Worth Watching: ‘Santa Clarita Diet,’ Dating Game on ‘Crazy Ex,’ Stacy Keach on ‘Blacklist,’ Amazon’s ‘Hanna’
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix): This is a good week for monsters who make you laugh. First, the squabbling vampires of FX’s What We Do in the Shadows and now a third season of the frenetic satirical comedy about zombies in California suburbia. Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant are a delight as realtors Sheila (the undead) and Joel, careening from one scrape to another as they try to satisfy her bloody appetite — most recently by scouring the local neo-Nazi population for fresh meat. Even with a neighbor cop (Natalie Morales, also on NBC’s Abby’s) on their side who believes Sheila is an instrument of God, peril is a constant, including the looming threat of zombie-hunting Knights of Serbia and the arrival of a Serbian colonel (Goran Visnjic) on the prowl for ghouls just like Sheila.
Among the ton of other Netflix premieres: The Highwaymen, following a limited run in movie theaters, starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson as the former Texas Rangers on the trail of Bonnie and Clyde; a second season of the urban coming-of-age comedy On My Block; and new British spy thriller Traitors, set in 1945 London, about a young woman (Emma Appleton) recruited to spy on her own country. Michael Stuhlbarg and Keeley Hawes (Bodyguard) co-star.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (9/8c, The CW): With only one episode to go, this endearing musical comedy saves one of its best production numbers for almost the end — with nearly all of West Covina, led by Gay Josh (David Hull), declaring “Love’s Not a Game” while placing bets on Rebecca’s (Rachel Bloom) love life in a Guys and Dolls-inspired song and dance. The question, of course, is which guy will this doll choose after a series of Bachlorette-style dates with Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster) or the fatally unassuming Greg (Skylar Astin). It’s all more romantic than you’d think. Yet also crazy.
The Blacklist (8/7c, NBC): In the first of two back-to-back episodes, Stacy Keach stars as real-life financier and con man, Robert Vesco, who’s the target of Red (James Spader) and the Task Force. (The real Vesco fled the U.S. in the 1970s and supposedly passed away in a Cuban hospital in 2007.) In the fictional version, Vesco unsurprisingly has a history with Red that comes in handy as the newly freed blacklister searches for a lost treasure. The second episode puts Liz (Megan Boone) on the trail of a secret cabal of assassins who go after former intelligence agents. Meaning the Task Force needs to watch its collective back.
Hanna (Amazon Prime Video): Based on the 2011 film and filmed in international locations including Hungary, Morocco, Spain, Germany and the U.K., writer David Farr’s absorbing thriller reintroduces the feral teenager (Esme Creed-Miles) who was raised by her ex-military fugitive father (Joel Kinnanman) in the wild, hoping to keep her off the radar of a deadly CIA operative (Mireille Enos). When father and daughter are separated, the hunt is on, and Hanna’s mad survival and combat skills would make her a perfect companion for Jason Bourne. Except Hanna is still a girl at heart, and between brutal encounters discovers she likes flirting, dancing — and Snickers bars.
Inside Friday TV: Fox’s The Cool Kids (8:30/7:30c) finally introduces Sid’s (Leslie Jordan) ex-wife, Bonnie (2 Broke Girls‘ Jennifer Coolidge), who visits Shady Meadows and causes a rift between Sid and boyfriend John (Jere Burns)… PBS’s Great Performances puts on quite a show with director Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female production of Shakespeare’s political drama Julius Caesar (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org) from Donmar Warehouse, starring Harriet Walter as Brutus… The Cinemax action drama Strike Back (10/9c) ends its sixth season — next year will be the last — with Section 20 jetting from the Philippines to Azerbaijan to stop rogue Russians from firing Soviet-era missiles on targets in the West… Rising political star Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, IN, who’s running a grass-roots campaign for the presidential nomination, is top-of-show guest on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher (10/9c).