By Mike Murphy
It really is trick-or-treat time for streaming services this October.
There are a handful of excellent treats coming — among them “The White Lotus,” “Derry Girls” and “The Peripheral” — but subscriptions to most services amount to a trick during a month when they really don’t have much to offer.
As streaming prices rise, it’s becoming more important to be choosy. And while this month’s must-have picks aren’t from the cheapest services of the bunch, they can still be had for under $40 in total.
Each month, this column offers tips on how to maximize your streaming and your budget, rating the major services as a “play,” “pause” or “stop” — similar to investment analysts’ traditional ratings of buy, hold and sell. We also pick the best content to help you make your monthly decisions.
As we’ve mentioned before , consumers can take full advantage of cord-cutting though a churn-and-return strategy — adding and dropping streaming services each month. All it takes is good planning. Keep in mind that a billing cycle starts when you sign up, not necessarily at the beginning of the month, and keep an eye out for lower-priced tiers, limited-time discounts (HBO Max is offering 40% off an annual deal through Oct. 30), free trials and cost-saving bundles. There are a lot of offers out there, but the deals don’t last forever.
Here’s a look at what’s coming to the various streaming services in October 2022, and what’s really worth the monthly subscription fee.
Netflix ($9.99 a month for basic, $15.49 standard or $19.99 premium)
In the three years I’ve been writing this column, probably the most frequent question I’ve been asked is, “When is ‘Derry Girls’ coming back?”
We finally have an answer. After the show’s three-year hiatus, fans don’t have much longer to wait: The third and final season of “Derry Girls” (which aired in the U.K. this spring) lands Oct. 7. Set amid The Troubles of 1990s Northern Ireland, the final seven episodes find the gang — Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Nicola Coughlan, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, Louisa Harland and Dylan Llewellyn — beginning their final year of high school in the wake of the historic Good Friday accord. It’s a sharp, very specific and hilarious coming-of-age comedy — and don’t be afraid to turn on the subtitles (if not for the accents, then to pick up the slang).
Netflix /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX +3.14% has a whole lot more coming in October, including Season 7 of the baking-disaster show “Nailed It!” (Oct. 5); a reboot of the reality show “The Mole” (Oct. 7); “The Midnight Club” (Oct. 7), a horror series from Mike Flanagan (creator of “Midnight Mass” and “The Haunting of Hill House”); “Inside Man” (date TBA), a mystery starring David Tennant and Stanley Tucci; Season 6 of the raunchy yet heartfelt animated adolescent comedy “Big Mouth” (Oct. 28); Season 6 of the warmly comforting food/travel show “Somebody Feed Phil” (Oct. 18); Volume 3 of the rebooted “Unsolved Mysteries” (Oct. 18); Season 3 of the addictive dating show “Love Is Blind” (Oct. 19, with new eps every week); the horror anthology series “Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities” (Oct. 25); and Season 3 of the Nordic-noir crime series “Deadwind” (Oct. 29).
On the movie side, Netflix has “The Good Nurse” (Oct. 26), a true-crime serial-killer thriller starring Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne; “Wendell & Wild” (Oct. 28), a fantastical stop-motion-animated extravaganza from director Henry Selick (“Coraline”) that stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as demons from hell; and “The School for Good and Evil” (Oct. 19), a fantasy adventure from director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”) starring Sophia Anne Caruso, Sofia Wylie and Charlize Theron.
Who’s Netflix for? Fans of buzz-worthy original shows and movies.
Play, pause or stop? Play. When it’s at the top of its game, as it is this month, Netflix is a must-have.
Amazon Prime Video ($14.99 a month)
Amazon’s /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -1.39% nearly billion-dollar “Lord of the Rings” prequel, “The Rings of Power,” looks amazing and has had moments of stirring action and drama. But slow pacing has left it stuck in second gear — a spectacle in search of a story. Still, there’s massive potential for better things once the plot table-setting is done, which is enough to warrant watching through its season finale Oct. 14. And Prime Video has other intriguing shows waiting in the wings.
The slick-looking sci-fi series “The Peripheral” (Oct. 21) has an impressive pedigree, coming from “Westworld” creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan and based on the bestselling novel by William Gibson. Chloë Grace Moretz (“Kick-Ass,” “Let Me In”) and Gary Carr (“The Deuce”) star in the story of a young woman who, while struggling to hold her broken family together in a postapocalyptic America, discovers a secret technology that gives her a window into an alternate future — and the potential to change her own. The book was fantastic, and the series holds a lot of potential.
