“The previous is with us all, whether or not we prefer it or not.” So says Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova), an elf soldier in Amazon Prime Video’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Energy.”
He’s speaking about the specter of evil in Center-earth, which — like a great motion hero — he accurately suspects is rising once more. However he may simply as properly be describing current-day TV. “The Rings of Energy,” a sequence that takes place hundreds of years earlier than the “Lord of the Rings” motion pictures, is simply the newest, priciest instance of in the present day’s prequel-mania. On TV, the previous is all over the place.
HBO’s “Home of the Dragon” lately took wing as a bloody story of royal succession set generations earlier than “Sport of Thrones.” August noticed the finale of the “Breaking Unhealthy” prequel, “Higher Name Saul,” which can contend on the Emmys on Monday. “Concern the Strolling Lifeless” explored the early days of a zombie apocalypse. “Star Wars” re-revisited its previous in “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” The present creator Taylor Sheridan has adopted his hit “Yellowstone” with “1883”; “1923” is subsequent, and the calendar has loads of years left.
Why is TV so aggressively turning again the clock? It’s laborious to go broke giving individuals extra of what they as soon as preferred, in fact. And the content material growth on streaming TV makes rehashing acquainted franchises extra engaging. When viewers are paralyzed by selection amongst a whole bunch of sequence, it’s simpler to face out with a model individuals already know.
Previous TV sequels and spinoffs usually moved ahead in time: It was “AfterMASH,” not “BeforeMASH.” Prequels, then again, usually double again to proceed tales that definitively ended, as many up to date dramas do. The ultimate lower to black of “The Sopranos” didn’t maintain its creator, David Chase, from time-traveling to Satriale’s Pork Retailer within the film “The Many Saints of Newark.”
Like all spinoff, a prequel could be a money seize, but it surely doesn’t should be creatively bankrupt. At greatest, returning to characters whose destinies we already know can enable a sequence to focus much less on the what of the story and extra on the why.
This was what made “Higher Name Saul” (which time-jumped into sequel mode in its closing episodes) a real unique even because it adopted certainly one of TV’s biggest dramas. Understanding that Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) would change into a sleazy drug lawyer made his minutely noticed downfall no much less fascinating, and the sequence balanced his story with the parallel ethical arc of the brand new character Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), as she grew entangled in his life and schemes.
“Saul” was much less particular, although, when it targeted on fleshing out minor backstory factors for “Breaking Unhealthy” superfans. Because the “Star Wars” film prequels confirmed us, with their blather about “midi-chlorians” (the eensy-weensy life-forms linked to the Power), simply because you’ll be able to reply a query doesn’t imply you must.
As a critic and viewer, I like a well-executed prequel (and I hope Seehorn lastly brings house an Emmy for “Saul”). However I’ll admit to getting exhausted with TV’s makes an attempt to wring extra life out of current mental property. No prequel this 12 months has thrilled me like the unique, out-of-the-blue, not-based-on-a-previous-anything “Severance.”
Nonetheless, audiences maintain turning up. And I’m wondering if the complication and uncertainty of life is part of prequels’ enchantment. The horizon is filled with query marks — world, political and private. We’re overwhelmed with selection and with the unknown. With a prequel, you recognize — no less than in broad strokes — what’s coming.
That may be a sort of consolation. Possibly prequels fulfill the identical urge we felt in our earliest days as audiences, asking for yet one more learn from a well-worn e-book at bedtime: Inform me a narrative the place I understand how it seems.
Listed here are 40 reveals to look at this fall.
My fellow critic Margaret Lyons and I talked about which of them we’re most trying ahead to.
FALL CULTURE PREVIEW
As autumn arrives, so does a brand new season of cultural choices. This fall brings new chapters of acquainted tales (a revival of “1776,” a “Black Panther” sequel), in addition to contemporary productions (the authorized drama “Cheap Doubt” and a David Bowie documentary). Right here’s extra of what’s coming:
Films: Jon Hamm stars in “Confess, Fletch”; Dwayne Johnson is the newest DC Comics character on the massive display, Black Adam; Ana de Armas performs Marilyn Monroe; and 156 different movies.
