By Mike Murphy
Hulu ($5.99 a month or $11.99 with no ads)
Once again, Hulu’s best selling point is its deep library of shows, old and new. There’s not much on tap in March in terms of originals, but most of what there is sounds decent enough.
The very adult animated comedy “Solar Opposites” (March 26), from two of the creators of “Rick and Morty,” returns for a second season as a family of aliens remains stranded on Earth. It’s first season was a pleasant — if sick and twisted — surprise last year, so it’s a welcome addition.
More iffy is the action movie “Boss Level” (March 5), a violent, satirical shoot-em-up about a secret agent reliving the same day over and over (and dying every time) that sounds like a “Groundhog Day”/”John Wick”/”Edge of Tomorrow” mashup. It looks like dumb fun and it’s got a good cast, but the biggest name — Mel Gibson as the bad guy — is the most problematic. With Gibson’s extensive history of repulsive anti-semitic , misogynistic and racist comments, I’m not sure he’s who anyone wants to see on their screen these days.
Hulu is also adding “kid 90” (March 12), a documentary about child stars in the ’90s, from ’90s child star Soleil Moon Frye, as well as Season 3 of the “Sons of Anarchy” spinoff “Mayans M.C.” (streaming a day after episodes air on FX, starting March 17), and “Genuis: Aretha” (March 22), the latest installment of the NatGeo series, which Aretha Franklin’s family has disavowed and urged fans to boycott .
Who’s Hulu for? TV lovers. There’s a deep library for those who want older TV series, and next-day streaming for many current network and cable shows.
Play, pause or stop? Pause and think it over. With no marquee releases, you might be better off diving into Hulu’s library, featuring everything from classics (“Cheers,” “Golden Girls”) to current hits (“Superstore,” “Modern Family”) to Golden Globe nominees such as “Nomadland,” “The Great,” “Palm Springs” and “Normal People.”
Amazon Prime Video ($12.99 a month)
It’s a light month for Amazon Prime Video, with Eddie Murphy’s sequel “Coming 2 America” (March 5) the biggest-name debut, by far.
Murphy and Arsenio Hall will reprise their roles — as well as a multitude of other roles, in heavy makeup — as Prince (now King) Akeem and his loyal sidekick, Semmi, from the 1988 comedy “Coming to America.” This time around Akeem returns to Queens to track down his long-lost son — and surprise crown prince of the fictional African kingdom of Zamunda. The original is a comedy classic. Do we really need a sequel 30-plus years later? Probably not. Will it be good? Maybe not, but it should at least be fun to see those characters again.
Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN +1.47% also has a new animated series, “Invincible” (March 26), based on the Robert Kirkman comic about the teenage son of a superhero trying to figure out his superpowers and live up to his father’s legacy. Steven Yeun and J.K. Simmons provide the voices. Be warned, it’s ultra-violent and not for kids. Think “The Boys” meets “Teen Titans.”
Who’s Amazon Prime Video for? Movie lovers, TV-series fans who value quality over quantity.
Play, pause or stop? Pause. “Coming 2 America” might be worth it, fingers crossed. If not, there still Amazon’s deep library to fall back on. Catch up on the “Small Axe” movies, or “The Expanse,” or “One Mississippi.”
Apple TV+ ($4.99 a month)
Apple TV+ doesn’t have much new in March, though its one current series — Season 2 of “For All Mankind,” which debuted in February and drops new episodes every Friday — is excellent. As mentioned last month , the alt-history space drama has improved in its second season, and is one of the best shows currently airing, anywhere.
The only true March debut is “Cherry” (March 12), a movie starring Tom Holland (Marvel’s current Spider-Man) as an Army veteran traumatized by PTSD and hooked on drugs. It sounds like Oscar-bait, but the reviews are terrible , so it’s probably safe to skip.
Who’s Apple TV+ for? It offers a little something for everyone, but not necessarily enough for anyone.
Play, pause or stop? Stop. It’s tempting to say “For All Mankind” alone is worth a subscription, but to get your money’s worth, you’d be better off waiting until it ends and binging the series all at once with a one-month subscription. But If you’ve bought an Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -0.93% device in the past year, take advantage and watch for free. There’s enough there to explore.
Peacock (free basic level, Premium for $4.99 a month with ads, or $9.99 a month with no ads)
Not a lot coming to Comcast’s /zigman2/quotes/209472081/composite CMCSA -5.50% Peacock either, though Season 3 of the Stephen King crime drama “Mr. Mercedes,” starring Brendan Gleeson, will drop March 4, after originally airing on the Audience network in 2019.
