What to stream in March 2024: Taylor Swift, ‘3 Body Problem,’ ‘Shōgun’ are tops – MarketWatch

Big names, big budgets and big events are on tap for March’s streaming calendar.
However you look at it — from Kate Winslet’s steely glare to Jake Gyllenhaal’s ripped abs; from Netflix’s $160 million series “3 Body Problem” to Apple’s $200 million movie “Napoleon”; or from “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” to March Madness — it’s a blockbuster month.
But streaming price have soared of late, making things a bit more challenging for consumers who don’t want to miss out on the best stuff. That’s where a strategy of churning — that is, adding and dropping services month to month — comes in. It takes some planning, but pays off in monthly savings. Keep in mind that a billing cycle starts when you sign up, not necessarily at the beginning of the month.
Also read: Can I still get Netflix with T-Mobile? Does Verizon still come with Disney+? Your guide to streaming bundles.
Each month, this column offers tips on how to maximize your streaming and your budget — rating the major services as “play,” “pause” or “stop,” similar to investment analysts’ traditional ratings of buy, hold or sell — and picks the best shows to help you make your monthly decisions.
Here’s a look at what’s coming to the various streaming services in March 2024, and what’s really worth the monthly subscription fee:
A hugely expensive, sprawling and fantastical story spanning continents and generations, based on a beloved book series and helmed by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — what could go wrong?
Fans of “3 Body Problem” (March 21), based on Liu Cixin’s acclaimed sci-fi trilogy, surely will hope for a better ending, at least, than Benioff & Weiss’s last big hit — “Game of Thrones.” The good news: These books are already written, so there’s a clear end to the story (which turned out to be the downfall of “Game of Thrones”). The bad news: The books span galaxies and centuries — there’s A LOT to cover. Summarizing the expansive plot is pointless, but suffice to say Earth makes contact with aliens and things don’t go well. While offering thought-provoking and chilling examinations of existential crisis, the books are light on character development (there’s much room for Benioff & Weiss to work their magic there), and the first one — which this season is based upon — is the densest and arguably the weakest of the three. It’s wildly ambitious storytelling on an epic scale — each of its eight episodes reportedly cost about $20 million, making it one of Netflix’s most expensive series ever. I have no idea how they’re going to pull it off. But the same was said about “Game of Thrones.”
Netflix NFLX, +2.72% also has Season 7 of the delightful food/travel show “Somebody Feed Phil” (March 1), with stops in Kyoto, Iceland, Dubai and more; more real-estate drama with Season 2 of “Buying Beverly Hills” (March 22); and director Guy Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen” (March 7), a series sequel to his movie of the same name tells the story of a man (Theo James) who inherits an estate in the English countryside, only to discover it’s part of a huge cannabis empire as he gets sucked into the world of gangsters.
On the movie side, there’s “Spaceman” (March 1), a sci-fi drama starring Adam Sandler as an astronaut struggling with his marriage back on Earth who makes a new best friend in a space spider named Hanus (voice of Paul Dano); Lindsay Lohan has the Ireland-set rom-com “Irish Wish” (March 15); Regina King stars as trailblazing Rep. Shirley Chisholm in the biopic “Shirley” (March 21); and there’s a French-language remake of “The Wages of Fear” (March 29), the classic 1953 suspense film about a group of men transporting an explosive cargo across dangerous terrain.
Sports-wise, there’s a new season of the golf docuseries “Full Swing” (March 6), which includes last year’s Ryder Cup and the shocking merger of the PGA and LIV Golf, and the live exhibition “The Tennis Slam” (March 3), pitting the legendary Rafael Nadal against Carlos Alcaraz, currently ranked No. 2 in the world.
Netflix is also adding the first five seasons of ABC’s “Roseanne” sequel “The Conners” (March 27), and all six seasons of the History Channel’s bloody historical drama “Vikings” (March 30)
And heads up: The “John Wick” movies are leaving at the end of the month, along with all six seasons of “Community” and a bunch of DC movies, including “Wonder Woman,” “The Suicide Squad” and “Justice League.”
