New on Netflix this week: ‘The Principles of Pleasure,’ ‘Soil,’ ‘Black Crab,’ ‘Is It Cake?’ and more

click to enlarge "The Principles of Pleasure" - PHOTO COURTESY NETFLIX
photo courtesy Netflix
"The Principles of Pleasure"

Premieres Wednesday: Bad Vegan — Learn all about the strange case of Sarma Melngailis, who went from being one of New York's most celebrated restaurateurs to doing hard time on Rikers Island for stiffing her employees — plus a whole bunch of other financial improprieties. Was she under the spell of a sleazy Svengali she had fallen in love with? Or was she just practicing to open a theater in Orlando? (Netflix)

The Great Robbery of Brazil's Central Bank — Tunneling 80 meters underground to steal 3-1/2 tons of used bills may have seemed like the perfect crime, but it apparently caused nothing but trouble for the perpetrators. Still, ask yourself what you wouldn't do for 3-1/2 tons of used trouble. (Netflix)

Pedal to the Metal — Mexico sends us a drama series about two street racers who go on the lam after one of their contests ends in tragedy. Nothing in the world will make sense to me until I am reassured that somebody at some point suggested calling this thing Juan in 60 Seconds. (Netflix)

Premieres Thursday: Below Deck Down Under — The series that shows yacht crew members indulging the whims of the 1 percent travels to Australia, setting seafaring indentured servitude against the backdrop of Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. Please don't tell me Crush the turtle is a Karen. (Peacock)

The Bunker Game — A bunch of LARPers convene in an underground fortress for their latest game, only to find themselves targeted by a malevolent force that seems bent on murdering them one at a time. Somebody needs to tell that malevolent force that cosplay is not consent! (Shudder)

DMZ — Rosario Dawson and Benjamin Bratt headline a four-episode miniseries based on the DC/Vertigo comic of the same name, in which Manhattan becomes the dividing line between warring factions in the Second American Civil War. Boy, I never thought the phrase "I'm on the New Jersey side of Staten Island" would qualify as a political statement. (HBO Max)

Jellystone! — Positive reaction from Hanna-Barbera acolytes and new fans alike ensured a second season for this multi-character romp. Beyond that, an additional 40 episodes have already been ordered. Fun context: The original Magilla Gorilla only ran for 31. Don't try to tell me life doesn't get better! (HBO Max)

Minx — What The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel did for the Cold War and stand-up, Minx is out to do for the Me Decade and Playgirl. Ophelia Lovibond portrays the gutsy founder of a women's magazine that uses naked dudes to sell its message of empowerment in the 1970s. As was the case with the source material, expect a huge chunk of this show's audience to be immaculately exfoliated youth pastors whose wives are out of town. (HBO Max)

Rescued by Ruby — A couple of misfits find each other in a heartwarming drama film about an underperforming state trooper and the rowdy shelter dog that becomes his partner. Can a drooling, seemingly hopeless animal learn to suppress its instinct for chaos and go by the book? Also, what's going to happen to the dog? (Netflix)

click to enlarge "Soil" - PHOTO COURTESY NETFLIX
photo courtesy Netflix

Soil — Black comedy is the byproduct when a Belgian entrepreneur hits on the idea of importing dirt from Morocco so his country's Muslims can technically be buried in their native ground. I'm no expert in the world's great religions, but I do recall this leading to a lot of trouble when Bela Lugosi tried it. Bevare, Belgium! (Netflix)

Premieres Friday: Alessandro Cattelan: One Simple Question — The Italian TV presenter interviews a bunch of celebrities to find the secret to happiness. Without going into spoilers, that Werner Herzog was apparently a tough nut to crack. (Netflix)

Black Crab — In post-apocalyptic Sweden, humanity's chances of survival depend upon a soldier (Noomi Rapace) who has to transport a mysterious parcel across a frozen wasteland. How reassuring to know that no matter how bad the future gets, DoorDash will still be there to bring you your lutefisk. (Netflix)

click to enlarge "Black Crab" - PHOTO BY JONAS ALARIK / COURTESY NETFLIX
photo by Jonas Alarik / courtesy Netflix
"Black Crab"