Other new additions include Syfy’s extraterrestrial dramedy “Resident Alien” (March 12), the true-crime doc “John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise” (March 25) and new episodes of “The Amber Ruffin Show” every Friday. And wrestling fans will be happy that WWE Network will start airing on Peacock starting March 21.
Peacock also quietly added “Briarpatch” in February, and it’s well worth a look. Rosario Dawson stars in the pulpy, noir-ish mystery set in a sweltering Texas border town.
Sam Esmail (“Mr Robot,” “Homecoming”) executive-produced “Briarpatch,” and it has all the Esmail hallmarks — a slick, cinematic look, where things the casual viewer doesn’t usually notice, like lighting, sound and cinematography, are so perfect that they leap to the forefront. “Briarpatch” was canceled after just one season on USA, but it wraps everything up nicely, with no loose ends — it’s a fun watch.
Who’s Peacock for? If you like network and basic-cable TV and don’t mind ads, the free version of Peacock is great. If you’re eligible for Premium through a Comcast or Cox cable subscription, it’s also a perfectly fine free addition.
Play, pause or stop? Stop. By all means check out the free version, but the paid tier will be unnecessary for most people (with the exception of soccer fans, since Peacock Premium is the exclusive streaming home of the English Premier League).
Paramount+ ($5.99 a month with ads, $9.99 no ads)
Updated to reflect two tiers of pricing.
CBS All Access officially becomes Paramount+ on March 4 , with a legitimately impressive lineup of 30,000 episodes and 2,500 movies. It’s aiming to debut 36 original series this year, including revivals of “Frasier,” “Criminal Minds” and “Reno 911!,” as well as series adaptations of movies ranging from “Flashdance” to “Love Story” to “Fatal Attraction” and a “Grease” prequel. There are also more “Star Trek” spinoffs in the works, “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” a “Beavis and Butt-head” movie and revivals of everything from the animated “Rugrats” to MTV standbys such as “Road Rules” and “Behind the Music.” There’s also live sports, news and movies — such as “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Mission: Impossible 7” — coming 35-45 days after they first hit theaters. Basically, if you’re a Gen-Xer with any hint of nostalgia, Paramount+ will have a show for you.
Keep in mind, a $4.99-a-month tier will launch in June, with ads and lacking the live-TV features of the pricier tier.
However, none of those will be ready for the launch. The best you’re gonna get March 4 is “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” ; a SpongeBob spinoff, “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years” ; and “The Real World: Homecoming,” a multi-episode reunion featuring the cast of “The Real World” Season 1 in New York.
Who’s Paramount+ for? Gen-X cord cutters who miss live sports (especially March Madness and UEFA Champions League soccer) and familiar broadcast and cable shows.
Play, pause or stop? Stop. There’s a ton of programming, but nothing terribly compelling. At this point, it’s just a pricier Peacock. Also keep in mind ViacomCBS /zigman2/quotes/200340870/composite VIAC -1.29% is still licensing its shows to other streamers, so you can still watch things like “Criminal Minds” on Netflix and “Survivor” on Hulu.
Discovery+ ($4.99 a month, $6.99 ad-free)
Discovery+ continues to vex me. Its selection of pleasant, easy-on-the-brain background shows is fantastic. But is it worth paying for shows that are basically just there to keep you company at night while you fold laundry or scroll through your phone?
The service does have a ton of new shows in March, including a massive slate of true-crime docuseries, for those who are into that.
For non-murderinos, the best bets look to be “Cocktails and Tall Tales with Ina Garten and Melissa McCarthy” (March 26), a special that sounds special in every possible way (seriously, all four of those things sound delightful); “Pig Royalty” (March 16), a docuseries about prize pigs in Texas; and Season 2 of “Race Across the World” (March 2), an adventure series where competitors have to get to a certain spot on the globe without using a phone or flying.
Who’s Discovery+ for? Cord cutters who miss their unscripted TV or who are really, really into “90-Day Fiance.”
Play, pause or stop? Stop. It’s a fantastic one-stop shop for background TV. But it’s really only a good option for those who’ve cut the cord completely — if you still have cable or get Discovery /zigman2/quotes/200511275/composite DISCA -5.05% channels through a live-streaming service like YouTube TV or Hulu Live, it’s just not necessary. (Besides, many of its shows are also available on Hulu.)