Catch up: After languishing on Peacock for two seasons, the musical comedy “Girls5Eva” is moving to Netflix on March 14, along with a new, six-episode third season. A nonstop joke machine in the vein of “30 Rock” (Tina Fey produced it), the show’s about a one-hit-wonder girl group from the ’90s who reunite for one last chance at stardom, starring Sara Bareilles, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Busy Phillips and Paula Pell. It’s very funny, an easy binge and deserves a wider audience.
Red card: Sadly, last month’s sight-unseen endorsement of Season 3 of the soccer docuseries “Sunderland ’Til I Die” is hereby revoked. The three-episode season is shallow, disjointed and lacks a narrative, a disappointing and jarring departure from the excellent first two seasons. It felt like the producers saw the success of FX’s very similar-themed “Welcome to Wrexham” and haphazardly slapped together an epilogue. They would have been better off leaving well enough alone.
Who’s Netflix for? Fans of buzzworthy original shows and movies.
Play, pause or stop? Play. When you get Netflix, you’re paying for bulk, and once again, there’s something here for everyone.
Max’s big splash for the month is the new HBO limited series “The Regime” (March 3), a six-episode political satire starring Kate Winslet as the dictator of a fictional, authoritarian European nation as she and her regime start to unravel. Hopes are high, especially as the show’s showrunner is Will Tracy, whose writing credits include “Succession,” the culinary satire “The Menu” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” However, early reviews say that while Winslet is as great as usual, the show falls short of its potential.
Max also has the drama series “The Girls on the Bus” (March 14), about four female journalists following the presidential campaign trail; the new standup comedy special “Ramy Yousef: More Feelings” (March 16); the comedy docuseries “Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show” (March 29); and the streaming premiere of “Wonka” (March 8), starring Timothée Chalamet. That’s along with new weekly episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Tokyo Vice” and “Last Week Tonight.”
On the sports side, Max has March Madness — aka the NCAA men’s basketball tournament — or at least the games also airing on TBS, TNT and truTV, starting March 19 (Paramount+ will stream the CBS games), as well as a full slate of NBA and NHL games.
Also of note, more than 130 classic Looney Tunes episodes (including “Duck Amuk” and “What’s Opera, Doc?) will be rejoining the service after getting yanked in 2022; however, 130 currently streaming Looney Tunes episodes will leave at the same time, because apparently we just can’t have very many nice things. Does that make sense? Only to Warner Bros. Discovery WBD, -1.37% CEO David Zaslav’s bottom line, apparently.
Confession time: It’s time to admit what I’ve really been doing with my Max subscription for the past six months: slow-bingeing the early 2000s teen drama “The O.C.” It’s not even a guilty pleasure at this point, just pleasure, plain and simple. So far I’ve gotten through the first two seasons (27(!) and 24 episodes, respectively), skipped the terrible third season and am now diving into the fourth and final one. You know what? It’s still fun, featuring an amazing soundtrack with needle-drops that still bring goosebumps all these years later (sorry, “True Detective: Night Country,” you may not use Mazzy Star’s “Into Dust,” it’s already been taken). It’s an excellent brain sorbet for stressful times, and for anyone following my footsteps, pair a binge with Alan Sepinwall’s new-ish book “Welcome to the O.C.: The Oral History,” which is a fantastic behind-the-scenes look at how the show was made.
Who’s Max for? HBO fans and movie lovers. And now, unscripted-TV fans too, with its slew of Discovery shows.
Play, pause or stop? Play. “Curb,” ”Tokyo Vice” and “Last Week Tonight” are all top-notch, and “The Regime” looks worth a try at least. There’s also the recently concluded “True Detective: Night Country,” which proved to be surprisingly divisive, but it’s worth a binge (for the record, I very much liked it, despite some flaws).
