Our critic recommends a grim new sci-fi series, a peak PBS show and a reality competition for cowboys.
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By Margaret Lyons
This weekend I have … an hour, and I like gray.
When to watch: Begins Friday, on Apple TV+.
Is it even the post-apocalypse if no one is wearing dingy knits? In premise and especially aesthetics, “Silo” resembles a lot of other sci-fi, with its whirring bleakness and rote authoritarianism, to which only the enlightened, rebellious — sexy??? — few object. The show is set in a grim future where just 10,000 people remain, and everyone lives deep underground, where, of course, their society still has a fair-minded wife-guy sheriff (David Oyelowo). If you miss the teen show “The 100,” or if you listen to “Why We Build the Wall” from “Hadestown” on repeat, watch this.
… two hours, and I like explainers.
‘The Articulate Hour’
When to watch: Friday at 9 and 10 p.m., on PBS. (Check local listings.)
Shows don’t get much more PBS-y than this. “The Articulate Hour” interviews scientists, historians and artists to help explain concepts such as memory, time and togetherness. According to the show, “The desire to be in community with others lingers in our consciousness and is often given its purest voice in human creativity.” “Articulate” weaves together hard science and poetic anecdotes into a reverent “Wow, check out humanity” series. If internet poisoning has left you a little alienated from the wonders of life and society, watch this.
… several hours, and I love competition shows.
‘Ultimate Cowboy Showdown’
When to watch: Now, on Peacock or Amazon.
Three seasons of this rancher competition series are now streaming, finally giving viewers an opportunity to watch a man toss hay bales with so much ferocity that he barfs. (This is met with deep admiration.) As skill-based contest shows go, “Cowboy” is a treat: Horsemanship and cattle management skills are wildly telegenic and have not been standardized by reality-show packaging the way, say, cooking has. There’s a happy freshness to that aspect of the series, even as the competitors behave in the ways “Top Model” has taught them to, arguing about respect and vacillating between proudly not making friends and, through tears, declaring that the real prize is the lifelong bonds everyone has formed.
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