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What to stream this weekend, starting with the ‘House of the Dragon’ finale

A person with long silver hair wearing a blue coat
Emma D’Arcy in “House of the Dragon.”
(HBO)
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Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone waiting to see whether a topsy-turvy season pays of for HBO’s first “Game of Thrones” spinoff.

In this week’s Screen Gab, we look back on the highs and lows of “House of the Dragon” Season 1 as we ready ourselves for Sunday’s big finale — and offer a slew of recommendations in other genres (animation, documentary, mystery, small-town medical dramedy) for those of you who don’t know a Targaryen from a Hightower.

And, as always, we’d love to hear what you’re watching, too: Send your TV or streaming movie recommendations to screengab@latimes.com with your name and location. Submissions should be no longer than 200 words and are subject to editing for length and clarity.

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ICYMI

Must-read stories you might have missed

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Fox 11’s Phil Shuman out in the field.
(Courtesy of Fox)

Trump dominated politics on L.A. TV news. A ‘sobering’ City Hall scandal changed that: TV news veterans explain how one of the most explosive stories in L.A. political history is changing the way they cover city government.

CBS tried to reform the cop show. Police reform advocates are not impressed: “East New York” features a reformer at the head of a New York police precinct. Real-life advocates tell The Times it needs to do more to reflect reality.

‘Magpie Murders’ has everything you want in a British mystery: Anthony Horowitz’s mystery-within-a-mystery novel becomes a hugely satisfying TV series starring Lesley Manville.

Why are ‘Real Housewives’ biggest fans booing one of its stars? “Beverly Hills” star Lisa Rinna’s journey from fan favorite to persona non grata culminated in a chorus of boos at BravoCon. Here’s how we got here.

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Turn on

Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times

A young girl in the arms of a cuddly red monster with an Afro.
A scene from “Oni: Thunder God’s Tale.”
(Courtesy of Netflix)

I am not anywhere near an expert on Japanese folklore, but I grew up around stories and iconography of different yokai and kami. Their imagery — as well as the occasional quirky facts — are what I’ve mostly retained over the years, but I will always check out pop culture takes on these familiar creatures and spirits. “Oni: Thunder God’s Tale” (Netflix) is a beautifully animated limited series that follows a young girl named Onari who lives with her goofy and caring father on a mountain with her fellow gods and monsters. Although her own powers have yet to manifest, she is determined to become a mighty hero like those in legends in order to protect her village from an approaching enemy attack. The stop-motion-inspired CG-animation has an almost tactile look that imbues the series with a gentle warmth, and the adorable character designs are a highlight. But it was the tiny, everyday details — a father and daughter eating natto gohan for breakfast, a kappa’s cucumber bento — that really spoke to me. (Those who live in and around L.A. should consider checking out the “Oni” screening at the Animation Is Film festival on Saturday.) —Tracy Brown

The 10th and (sob) final season of “Doc Martin” has come to America, via AcornTV. Martin Clunes stars as Dr. Martin Ellingham, a former hotshot surgeon who develops an aversion to blood and sets up as the GP in the Cornish seaside village where he spent boyhood summers with an aunt. Stiff and socially unconscious, devoid of anything resembling a bedside manner, brusque and maddeningly to the ever-accurate point, he’s a colorful character paradoxically free of what we think of as color, set off by a memorable cast of characters, some just as eccentric, all charming. Frustrated with the bureaucracy that won’t let him do his work, which is superheroically excellent — he is frequently a life saver — Martin resigned his post at the end of last season (three years in our time, but only one in the series’ internal clock) even as he learned that wife Louisa (the divine Caroline Catz) was pregnant with their second child. Now the baby has arrived, Martin is filling time fixing clocks, and Louisa, once a teacher, is now a therapist. (The British medical system has its own logic, but suffice it to say that as the new season begins Martin is legally enjoined from treating anyone — that, of course, doesn’t last.) As in the best ensemble shows, its imagined community comes to feel like one’s actual own; I’d be happy for the show to go on forever, but am grateful for this last time together. (Before I rewatch it from the beginning.) —Robert Lloyd

