What’s on TV Wednesday: ‘Togo’ and ‘The Witcher’
TOGO (2019) Stream on Disney Plus. Willem Dafoe throws on a fur coat and hat and takes to the snow-covered mountains in this adventure film, which has skipped theaters in favor of a debut on Disney’s new streaming service. The movie is based on the 1925 serum run, during which antitoxins were transported hundreds of miles by dog sled to fight a deadly disease outbreak in Nome, Alaska — in the middle of a brutal winter storm. It’s often associated with Balto, the dog that completed the run (and got a 1990s big-screen animated feature out of the deal). The new movie focuses on a different dog, Togo, and his trainer and musher (played by Dafoe). The story creates drama from a classic combination of heroism and harsh conditions. “It’s going to be bad,” Dafoe’s character says early in the film, sizing up the coming storm. How bad? “Memorable, I think.”
LORO (2019) Stream on Hulu; rent on Amazon, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube. The Italian director Paolo Sorrentino creates an excessive portrait of an unrestrained figure in this satirical drama, which casts Toni Servillo as the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. “In some ways Berlusconi, a media mogul and cruise-ship crooner in earlier phases of his career, a creature of appetite and excess, is Sorrentino’s ideal subject,” A.O. Scott wrote in his review for The New York Times. “But the overlap in their sensibilities turns ‘Loro’ into a blurry, distracted, sentimental portrait.”
THE WITCHER Stream on Netflix. Audiences don’t even need to wait for a title card to see the first beast being slain in the opening scene of “The Witcher.” The show — a fantasy series and a clear response by Netflix to “Game of Thrones” — stars Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, an imposing monster hunter with a conscience. Based on books by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski (which have also inspired a popular video game series), the show follows Geralt during business hours (he’s essentially an exterminator of mythical brutes) and outside of them, as his story intersects with the lives of a sorceress (played Anya Chalotra) and a young princess (Freya Allan). Cavill “brings a convincing physical presence and some wry humanity and emotional depth to ‘The Witcher,’” Mike Hale wrote in his review for The Times. “He’s operating above the level of the material (and most of the rest of the cast), and if you’re susceptible to the fantasy genre even when it’s executed in routine fashion, he could tip the scale in favor of watching.”
LUCY WORSLEY’S 12 DAYS OF TUDOR CHRISTMAS 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). The British historian Lucy Worsley hosts this holiday program, which explores what Christmas looked like in England during the Tudor period. Out: Christmas trees, stockings and Santa Claus. In: Goblets, creepy masks and roast boar’s head (“The snout is definitely the best bit,” she is advised).