‘Shrinking’ and ‘Daisy Jones’ Finales, Hulu’s Musical ‘Up Here,’ Whitney Houston’s Gospel Legacy, ‘My Kind of Country’
Several streaming series reach their finales, including the Apple TV+ comedy Shrinking, Prime Video’s Daisy Jones and the Six and Apple’s Dear Edward. Oscar-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Frozen) provide the score to Hulu’s hummable rom-com Up Here. An UPtv documentary explores Whitney Houston’s devotion to gospel music. Apple’s music competition My Kind of Country scours the globe to find the next country-music star.
Get ready to laugh till you cry, or possibly vice versa, in the blissfully enjoyable season finale of the charming dramedy from Ted Lasso’s Bill Lawrence, Brett Goldstein and series star Jason Segel. As Season 1 wraps—it’s already been renewed for a second—widowed therapist Jimmy (Segel) nervously prepares his speech for the wedding of his best friend Brian (Michael Urie), creating another tense showdown between him and his still-grieving daughter, Alice (Lukita Maxwell). The episode’s far from a downer, as Jimmy’s mentor Paul (the wonderful Harrison Ford) considers how to thank his protégé, while their associate Gaby (hilarious Jessica Williams) seeks Paul’s recommendation for a new gig, and Jimmy’s neighbor Liz (Christa Miller), who admits she’s a bit much, seeks to be more involved in Sean’s (Luke Tennie) catering biz, in which she’s invested her husband’s (the invaluable Ted McGinley) money. If you want to end your week on an up note, this is your show.
Daisy Jones & the Six
Also wrapping its season: the sudsy adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Behind the Music-style best-seller about the entanglements of a rock band in the 1970s. The final two chapters involve a fateful appearance on Saturday Night Live and their final performance ever at Chicago’s Soldier Field, revealing all that happened at that event that changed all their lives forever.
Yet another finale, with the tear-jerking adaptation of Ann Napolitano’s novel reaching its climax when young Edward (Colin O’Brien) finally realizes how many people’s lives this sole survivor of a plane crash has touched after discovering the cache of “Dear Edward” letters his aunt Lacey (Taylor Schilling) and husband John (Carter Hudson) have kept from him. This catharsis coincides with Election Day for Adriana (Anna Uzele) and a party for the support group, where the ever-needy Dee Dee (Connie Britton) has an epiphany.
A rom-com with music by the Oscar and Emmy-winning team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Frozen, WandaVision) stars Good Girls’ Mae Whitman and The Flash’s Carlos Valdes as young lovers in New York City at the end of the last century (cue the Y2K anxiety). The twists in their on-and-off romance are heightened by the Greek choruses in each of their heads, an off-putting gimmick that tends to weigh down the genre clichés. But for those who’ve been pining for a musical series since Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist stopped playing, this provides some catchy tunes and nice chemistry between the leads—and cameos along the way by Broadway talents including Brian Stokes Mitchell, Norm Lewis and Parade’s breakout star Micaela Diamond as a bad girl. All eight episodes are available for binge-watching. (See the full review.)
My Kind of Country
If American Idol and The Voice aren’t country enough for you, consider a new music competition that enlists contemporary country stars Jimmie Allen, Mickey Guyton and South Africa-born “queer cowboy” Orville Peck to scour the globe looking for new talent. A diverse group of contestants, grouped in three teams, hail from as far away as India, South Africa and Mexico and as near as North Carolina and Nashville. The series opens with three episodes in which Allen, Guyton and Peck introduce their finds in separate showcases, then decide which will move on to workshops that air next Friday.
I Go to the Rock: The Gospel Music of Whitney Houston
Dear friend (and godmother to Bobbi Kristina Brown) CeCe Winans hosts a retrospective look at the late superstar Whitney Houston’s deep faith and association with gospel music through her career. Highlights include her first performance in front of an audience, the success of The Preacher’s Wife’s gospel-flavored soundtrack in 1996, and appearances at the NAAPC Image Awards, the American Music Awards and Ebony’s 50th anniversary TV special.
The penultimate episode of the offbeat catering comedy’s comeback season takes place at a prom that’s actually a prom-otional event for former server-turned-child-star momager Lydia (Megan Mullally) on behalf of her now-grown daughter Escapade (Yellowjackets’ Liv Hewson). Desperate Lydia worries that her darling missed out on her childhood, and Party Down’s team leader Ron (Ken Marino) sees this ersatz event as an opportunity to take his company to the next level—if only he can keep them, and his own fool self, in line.
INSIDE FRIDAY TV:
- NCAA Basketball Tournaments: The women’s Sweet 16 begins regional semifinals from Seattle and South Carolina on ESPN, starting at 2:30 pm/ET with Villanova vs. Miami, continuing with games at 5 pm/ET (Utah vs. LSU), 7:30 (Iowa vs. Colorado) and 10 (Louisville vs. Ole Miss). More games continue on Saturday. Men’s games continue on TBS at 6:30 pm/ET with Alabama vs. San Diego State and, at 9 pm/ET, Creighton vs. Princeton; on CBS, Houston plays Miami at 7:15 pm/ET, followed by Texas vs. Xavier at 9:45 pm/ET.
- RuPaul’s Drag Race (8/7c, MTV): The remaining queens conduct a master class in the art of drag with makeovers of actual teachers, ranging from kindergarten to high school. Pop musician Hayley Kiyoko is guest judge.
- Lopez vs. Lopez (8/7c, NBC): When Mayan (Mayan Lopez) catches the eye of a visiting veterinarian, she wonders if she’ll be next in the long line of cheating Lopezes dating back to their Aztec ancestors.
- Power Book II: Ghost (8/7c, Starz): Lorenzo (Woody McClain) scrambles to keep Monet (Mary J. Blige) off his back after she orders him to find Zeke’s killer.
- Saturdays (9/8c, Disney Channel): A coming-of-age series follows 14-year-old Paris Johnson (Danielle Jalade) and her friends as they sharpen their roller-skating skills at a Chicago rink every Saturday, forming the We-B-Girlz skate crew in hopes of triumph at the Saturdays Roller Palace.
- American Masters: In the Making (9/8c, PBS): Multiple Tony winner Audra McDonald hosts two documentary shorts profiling groundbreaking artists on the rise: J’Nai Bridges Unamplified depicts Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano as she performs A Knee on the Neck, a choral tribute to George Floyd. In Rissi Palmer: Still Here, the country performer works on a new album, lifting other artists of color in the process.
- True Crime Watch: On Dateline NBC (9/8c), Andrea Canning revisits the 2017 murder of renowned Missouri snake breeder Ben Renick, found shot eight times in a facility crawling with snakes. Oxygen’s The Real Murders of Atlanta (9/8c) uncovers a conspiracy that claimed the life of Dekalb County’s newly elected sheriff just days before he took office.
ON THE STREAM:
- Reggie (streaming on Prime Video): Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson reflects on his career as a Black trailblazer during the civil-rights era in a documentary that features his discussions with fellow sports greats Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Hank Aaron and Derek Jeter.
- Knock at the Cabin (streaming on Peacock): Not even two months after its theatrical release, M. Night Shyamalan’s apocalyptic thriller makes its streaming debut.
- Love Is Blind (streaming on Netflix): Season 4 of the relationship series where marriages are arranged in adjoining pods, sight unseen, introduces new couples in Seattle. Launching with five episodes.