Has there been a more perfectly timed escape from a harsh reality than the fantastically evil world of Joe Exotic in Netflix’s “Tiger King”? I’m hard pressed to think of one.
While most of us have been stuck at home and almost every big blockbuster gets pushed back, documentaries are shining like they rarely have before.
This week, ESPN’s “30 for 30” got its highest ratings with two parts of its 10-episode run of the tumultuous championship run of the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls. The Vice channel is getting attention for the second season of its wrestling-centric “Dark Side of the Ring.” And yes, there’s “Tiger King” too for Netflix.
So what have you been missing? Let’s check it out.
“The Last Dance” (Sundays, ESPN 1 and 2) — I normally would have no interest in seeing the Chicago Bulls’ celebrate its six championships again. They destroyed my favorite team, the Cleveland Cavaliers in its prime. They blocked Charles Barkley from ever winning a ring. Michael Jordan was cocky. They were just too good!
But “The Last Dance” is just too juicy of a subject, from the drama backstage to Jordan’s untold history and personal problems. It’s all told so well and engagingly, you can’t look away. Judging from the first two episodes, it will be worth the 10-hour run.
“Dark Side of the Ring” (Tuesday nights, VICE) — Of all the corrupt sports, wrestling has some of the wackiest, most depressing and harrowing stories to tell. While “Dark Side of the Ring” did a great job laying the groundwork with its format in season one (fantastic re-creations, great personalities for interviews), it’s soaring this year with subjects like famed murderer Chris Benoit, the doomed boxing matches of Brawl for All and the tale of madman wrestler New Jack. Every episode is a can’t-miss event.
“Crip Camp” (Streaming now, Netflix) — This one took me by surprise. About a camp for teens with disabilities in the ’70s who would later become activists, it’s so funny, brimming with personality and empathy, this is one to throw on when you’re in need of some bright spots in the world. It’s the anti- “Tiger King.”
“Beastie Boys Story” (Streaming Friday, Apple TV+) — It’s fitting that the surviving members of one of the most endearing, dorky rap groups would lay out its history in an endearing, dorky TED Talk-like way. Recorded live, Michael “Mike D” and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz recount in front of an audience of endearing fans how they went from snotty punks from New York to activist hip-hop icons. They goof on their nerdy roots, take time to re-evaluate their behavior in the’80s and give some hilarious details about opening for Madonna, meeting Rick Rubin and hitting it big. If you’re a fan of the Beasties, you’ll love this. If not, it will not interest you in the slightest.