Catch up

Everything you need to know about the film or TV series everyone’s talking about

Two blond royals standing by a large stone table
Matt Smith and Emma D’Arcy in “House of the Dragon.”
(HBO)
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Since “House of the Dragon” (HBO, HBO Max) roared out of the gate in August with strong reviews and a searing pilot episode, the “Game of Thrones” prequel’s freshman season has had more ups and downs than a dragon in flight: Time jumps. Cast changes. Incest. Homophobia. But for all its rough edges, the series’ tale of a royal family coming apart before our eyes thanks to hubris, negligence and internecine rivalry — anchored by the internet’s new problematic fave, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) — has recaptured not only the fictional universe of “Game of Thrones,” but also its power to drive watercooler conversation. (Nothing has done so much for the negroni since Stanley Tucci, that’s for certain.) Ultimately, though, whether the series can build into the phenomenon that original series once was will depend substantially on Sunday’s Season 1 finale, when both ardent fans and committed skeptics will be watching closely to see whether “House of the Dragon” can stick the landing. After “Game of Thrones” fumbled its own, viewers might not be so willing to forgive another epic misstep. —Matt Brennan

Guest spot

A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching

Two men with their baby, who is dressed in a rainbow pattern jacket
Tom Daley, left, and Dustin Lance Black with their child.
(Courtesy of HBO)

Dustin Lance Black is best known as the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Milk,” the creative force behind “Under the Banner of Heaven” and, at least in some quarters, Olympic diving heartthrob Tom Daley’s husband. But Black is also a memoirist and, now, a documentary subject. Adapted from Black’s 2019 book, “Mama’s Boy,” now streaming on HBO Max, tells the story of Black’s close relationship with his mother, Anne, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints whose beliefs did not always mesh with her son’s sexuality — but eventually came to embrace him fully, and inspired his own activism in the marriage equality movement. The film’s director, Laurent Bouzereau, stopped by Screen Gab to explain where Black fits into his list of Hollywood portraits, the next subjects of his dreams and more. —Matt Brennan

What have you watched recently that you are recommending to everyone you know?

I discovered Black’s “Under the Banner of Heaven” (Hulu) just as I was finishing “Mama’s Boy.” I thought the writing, performances (particularly Andrew Garfield) and filmmaking were first-rate and truly inspiring.

What’s your go-to “comfort watch,” the movie or TV show you go back to again and again?

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I go back over and over to any films by Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock and David Lean. And any films of the ‘70s, the era during which I discovered my passion for cinema.

You’ve distinguished yourself as a profiler of major figures in film history like Richard D. Zanuck, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, and Natalie Wood. Why did Dustin Lance Black’s story feel like the right subject for you?

Lance’s book spoke to me in a profound way because I am so close to my own parents and have had a beautiful journey with my family. Lance’s had that universal language, something that felt immediately relatable and cinematic.

Who’s your big fish — the dream person, past or present, whose life you’d like to dig into?

I have two: I want to tell the story of Faye Dunaway, one of our greatest actors, and also make a film on the musical life of John Williams.

Mail bag

Recommendations from Screen Gab readers

A police officer looking out the window of his cruiser
Zahn McClarnon in “Dark Winds.”
(Michael Moriatis/Stalwart Productions/AMC)
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We just finished watching “Dark Winds” (AMC+), which brought back reading Tony Hillerman’s books about life on the Navajo reservation — an excellent series that had Native actors playing Native roles. What a concept!

Steve Cherry
La Quinta

What’s next

Listings coordinator Matt Cooper highlights the TV shows and streaming movies to keep an eye on

Fri., Oct. 21

“Acapulco” (Apple TV+): The bilingual coming-of-age comedy starring Eugenio Derbez is back for Season 2.

“Chrissy’s Court” (Roku): The honorable Ms. Teigen presides over a third season of her courtroom series.

“Descendant” (Netflix): This 2022 documentary tells the story of a Black community in Alabama founded by the survivors of the last known slave ship to arrive in the U.S.

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“From Scratch” (Netflix): An aspiring artist (“Avatar’s” Zoe Saldana) hooks up with a hunky Sicilian chef in this new romantic drama.

“Matriarch” (Hulu): One very troubled woman is about to find out why they say “You can’t go home again” in the 2022 terror tale.

“The Peripheral” (Prime Video): Chloë Grace Moretz isn’t in Kansas anymore, she’s somewhere in virtual reality in this new sci-fi drama based on the William Gibson novel.

“Ray & Raymond” (Apple TV+): Estranged half brothers (Ethan Hawke, Ewan McGregor) reunite at their father’s funeral in this darkly comic 2022 drama.

“28 Days Haunted” (Netflix): Would-be paranormal investigators shack up with the spirits in this new unscripted series.

“Joe Bob’s Haunted Halloween Hangout” (Shudder, 6 p.m.): Put your feet up on the dash and watch the latest special from “The Last Drive-in’s” Joe Bob Briggs.

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“Noel Next Door” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): The onslaught of romantic holiday movies begins and — checks calendar, sighs — it’s only October.

“Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): The legendary jazz bassist with the lengthy discography is profiled in this new documentary.

“Love During Lockup” (WE, 9 p.m.): The unscripted series is back with new episodes.

