Worth Watching: ‘Kimmy Schmidt’ Finale & ‘Black Earth Rising’ on Netflix, ‘Strike Back’ Is Back
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (streaming on Netflix): Even gloriously silly things must someday come to an end — and so we have the final six episodes, bringing closure to the wacky misadventures of cult survivor Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) and her newfound family of lovable eccentrics. Look for a Sliding Doors parody, special guest stars (Lisa Kudrow, Greg Kinnear, Zachary Quinto) and one last musical show-stopper from Tituss Burgess as flamboyant roomie Titus.
Black Earth Rising (streaming on Netflix): A critical hit in the U.K. last fall, this emotionally charged eight-part political thriller stars Michaela Coel as Kate, a legal investigator who as a child was rescued from the 1994 Rwandon genocide and adopted by Eve (Harriet Walter), a London-based criminal prosecutor. When Eve heads to the Hague’s International Criminal Court to take on the case of a mercenary Rwandan general, whom Kate considers a hero, shocking secrets from the past are exposed. John Goodman (The Conners) co-stars as Kate’s American boss, who knows more than he’s letting on about her tragic family history.
Other Netflix premieres on a typically busy Friday include a second season of Medici: The Magnificent, which jumps ahead 20 years to the 15th-century reign of Lorenzo (Daniel Sharman), who clashes with banking rival Jacopo de’ Pazzi (Sean Bean); and the movie Polar, starring Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen as an international assassin whose retirement is interrupted by a youthful army of killers out to take him down. Co-stars include Vanessa Hudgens, Vikings’ Katheryn Winnick and Richard Dreyfuss.
Fresh Off the Boat (8/7c, ABC): How to celebrate Louis’s (Randall Park) milestone 40th birthday? Because he just watched Legends of the Fall, dad thinks a family camping trip is a great idea — though no one else agrees. And Jessica (Constance Wu) turns to Honey (Chelsey Crisp) for gift ideas. Followed by a new episode of Speechless (8:30/7:30c in which Dylan (Kyla Kenedy) is understandably gobsmacked to learn that people see her as a mini-Maya (Minnie Driver) — so sets out to behave any way that may distinguish her from her overbearing mom.
Strike Back (10/9c, Cinemax): Section 20 is back in action — though some of the members might quality for Section 8 — for the sixth season of the high-octane military adventure series. The new mission, taking the special-ops team to Kuala Lumpur (filmed in Malaysia), involves a Russian plane that crashes into the South China Sea and a missing cargo of nuclear warheads. With a new commander (Battlestar Galactica’s Jamie Bamber) in charge, the team crosses paths with a mysterious Russian agent, Katrina Zarkova (Yasemin Allen), whose loyalties aren’t immediately clear.
Inside Friday TV: In anticipation of Sunday’s 25th-anniversary SAG Awards, Turner Classic Movies presents a 48-hour marathon of movies featuring SAG Life Achievement Award winners. Highlights include 1933’s provocative pre-Code drama Baby Face (11:45/10:45c), starring 1966 SAG honoree Barbara Stanwyck as a gold-digger sleeping her way to the top.… Disney Channel’s new comedy Sydney to the Max (8:30/7:30c) stars Ruth Righl as middle-schooler Sydney, whose misadventures are echoed in 1990s flashbacks to the childhood of her single dad, Max (Ian Reed Kesler)… PBS’s Great Performances presents a modern opera based on a hit Broadway play in Doubt from Minnesota Opera (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), with music by Douglas J. Cuomo, based on John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2004 play (and subsequent movie) about a nun confronting a popular priest about his suspicious behavior.