Cheaper by the Dozen — It's more than a little depressing that this Zach Braff–Gabrielle Union vehicle is being billed as a remake of the 2003 Steve Martin hit about a blended family, erasing the actual 1950 original. Is our cultural memory really that short? It's like calling Ron DeSantis the heir apparent to Donald Trump without even mentioning Cthulhu. (Disney+)

Deep Water — Having lured us into a false sense of security through two decades of inactivity, Adrian Lyne is back to debase us with more stylishly rendered male paranoia. This time, the man who gave the world Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal has cast Ben Affleck as a poor husband who pays the price for letting his wife sleep around on him. Gosh, remember when the guys in Lyne flicks got paid for whoring out the missus? Maybe he's spent the past 20 years reading Chomsky or something. (Hulu)

Human Resources — A spinoff from the animated hit Big Mouth follows Hormone Monsters Maurice and Connie into their homeworld, where they interact with some of the human race's other motivating forces, like the Shame Wizards and the Depression Kitties. I could really get into meeting the Fragile Wraiths of Ambivalence, but I bet they're hard to draw. (Netflix)

Is It Cake? — Want to see a master dessert maker whip up a cake that looks so much like a bowling ball you can't distinguish it from the real thing? Then watch this competition series. Want to eat an actual bowling ball? The Sam's Club bakery has you covered! (Netflix)

Master — Regina Hall plays one of three female academics struggling to flourish in the shadow of the Salem witch trials. I mean, I can see where those things didn't exactly qualify as inclusivity outreach. On the other hand, try getting a decent grade in Gender Studies without mentioning 'em. (Amazon Prime)

More Than Robots — Documentary cameras follow four teams of teenage brainiacs as they prepare for an all-important robotics competition. Along the way, their resolve is shaken by two disturbing realizations: The coronavirus might render all their hard work moot; and mathletes get all the really good D anyway. (Disney+)

Standing Up — Paris is the setting for a scripted drama about four friends from highly different walks of life who spend their off hours trying to make it as stand-up comics. See, you can already tell they're doing it wrong. Stand-up comics don't have friends! (Netflix)

WeCrashed — Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway are the leads in an eight-episode limited series that dramatizes the very public struggles of the shared-office-space company WeWork. Trivia hounds take note: Hathaway's character, Rebekah Neumann, is a real-life cousin of Gwyneth Paltrow. And when Anne Hathaway is playing a relative of Gwyneth Paltrow, it's like the entire world gets to fill in three spaces on their Insufferability Bingo card. (Apple TV+)

Windfall — Andrew Kevin Walker of Se7en fame co-wrote this thriller about a thief (Jason Segel) who takes a wealthy couple hostage in their vacation home. And Se7en, course, co-starred Gwyneth Paltrow, who is suddenly exerting an extremely frightening degree of influence over this column. Let's move on to the next blurb before my nethers start to smell like a Wicks 'n Sticks. (Netflix)

Without Saying Goodbye — When he's sent to Peru for work, an all-business architect meets a free-spirited backpacker, leading to a life-changing epiphany for one of them. Wouldn't it be a kick if he taught her to abandon her dreams and pursue a path of joyless drudgery? It sure would wash the stink of all those Hallmark Christmas movies out of your head. (Netflix)

Young, Famous & African — The first reality series to come out of Africa introduces us to the power players on Johannesburg's media/entertainment scene, including Zari the Boss Lady and Swanky Jerry. You can't fool us: Those are characters on Pinky and the Brain! (Netflix)

Premieres Tuesday: Jeff Foxworthy: The Good Old Days — Just what were these "good old days" like that hillbilly jester Foxworthy intends to laud in his latest stand-up special? Here's a hint: There weren't any stars coming out of Johannesburg. (Netflix)

The Principles of Pleasure — This frank and informative limited series seeks to dispel the fear and shame that tend to attach themselves to women's sexual experience. Wow, if being revolted by your own pleasure is a chick thing, I must be in touch with my feminine side after all. (Netflix)

Queen Stars — And just in case you were wondering if there's any overworked fad we can't export, here's a drag competition that focuses on Brazilian artists. Because the one thing every bad bachelorette party needs is more cocaine. (HBO Max)

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