‘Quantico’ Finale, ‘Battlebots’ Desperado Tournament, Post-Apocalyptic ‘Animals’
A critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Quantico (8/7c, ABC): Regardless of an uneven show’s fortunes, it’s always a bonus when a series is allowed to end on its own steam. And so this ever-changing thriller wraps up its story after three seasons, with the team in Ireland for a face-to-face showdown with Conor Devlin (Timothy V. Murphy). And Alex (Priyanka Chopra), as is her tradition, has one more life-changing decision to make.
Battlebots (8/7c, Discovery): The fighting robots resume the competition with new episodes, starting with a Desperado tournament in which eight teams battle it out for a chance to win one guaranteed place in the final 16 qualifiers. It all builds to the 2018 World Championship, when one bot will be awarded the Giant Nut. Chris Rose and Kenny Florian call the matches, with Jessica Chabot reporting on the mayhem from the sidelines.
Animals (11:30/10:30c, HBO): The anthropomorphic animated series is back for a third season, with the title creatures now living in a post-apocalyptic New York City where humans are extinct. The first episode follows rats Phil and Mike on a harrowing and drunken night on the town, three years after a green bomb eradicated humanity.
This is followed by the new HBO series Random Acts of Flyness (midnight/11c) from filmmaker Terence Nance. Described as a “stream-of-consciousness response to the contemporary American mediascape,” the opening episode is framed by Nance being confronted by police while filming on his bike. The satirical sketches can be thuddingly obvious, including an old-timey children’s show parody, Everybody Dies!, hosted by the gifted Tonya Pinkins as morbid “Ripa the Reaper,” and Jon Hamm pitching a topical ointment called White Be Gone as he laments, “Do you suffer from white thoughts?” More successful are meditations on the notion of “blackface,” and a graphic study of “the Sexual Proclivities of the Black Community,” including “the invisibility of the bisexual black man.”
Inside Friday TV: CBS has banished its game show TKO: Total Knock Out to a new night (8/7c), with host Kevin Hart welcoming an Olympic curling gold medalist, a competitive eater, a pro quidditch player, a pro golfer and a beep pong champ to the obstacle course… Hart remains one of the busiest guys in show biz. He’s also launching a new season of Comedy Central’s Kevin Hart Presents: The Next Level (11/10c), in which he showcases up-and-coming stand-up comedians, starting with T Murph, a rising star from the Chicago comedy circuit… Brandi Carlile in Concert is a special presentation of PBS’s Bluegrass Underground (10/9c, check local listings at pbs.org), a concert series now in its eighth season, evocatively filmed in The Caverns of Pelham, Tennessee… Streaming highlight: the Netflix movie Like Father stars The Good Place‘s Kristen Bell as a workaholic stranded on the wedding altar who takes her estranged dad (Kelsey Grammer) on her Caribbean honeymoon cruise, where they eventually and inevitably bond.