Hulu is pretty light on new shows in March. The best of the bunch seem to be a trio of documentaries: “Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told” (March 21), about the legacy of the legendary Atlanta street parties in the ’80s and ’90s; “Spermworld” (March 30), about sperm donors and prospective parents; and “The Stones and Brian Jones” (March 14), about the Rolling Stones’ founding member, along with the miniseries “We Were The Lucky Ones” (March 28), an adaptation of Georgia Hunter’s bestselling novel, inspired by a true story about a Jewish family separated at the start of World War II and their struggle to survive and reunite.
There are also a handful of new Fox and ABC shows, like “The Cleaning Lady” (March 6), “The Masked Singer” and “Animal Control” (both March 7), and “Grey’s Anatomy” and “9-1-1” (both March 15).
Get current: The best reason to watch Hulu this month is for FX’s epic miniseries “Shōgun,” which dropped its first episodes at the end of February and concludes in April. It’s a sumptuous adaptation of the 1975 James Clavell novel, with gorgeous cinematography and a more well-rounded approach than the 1980 TV miniseries, especially when it comes to the perspective of its Japanese characters. Hiroyuki Sanada oozes gravitas as a powerful warlord surrounded by enemies, Anna Sawai is striking as a Catholic convert and translator, toeing a fine line between two cultures, while Cosmo Jarvis plays an boorish shipwrecked English sailor whose idea of civilization becomes turned upside down by the new world he encounters. It’s a gripping tale, reminiscent of early “Game of Thrones” at its scheming, dialogue-heavy best. I’ll mention my favorite show of this year (so far) a little further down, but “Shōgun“ could easily claim that title by the time all is said and done. It’s very, very good.
Who’s Hulu for? TV lovers. There’s a deep library for those who want older TV series and next-day streaming of many current network and cable shows.
Play, pause or stop? Pause and think it over. There’s a case to be made that “Shōgun” and “Abbott Elementary” are worth a subscription by themselves, but there aren’t many new shows that are worth paying for. Still, if you do, the cheaper, ad-supported plan is the way to go. Hulu has a lot of good stuff, but not $18-a-month worth of goodness.
It seems a rarity when Apple AAPL, -0.60% doesn’t have a new sci-fi series, but March is all about the past, starting with the streaming premiere of Ridley Scott’s action spectacle “Napoleon” (March 1), starring Joaquin Phoenix, which hit theaters last November to mixed reviews.
“Manhunt” (March 15), tells the surprisingly little-known true story about the desperate search for Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth (Anthony Boyle). Based on the bestseller by James L. Swanson, the long-simmering adaptation stars Tobias Menzies as Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s secretary of war, who led the manhunt. Apple has another throwback series with “Palm Royale” (March 20), a dramedy starring Kristen Wiig, Laura Dern and Ricky Martin about a woman trying to break into Palm Beach high society in 1969.
There’s also a new season of the off-the-beaten-path travel show “The Reluctant Traveler with Eugene Levy” (March 8); the new historical comedy series “The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin” (March 1), starring Noel Fielding (“The Great British Baking Show”) as a bumbling 18th-century highwayman; and the second season of the rebooted kids show “Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock” (March 29).
And there are new episodes every week of the WWII drama “Masters of the Air” (finale March 15), the sci-fi thriller “Constellation” (finale March 27) and the historical fashion drama “The New Look” (finale April 3).
Who’s Apple TV+ for? It offers a little something for everyone, but not necessarily enough for anyone — although it’s getting there.
Play, pause or stop? Pause. While good but not great, ”Masters of the Air” is still worth a watch, “Constellation” has gotten mostly good reviews, and “Manhunt,” ”Palm Royale” and ”Dick Turpin” have potential — but is that enough to justify a subscription?
Disney’s DIS, +0.33% hands-down highlight of the month is the streaming premiere of the blockbuster concert movie “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (Taylor’s Version)” (March 15), with five songs not included in the original theatrical release. If you have a Swiftie in your house, then yeah, you’ll be watching this a few times.
