10 Best Shows on Disney+ Canada Right Now
There's more to Disney's new streaming service than fairy tale castles and musical mice. In fact, some of the best shows on Disney+ Canada are geared towards grown-ups.
When it comes to live performances, sometimes the best seat in the house is your very own sofa. That’s certainly the case with Hamilton, the Broadway musical that’s been so popular—and pricey—that only a privileged few Canadians were able to see it before its Disney+ premiere on July 3. Shot over three live performances in 2016 featuring the original cast—including creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda (above)—Hamilton easily lives up to its hype, and is reason alone to add Disney+ to your lineup of streaming services. We’re not the only ones to think so, either—apparently Disney+ app downloads surged nearly 75% in the days leading up to Hamilton‘s release.
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Forget those flawed prequels and sequels—The Mandalorian is the Star Wars follow-up that fans of the original trilogy have been waiting 35 years for. The true successor to George Lucas’s grand vision of a galaxy far, far away, this Disney+ original follows a lone bounty hunter tasked with retrieving a highly unusual child. That child (no spoilers—although if you were on the Internet in 2019, you’ll recognize it from a million memes) is destined to play in a role in the hardened mercenary’s redemption, and we’re along for the breathtaking ride. Thoroughly gripping throughout its debut season, The Mandalorian boasts exhilarating action sequences, striking special effects, and that secret ingredient so many modern-day blockbusters tend to ignore: characters you genuinely care about.
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It’s gotten some flack over the last, oh, 20 years, for overstaying its welcome, but there was a time when The Simpsons was the funniest show on television. Although you can watch 30 seasons of the animated family’s antics on Disney+, you’ll likely get the biggest laughs from seasons three through eight—widely acknowledged as the program’s golden age. It’s in this era that you’ll find razor-sharp episodes penned by the likes of Conan O’Brien, who wrote the all-time classic, “Marge vs. the Monorail”:
Homer: Are we gonna die son?
Bart: Yeah. But at least we’ll take a lot of innocent people with us.
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The World According to Jeff Goldblum
Having firmly established himself as Hollywood’s leading eccentric, Jeff Goldblum was a natural choice to host this quirky series that makes the ordinary extraordinary. In each 30-minute episode, Goldblum—in full Dr. Ian Malcolm mode—does a deep-dive on an everyday item, focusing on its origins, cultural impact and fanatical followers. From sneakers to ice cream, no topic is too trivial, and Goldblum’s wit, humour and unfailing sense of wonder elevate the proceedings to must-see TV.
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A Disney princess flick is only as good as its villain, and in 1959’s Sleeping Beauty, the genre peaked with Maleficent. Brought to life by the smoky, sinister tones of Eleanor Audley (she also voiced the wicked stepmother in Disney’s Cinderella nine years earlier), Maleficent is utterly, deliciously wicked, and like all the best baddies, threatens to steal the show from our soporific heroine. Charming animation and a memorable musical score conspire to make Sleeping Beauty one of the true highlights of Disney’s “princess” franchise, established with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs back in 1937, and refined here with near-perfect results.
Fun fact: Until 2001, you could still hear the voice of Eleanor Audley at this popular Disneyland attraction.
Waking Sleeping Beauty
It sounds like it could be a sequel to the 1959 animated classic, but Waking Sleeping Beauty showcases a very different side of Disney. This fascinating 2009 doc kicks off in the early ’80s, when the company had abandoned animation in favour of live action films, resulting in a string of catastrophic box office flops. Cue an infusion of fresh blood in the back room that steers Disney back to its animation roots, paving the way for a proper renaissance that would include the likes of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. It’s a captivating look at the business side of show business, featuring some surprisingly candid insights from key Disney execs of the day including Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
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Now that it spans 20-plus films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t always easy for casual viewers to dip into. What’s beautiful about 2015’s Ant-Man, however, is that it stands perfectly well on its own. Unburdened by continuity and very, very funny, Ant-Man introduces Paul Rudd as lovable loser-turned-incredible shrinking man, Scott Lang. Instead of the bog-standard origin story we’ve come to expect from a superhero’s debut, however, what follows is a fast-paced heist flick that’s enlivened by a surprising amount of humour. In other words, the superhero movie for people who generally don’t like superhero movies.
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One Strange Rock
If you took BBC’s famed Planet Earth documentary series, swapped out narrator David Attenborough for Will Smith, and ramped up the drama, you’d end up with One Strange Rock. This lavish National Geographic production explores the fascinating cosmic quirks that made our planet the only one in the universe (that we’re aware of, anyway) capable of sustaining life. Legendary Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield is on hand to provide a unique perspective as one of the lucky few to have observed our precious—and frighteningly fragile—world from afar. The utterly compelling 10-episode series has earned an impressive 8.8 rating on IMBD, making it one of the highest-rated shows on Disney+.
Fun fact from the premiere episode: Soil picked up by dust storms in the deserts of East Africa are carried across the Atlantic, landing in the heart of South America where it then helps fertilize the Amazon rainforest. Mind = blown.
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If you were a kid growing up in the ’80s, you’ll remember Willow as the movie you begged your parents to rent from the video store week after week. Rewatching this classic fantasy flick on Disney+ is sure to deliver some serious nostalgia—and some serious head-scratching as to why it never achieved quite the acclaim it deserved. Some great performances from the cast (including a very young Val Kilmer), a fun Tolkien-esque plot, and Ron Howard’s confident direction make Willow just as impressive more than 30 years on.
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Consider yourself warned—Prop Culture will make you question your career choices by introducing the best job you didn’t know existed: Disney prop archivist. In this eight-episode series, prop collector Dan Lanigan travels the world tracking down treasures from some of Disney’s most memorable movies, and in some instances, reuniting them with their original makers. It’s surprisingly emotional to see Mary Poppins actress Karen Dotrice presented with the tiny tweed jacket she donned as Jane Banks more than 50 years ago, while reminiscing about the sense of fun and family Walt Disney brought to productions behind-the-scenes.
Now that you know the best shows to watch on Disney+, check out the best movies on Netflix Canada, according to Rotten Tomatoes.