Hulu’s ‘Into the Dark’ Horror Anthology, ‘Speechless’ Goes to London, ‘Man in the High Castle,’ Grammy Salute on PBS
A critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Into the Dark: The Body (streaming on Hulu): Getting a jump on Halloween, this new horror anthology from Blumhouse Television will present a self-contained mini-movie every month, pegged to a holiday, for the next year. The premiere, “The Body,” has a gruesomely fun premise: A stone-cold hitman (Tom Bateman) is waylaid while trying to dispose of his latest victim by Halloween revelers who mistake his bloody task as a cool holiday get-up. “Great costume,” as assortment of idiots crows as he drags the wrapped corpse in plain sight into a variety of situations, escalating into a predictable bloodbath by the time it’s all over.
Speechless (8:30/7:30c, ABC): A newly revived “TGIF” family-friendly lineup includes two well-regarded sitcoms transplanted from other nights: the fifth season of Fresh Off the Boat (8/7c), featuring a guest appearance by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and former TGIF star Jaleel White; and the acclaimed Speechless, which uproots the DiMeo clan to London for a two-part opener of the third season. Having temporarily lost a roof to live under, Maya (Minnie Driver) swallows her pride to introduce the family to her estranged father, Martin (the great John Cleese of Monty Python fame), in hopes of getting a loan from the blustery Brit. Kenneth (Cedric Yarbrough) comes along for the ride, hoping to keep his intense fandom for the royals a secret.
Last Man Standing (8/7c, Fox): A show ABC probably wishes it had kept around for the “TGIF” audience promises to be a major player for Fox on Fridays. Another strong episode forces Mike (Tim Allen) to confront his deeply buried feelings regarding the passing four months ago of his crusty dad, Bud (Robert Forster). Much lighter in tone, the very broad companion sitcom The Cool Kids (8:30/7:30c) is an especially good showcase for Vicki Lawrence as cranky-pants Margaret, who’s in no mood to celebrate her 65th birthday — though her new buds (Martin Mull, David Alan Grier, the outrageous Leslie Jordan) insist on taking her clubbing, which goes about as well as you’d expect for someone who starts the day by pouring rum over her pancakes.
The Man in the High Castle (streaming on Amazon): Almost two years have passed since we’ve seen new episodes of this provocative hybrid of alternative history and science fiction, imagining a world (one of several) in which America lost WWII. Watching the half-hour recap of the first two seasons on Amazon is highly recommended. Even then, the 10 episodes of Season 3 are something of a muddled slog, with the most chilling moments involving the Nazis’ 1960s propaganda campaign to erase all traces of American history, starting with its most precious and prominent symbols.
Grammy Salute to Music Legends 2018 (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Great Performances lives up to its billing in this all-star tribute concert, filmed in July at L.A. Dolby Theater, honoring this year’s recipients of the Recording Academy’s Special Merit Awards: Neil Diamond, Emmylou Harris, Queen, Tina Turner, the Meters, Hal Blaine and Louis Jordan. Performers include honorees The Meters, Diamond in a duet with Monkees’ Micky Dolenz fpr “I’m a Believer,” and Harris (with Trisha Yearwood), plus Herb Alpert, Sammy Hagar and Ledisi.
Inside Friday TV: Syfy offers a double dose of horror with a fifth season of the gory Z Nation (9/8c) and a third year of Van Helsing (10/9c)… Bebe Neuwirth, much missed on Madam Secretary, returns to CBS’s Blue Bloods (10/9c) as counsel Kelly Peterson, working with Frank (Tom Selleck) and Baker (Abigail Hawk) to look into a complaint about an SVU detective. In other Reagan news, Jamie (Will Estes) is transferred to a problematic new precinct… The stars come out for the season premiere of BBC America’s The Graham Norton Show (11/10c), with the flamboyant host welcoming the first female Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker, First Man star Ryan Gosling, A Star Is Born couple Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, and Rod Stewart… Wanda Sykes is a producer of a new stand-up comedy series for cable’s Epix, Unprotected Sets (11/10c), featuring rising-star comedians from across the U.S., pulling no punches in their desire to make some daringly hilarious noise.