Sat., Oct. 22

“Criss Angel’s Magic With the Stars” (The CW, 8 p.m.): The illusionist puts famous faces through their paces in this new competition series.

“We Wish You a Married Christmas” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): A couple visit Vermont to get their rocky relationship back on track in this new TV movie.

“Swindler Seduction” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): He’ll speak of the pompatus of love then take the money and run in this new thriller.

“The Hair Tales” (OWN, 9 and 10 p.m.): Oprah Winfrey and “Insecure’s” Issa Rae are among the Black women talking matters tonsorial in this new docuseries.

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Sun., Oct. 23

“Shouting Down Midnight” (MSNBC, 7 p.m.): This 2022 documentary revisits former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis’ marathon 2013 attempt to filibuster a bill restricting abortion access.

“The Simpsons” (Fox, 8 p.m.): Stephen King’s “It” comes in for a spoofing in a bonus “Treehouse of Horror” episode.

“Doctor Who” (BBC America, 8 p.m.): Jodie Whittaker takes her final turn as the titular Time Lord in the new adventure “The Power of the Doctor.”

“A Kismet Christmas” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): A children’s book author reconnects with a former flame in this new TV movie.

“The Podcast Murders” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): True crime pays, but it might cost a podcaster her life in this new thriller.

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“House of the Dragon” (HBO, 9 p.m.): The “Game of Thrones” prequel wraps its freshman season.

“The Toys that Built America” (History, 10 p.m.): The docuseries is back for a second season.

“THE BMF Documentary: Blowing Money Fast” (Starz, 10 p.m.): This new doc tells the true story of the Detroit-based narcotics ring the Black Mafia Family.

“Our American Family” (SundanceTV, 10:30 p.m.): This new docuseries paints an intimate portrait of a Philadelphia family coping with substance abuse.

Mon., Oct. 24

“The Surreal Life” (VH1, 9 p.m.): Dennis Rodman and Stormy Daniels are among the famous faces cohabitating in this reboot of the 2003-06 reality show.

“Independent Lens” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): The 2022 documentary “TikTok, Boom.” tracks the rise of the popular but controversial social media app.

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Tue., Oct. 25

“The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Titans” (Shudder): The ghosts of drag queens past haunt this new spinoff competition.

“Fortune Feimster: Good Fortune” (Netflix): The comic performs for fans in Chicago in this new stand-up special.

“Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities” (Netflix): The Oscar-winning filmmaker curates this new star-studded horror anthology.

TCM Underground (TCM, 5 p.m.): The late-night film series comes to prime time with a slate of five cult classics from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

“Making Black America: Through the Grapevine” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): The four-part series hosted by professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. concludes.

“Frontline” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): The new episode “Putin’s Attack on Ukraine: Documenting War Crimes” follows efforts to hold the Russian leader accountable for his actions.

Wed., Oct. 26

“Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn” (Netflix): This new documentary retells the twisted tale of the disgraced auto executive who went on the lam in 2019.

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“The Good Nurse” (Netflix): An ICU nurse (Jessica Chastain) suspects a co-worker (Eddie Redmayne) in a series of patient deaths in this fact-based 2022 thriller.

“The Mysterious Benedict Society” (Disney+): The kid-friendly fantasy adventure series returns.

“Tales of the Jedi” (Disney+): The Force will be with them, always, in this new collection of animated “Star Wars” shorts.

“Nature” (KOCE, 8 p.m.): Take off, eh, with the new episode “Canada: Surviving the Wild North.”

“Artbound” (KCET, 9 p.m.): A new episode remembers Giant Robot, a locally produced magazine spotlighting Asian and Asian American pop culture.

“Nova” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): In the ocean, the mighty ocean, the lionfish sleeps tonight in the new episode “Ocean Invaders.”

“A Tree of Life: The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting” (HBO, 9 p.m.): Survivors of the antisemitic terrorist attack in 2018 share their stories in this new documentary.

“Secrets of the Dead” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): The new episode “The Fall of the Romans” sheds some fresh light on the collapse of the Roman empire.

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“Sherman’s Showcase” (IFC, 10:30 p.m.): The mockumentary series about a long-lived but fictitious variety show is back with new episodes.

Thu., Oct. 27

“Earthstorm” (Netflix): First responders and others who faced natural disasters and lived to tell the tale do so in this new docuseries.

“Family Reunion” (Netflix): The sitcom starring Tia Mowry and Loretta Devine drops its fifth and final season.

“True Crime Story: Indefensible” (SundanceTV, 10 p.m.): This docuseries hosted by comic Jena Friedman returns with new episodes.

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