| Cult of Mac

In Tehran, even a pool party is drenched in deception [Apple TV+ recap]

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Tehran recap ★★☆☆☆
A pool party is just another chance to dip your toes in deceit.
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+ spy thriller Tehran throws a sexy and tense pool party so Mossad agent Tamar can get one over on her targets: the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and his tech bro son. She has to play a game of cat and mouse with a couple of rich, violent people to get close enough to deploy a decoy that will give her the upper hand — and maybe kill the man responsible for the deaths of her family.

Of course, she put them in danger in the first place, something the show isn’t interested in exploring anymore now that there’s a new spy game afoot. But no matter. Once more unto the breach.

We finally know what made Shining Girls’ serial killer so evil [Apple TV+ recap]

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Shining Girls recap ★★★
Every serial killer has a former life.
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+ thriller Shining Girls takes a detour into the past to reveal the origins of serial killer Harper Curtis and the time-traveling house. It involves a broken friendship, a dead elderly couple, and more lies and betrayals.

Harper wasn’t always a maniac traveling through time killing whomever struck his fancy, though. He was once a lowly doughboy with no dreams and a crush. And then, power turned him evil.

Now and Then is the best kind of trashy TV [Apple TV+ recap]

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Now and Then review: Apple TV+'s new generational saga Now and Then is muy bueno.★★★★☆
Apple TV+'s new generational saga Now and Then is muy bueno.
Photo: Apple TV+

Now and Then, the new time-hopping Apple TV+ show about a group of friends who reminisce about youthful indiscretions as new mysteries present themselves, is a noirish riff on The Big Chill and Stephen King’s It.

The bilingual series, which premieres Friday, showcases a great cast doing ruthless character work. And the creative team includes prolific and highly successful showrunners and writers Ramón Campos, Teresa Fernández-Valdés and Gema R. Neira.

With so much talent on board, it’s easy to fall into Now and Then’s lithe setting, sexy milieu and casual backstabbing.

Things get a little too convenient this week on Tehran [Apple TV+ recap]

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Tehran recap, ★★☆☆☆
Milad (played by Shervin Alenabi) and Tamar (Niv Sultan) wind up in uncomfortable situations this week.
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+ show Tehran puts its second-season plot in motion this week, but the Israeli espionage drama keeps making bizarre missteps in its pursuit of pulse-pounding thrills, twists and turns.

Manjar steps into Farraz’s home in the perfect disguise, Tamar tries out her new character, Milad almost screws everything up for all of them.

Everybody’s tense and everybody’s guilty, as usual. And Tehran continues to benefit from good performances, tight editing and solid music and sound design, which keep every nail-biting scene running efficiently. But is that enough to save the show from an increasingly blinkered perspective?

Shining Girls gets tangled up in time travel [Apple TV+ recap]

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Shining Girls recap: Things get weird when you start messing around with time travel.★★☆☆
Things get weird when you start messing around with time travel.
Photo: Apple TV+

Popular new Apple TV+ series Shining Girls keeps finding new clues to the identity of its time-traveling menace Harper. Meanwhile, Kirby and her reporter co-worker Dan get closer to breakthroughs — and further from normalcy — at every turn.

Kirby must ensure she doesn’t alienate everyone in her life just when she needs them most, even as she tightens the noose around Harper. Dan just needs to make sure Kirby doesn’t come across as an unreliable witness.

A gruesome discovery connects Shining Girls’ victims [Apple TV+ recap]

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Shining Girls recap: The search for a really bad guy continues.
Shining Girls recap: Kirby's search for a really bad guy continues.
Photo: Apple TV+

In this week’s intense installment of Shining Girls, Kirby finds the clue to her killer’s identity and Dan dries out long enough to have an epiphany of his own. The only question is, can they stop Harper before he kills again, or fundamentally alters their reality?

The new time-traveling murder mystery on Apple TV+ finally finds it footing in an investigation-heavy fourth installment.

Tehran takes the action, and the politics, up a notch [Apple TV+ recap]

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Tehran recap: Glenn Close joins the cast for another season of subterfuge.
Glenn Close joins the Tehran cast for a second season of subterfuge.
Photo: Apple TV+

When Apple TV+ spy thriller Tehran returns Friday, the show picks up right where it left off after its taut first season. Mossad agent/hacker Tamar’s crimes catch up with her as she waits for extraction from Iran. And humbled Revolutionary Guards chief Faraz is still seething over his seeming defeat by Mossad, with the eyes of the Iranian government on him.

The spy-on-spy action remains good, but Tehran is playing a dangerous game in dramatizing the Iranian government as the greater of two evils. I’m hoping there’s a little more lip service paid to the idea that, though Iran is the villain on this show, Israel is the aggressor. It’s something the show forgets when convenient.

Shining Girls thriller could be another hit for Apple TV+

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'Shining Girls' thriller could be another hit for Apple TV+
Kate Moss stars in Shining Girls, an Apple TV+ series attracting lots of viewers.
Photo: Apple TV+

The metaphysical-horror-thriller Shining Girls only premiered on Apple TV+ a few days ago, but the Elisabeth Moss series is already in the top 10 most streamed shows. And it’s drawing positive reviews, too.

Plus, the Apple TV+ hit Severance remains on the weekly list of popular shows, despite wrapping up its first season more than three weeks ago.

Slow Horses finishes strong and we can’t wait for next season [Apple TV+ recap]

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Slow Horses season finale recap: The Slow Horses race to track down kidnappers in a rip-roaring season finale.
The Slow Horses race to track down kidnappers in a rip-roaring season finale.
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+ spy thriller/comedy Slow Horses crosses the finish line of its fine first season this week. The show horses chases down its kidnapping rogues as Lamb gains the upper hand, and Taverner gets desperate. The last-minute rescue operation comes down to blind luck, determination, and no small amount of heroic stupidity.

The show’s efficient plotting and knee-deep characterizations pay off in a desperate last act that uses every agonizing second to its advantage. The show makes a strong case for its next season — and for its own place in the roster of the best Apple TV+ shows yet.

Shining Girls might be too mysterious for its own good [Apple TV+ recap]

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Shining Girls recap: Elisabeth Moss plays a woman with a very complicated past in the new Apple TV+ thriller.
Elisabeth Moss plays a woman with a very complicated past in this new thriller series.
Photo: Apple TV+

Shining Girls, the new Apple TV+ thriller based on the 2013 novel by Lauren Beukes, brings Apple TV+ into competition with a number of other streamers’ giant successes.

Elisabeth Moss stars in this story of disintegrating realities and identities, which mixes a dash of The Handmaid’s Tale, a bit of True Detective, a hair of The Killing and just a little Sharp Objects.

Will this particular tale of depressive survivors catch on? It might be a touch too mysterious to sustain its hallucinatory story.