Worth Watching: ‘One Day at a Time’ Leads Streaming Parade, Reagans at War on ‘Blue Bloods,’ Showtime Remembers Teddy Pendergrass
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
One Day at a Time (streaming on Netflix): The robust, emotionally rewarding reinvention of Norman Lear’s 1970s-’80s sitcom classic is back for a third season, following the travails of a Cuban-American family in Los Angeles. Issues include teen sexuality, substance abuse and anxiety, but tough love wins out in this warmly appealing series, led by Justina Machado as Penelope, a single-mom military vet, and scene-stealing marvel Rita Moreno as her irrepressible mother, Lydia. Gloria Estefan (who signs the salsa-inflected title tune) appears in the season opener as Lydia’s combative sister, and later in the run, series co-creator Gloria Calderón Kellett appears in a pivotal role — and you can see where the inspiration for Penelope comes from.
White Dragon (streaming on Amazon Prime Video): Exotic Hong Kong locations enliven this eight-part thriller, starring British TV fave John Simm (Life on Mars) as a professor who travels from London to claim the body of his wife, who died in a car accident. Upon arriving, he learns shocking truths that have him questioning who his wife was and what caused her death. Anthony Wong co-stars as a local ex-cop who has a very personal stake in the mystery.
Pen15(streaming on Hulu): Don’t even try to tell star/co-creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle to grow up. In a bawdy new comedy series of adolescent trials and humiliating tribulations, they play 13-year-old versions of themselves, inseparable BFFs in 2000 entering the treacherous social quagmire of 7th grade. Their classmates are played by actual kids, which somehow makes their comic anxieties and obsessions seem even more real.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (9/8c, The CW): This inspired musical comedy has tackled just about every tuneful genre and archetype, and this week it’s La La Land’s turn, as Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) salutes the Oscar-winning movie by joining a chorus line of suburban street tappers to reinforce that “Anti-Depressants Are So Not a Big Deal.” Then it’s off with her other gal pals to support Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin) at the hospital, where the men in Rebecca’s life — Greg (Skylar Astin), Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) and Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster) — learn just how contagious and acrimonious their affections can be.
Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don’t Know Me (9/8c, Showtime): A new BBC Films documentary celebrates the life and career of the charismatic soul singer (1950-2010), whose string of hits was interrupted by a near-fatal car crash in 1982. Not unlike Freddy Mercury in the big-screen hit Bohemian Rhapsody, Pendergrass made a triumphant return to the world stage at 1985’s Live Aid concert before retiring in 2007.
Blue Bloods (10/9c, CBS): It’s a war between Reagan brothers when Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) disobeys an order from Jamie (Will Estes) during a hostage negotiation. But shared blue blood might come in handy when Nicky (Sami Gayle) asks ADA mom Erin (Bridget Moynahan) to step in to help a friend who may lose a scholarship over a crime he didn’t commit.
Inside Friday TV: Disney Channel’s Andi Mack (8/7c) attends a shiva to mourn Cyrus’s (Joshua Rush) grandmother, at which time Cyrus decides to finally come out to his friend Jonah (Asher Angel)… PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center presents the acclaimed 2017 staging of Dominique Morriseau’s provocative drama Pipeline (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), starring Karen Pittman as a public-school teacher whose son (Namir Smallwood) attends a private school and may be expelled after a violent incident… Director Steven Soderbergh’s Netflix film High Flying Bird, written by Moonlight’s Tarell Alvin McCraney, stars André Holland (Castle Rock) as a sports agent making high-stakes negotiations during a pro-basketball lockout… HBO’s 2 Dope Queens (11/10c), aka Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson, are back with a second season of four specials, opening with Oscar-winning guest Lupita Nyong’o, whom they challenge to a braiding competition.