Worth Watching: Hollywood’s Golden Year (1939) on TCM with ‘Oz,’ ‘Seinfeld’ Marathon on TBS, ‘Los Espookys’
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
The Wizard of Oz (8/7c, Turner Classic Movies): Many consider 1939 to be the greatest year ever for Hollywood movies, with one iconic masterpiece after another as the studio system was at the top of its game. TCM marks the 80th anniversary with Friday marathons of 1939 greats, starting with the prime-time anchor of The Wizard of Oz, surely one of the most enduring musical fantasy films of all time, guaranteed to send you “Over the Rainbow” with Judy Garland as Dorothy. Followed by a 2009 documentary 1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year (10/9c), narrated by Kenneth Branagh, and the memorable adaptation of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (11:15/10:15c), starring Charles Laughton as Quasimodo and Maureen O’Hara as Esmerelda. (If you’re inclined to tune in during the day, highlights include Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings at 3:45/2:45c, and Greta Garbo’s comic breakthrough as Ninotchka at 6/5c. The hits just keep coming all month.
Seinfeld (starts at 6 am/5c, TBS): Exactly 30 years ago this day, NBC quietly launched an experimental comedy that would go on to become one of the medium’s greatest and most influential yada-yada you know the rest. TBS celebrates with a 30-episode marathon (through 9/8c) hitting many of the high points, from “The Chinese Restaurant,” “The Bubble Boy,” and “The Contest” in the morning hours, to “The Soup Nazi,” “The Sponge,” and “The Bizarro Jerry” in the afternoon and “The Serenity Now,” “The Strike,” and “The Frogger” in the evening. There goes the day. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.
Los Espookys (11/10c, HBO): The great Carol Kane (Taxi, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) guests on the quirky Spanish-language comedy as famed director Bianca Nova, who takes such a shine to the horror-obsessed Espookys team that she expresses a desire to work for them. She has also enlisted Tico (Fred Armisen) to write her latest horror movie. But to get a visa to work in the U.S., the rest of the gang are forced to to stage an abduction for a U.S. ambassador (Greta Titelman), and if it goes as well as many of their special effects … uh oh.
Inside Friday TV: Lifetime Movie Network resurrects its “Wrong” movie franchise, starring and produced by Vivica A. Fox, with the first of four new summer movies. In The Wrong Stepmother (8/7c), a widower (Corin Nemec) lives to regret bringing in a new girlfriend (Cindy Busby) to help raise her two girls. … A rare scripted network original on the holiday weekend, ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (8/7c) starts a two-parter in which the team on Earth asks for help in all the wrong places in preparation for taking on The Galaxy-Hopping-Hate-Beast That Eats Planets. … It’s back to her roots on Cinemax’s Jett (10/9c), when the title character (Carla Gugino) must track down Frank Sweeney (Stuart Hughes), a brutal gangster she worked for 10 years earlier alongside the traitorous Blair (Shiloh Fernandez), who’s her actual target.