Worth Watching: A Sondheim Mock ‘Documentary,’ ‘Whiskey’ on Wednesdays, WGN’s ‘Gone’
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
Documentary Now! (11/10c, IFC): Alert to all musical theater and Sondheim buffs — and you know who you are: The “Original Cast Album: Co-Op” episode from this loving spoof of fabled documentaries is the wish-fulfillment dream of show-tune buffs John Mulaney and Seth Meyers. They collaborated on the Sondheim-styled lyrics to a faux musical whose 24-hour smoke-filled recording session is captured in a rigorously detailed facsimile of D.A. Pennebaker’s iconic Original Cast Album: Company film from 1970. Mulaney stars as the imperious composer, Simon Sawyer, whose love-hate supervision of a game but insecure cast (including Broadway veterans Renee Elise Goldsberry, Alex Brightman and Richard Kind) goes like this: “When you lean into a rhyme, you shatter the conversational tone of the lyric — it’s like nails on a blackboard to me, and I love you all.” It’s a spot-on recreation, culminating in Paula Pell channeling Elaine Stritch struggling through multiple takes of her anthem. The commitment is total, resulting in one of the most weirdly obsessive triumphs ever made for TV.
Whiskey Cavalier (10/9c, ABC): In case you missed the post-Oscars sneak peek — and I’m guessing that’s most people — the breezy spy caper takes up residence in its regular time period. In a gender-reversed twist on the formula, it’s the guy of the spy team — Will Chase (Scandal‘s Scott Foley), code name “Whiskey Cavalier” — who’s the sentimental softie, partnered with stone-cold CIA beauty Frankie Trowbridge (The Walking Dead‘s Lauren Cohan) as they chase bad guys throughout gorgeous European locations. As sleek as it is silly, Whiskey goes down smoothly if pure escapism is your tonic of choice. (See my full review.)
Gone (9/8c, WGN America): The channel’s latest acquisition, filmed in 2017, is a 12-part “limited series” — meaning only one season has been produced — starring Chris Noth as an FBI agent who recruits former child abductee Kit “Kick” Lannigan (Leven Rambin) onto a task force dedicated to solving missing-persons cases and finding the abducted. It’s a solid procedural with a strong female character (based on a Chelsea Cain novel) at its core.
Finales: The unmasking comes to an end in a two-hour season finale of Fox’s silly The Masked Singer (8/7c), with the remaining three costumed “celebrities” (and we use that term even more loosely than on Dancing With the Stars) exposed in what so far has been a parade of anti-climaxes… Much more tempting is the eighth-season finale of USA’s Suits (10/9c), with the return of the firm’s nemesis, Daniel Hardman (David Costabile). He has come looking for retribution, which sends the rest of the team rallying to Harvey’s (Gabriel Macht) defense.
Inside Wednesday TV: More growing pains for undergrad Zoey (Yara Shahidi) on Freeform’s grown-ish (8/7c), when she faces a midterm the morning after the semester’s biggest rager… Mere days after a Netflix documentary on menstruation wins an Oscar, ABC’s Modern Family (9/8c) finds Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) experiencing her womanly rite of passage — and naturally, her two dads, Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), aren’t prepared… Syfy’s first animated late-night series, Alien News Desk (11/10c), stars Saturday Night Live veteran Will Forte and current cast member Heidi Gardner as the voices of extraterrestrial anchors riffing on the idiosyncrasies of human behavior on a mock news show.