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.
With only six episodes left, the award-winning comedy crams in everyone from Greg Kinnear to...Trump?
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.
John Goodman and Michaela Coel excel at handling the 'sensitive dramatic material,' says writer/director Hugo Blick.
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.
The series takes us inside the conflict between the Medici and Pazzi banking families in the 15th century. Yes, there are sword fights!
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.
Get ready for guest stars and growing pains for the Huang family on the ABC sitcom.
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.
The actress, who plays Lance Cpl. Gracie Novin, also previews the show's newest character.
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.