Knockout 'Handmaid's Tale' Finale, 'TKO: Total Knock Out' on CBS, 'Misfits & Monsters' on truTV
A critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
The Handmaid’s Tale (streaming on Hulu): A grueling second season of the searing allegory ends with enough powerful and satisfying twists to keep fans buzzing until Season 3 arrives next year. It’s another powerful showcase for Elisabeth Moss as Offred/June, who can barely mask her rage and contempt after last week’s public execution, and also for Yvonne Strahovski, who has been tremendous all season as Offred’s conflicted mistress, Serena. Her rekindled feelings about women’s subservient place in even the highest strata of Gilead society come to a head in another showdown with her husband, Commander Fred (Joseph Fiennes). In another household, Emily (Alexis Bledel) is in for a surprise—and so are viewers—as she prepares for her first “ceremony” with her mysterious master (Bradley Whitford, typically terrific). A suspenseful climax sets up powerful new dynamics for whatever comes next.
TKO: Total Knock Out (9/8c, CBS): A reminder that in most regards, especially on the broadcast networks, summer is the silly season, which explains this knockoff of Wipeout featuring Kevin Hart as the good-natured host for a new slapstick competition. Each week, five contestants vie for the fastest time on an elaborate obstacle course during which opponents fire projectiles at the runner in hopes of knocking and slowing them down. A $50,000 prize awaits the winner. An hour of harmless fluff awaits the viewer.
Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits & Monsters (10/9c, truTV): Horror and humor are compatible bedfellows in a cheerfully cheesy anthology from former stand-up provocateur (turned writer/director) Goldthwait. Like Tales From the Crypt with a more satirical bent, these cautionary tales are populated with actors better known for comedy—including, in the opener, Seth Green. “Bubba the Bear” features Who Framed Roger Rabbit-style live action and animation to fun (and gruesome) effect in the story of a voice actor driven looney-tunes by the sinister manifestation of his goofy redneck cartoon character. It might make you scream—with laughter.
Inside Wednesday TV: As The Handmaid’s Tale signs off, Hulu returns bawdy period piece Harlots for a second season, with back-to-back episodes. The rivalry between brothel madams Margaret (Samantha Morton) and Lydia (Lesley Manville) intensifies when a stern new Justice makes an arrest. … Classic rock fans will want to check out the premiere of AXS TV’s The Ronnie Wood Show (8/7c), in which the Rolling Stones guitarist jams and jaws with Beatles icon Paul McCartney in the U.S. debut of Wood’s radio show. … PBS’s three-part Kingdoms of the Sky, from BBC’s Natural History Unit, is a visual treat as it depicts the wildlife and people who cohabitate on the Earth’s most iconic mountain ranges. First up: “The Rockies” (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), where skiers and daredevil wingsuit flyers play while bighorn sheep, mountain lions and other species just try to survive. … TLC’s Dr. Pimple Popper (10/9c) belies its silly title with compelling accounts of dermatologist and YouTube star Dr. Sandra Lee, as she helps patients with extreme dermatological problems regain their confidence and even sometimes their mobility.