Worth Watching: 'Grace and Frankie' and 'Punisher' Return, Hulu's 'Butterfly,' License to Drive on 'Boat'
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Grace and Frankie (streaming on Netflix): Already renewed for a sixth season, one of Netflix’s signature comedies returns for a fifth round with Frankie (Lily Tomlin) and Grace (Jane Fonda) unsettled to learn that while they were in a retirement community, their kids sold the beach house out from under them. This development pits them against a most fabulous guest star, Emmy winner RuPaul (!), who represents the La Jolla property’s mysterious new owner. In other news, Frankie puts the ladies’ adult-toy business at risk with a careless tweet.
Also, Grace continues her romance with younger suitor Nick (Peter Gallagher), and Frankie winds up in a Twitter snafu.
The Punisher (streaming on Netflix): Marvel’s footprint may be diminishing on Netflix, but the hyper-violent Punisher (aka Walking Dead alum Jon Bernthal as Marine-turned-vigilante Frank Castle) is back for a second tour of duty. This season, as Frank digs into the attempted murder of a young girl (Giorgia Whigham), he’ll have to contend with arch-nemesis Billy Russo (Ben Barnes), who after last season’s disfiguring incident will now be referred to as the fearsome “Jigsaw.”
Netflix just dropped the full trailer, character art, and episodic pics.
Butterfly (streaming on Hulu): Reminiscent in tone of Sundance’s poignant The A Word, this sensitive three-part British drama stars Pushing Daisies’ Anna Friel and Emmett J. Scanlan as estranged parents split over how to deal with 11-year-old Max (Callum Booth-Ford), who identifies as Maxine. They wonder if Max/Maxine’s gender orientation will change at puberty? Butterfly asked: Should it? The child desperately craves a nurturing “normal” family and life, but is that even possible?
The true-crime anthology tells the story of an unhinged mother and daughter.
So. Much. Streaming. Other Friday premieres (always a big day in this world) include a third season of Amazon Prime Video’s The Grand Tour, with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammon and James May driving muscle cars in the motor city of Detroit; the complete second season of IFC’s hilarious Brockmire arriving on Hulu, with Hank Azaria as debauched as ever as the washed-up sportscaster; and joining Netflix’s swollen roster, the action thriller Close, starring Noomi Rapace (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as a counter-terrorist expert who becomes bodyguard to an heiress; the post-apocalyptic film IO, starring Margaret Qualley and Anthony Mackie as Earth’s last survivors, weighing whether to stay or leave on the last shuttle into space; and the six-episode Trigger Warning with Killer Mike, in which the Grammy-winning rapper/activist conducts outrageous social experiments to challenge cultural taboos.
Plus, see who else is returning for the new episodes in the third season.
Fresh Off the Boat (8/7c, ABC): The Huangs knew this day would come, but now that Eddie (Hudson Yang) finally has his driver’s license, the teen finds his ambitions — taking his buds to an Insane Clown Posse concert — quashed by an endless list of errands to run for mother Jessica (Constance Wu). And we all know who holds the keys to surviving this family.
Get ready for guest stars and growing pains for the Huang family on the ABC sitcom.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (9/8c, The CW): Not sure who thought this was a good idea, but Darryl (Pete Gardner) enlists Rebecca “I bring out the worst in babies” Bunch (Rachel Bloom) to babysit her almost-namesake infant. Let the wailing begin. Elsewhere in West Covina, Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin) hosts a game night, too self-effacing to tell anyone she’s actually celebrating her law-school graduation. The chemistry on the teams she puts together leaves a lot to be desired — but it does give mismatched Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster) and Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) a chance to duet on one of the season’s best fantasy production numbers to date: a swinging Brat Pack-style ditty all about sports analogies and daddy issues.
Plus, 'The 100' is also back and new series 'In the Dark' gets a 'Supernatural' lead-in.
Inside Friday TV: With the help of Lakers’ owner Jeanie Buss and original GLOW founder David McLane, AXS TV revives a female wrestling dynasty with WOW-Women of Wrestling (9/8c)… He seems to be everywhere these days, but Howie Mandel hasn’t fronted a solo comedy special in 20 years — until Showtime’s modestly titled Howie Mandel Presents Howie Mandel at the Howie Mandel Comedy Club (10/9c), filmed at the Atlantic City venue that bears his name… HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher (10/9c) returns for a 17th season, no doubt with plenty to say about the current broken state of political affairs. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich is his top-of-show guest.