Disney+ also has “X-Men ’97” (March 20), an animated revival featuring the iconic band of mutants and picking up where the much-loved 1990s “X-Men: The Animated Series” left off; new episodes of the animated “Star Wars” spinoff “The Bad Batch”; “NHL Big City Greens Classic” (March 9), a Nickelodeon alt-broadcast of the hockey game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins; the historical adventure series “Renegade Nell” (March 29); and the documentary “Madu” (March 29), about a Nigerian teen dancer.
Who’s Disney+ for? Families with kids, hardcore “Star Wars” and Marvel fans. For people not in those groups, Disney’s library can be lacking.
Play, pause or stop? Pause, and it completely depends on your household’s level of love for Taylor Swift. Sure, it’s absolutely worth a subscription for that, especially if you kid will watch it like 47 times. But for those not on the Tay-Tay Train, there’s not much there.
Peacock has an intriguing new miniseries, “Apples Never Fall” (March 14), based on the best-selling mystery novel by Lianne Moriarty (“Big Little Lies”). Annette Benning stars as the newly retired matriarch of a family who suddenly goes missing, leaving her children to re-examine what they thought was her perfect life. There’s an impressive lineup behind the show, including co-stars Sam Neill, Jake Lacy and Alison Brie, and showrunner Melanie Marnich (who produced and wrote a number of episodes of “A Murder at the End of the World” and “The Affair,” among others).
“Top Chef” (March 21) returns for its 21st season, with episodes streaming a day after they first air on Bravo. Former winner Kristen Kish is the new host, replacing Padma Lakshmi, and Wisconsin is the setting for the most elite kitchen competition on TV. While largely maintaining its longtime format, the series has really reinvigorated itself in recent years, focusing less on classic cooking techniques and cutthroat rivalries and more on diversity of cuisines and feel-good, ”food is love” vibes. It’s nice, in the best possible way, and remains a must-watch.
There’s also “Stormy” (March 18), a documentary about the life and times of porn star Stormy Daniels, the docuseries “The McBee Dynasty: Real American Cowboys” (March 28) and the streaming premiere of the hit kids musical movie “Trolls Band Together” (March 15).
Peacock is also regaining temporary custody of the “Harry Potter” movies (they bounce between Peacock and Max for complicated reasons), and has new episodes of network and cable favorites like “Saturday Night Live,” “Below Deck” and “Night Court” a day after they air, and the conclusion of the buzzy reality competition “The Traitors” (season finale March 14).
On the sports side, there’s plenty of golf, English Premier League soccer, Big Ten college basketball, winter sports and auto racing to keep fans happy.
Maybe don’t go deeper: Peacock beat its rival to the punch and quietly added “Three-Body” a month ahead of Netflix’s premiere of “3 Body Problem.” This is the Chinese adaptation that aired overseas last year and was created by Tencent, and it’s a whopping 30 episodes, so as one might imagine, it goes into much more detail and closely follows the first book in the series, “The Three Body Problem.” Unfortunately, it’s dense and dry, with cheesy-looking special effects and poor subtitling. It’s skippable for all but the most die-hard fans.
Who’s Peacock for? Live sports and next-day shows from Comcast’s CMCSA, -0.12% NBCUniversal are the main draw, but there’s a good library of shows and movies. Also, if you’re a Comcast cable subscriber, look into its Xfinity Rewards program — you may qualify for a free Peacock subscription.
Play, pause or stop? Pause. Peacock is one of those streamers you really only need to bother watching a handful times a year, to binge through a few things. Thanks largely to “Top Chef,” this may one of those times (along with the Summer Olympics from Paris this summer). That said, it may be more economical to wait a month or two and binge ”Top Chef” when it has more episodes already banked.