Traveling the opposite way in time, Bella Ramsey (“Game of Thrones”) stars in “Catherine Called Birdy” (Oct. 7), a movie directed by Lena Dunham (“Girls”) and set in medieval England that focuses on a spirted 14-year-old girl from a once-rich family that’s fallen on hard times who yearns for a life beyond being married off to the highest bidder. The coming-of-age comedy is adapted from the acclaimed 1994 novel by Karen Cushman. It was released in select theaters in September, and critics’ reviews were glowing.
Then there’s “The Devil’s Hour” (Oct. 28), a British thriller series starring Jessica Raine (“Call the Midwife”) as a mother who’s awoken by bizarre and terrifying visions every day at precisely 3:33 a.m. Peter Capaldi (“Doctor Who”) co-stars as an obsessive nomad who helps her piece together what’s happening.
Prime Video is also adding a slate of classic Halloween movies, headlined by “Edward Scissorhands” (Oct. 1), as well as recent movies like “Downton Abbey: A New Era” (Oct. 28) and “The Northman” (Oct. 11). And it has exclusive rights to NFL Thursday Night Football every week.
Who’s Amazon Prime Video for? Movie lovers, TV-series fans who value quality over quantity.
Play, pause or stop? Play. “The Rings of Power” is great at times, if you can stay awake, and October’s offerings bolster the case for a Prime subscription.
Disney+ ($7.99 a month)
It’s a mixed bag for Disney+ in October, with new stuff sparse but a strong slate of continuing series.
The biggest newcomer is “Werewolf by Night” (Oct. 7), a Halloween-themed special starring Gael García Bernal and Laura Donnelly that’s tied into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Based on a popular comic book, the special — shot in classic black and white — features a mysterious group of monster hunters on the trail of some big scaries, including the Werewolf and Man-Thing.
There’s also Season 2 of “Big Shot” (Oct. 12), the girls’ high-school basketball dramedy starring John Stamos, and a singalong version of the fairy-tale musical “Into the Woods” (Oct. 14).
But the real draw will be Disney’s /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS +0.90% returning shows: The gritty, gripping and grown-up “Star Wars” prequel “Andor” (new eps every Wednesday), which is already exceeding very high expectations; the breezily fun “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” (season finale Oct. 13); the charming hockey underdogs of “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” (new eps every Wednesday); and the new season of “Dancing With the Stars” (live eps every Monday). And don’t forget “Hocus Pocus 2,” which hit Sept. 30, with Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy and Bette Midler reprising their witchy roles.
Who’s Disney+ for? Families with kids, hardcore “Star Wars” and Marvel fans. For people not in those groups, Disney’s library can be lacking.
Play, pause or stop? Play. Unlike a couple of its very high-profile fellow prequel series on other streaming services, “Andor” knows how to tell a compelling standalone story from the get-go, focusing on characters and world-building rather than leaning on a mythology and special effects. It’s a refreshing throwback and already one of the best shows of the year. Even without much new programming, Disney+ is worth a subscription for “Andor” alone.
Hulu ($7.99 a month, or $14.99 with no ads)
Prices are rising at Hulu , where subscribers will pay $1-$2 more each month for their plans starting Oct. 10. A weak October lineup makes that price hike a bit more bitter.
Hulu’s biggest upcoming addition is all six seasons of the beloved Canadian comedy “Schitt’s Creek” (Oct. 3), which are moving over from Netflix. But aside from that, it’s a quiet month.
With an eye on horror as Halloween approaches, Hulu is resurrecting an iconic movie franchise with its original reboot of “Hellraiser” (Oct. 7), starring Odessa A’zion, with Jamie Clayton (“Sense8”) as a female Pinhead. It’s also got “Matriarch” (Oct. 21), another original movie, starring Emma Roberts as an ailing woman who visits her mother in a small English village only to discover a terrifying secret, and David Cronenberg’s latest, “Crimes of the Future” (Oct. 31), a squirm-inducing biotech horror starring Viggo Mortensen, Kristen Stewart and Lea Seydoux that frea k ed out crowds at the Cannes film festival.