'Vanity Fair,' New Season of 'Runaways,' 20th Anniversary of 'Home for the Holidays'
A critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Vanity Fair (streaming on Amazon): Like a PBS Masterpiece classic seen through a snarky Gossip Girl filter, this seven-part adaptation of the Thackeray novel is a colorful and proudly shallow wallow in bad behavior and high melodrama. Olivia Cooke charmingly smirks at the camera as ruthlessly opportunistic Becky Sharp, who flirts and schemes her way through 19th-century London. She experiences so many reversals of fortune, even before the battle of Waterloo, that the head spins as the hours fly.
'Vanity Fair' Star Olivia Cooke & Director James Strong Detail the New, Modern Twists in the Classic Story
Marvel’s Runaways (streaming on Hulu): Marvel’s footprint may be fading on Netflix, but Hulu continues with a second season (13 episodes) of the adolescent fantasy thriller. The action picks up with the runaways having fled their evil parents and learning to survive on their own, while seeking to take down PRIDE. But is there a mole among them?
A Home for the Holidays — The 20th Anniversary (8/7c, CBS): The annual inspirational special, spotlighting stories of adoption from foster care, marks its 20th year with music from Gwen Stefani, Train and Lukas Graham, with Andy Grammer performing from the Grove’s tree-lighting ceremony in L.A. NCIS: Los Angeles star LL Cool J hosts the special, which includes updates on three families previously profiled and introduces a family from Syracuse, N.Y. who took in 17-year-old Ethan from a troubled home, and who’s now a star rower who earned an athletic scholarship to Syracuse University.
Bird Box (streaming on Netflix): Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson and John Malkovich star in director Susanne Bier’s dystopian thriller that does for sight what A Quiet Place did for sound. Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson and John Malkovich star in the story of a family’s journey through a dangerous world in which blindfolds are mandatory, because coming face to face with the menace will kill you.
Among the many, many, many other Netflix premieres: 7 Days Out, a docuseries all about anticipation, each episode counting down a week’s worth of preparation before cultural events ranging from a Karl Lagerfeld fashion collection to NASA’s Cassini mission; Guillermo del Toro’s animated series 3Below, the latest in the Tales of Arcadia trilogy, featuring the voices of Diego Luna, Tatiana Maslany and Glenn Close in the story of teenage aliens who crash-land on Earth while escaping bounty hunters; and from OWN, the third season of the juicy melodrama Greenleaf, about intrigues within a Memphis megachurch.
American Dream/American Knightmare (8:30/7:30c, Showtime): Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) explores the rise and fall of rap mogul and Death Row Records founder Suge Knight in a documentary that features a series of interviews with the controversial music maestro. Currently in jail, sentenced to 28 years after pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter in a 2015 hit-and-run death, Knight frankly discusses his successes, setbacks and such notorious incidents as the Las Vegas shooting that claimed the life of Tupac Shakur while seriously injuring Knight.
Inside Friday TV: Logo celebrates feminist icon Laverne DeFazio (aka that late Penny Marshall) with an eight-hour marathon of classic episodes of Laverne & Shirley, starting at noon/11c… Need a holiday fix? Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is there for you, with Christmas at Grand Valley (9/8c), starring Danica McKellar as a struggling artist who comes home to Wyoming and commits herself to saving the town’s fabled lodge from the wrecking ball. Her Wonder Years co-star Dan Lauria also appears… PBS’s Peabody-winning Craft in America returns with back-to-back episodes (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), looking at arts-and-crafts practices throughout the state of California, and then celebrating visionaries in a variety of craft disciplines… Outspoken comedian Sommore takes the mike in Miami Beach for Showtime’s stand-up comedy special, Sommore: A Queen With No Spades (10/9c).