‘Nine Perfect Strangers,’ Remembering Kobe Bryant, Awkwafina, Animal Babies, Robert Redford’s 84th Birthday

Hulu reunites Nicole Kidman with the Big Little Lies team for the wellness-gone-wrong melodrama Nine Perfect Strangers. ABC’s Superstar profiles the late Kobe Bryant. Comedy Central lets Awkwafina be Nora from Queens in a second season of hilarious hijinks. Watch exotic animals grow up, courtesy of National Geographic and Disney+. TCM’s Summer Under the Stars salutes Robert Redford on his 84th birthday.

HULU

Nine Perfect Strangers

Series Premiere

If you’ve just checked out of HBO’s The White Lotus and are seeking a new over-the-top escape, this surreal and soapy eight-part melodrama from the Big Little Lies team (book writer Liane Moriarty, executive producer David E. Kelley adapting) transports you to Tranquillum House, a health-and-wellness retreat in the wilds of California (filmed in Australia). The scenic spa is overseen by the mysterious Masha (Nicole Kidman), whose manipulative mind games will change her guests forever. Her new clients include Melissa McCarthy as a romance writer who’s lost her mojo, Bobby Cannavale as a blustery ex-NFL player who’s hooked on painkillers, Regina Hall as an unhappy divorcée and an unusually chipper Michael Shannon as a husband and father trying to help his family cope with an inexplicable loss. Part comedy, part tragedy, eventually it’s all just looney-tunes surreal. The first three episodes drop this week, with the remainder premiering weekly.

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Superstar

The docuseries shines a light on the brilliant life and career, on and off the basketball court, of Kobe Bryant, with much of the special told in his own words in interviews from the ABC News archives. Superstar celebrates his sports achievements, reports on a complicated personal life and ultimately focuses on his dedication to his family, including coaching his daughter Gigi’s basketball team, culminating in the tragic helicopter crash in January 2020 that claimed his, Gigi’s and others’ lives.

Awkwafina in Nora from Queens Season 2 trailer
Comedy Central/YouTube

Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens

Season Premiere

The hilarious Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians), aka Nora Lum, returns for a second season of bizarre and funny shenanigans inspired by her pre-stardom life growing up in Queens alongside her dad and grandma, played to blissful perfection by BD Wong and the riotous Lori Tan Chinn. In the first of two back-to-back episodes, Nora examines her going-nowhere life as she works at a CBD store, training a naïve newcomer from Iowa who has a very interesting (and amusingly almost accurate) take on Sex and the City. The more antic second episode sends her back to 2003, courtesy of an MRI machine and an earthquake—shades of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist—where she considers giving life advice to her younger self, timeline consequences be damned.

DISNEY +

Growing Up Animal

Series Premiere

In the tradition of those classic Disney nature films, National Geographic produces a six-part series depicting baby animals in the wild as they’re nurtured towards an independent future. Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish) narrates the episodes, each devoted to a different animal: baby chimps, sea lions, elephants, African wild dogs, lions and grizzlies. Even the fiercest are adorable when they’re young.

20th Century Fox Film Corp.

Summer Under the Stars

Here’s an appropriate 84th birthday present for the film icon Robert Redford and his legions of fans: Redford’s inauguration into TCM’s annual Summer Under the Stars series, with a 24-hour marathon of his movies. It begins with one of his least known: 1962’s War Hunt, with highlights including the Watergate-era political satire The Candidate (1:15/12:15c), the peerless love story The Way We Were (3:15/2:15c), opposite Barbra Streisand; 1984’s baseball classic The Natural (5:30/4:30c), the epic romance Out of Africa (8/7c) opposite Meryl Streep; and his immortal collaboration with Paul Newman in 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (11/10c).

True Crime Watch:

  • I Survived a Serial Killer (9:30/8:30c, A&E): A new 12-part docuseries relives encounters with evil from the perspective of the survivors, starting with gutsy Jennifer Asbenson, who lived to tell the tale of her 1992 abduction in Palm Springs, CA.
  • In Pursuit with John Walsh (10/9c, Investigation Discovery): The America’s Most Wanted icon and son Callahan Walsh return for a third season of crime-stopping activism, having landed 26 profiled fugitives in custody since the series began. The premiere looks into the case of a devoted single mother who disappeared, with her so-called “secret boyfriend” the prime suspect, especially once he goes on the run.
  • Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes (streaming on Netflix): A chilling documentary goes inside the mind of British serial killer Dennis Nilsen, who narrates his own misdeeds in a series of audiotapes recorded from his jail cell.

Inside Wednesday TV:

  • Riverdale (8/7c, The CW): A chip off the old block when Mark Conseulos’ son Michael plays his younger self. The occasion: Hiram (Mark) sharing his origin story with Reggie (Charles Melton), revealing how he transformed from young Jaime Luna (Michael) to Riverdale’s crime kingpin.
  • House Calls with Dr. Phil (9/8c, CBS): Who’s that at the door? Looks and sounds like daytime TV’s top mental-health therapist, now taking his act on the road, leaving the studio to barge in on families in need. In the opener, he heads to Utah to heal a family in which a teenaged daughter hasn’t spoken to her father for years.
  • In the Same Breath (9/8c, HBO): A documentary from Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation) takes a very personal approach to reliving the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, tracking how the spread was mishandled both in her native country of China and her adoptive home of the U.S.
  • The FBI Declassified (10/9c, CBS): Back for a summer run, the docuseries that recounts some of the bureau’s biggest cases deals with an “Enemy of the State” in the undercover search for conspiracy theorist and domestic terrorist Edward McLarnon, who plotted to kill a federal judge, a Massachusetts attorney general and a social worker in a protest against the judicial system.
  • Diary of a Future President (streaming on Disney+): All 10 episodes are available for binge-watching of the second season of the family comedy series about seventh-grader Elena Cañero-Reed (Tess Romero), a Cuban-American go-getter whose diary provides the origin story for a future leader of America.