What to stream: Peacock launches with free and subscription versions, plus ‘Cursed’ on Netflix and ‘The Weekend’ on Amazon and Hulu

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …  

Peacock, the new streaming service from NBC Universal previously available solely to Comcast customers, launches wide for everyone this week with a mix of original programs, hit movies and Hollywood classics, and popular TV shows from the past 40 years, in addition to NBC late night talk shows (made available three hours earlier than cable) and news programming.

The big marquee original show available at launch in “Brave New World” (TV-MA), a dystopian science fiction drama based on the Aldous Huxley novel and produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. Set in a future where there is no privacy, no monogamy, no children, and a strict class system, it follows a “savage” (Alden Ehrenreich) who is brought to the modern world of New London from the chaotic, lawless lands of North America. Jessica Brown Findlay and Harold Lloyd costar as the New London citizens who are inspired by John (Ehrenreich) to turn away from the mood stabilizing drugs passes around like breath mints and embrace the emotions that society deems unproductive. Huxley’s novel was alarmingly prescient, anticipating a plugged-in world where every social action is shared and genetic engineering, among other things, and the show hasn’t much new to add that hasn’t already been explored in so many other science fiction movies and TV shows, but it is engaging. 9 episodes available.

Other original shows available now are the British mystery series “The Capture” (TV-MA) with Holliday Grainger and Callum Turner (all episodes available at launch), kids shows “Curious George” (TV-Y) and “Where’s Waldo” (TV-Y) and original movie “Psych 2: Lassie Come Home” (TV-PG), which reunites the cast of the USA series “Psych.”

The deep catalog includes NBC comedies (“30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Cheers,” “Saturday Night Live“) and dramas (“Law & Order” and “Chicago Fire” and spinoffs), Paramount’s “Yellowstone,” British drama “Downton Abbey,” SyFy’s “Battlestar Galactica,” Showtime’s “Ray Donovan,” and Universal Pictures movies from the “The Bourne Identity” and “Jurassic Park” films to Hitchcock’s “The Birds” (1963) and the original “Frankenstein” (1931) and “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935).

In a departure from rival streaming services, viewers can get a free version with ads and limited programming or subscribe to the expanded Premium version with ads ($5/month) or without ($10/month). Xfinity customers get an even better deal. Peacock will be available through Apple and Android systems, plus Xbox and some smart TVs, but is not yet available on Roku or Amazon Fire devices.

Visit www.peacocktv.com for more information.

Cursed: Season 1” (not rated), adapted from the illustrated young adult novel by Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler, is a new take on the legend of King Arthur, this time from the perspective of a young woman who will become the Lady of the Lake. Katherine Langford stars with Gustaf Skarsgård, Peter Mullan, and Devon Terrell as the young Arthur (Netflix).

“SNL” alum Sasheer Zamata stars in “The Weekend” (2019, R), a romantic comedy about a struggling comedian whose vacation is complicated by the arrival of her ex (Tone Bell) and his new girlfriend (Amazon Prime Video and Hulu).

Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand

A young woman (Otmara Marrero) recovers from being jilted with a trip to a remote cabin in “Clementine” (2020, not rated), a dreamy romantic drama with an edge of psychological thriller.

Debuting direct to VOD is “Dirt Music” (2020, not rated), a romantic drama with Kelly Macdonald and Garrett Hedlund in the landscape of Western Australia, and “The Painted Bird” (Czech Republic, 2019, not rated, with subtitles), a savage, grueling Holocaust drama featuring Harvey Keitel and Stellan Skarsgard that polarized audiences at the 2019 Venice Film Festival.

Netflix

A married woman (Nia Long) has a fling with an old friend (Omar Epps) in the feature thriller “Fatal Affair” (2020, not rated), which debuts directly to Netflix.

Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen star in “Pride & Prejudice” (2005, PG), Joe Wright’s smart, witty and elegant adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel.

True stories: the limited series “The Business of Drugs” (2020, not rated) looks at the complicated economics of six illicit substances. Also new is the documentary “Father Soldier Son” (2020, R), which follows the journey of a wounded serviceman and single father to reconcile with his sons (delayed from June).

