Worth Watching: ‘Mindhunter’ and ‘Diagnosis’ on Netflix, Jim Gaffigan Standup, ‘Shadows’
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Mindhunter (streaming on Netflix): The mind of a serial killer can be a terrifying terrain to explore, but that’s the work of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit in this intensely compelling psychological crime drama, now in its second season. Agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) now have enough clout in the early 1980s to gain access to some of the last century’s most notorious villians, including Charles Manson and “Son of Sam” David Berkowitz. The expertise they gain will come in handy when a series of child murders in Atlanta calls them into action.
Diagnosis (streaming on Netflix): The streaming giant declined to make new episodes of Mindhunter available for critics to preview, but this engrossing medical docuseries comes highly recommended. Based on the long-running New York Times column by Dr. Lisa Sanders, the seven-episode Diagnosis takes a deeply personal, emotional approach to solving the most puzzling of medical maladies. Echoing the format of cable’s live Chasing the Cure, Dr. Sanders turns to social media and international crowdsourcing to share these stories in hopes of someone out there being able to help her subjects. In the first installment, an otherwise athletic 23-year-old Las Vegas woman suffers constantly from chronic pain, and no one seems able to figure out what’s wrong or how to treat her debilitating symptoms. Incredibly, it takes a trip to Italy to meet with researchers for her and her wonderfully loyal boyfriend to find some hope.
Also streaming: A new stand-up special from a longtime favorite: Jim Gaffigan: Quality Time, dealing with subjects including weight gain and horse races (“prom for gamblers”), on Amazon Prime Video; the very broad comedy Sextuplets (Netflix), starring Marlon Wayans as an expectant dad who tracks down his birth mother only to learn he’s one of six — and he plays all six; and Hulu’s The Amazing Johnathan Documentary, telling the bizarre story of a never-say-die magician.
What We Do in the Shadows (streaming on Hulu): One of my very favorite shows of the year, an inspired horror comedy based on a 2014 cult film, is now streaming its entire first season. The mock-documentary follows three sad-sack Eurotrash vampires who dither and bicker through eternity in the not-so-posh borough of Staten Island, N.Y. In my initial review, I likened Nandor “the Relentless” (Kayvan Novak), surly Laszlo (Matt Berry) and jaded Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) to “the undead equivalent of the Three Stooges.” Shadows is a succulent mashup of the macabre and mundane. If you missed it during the FX run — thankfully, it has been renewed for a second season — don’t miss it now.
Inside Friday TV: Cable’s paranormal obsession continues with the return of Travel Channel’s Ghost Brothers (9/8c) in an eight-part “Haunted Houseguests” series. BFF ghost-hunters Dalen Spratt, Juwan Mass and Marcus Harvey visit families whose dream homes have become nightmares… ABC’s hidden-camera What Would You Do? (10/9c) takes on the opioid crisis in a scenario where a woman pours out a pile of prescription pills at a café while her family confronts her apparent addiction. How will bystanders react?… As Syfy’s Killjoys (10/9c) races toward its final mission, Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen) enters the Supermax prison and fights her way to the top to take over the entire ship.