Worth Watching: Streaming Bonanza ('Modern Love,' 'Living With Yourself,' 'Alaska'), 'Sid & Judy' on Showtime, Grammys Salute Music Legends
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Modern Love (streaming on Amazon Prime Video): Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, John Slattery, Jane Alexander, Dev Patel, Catherine Keener, Andrew Scott (Fleabag's "hot priest") and Ozark Emmy winner Julia Garner are just a few of the stars in an entrancing eight-episode anthology, based on the New York Times column of essays about relationships of all kinds. This irresistible collection of short (30-minute) stories can warm, break, tickle or lift your heart, sometimes all at once. A few even brought tears, including a lovely vignette starring Cristin Milioti as a single New Yorker whose devoted doorman (Laurentiu Possa) keeps a close and caring eye on her every entanglement. Their bond is strictly platonic, because true love comes in infinite forms. (See the full review.)
Living with Yourself (streaming on Netflix): What could be better than a Paul Rudd fantasy-comedy? Try one with two Paul Rudds. Appealing as ever, he plays Miles, a burnout who goes to a spa for rejuvenation and winds up being cloned. The new version of Miles is fresher in every way and proceeds to take over his life until OG Miles fights back to reclaim his identity. Wild twists in every brisk episode make for a thrillingly funny ride, every bit as addictive as favorites like The Good Place, Russian Doll and Dead to Me.
Among Netflix's other premieres on an incredibly busy streaming weekend: Steven Soderbergh's The Laundromat (following a limited run in theaters), a topical comedy starring Meryl Streep as a woman who helps expose what became known as the Panama Papers scandal, involving fortunes stashed in offshore accounts to avoid taxes. Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas serve as wry narrators to the complex web… The documentary Tell Me Who I Am follows the journey of Alex Lewis, who awakens from a coma with no memory, relying on twin brother Marcus to fill in the gaps, only to learn years later than he's been kept in the dark about a painful family secret.
Looking for Alaska (streaming on Hulu): John Green's YA novel of teen angst becomes an eight-part miniseries from The OC's Josh Schwartz, set in an Alabama boarding school that feels more like a summer camp. Bookish Miles (Charlie Plummer) falls for willful Alaska (Kristine Froseth) as he makes friends and enemies at Culver Creek Academy, but they're all so insufferably and smugly precocious I was looking for an exit long before the tragedy-that-would-change-all-their-lives inevitably occurs.
Sid & Judy (8/7c, Showtime): If you saw Renée Zellweger's remarkable performance in the recent movie Judy, you only caught glimpses of Judy Garland's ex-husband and former manager, Sid Luft (played by Rufus Sewell). In a new documentary that includes rare concert footage and voice recordings, Sid and Judy's tempestuous relationship and 13-year marriage takes center stage. Among the highlights of their personal and professional collaboration: 1954's A Star Is Born and her acclaimed CBS variety show. Jon Hamm and Jennifer Jason Leigh narrate this fascinating show-biz saga.
Grammy Salute to Music Legends (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Do not "walk on by" this special concert, the fourth in a series of annual tributes by the Recording Academy to Special Merit Awards honorees. Accepting Lifetime Achievement Awards accolades: Dionne Warwick (serenaded by Johnny Mathis on "Walk On By"), Black Sabbath, George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic, Billy Eckstein, Donny Hathaway, Julio Iglesias and Sam & Dave. Sheila E. hosts the ceremony, filmed in May at L.A.'s Dolby Theatre, with performances by many of the honorees plus special guests Garth Brooks, Jessie Mueller, Patti Austin, Snoop Dogg, Gregory Porter and Rival Sons.
Inside Friday TV: Joey Lawrence returns to CBS's Hawaii Five-0 (8/7c) as jailed hacker Aaron Wright, who helps the team in a kidnapping case, which gets complicated when the victim turns out not to be who she claims to be… A new season of TLC's Long Island Medium (9/8c) finds Theresa Caputo heading to Los Angeles, where she performs readings for the likes of Louie Anderson, Wayne Brady and Tatum O'Neal… Revolt's Hip Hop Halloween (10/9c) is a special horror-themed edition of its Short & Fresh series of short films. Zombies, vampires, psychopaths and Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" figure into the seven short films chosen from a contest asking budding filmmakers to frame scary stories through the lens of hip-hop culture.