Streaming TV: offbeat murder mystery series “In the Dark: Season 2” (2202, TV-14) arrives from CW. Also new:

International cinema: Virginie Ledoyen and Marie-Josée Croze star in “MILF” (France, 2018, nor rated, with subtitles), a romantic comedy about friends in their 40s who have flings with younger men while on vacation. Also new:

  • Funan” (France, 2018, not rated), an animated drama about mother searching for her 4-year-old son in 1970s Cambodia;
  • The Players” (2020, Italy, not rated, with subtitles), an episodic comedy about men fumbling through romantic relationships.

International TV: teen thriller “Kissing Game: Season 1” (Brazil, not rated, with subtitles) follows the spread of a mysterious disease in a rural high school.

Stand-up: “Urzila Carlson: Overqualified Loser” (2020, not rated).

Amazon Prime Video

Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots are a couple literally trapped in a suburban community of identical houses and streets in the surreal mystery “Vivarium” (2020, R).

Absentia: Season 3” takes the journey of a traumatized FBI agent (Stana Katic) in a new direction.

A collection of Hollywood classics from producer Samuel Goldwyn is new this month, including 19th century drama “Barbary Coast” (1935) with Miriam Hopkins and Edward G. Robinson;

  • Come and Get It” (1936) with Edward Arnold and Frances Farmer;
  • William Wyler’s Oscar-nominated “Dead End” (1937) with Sylvia Sidney and Humphrey Bogart;
  • pre-code dramas “Condemned!”  (1929) and “Cynara” (1932) with Ronald Colman;
  • comedies “Wonder Man” (1945) and “A Song is Born” (1948) with Danny Kaye.

Hulu

The Rest of Us” (2019, not rated) stars Heather Graham and Jodi Balfour as single mothers left behind (in different ways) by the same man.

My Scientology Movie” (2015, not rated) charts filmmaker Louis Theroux’s efforts to investigate the secretive Church of Scientology.

International TV: from South Korea comes legal drama “Diary of a Prosecutor: Season 1” (with subtitles) and romantic drama “Search: WWW: Season 1” (with subtitles), set in the competitive world of web development.

HBO Max

Former child stars share their experiences in the documentary “Showbiz Kids” (2020, TV-MA). Director Alex Winter was a child actor himself and he interviews Wil Wheaton, Milla Jovovich, Evan Rachel Wood, Henry Thomas, Todd Bridges, Mara Wilson, and Diana Serra Cary, who was silent movie superstar Baby Peggy and as an adult campaigned for protections for child actors.

Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding star in “Last Christmas” (2019, PG-13), a romantic comedy inspired by the George Michael song (HBO Max and all HBO platforms).

Foodie Love: Season 1” (2019, Spain, not rated, with subtitles) from filmmaker Isabel Coixet arrives from HBO Europe; all eight episodes streaming.

Reality series “The House of Ho: Season 1” (2020, not rated) follows the Vietnam-American family that became an immigrant success story.

Kid stuff: “Smurfs: Season 1” (2020, TV-G) reboots the hit animated series.

Starz

The drama “P-Valley: Season 1” (TV-MA) follows the lives of women working at a strip club in a small Mississippi Delta town, turning the genre around to see the work from their perspective. It’s created by playwright Katori Hall and features a slate of women directors. New episodes each Sunday.

Showtime Anytime

A Black suburban family struggled to overcome an emotional loss in “Waves” (2019, R), an independent drama from award-winning filmmaker Trey Edward Shults.

Acorn TV

A wealthy couple trying to have a baby hires a surrogate with a shadow past in the Scottish thriller “The Nest: Season 1” (not rated). Two episodes available; new episodes Monday nights.

Sundance Now

Laura Carmichael and Jessica De Gouw are both pregnant women with explosive secrets in the Australian thriller “The Secrets She Keeps: Season 1 (not rated).

The Criterion Channel

The 18-film collection “Marriage Stories” takes on troubled unions from Ida Lupino’s unexpectedly sympathetic “The Bigamist” (1953) and the toxic “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966) with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to Ingmar Bergman’s landmark “Scenes from a Marriage” (Sweden, 1973, PG, with subtitles) in both theatrical and longer TV miniseries versions and the Oscar-winning “A Separation” (Iran, 2011, not rated, with subtitles) from Asghar Farhadi. Also new:

The weekly column is featured in The Seattle Times, The Spokesman-Review, and other newspapers.

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Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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