Worth Watching: ‘Between Two Ferns’ and More Streaming, the Real Gwen Verdon, ‘Killjoys’ Finale
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
For all those who’d rather stay inside streaming instead of heading out to see the Downton Abbey movie, there are as always plenty of options.
Between Two Ferns: The Movie (streaming on Netflix): Baskets may be history, but another cult favorite from Zach Galifianakis has hit the big time, as the mock-interview series that became a Funny or Die staple on the internet goes the movie route. The clips are a riot, promising much hilarity when Zach hits the road to dish with — and often insult and terrorize — celebrities as only he (and Jiminy Glick) can get away with. A partial list of cameos: Matthew McConaughey, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Dinklage, Chrissy Tiegen, David Letterman, Tiffany Haddish, Paul Rudd, John Legend, Jon Hamm, Awkwafina, Keanu Reeves and more.
Also dropping into Netflix’s bottomless pool: a second season of Matt Groening‘s fractured (but not as funny as it wants to be) animated fairy tale Disenchantment… The three-part docu-series Inside Bill’s Brain profiles Bill Gates about his rise to the top of the tech world and his new passion of philanthropy as he takes on global issues including climate change… The international crime drama Criminal takes an unusual approach, with 12 procedural stories unfolding in four countries — France, Spain, Germany and the U.K. — each set entirely within a police interrogation room.
Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon (available on Amazon Prime Video): If all you know of Tony-winning Broadway star Gwen Verdon is the character brilliantly portrayed by Michelle Williams in FX’s Fosse/Verdon earlier this year, an in-depth celebration of the great singing-dancing-acting triple threat — which premiered earlier this year on BBC Four-is now available to U.S. audiences, for digital rental or purchase and on DVD. With rare footage from her classic musicals (Can-Can, Damn Yankees — the only time she recreated a stage role on film — Sweet Charity, the original Chicago) and interviews with her offspring and collaborators including Chita Rivera, Gwen Verdon once again gets the spotlight she deserves.
Inside Friday TV: PBS’s Great Performances launches the scenic four-part series Now Hear This (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), which goes behind the classical music with violinist/maestro Scott Yoo as he travels through Europe to learn how composers created their masterworks. First stop: northern Italy, for an exploration of Vivaldi and “The Four Seasons,” which never goes out of style… Amazon Prime Video’s The Family Man, a thriller set in India (whose cast dubbed their lines into English, a first for an Amazon original) stars Manoj Bajpayee as a covert intelligence agent whose duty to his nation is challenged by his responsibilities to his family… A two-hour edition of ABC’s 20/20 (10/9c) reports on an unsolved crime from 1989, in which 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik was raped and murdered while jogging in rural Washington state, and how police finally cracked the cold case with an arrest and conviction nearly 30 years later. … An outer-space adventure comes to an end when Syfy’s Killjoys (10/9c) wraps its fifth and final season in a showdown between Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen) and The Lady.