Amazon AMZN, +0.83% has found itself at the center of a Hollywood donnybrook, thanks to its treatment of “Road House” (March 21), the remake of Patrick Swayze’s so-bad-it’s-great 1989 cult classic. A super-jacked Jake Gyllenhaal stars this time around as a UFC fighter/bouncer in the Florida Keys who gets into a brawl or two, yadda yadda yadda. But director Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”) is angrily boycotting the movie’s premiere at SXSW, due to Amazon’s decision to make it a streaming exclusive rather than give it a theatrical release, and wrote a scathing open letter published by Deadline. “I signed up to make a theatrical motion picture for MGM. Amazon bought MGM. Amazon said make a great film and we will see what happens. I made a great film,” Liman said. “They turned around and are using ‘Road House’ to sell plumbing fixtures.” (Pain don’t hurt, but that line should.) Liman has a good point, and it’s a curious decision by Amazon, especially with a fairly light schedule of theatrical releases through the spring, aside from “Dune: Part Two.” In the vein of “Barbenheimer,” why not “DuneHouse”?
BTW, if you feel like comparing the two, the original “Road House” will start streaming on Prime Video on March 1.
Amazon’s streaming service also has the second half of Season 2 of “Invincible” (March 14), after weirdly dropping the first four episodes way back in November. The super-violent, animated superhero story, starring the voices of Steven Yeun and J.K. Simmons, will drop new eps once a week through April 4. It’s worth watching, but maybe wait until later and watch all eight eps at once.
There’s also a new season of the small-town drama “American Rust” (March 28), starring Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney; Peter Farrelly’s imaginary-friend comedy “Ricky Stanicky” (March 7), starring Zac Efron and Jon Cena; recent movies including “Five Nights at Freddy’s” (March 5), Neil Jordan’s private-eye drama “Marlowe” (March 7), the rom-com sequel “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3” (March 12) and and the illustrated documentary “Frida” (March 14), about artist Frida Kahlo. Prime also now has NWSL soccer, with a schedule of 27 total matches starting March 15.
Catch up: The reboot of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” which dropped in February and shares little in common with the 2005 Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie movie other than its name, is the best series of year (so far), with Donald Glover and Maya Erskine giving electric performances as spies/assassins thrown together in a marriage that starts out as a cover but evolves into something much deeper. The first few episodes are wildly fun, with spectacular action scenes (the Lake Como episode is…wow), while the latter eps turn much more uncomfortable and darker, before a jaw-dropping finale. Highly recommended.
Who’s Prime Video for? Movie lovers, TV-series fans who value quality over quantity.
Play, pause or stop? Stop, for now at least. “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” is worth a watch at some point, “Road House” will likely be dumb fun but not necessarily essential viewing, while “Invincible” can wait another month until all its eps drop.
Sports are the big draw for Paramount+ this month.
Following a jam-packed slate of regular-season and conference tournament games, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament — aka March Madness — tips off on March 21. Paramount+ with Showtime won’t have all the games, just the ones broadcast on CBS (while Max will stream games that are shown on TBS, TNT and truTV).
And for soccer fans, the UEFA Champions League kicks off its round of 16, starting March 5, along with women’s Concacaf Gold Cup matches (final March 10) and men’s Concacaf Nations League matches (final March 24).
Meanwhile, there’s the Showtime series “A Gentleman in Moscow” (March 29), based on the best-selling novel by Amor Towles. Ewan McGregor stars as a Russian aristocrat in post-revolution Russia who’s sentenced to house arrest in a fancy Moscow hotel.
There’s also “Little Wing” (March 13), a movie about a teen (Brooklynn Prince) who turns to pigeon racing in hopes of solving her family’s financial woes; CBS shows such as ”The Good Wife” spinoff “Elsbeth” (Feb. 29) and a new season of “The Amazing Race” (March 13); and the addition of all nine seasons of “The King of Queens” (March 25).
Who’s Paramount+ for? Gen X cord-cutters who miss live sports and familiar Paramount Global  PARA, -0.82%  broadcast and cable shows.
Play, pause or stop? Stop. There’s nothing essential that you can’t also watch in a sports bar.
Need more? Catch up on previous months’ picks at What’s Worth Streaming.
“The home we sold is now going into foreclosure, but it’s way out of our price range. To say the market is disappointing is an understatement.”
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