‘Great British Baking Show,’ Return of ‘Luke Cage,’ The Science of ‘A.I.’


A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:

The Great British Baking Show (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Things are always better with the right ingredients. Such is the case with this delightful culinary competition, which dusts off a season from 2012 that was never shown in the U.S. and thus features the delectable original cast: judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, with quippy hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. (All but Hollywood have been replaced in the current iteration of the show, when it moved from the BBC to Britain’s Channel 4.) There are few pleasures more satisfying than watching a true baker’s dozen of contestants hoping to be named “star baker” as they vie to impress each week with a “signature bake,” a “technical challenge” and a climactic “showstopper.” This show really is good enough to eat.

Marvel’s Luke Cage (streaming on Netflix): One of the streaming service’s better Marvel superhero series stars Mike Colter as the bulletproof title titan, reveling in his status as Harlem’s favorite son as a second season opens. Before long, he’ll face challenges to those trying to usurp his standing in his beloved community — including the formidable Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir).

This Is A.I. (9/8c, Science Channel): With Westworld about to wrap its second season this weekend, and AMC’s Humans still going strong with its own allegory about robots living among us, this two-hour special (which aired Thursday on sister channel Discovery) is especially timely. Computer scientists and tech experts help walk us through the latest developments in artificial intelligence and its impact on our daily lives. If you’ve already programmed Siri or Alexa to remind you to watch, This Is A.I. is for you.

Inside Friday TV: Follow National Geographic photographer Anand Varma into the Mexican jungle as he seeks to capture on film Giant Carnivorous Bats (8/7c, Nat Geo WILD)… In another three-episode rush to the end, Syfy’s 12 Monkeys (8/7c) zips its time-traveling team first to the Wild West frontier, then to the 1960s (with Christopher Lloyd returning as Witness acolyte Zalmon Shaw) and finally to WWII Germany, where they infiltrate a Nazi gala. Even the Timeless gang would be impressed by all of this… The very topical EPIX documentary This Is Home (8/7c), winner of a 2018 Sundance Audience Award, follows four Syrian refugee families as they arrive in the U.S. and must “learn America” as they attempt to rebuild their lives… Pure escapism for those of us on the mainland, HGTV’s My Aloha Dream Home (9/8c) features real-estate broker/attorney Wayne Chi helping clients choose among multiple properties on Maui and Oahu.