Viola Davis stars in “The Girl King,” a battle epic a couple of troop of feminine warriors in West Africa. The movie’s director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, says she wished to “showcase these girls in the way in which they deserve.”
And our critics thought of the state of democracy, onscreen and off.
TV: A reboot of “Quantum Leap,” and new seasons of “Abbott Elementary” and “The Handmaid’s Story.” Ken Burns examines American inaction in the course of the Holocaust.
Pop and jazz music: Adele will likely be dwell, and Taylor Swift will launch her fifth album in two years. Child Cudi is again, as are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Classical music: The reopening of David Geffen Corridor and the premiere of “The Hours” on the Met.
Theater: Tom Stoppard reckons together with his Jewish roots in “Leopoldstadt,” his most autobiographical play. Amongst greater than 60 different performs are “Prince Hamlet” and “Some Like It Scorching.” (The Occasions requested 10 artists: Are males in attire nonetheless humorous?) And taking the stage this season are Samuel L. Jackson and different established Black actors.
Artwork: Our critics’ picks embody an exhibit of Machine Dazzle’s “fashions of extra” at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design, a bounty of Latin American and Latino artwork and the reopening of Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Advantageous Arts.
Dance: New York Metropolis Ballet celebrates the tenth anniversary of its fall vogue gala, and 53 different occasions. Gisèle Vienne’s “Crowd,” an evening-length manufacturing a couple of rave, full with techno soundtrack, premieres within the U.S.
Structure: A museum in Egypt, an airport in India and a prairie panorama in Houston are among the designs that intention to transcend the crises of the second.
Journey: There must be fewer frustrations than there have been this summer season, and airfares must be decrease (however not prepandemic low cost).
Loaded Baked Frittata
My go-to frittata consists of eggs and no matter odds and ends are languishing within the fridge. This catchall methodology works simply superb. However, for one thing just a little nicer, I lately whipped up Genevieve Ko’s loaded baked frittata with goat cheese, bacon, spinach and candy peppers. Sure, a couple of minutes of sautéing made it barely extra concerned than simply throwing final night time’s roasted eggplant into the pan. However it was additionally higher. The mixture of melty goat cheese and crisp bacon is a basic for a cause, and all of the greens lightened the combo. It was great scorching from the oven, and the chilly leftovers, stuffed into sandwiches with mayo and scorching sauce, make for simple lunches as we transfer out of summer season, and into September’s hectic clutches.
What you get for $2.5 million: a transformed church in Rifton, N.Y.; a floating house in Seattle; or a Tudor Revival in Kenilworth, Unwell.
The hunt: She wished to separate the distinction between seashore and metropolis. Which house did she select? Play our recreation.
Shut by: Two units of in-laws moved in collectively — down the corridor from their kids.
In bloom: Clover lawns are a money- and water-saving various to grass.
Cooling off: Scorching espresso could also be slipping as a drink of selection.
Soiled flights: Who’s accountable for messy planes?
Informal updos: Hair claw clips, a ’90s staple, are again.
Figuring out: Barefoot weight lifting can strengthen your ft, but it surely has dangers.
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys, N.F.L.: The Cowboys haven’t been to a convention championship recreation because the mid-Nineties. In that point, Tom Brady has been to … properly, a variety of them. The 45-year-old quarterback led the league in passing yards and touchdowns final season, and even retirement couldn’t maintain him off the sector this season. 8:20 p.m. Japanese on Sunday, NBC
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Thanks for spending a part of your weekend with The Occasions.
P.S. The morning after the loss of life of Queen Elizabeth II, extra Wordle gamers than traditional tried QUEEN as their first guess.
Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Ashley Wu contributed to The Morning. You possibly can attain the workforce at email@example.com.