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What’s on TV Saturday: ‘Spaceship Earth’ and ‘Valley Girl’


SPACESHIP EARTH (2020) Stream on Hulu. This documentary takes viewers inside Biosphere 2 (known as No. 2 because Biosphere 1 is the Earth), an experimental research facility that was built by a Texas oil tycoon to prove that humans could remain healthy while quarantining in a bubble. Built in Oracle, Ariz., with its own mini-rainforest, desert and ocean with a living coral reef, the idyllic bubble was meant to prepare scientists for space colonization. But in 1991, when the first eight scientists sealed themselves inside the terrarium-like habitat for the two-year experiment, things went awry. Directed by Matt Wolf (“Teenage”), this film looks at the odd and dark twists that took place in the utopian biosphere.

VALLEY GIRL (2020) Rent or buy on Amazon, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu. The director Rachel Lee Goldenberg revamps Martha Coolidge’s 1983 cult classic for this power-clashing jukebox musical. This remake stars Jessica Rothe as Julie and Josh Whitehouse as Julie’s bad-boy love interest, Randy. As we follow the teenagers around Southern California, the movie pulls songs from Madonna, Queen, David Bowie and more, taking a crack at its own version of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” like every movie set in the 1980s must. The classic coming-of-age story even features a few cameos from the movie’s original cast, including Deborah Foreman, who played the original Julie (though, alas, Nicolas Cage is nowhere to be found).

JIMMY O. YANG: GOOD DEAL (2020) Stream on Amazon. Best known for his role as Jian-Yang on HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” Jimmy O. Yang makes his stand-up debut with this hourlong comedy special. As Yang recounts his experience moving from Hong Kong to California, he jokes about learning English from rap music, dating women who were taller than him and disappointing his father by not becoming a scientist. As he explains via the chapter titles of his 2018 memoir “How to American: An Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents,” Yang is ready to teach audiences anything from “How to Asian” to “How to Strip Club D.J.”

DOWNTON ABBEY (2019) 8 p.m. on HBO; stream on HBO platforms. This film picks up where the original six-season series left off, with the Crawley family and their dedicated staff members preparing for the arrival of the King and Queen of England. Directed by Michael Engler and starring Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode, Tuppence Middleton and Maggie Smith, the film boasts the classic romances and scandals that drew viewers to the acclaimed PBS series. As Jeannette Catsoulis wrote in her review for The New York Times, everything about the film — which is “rated PG for men kissing and women keeping secrets” — “argues insistently for the status quo.”

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