Welcome to the age of Quibi, or whatever exactly today marks as the debut of the new mobile streaming service. The era of Quibi, maybe? It’s hard to say. We’ll have to see if any of this actually works first. The whole project, started by Jeffrey Katzenberg and a slew of deep-pocketed Hollywood types with the kind of juice one needs to get big-name stars to sign on to a weird content experiment, is a delivery system for quick bites of entertainment, little chunks of 5-10 minutes that you can consume in pieces on your phone. That’s where the name Quibi comes from: Quick Bites. We’re all learning so much today.
There’s a lot to sort through already with more on the way very soon. Below, our slate of television experts attempts to sort through some of the best (and weirdest) offerings that Quibi dropped on its opening day, from a scripted fantasy series starring Sophie Turner to a cooking show that features flying food and a series of messes. It’s, again, a lot. We did out best. Quibi.
Murder House Flip
I’m generally not a fan of home renovation shows. Like, I have zero interest in watching the Property Brothers (who seem like nice enough guys, by the way) pretend to demolish and rebuild a whole house without even reloading a tool belt. Their smiles are too sparkly, their hair too perfect, and their vast renovation accomplishments feel too easy (especially since one of them usually wears a suit), you know? I, for one (and I know I’m not alone), would dig a grittier approach, and something that feels like only true elbow grease (and maybe an exorcist) could get the job done. Well, there’s no better way to grit things up than by finding out that a home near the beach is such a steal because someone once plopped eight bodies in the backyard. Granted, not all of the claims on this show might be real. I’m prepared to suspend some disbelief for the haunted house vibes that might be full of garbage, and trust, I will be giggling along with those scenes. Yet I still appreciate that Quibi’s fashioning a twisted hybrid of an HGTV-type house-hunting-and-renovation show with a faux-procedural bent that borders on self-parody. It’s so morbid, but both types of shows do deserve to be roasted, and there’s no better way to do that than by combining them. I can’t help but feel addicted already to these wild murder homes, even before the service has launched, so this series will be my first stop. — Kimberly Ricci
Just last month, the United Nations warned that the coronavirus pandemic could lead to food shortages around the globe. Already, in the United States, there are hours-long waits at food banks and countless restaurants have already shuttered, or will permanently close by the end of the month. Anyway, here’s Dishmantled, a show where “we blast a dish to smithereens,” as host Tituss Burgess explains, “to see if two blindfolded chefs can guess it, then make it.” Think: Nailed It or Chopped meets the sticky money booth from Matilda. OK, it’s not Dishmantled’s fault that it’s come out at the wrong time — although one could argue that there’s no good time for a food-waste show where someone says, “I tasted cheese off my shoe” — but if you squint, you can see the appeal. For one thing, Burgess, best known for playing Titus Andromedon on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, is a treasure; also, guests include Dan Levy and Jane Krakowski, and the first three episodes are all under six-and-a-half minutes. But can I, in good conscience, recommend Dishmantled? (It will not surprise you to learn that this isn’t the only launch-day show with a pun for a title. Find the others!) Not really, no… but in the intro, Tituss asks, “Y’all ready to watch me blow some shit up?” while wearing a shirt and pants combo covered in popsicles. So, at the same time, yes, watch at least the first two episodes. — Josh Kurp
It’s hard to resist the urge to make a Game of Thrones-inspired joke after learning the premise of Sophie Turner’s segmented drama for Quibi, but we’re nothing if not professional here at Uproxx so I’ll ignore the fact that, once again, Turner is playing a tortured young woman struggling to survive in a subzero environment. I’ll even – with great, herculean effort, mind you – overlook the wolves that pop up midway through this artic adventure and instead lay out what works when it comes to this “movie” and what doesn’t. Corey Hawkins as the stereotypical nice guy who loses his sh*t when he realizes the only other survivor of his plane crash is a suicidal white girl with daddy issues? Works. Turner as a deeply troubled PTSD patient at a mental health retreat who plans to kill herself on her plane ride home? Works. Breaking this short story up into eight-minute long “episodes?” Doesn’t work. It’s the format that really lets this movie down mostly because entire installments must be filled with enough exposition and transitional material to make the more climactic moments make sense. If you can sit through them, you’ll discover a surprisingly thoughtful, at times action-packed, musing on the value of life and our capacity to endure hardship while holding onto hope. And wolves. There are wolves eventually. — Jessica Toomer
Flipped, not to be confused with Murder House Flip, stars Uproxx favorites Kaitlin Olson (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Will Forte (SNL) as a couple who quit their day jobs to become Chip and Joanna Gaines-type home renovation stars. They buy a foreclosed fixer-upper in the middle of nowhere, only to discover a wad of money in the wall. That’s when the cartel gets involved. Hijinks ensue, etc.
