Worth Watching: 'Jane's Final Chapter, 'Sherman's Showcase,' Hulu's 'Four Weddings,' 'Shark Week' Movie, Night 2 of Debates
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
Jane the Virgin (8/7c, The CW): Even the best telenovelas must someday come to an end — and so Jane presents its final chapter, following The CW's other most distinctive comedy (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) into the TV history books. It begins with an hour of celebration and reflections from the show's creator (Jennie Snyder Urman) and cast, then at 9/8c, "Chapter One Hundred," in which Jane (Gina Rodriguez) and Rafael (Justin Baldoni) prepare to finally walk down the aisle, though surely not without complications. Beloved characters including Xo (Andrea Navedo), Rogelio (Jaime Camil) and even Petra (Yael Grobglas) will resolve their tangled fates as well — but it's the narrator (voice of Anthony Mendez) I'll miss most of all.
Sherman's Showcase (10/9c, IFC): What's this infomercial for a 23-DVD boxed set of Seasons 1-47 (mostly) of a show you've never heard of? Relax, it's not a real show. But it is a hoot. Sherman's Showcase, presented in the form of an eight-week retrospective of a fictional dance-variety show, is an inspired spoof of Solid Gold-style TV, featuring elaborate music parodies. Guest narrators including John Legend (in the premiere), Mary J. Blige, Morris Day and Nigel Lythgoe (sharing dirt on the Showcase dancers) somehow keep a straight face while relating the cheesy highs and trippy lows of Sherman's four-decade run, with blustery host Sherman McDaniels (co-creator Bashir Salahuddin) presiding. Salahuddin and co-creator/co-star Diallo Riddle are also responsible for Comedy Central's South Side, but I find myself more drawn to this uneven but merrily offbeat gem of sketch comedy, mock vintage ads (many featuring a faux Frederick Douglass) and send-ups of pop culture icons including Prince, here in the form of Vic Mensa's flamboyant and temperamental Charade. It's all too groovy for words.
Four Weddings and a Funeral (streaming on Hulu): Wish I had happier news about Mindy Kaling and Matt Warburton's misbegotten series tribute to the Richard Curtis rom-com classic. You might want to hold the rice, because as this miscast and woefully flat retread unfolds, I found myself pining for four (or more) funerals rather than the I Do's. Game of Thrones' Nathalie Emmanuel is regrettably bland as the unaccountably smug Maya, a home-wrecker who flees from the States to London to reunite with three annoying college pals in London: a nerdy would-be author (Search Party's John Reynolds) who carries a torch for her; Brandon Mychal Smith as a narcissistic man-child, and a spoiled BFF (Rebecca Rittenhouse) whose charming fiancé (Nikesh Patel, the show's sole saving grace) is instantly smitten with Maya in a meet-cute with predictable consequences. Even if you're a sucker for the genre's clichés — yes, someone declares their love in the pouring rain — this cloying and clumsy rehash might send you back to Jane the Virgin for a five-season binge for old times' sake. (Or you could watch the 1994 original, streaming on Hulu.)
Capsized: Blood in the Water (9/8c, Discovery): In a first for the Shark Week franchise, the lineup of documentaries makes way for a scripted TV-movie. Josh Duhamel stars in a film, based on a real-life 1982 event, as the captain of a yacht that capsizes in a Florida storm, plunging its crew into (guess what) shark-infested waters, with no food and water and only a dinghy for support.
Democratic Presidential Debates (8/7c, 5 pm/PT, CNN): On an unusually busy midsummer night of TV, politics once again takes center stage on the second night of the debates, very likely the last time we see so many candidates remaining in the field. Once again, former VP Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris — who clashed in the first round — have been scheduled on the same night, alongside New Yorkers Bill De Blasio and Kristen Gillibrand, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and other hopefuls.
Inside Wednesday TV: If you've been impatiently waiting for the oppressed heroines of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale to start fighting back in a significant way, this episode comes highly recommended, as June (Elisabeth Moss) puts her plan in motion with hopes of transporting more than 50 kids out of Gilead… Also streaming: the Netflix movie The Red Sea Diving Resort, starring Chris Evans and When They See Us Emmy nominee Michael Kenneth Williams. The fact-based thriller follows an international team of agents who help Ethiopians rescue persecuted Jewish refugees from their country and smuggle them into Israel, using an abandoned Sudan resort as cover… The HBO documentary Unmasking Jihadi John: Anatomy of a Terrorist (8/7c) tells the disturbing story of how Londoner Mohammed Emwazi became one of the most feared and brutal of ISIS executioners, and the efforts of U.S. and British intelligence to track him and end his reign of terror in 2015… More dirty dealing afoot on Paramount Network's Yellowstone (10/9c) as John (Kevin Costner) teams with former enemies. But he could be upstaged by action among his cowboy crew, as hapless Jimmy (Jefferson White) saddles up for a rodeo competition, and Walker (Ryan Bingham) attempts to bid adios to the ranch… It's the end of the space mission for FXX's Archer: 1999 (10/9c), but fear not. The show will reinvent itself at least one more time for an 11th season next year.