Worth Watching: ‘Man in the High Castle’ Finale, ‘Dollface’ on Hulu, ‘Great Performances’ Seeing ‘Red’
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
The Man in the High Castle (streaming on Amazon Prime Video): You say you want a revolution? As the fourth and final season of the alt-history/sci-fi drama picks up with a one-year time jump into 1964, the Resistance movement picks up steam against the Nazis and Japanese who have ruled the U.S. since winning World War II. As for Juliana (Alexa Davalos), presumed dead after being shot at the end of last season by Reichsmarschall John Smith (Rufus Sewell), she awakens in the alternate reality, a parallel world where Smith is a good guy. When worlds collide, who will ultimately come out the victor?
Dollface (streaming on Hulu): Kat Dennings goes from broke (2 Broke Girls) to break-up in a quirky new comedy with surreal fantasy interludes. She plays Jules, who is abruptly dumped by her boyfriend after five intense years, during which time she seriously neglected her female BFFs (Brenda Song and Pretty Little Liars‘ Shay Mitchell). Winning them back will take some doing, and it doesn’t help that Jules keeps lapsing into bizarre fugue states that are even more disorienting than her new reality. The supporting cast includes two alums from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Esther Povitsky and Vella Lovell — how I’ve missed her — as co-workers at Jules’ woozy website workplace, an instantly tiresome cliché. The humor can be (no pun intended) very broad, but Dennings shows a winningly vulnerable side that’s a welcome change from 2 Broke Girls‘ brashness.
The Morning Show (streaming on Apple TV+): Just the thing the morning show-within-a-show doesn’t need after new anchor Bradley’s (Reese Witherspoon) turbulent first week on the job: word of a New York Times exposé about to drop, detailing the Morning Show‘s workplace culture. Making things even more awkward is a surprise cameo by disgraced former anchor Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), who’s not taking his firing very well. Marcia Gay Harden makes a great guest appearance as a sly magazine reporter profiling Bradley, which rattles glamorous news star Alex (Jennifer Aniston) more than she’d like to admit. Highlight of another slick and entertaining episode: a Sondheim classic that belies its own lyric (and episode title): “No One Gonna Harm You, Not While I’m Around.” In this backstabbing environment, no one’s buying it.
Fridays are always a big day in the streaming world, and among Netflix’s new offerings: the animated Klaus, featuring the voices of Jason Schwartzman and J.K. Simmons in a very different sort of Santa origin story; the musical docu-series I’m With the Band: Nasty Cherry, which reveals how pop star Charli XCX formed the alt-pop band Nasty Cherry; and the third season of The Toys That Made Us, conjuring nostalgic memories when telling how fads like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and My Little Pony came to be.
Fresh Off the Boat (8:30/7:30c, ABC): Growing pains continue to bedevil the Huangs in the acclaimed family comedy, which the network recently confirmed is in its final season (ending in February). For Jessica (Constance Wu), her dreams of adorable youngest and favorite son Evan (Ian Chen) becoming a future “doctor/president” could be dashed when he starts acting like a typical eight-grader. There have never been any such illusions about Eddie (Hudson Yang), but when he chooses basketball pro Allen Iverson as the subject of his “hero” essay, Louis (Randall Park) tries to convince his eldest son that dad just might deserve that honor.
Red (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Taking a respite from splashy musicals for a week, Great Performances‘ “Broadway’s Best” series presents the 2018 West End revival of John Logan’s Tony-winning Best Play of 2010. Alfred Molina reprises his bravura role as renowned abstract artist Mark Rothko, whose act of creation is observed by a new young assistant, played by How to Get Away with Murder alum Alfred Enoch (in a role that won Eddie Redmayne a Tony).
Inside Friday TV: In an epic rematch between James Holzhauer and giant-killer Emma Boettcher (with Teachers Tournament winner Francois Barcomb as a potential spoiler), Jeopardy! (syndicated, check local listings) will crown a winner of this year’s impressive Tournament of Champions, with a $250,000 top prize… Showtime’s sports documentary Pariah: The Lives and Deaths of Sonny Liston (9/8c) tracks the rise and fall of the controversial heavyweight boxing champion.