpool Karaoke: The Series just popped up on Apple TV+, with zero fanfare or build-up or warning, because, well, who’s going to stop them? You? I didn’t think so.

Still, the showrunners did the one thing possible to entice me to review this new batch: They snagged some interesting guest stars. And you know what? A few actually charming moments emerge, despite the cringe-inducing artifice and sheer laziness of Carpool Karaoke’s premise and production.

A stunning revelation and an unexpected alliance shake up The Mosquito Coast [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★★☆

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The Mosquito Coast recap Apple TV+: Dina (played by Logan Polish, right) finally discovers the awful truth about her mom Margot (Melissa George).★★★★☆
Dina (played by Logan Polish, right) finally discovers the awful truth about her mom Margot (Melissa George).
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewAllie Fox finds himself in a tight corner this week on The Mosquito Coast, the absorbing Apple TV+ series about a family on the run from the U.S. government. His son Charlie’s been compromised, so Allie must do a local criminal kingpin a favor. And that puts him in a car with William Lee, the man who tried to kill him.

Also, daughter Dina learns something about her mom Margot that changes everything about their relationship. It’s a magnificently tense and very strong episode all around.

A VIP and the Virgin Mary teach life lessons this week on Acapulco [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★☆☆

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Acapulco recap Apple TV+: A very special visitor arrives at the resort this week.★★★☆☆
A very special visitor arrives at the resort this week.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewApple TV+ comedy Acapulco heads as far into crowded crossroads as possible this week as people learn to be human again. The show about the hopeful staff of an exclusive Mexican resort finds Maximo faced with an important guest who will teach him there’s more to life than success.

Meanwhile, Nora misses Sara and has to stop fighting her heart. Diane has meddled with Chad for the last time. Memo tries to help Hector live for a day, and Julia needs to do some serious reconsidering. The episode, entitled “Money Changes Everything,” finds everyone in transition — and it’s better than we’ve gotten lately from this show.

Poppy tries to figure out the meaning of fun this week on Mythic Quest [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★★

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Mythic Quest recap Apple TV+: Poppy (played by Charlotte Nicdao, right) and Ian (Rob McElhenney) make a strange discovery at Grim Pop.★★★★
Poppy (played by Charlotte Nicdao, right) and Ian (Rob McElhenney) make a strange discovery at Grim Pop.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewEveryone’s confidence is shaken on this week’s episode of Mythic Quest, the Apple TV+ office comedy about a popular computer game.

Poppy realizes she has no idea what fun is, and that revelation is unraveling her world. Ian feels left out of the development of the Mythic Quest movie, and David is his only way in. To top it off, Carol thinks she’s getting fired for mismanagement of company funds, energy, and time.

It’s a strong episode of the funniest show Apple TV+ has to offer.

Echo 3 takes its weird sexual vibe to a whole new level [Apple TV+ recap] ★★☆☆

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Echo 3 recap Apple TV+: Things go from bad to worse for Amber (played by Jessica Ann Collins). First she's kidnapped, then she disappears!★★☆☆
Things go from bad to worse for Amber (played by Jessica Ann Collins). First she's kidnapped, then she disappears!
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewNew Apple TV+ military thriller Echo 3 finds its heroes in desperate times this week, anxious and ready to take desperate measures. The kidnapped Amber has been put in a hellish South American prison camp, her brother Bambi is abandoned by his cohorts, her husband Prince is back in America recovering from multiple gunshot wounds — and nobody has a clue how to make this situation any better. But the writers sure know how to make it weirder.

The show, about what happens when an American with clandestine government ties stumbles into a private war, gets good mileage out of mechanics over message in this week’s episode, entitled “Upriver.” The bizarro sexual subtext of intervention gets quite the workout in this show.

Shantaram seethes with double-crosses and lust for revenge [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★

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Shantaram recap: Everything's coming to a boil, including our hero's temper, as Shantaram heads for its final curtain.★★★
Everything's coming to a boil, including our hero's temper, as Shantaram heads for its final curtain.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ Review This week on Shantaram, Lin is ready to flee except for one big thing: He wants revenge. The Apple TV+ limited series about a benevolent fugitive on the run from his past is coming to a bloody head as Lin tries to square accounts, Karla runs around town preparing the double-cross of a lifetime, the grim specter of death arrives in Bombay, and everyone else is caught in the middle.

Though this episode is well-played, it focuses on Shantaram’s least-interesting characters.

Slow Horses’ second season cuts to the chase [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★★☆

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Slow Horses season two on Apple TV+: Jackson Lamb (played by Gary Oldman, right) has a new mystery to solve.★★★★☆
Jackson Lamb (played by Gary Oldman, right) and his slow horses have a new mystery to solve.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewApple TV+ spy thriller Slow Horses returns this week for a slick second season of low-brow high tension.

Grotesque super spy Jackson Lamb (played by Gary Oldman) is on a personal crusade in the wake of a friend’s death. And the rest of his “slow horses” are desperately looking for work — even the ones who are still behind their desks at Slough House, the London HQ for MI5’s misfit spies.

Season two of Slow Horses starts at a good clip and just keeps galloping. The show, based on the Slough House series by British crime novelist Mick Herron, remains one of the most consistent secret pleasures of the Apple TV+ lineup.

On Shantaram, our hero needs to escape from Bombay [Apple TV+ recap] ★★★☆☆

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Shantaram recap Apple TV+: Lindsay Ford (played by Charlie Hunnam) realizes it's go time.★★★☆☆
Lindsay Ford (played by Charlie Hunnam) realizes it's go time.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewThis week on Shantaram, the Apple TV+ limited series about a fugitive trying and failing to lie low in ’80s Bombay, our hero sees that his days in his new home are numbered. The only question is, will he leave before a trap is sprung on him or meet his destiny head-on?

Lin and Karla aren’t sure they want to say goodbye, Modena makes a risky move (and Lisa’s caught up in his wake), and Pandey must put his money where his mouth is or risk everything.

Everybody’s escape plans are falling apart in a reasonably gripping outing of this reasonably gripping show.