The Many Saints of Newark hits HBO Max on Friday, and Sopranos fans undoubtedly have more than 20 years of burning questions for the prequel. How will Tony’s anxiety come up? And who will be the first to suffer a delightfully deadpan demise? And perhaps most importantly — will HBO Max’s notoriously slow and spotty app bust while everyone is trying to watch? The company just rolled out an update, which we’ve evaluated this week with all the verve of Paulie Walnuts checking on a late payment.
Gone are the crashes and app-breaking glitches, thankfully, at least in Vulture’s brief, half-hour test-watching of a few different titles and clicking through a battery of options on my Roku TV. The app’s a little faster, but still not exactly grab-a-gabagool-from-the-fridge fast. It took me a full 68 seconds to open the app and navigate to “Pine Barrens,” a perfect Steve Buscemi–directed Sopranos episode. (The time it took me to get to BoJack Horseman’s “Stupid Piece of Sh*t” on Netflix: 48 seconds.) Exiting “Pine Barrens” and tabbing over to the TCM hub for another meditation on masculinity, Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho, took another 36 seconds. Along the way, I spotted the slowness and lag I’d grown accustomed to as a day-one Max user, now accompanied by a new loading symbol — three dots orbiting an imaginary center of gravity. As Tony once observed, “Sometimes it’s important to give people the illusion of being in control.”
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