Of the half dozen or so Quibi shows I watched, Flipped was my favorite (even if the first three episodes, the ones screened to critics, feel like a chopped-up pilot). Forte and Olson have good comedic chemistry, Andy Garcia and Arturo Castro pop up in later episodes, and it’s just funny enough to make you want to continue watching. It’s a good watch while taking the bus to work, or waiting at the DMV. In that sense, it’s the ideal Quibi show: you’ll forget about it as soon as it’s over, but it’s a decent enough way to kill 30 minutes. — JK
If anyone could follow in Judge Judy’s iconic Robert Clergerie heels, it’s Chrissy Teigen. The celebrity influencer and cookbook author has been keeping her husband’s ego in check for years – who knows what level of vanity EGOT winner John Legend could’ve ascended to if it weren’t for her? It’s Teigen’s signature brand of tough love that’s supposed to carry this reality remake and, for the most part, it works. Of course, episodes also hinge on the likability of the guests and how hot the tea they’re serving is. A gay couple arguing over a hideous sweatshirt just doesn’t hold the same appeal as a man suing his situationship partner for a car payment, but whether these are actors or real people with petty problems, Teigen’s charming enough to wade through the dramatics. And though she probably won’t like this, it’s her mom – who serves as courtroom bailiff – that’s the real MVP of the show. Their Grumpy Old Men schtick deserves all the minutes here. – JT
Jack Bauer vs. Steve Murphy, or at least, the guys who played those characters, feels like a guaranteed recipe for success. Hell, 24‘s longevity proves that folks love to see Kiefer Sutherland calling the shots, so he’s the perfect lawman type to lead a retooling of the 1993 remake (of the 1960s TV series) starring Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford. As an update to Ford’s character, Boyd Holbrook (Narcos and Run All Night) is also a pretty spot-on casting choice, given his popularity with the Netflix crowd. And that’s the name of the game for Quibi, right? That’s why they’re furiously stacking the content right out of the gate, plus they’ve updated the alleged crime of the “fugitive” as a bombing of mass transit, so there’s the adrenaline-fueled nature that this bite-sized series needs. Done? Not quite. Yes, of course I’m excited to see Kiefer blazing down the street while brandishing a gun. There’s also no possible way that this series doesn’t reel in not only fans of action TV series but other genres, given that Kiefer’s career has included a little bit of everything, and his appeal spans several generations of viewers. I do wonder what future seasons could be like, though. Eventually, Holbrook’s character should be exonerated, so will they cycle through other fugitives? If that’s the case, they’ll have no choice but to cast someone like, say, Scoot McNairy. (Full disclosure: I just wanna see Scoot on Quibi, and he’d probably be down with this show.) — KR
Reese Witherspoon hosts this nature show about females members of the animal kingdom, from big cats of prey to ants and everything in between. Maybe not everything. That would defeat the purpose of “quick bites.” But a lot of things at least, all narrated by Reese, because do you even have a streaming platform if you don’t have a show with Reese Witherspoon in it or involved in it? I submit that you do not.
