Worth Watching: Streaming Bonanza with ‘Informer,’ ‘Sex Education,’ Return of ‘Future Man’ & ‘Friends From College,’ Plus: ‘Crazy Ex’
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Another Friday, another deluge of streaming TV. Here are some highlights:
Informer (Amazon Prime Video): Recommended for fans of taut thrillers like Bodyguard, this six-part British procedural follows the recruitment of second-generation Pakistani Raza Shar (Nabhaan Rizwan) as a most reluctant undercover informant for London-based counter-terrorist agent Gabe (Peaky Blinders’ Paddy Considine). Less melodramatic than Bodyguard, it’s just as twisty as Raza learns the perilous ropes of infiltration while trying to keep his clandestine activities from his nosy family. As Gabe’s blunt and borderline-reckless rookie partner Holly, Bel Powley adds another shade of unpredictability to the grim and deadly cat-and-mouse.
Sex Education (Netflix): A delightful but decidedly R-rated surprise, this high-school sex comedy is another British import, and may be my favorite display of heartfelt yet cringe-inducing adolescent shenanigans since MTV’s Awkward. A word that pretty well describes the situation of teenage Otis (Asa Butterfield), a “care bear” misfit who may be sexually inexperienced, but is wise beyond his years when it comes to dispensing relationship advice thanks to an upbringing by his carefree sex-therapist mother (a stunning Gillian Anderson), who knows few boundaries. As Otis’s reputation spreads among his sexually active but confused peers, Sex Education deepens beyond graphic shock value — of which there is plenty — to a sweetly endearing coming-of-age story.
Future Man (Hulu): The time-tripping comedy fantasy returns for a second season, with gamer-turned-warrior Josh (Josh Hutcherson) and his fierce companions Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson) now in dystopian 2162, where they hope to fix everything they broke during their first mission — including starting a centuries-long war (oops!).
Friends From College (Netflix): Also back for a second round: the comedy about a group of privileged but neurotic college buddies whose relationships were sorely tested last year by secrets being exposed — most notably the affair between novelist Ethan (Keegan-Michael Key) and interior designer Sam (Annie Parisse). Both are married: him to Lisa (Cobie Smulders), her to Jon (Greg Germann). All are brought back together by the impending nuptials of Max (Fred Savage) and Dr. Felix (Billy Eichner) — who understandably has little patience for Max’s maddening friends. As the men say “I do,” will the rest of the group be able to reconcile?
Back to old-fashioned TV:
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (9/8c, The CW): Rachel Bloom’s wildly original musical anti-romcom returns for its last batch of episodes to be savored by one of TV’s smaller but hopelessly devoted cult audiences. With Greg (now played by Skylar Astin) back in the picture, Rebecca (Bloom) decides she needs to find a distraction from all of her exes. The episode title: “I Need Some Balance.” She’s just now figuring that out?
Inside Friday TV: Mike (Tim Allen) tries to bond with the family’s new foreign exchange student (Krista Marie Yu) on Fox’s Last Man Standing (8/7c), but worries she’s being too polite around him. Wonder why?… A personal crisis confronts Danny (Scott Caan) and the team of CBS’s Hawaii Five-0 (9/8c) when his daughter Grace (Teilor Grubbs) is critically injured in a car accident, and the rest of the gang sets out to find the cause… Animal Planet’s new Hanging With the Hendersons (9/8c) follows a family of veterinarians at a Colorado animal hospital… PBS’s Great Performances continues its series of “Symphonic Winter” specials with The Cleveland Orchestra Centennial Celebration (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org). At the podium: Music director Franz Welser-Möst, celebrating the orchestra’s landmark year with guest pianist Ling Ling performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24.