The only here is… do you want to watch stunning nature footage on a vertical video on your phone? I don’t know. I guess that’s the big question with Quibi so far, and in general. This feels like a show that would be best served by a very large screen and very high-definition, like your Planet Earths and Blue Planets and such. Maybe that’s just the way my brain is conditioned, though. I’ve been wrong before. A lot. File this one, as with most of these, under I Guess We’ll See. — Brian Grubb
Shape of Pasta
But soft, what light through yonder quarantine darkness breaks? It is the east, and this Quibi show about the forgotten art of pasta making, is the sun. Did I expect to fall in love with this series that follows a renowned California chef traveling to remote villages in Italy to hunt down nearly extinct forms of handmade noodles? Of course. It’s carbs, fresh tomato sauce, and finely grated cheese. I’m not some psychopath. But did I expect to be crying my eyes out at the end of each episode as Evan Funke formed deeply human connections with elderly women who served as his culinary sensei in this most momentous of reality food show quests? No, no I did not. And yet, what is the purpose of life, the reason for our existence if not to worship at the feet of the grain-enriched dough delicately carved into an array of miscellaneous shapes, drenched in olive oils, pestos, and tomato-based sauces and served to us by kindly old women we call “Nonnas”? Let’s use this pandemic to get back to the basics, to what’s truly important in life. Homemade noodles. — JT
Killing Zac Efron
The star of the High School Musical trilogy went on to play Ted freaking Bundy, which was bonkers enough to behold. Then he attempted to pull a Bear Grylls, but it seems like he went even more hardcore than the original? Efron was reportedly hospitalized after contracting an infection while navigating extreme circumstances during the making of this show. Whereas Grylls has been caught doing the hotel thing while pretending to entirely rough it in the wild. I’m not saying that Efron was a total daredevil, and maybe some of what transpires will be exaggerated, but the fact that he landed in the hospital says that he was taking the thing fairly seriously. That’s scary, of course, but I also respect the heck out of how Efron’s gamely stepping outside of the heartthrob box. He could have easily spent a decade the same way that Matthew McConaughey did: as a shirtless bro in countless consecutive romcoms and in real life. We all knew that McConaughey could act the hell out of serious drama roles (still with a comedic edge), and thank god he started doing that again, but just think of all that lost time? Efron probably doesn’t have the range of McConaughey, but let’s just see where he ends up in a decade. He might surprise us all, but for now, I’m tuning in to see him one-up all of the so-called survivalists on TV. — KR
I’ll admit I was hesitant to watch this Quibi reality series following Nicole Richie as she transforms from Hollywood socialite into an eco-conscious trap icon. When you’ve witnessed the awe-inspiring feats of reality TV circa Richie’s 2003 show The Simple Life, you naturally doubt that lightning can, in fact, strike twice. This series isn’t as much of a guilty pleasure as watching Richie stick her forearm up a cow’s rear and have a bleach-tossing meltdown in a bar was back then, but it’s still bizarre and funny and totally on-brand for the TV personality. Richie is determined to bring awareness to a variety of issues – from global warming to veganism to the underappreciated world of bee-keeping fashion – and she’s doing it with this lightly-scripted reality show that once again has her interacting with us normals, this time as Nikki Fre$h, a trap queen who delivers a banger at the end of each episode. Alexis Rose, stay sharp. — JT
Reno 911! has not premiered yet, in the most technical sense of the word, by which I mean it has not premiered at all. There is a trailer, though, which is all the excuse I need to discuss Reno 911! it turns out, so here goes that.
Reno 911! was a good and fun show that aired on Comedy Central for I want to say was 55 seasons. It was less than that. I know it was. But the marathons of it the network ran constantly made it feel like a bottomless pit of comedy. It had everything: alums of The State, stupid criminals, stupid police officers, and a format lifted from one of our greatest television shows ever, COPS. Also, the episodes were broken up into 5-10 minutes chunks that focused on each stupid crime, which actually makes it a natural fit for a platform that does this as its whole deal. I’m excited about this one. The only way I could be happier is if they also green light a new version of World’s Wildest Police Chases with Sheriff John Bunnell. Now that was a television program. — BG