Worth Watching: Dex's Mess on 'Stumptown,' 'Castle Rock' Finale, HBO's 'Moonlight Sonata'
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
Stumptown (10/9c, ABC): Oh, there will be consequences for Dex (Cobie Smulders) waking up in bed with her BFF Grey's (Jake Johnson) naked new girlfriend, Liz (Monica Barbaro), after a wild night of boozy casino gambling. Another fine mess for Portland's newest private eye. Grey is understandably upset when he catches on to what happened between his best girls, but how will Dex's detective beau, Miles Hoffman (Michael Ealy), take it? The story may not go exactly where you expect, which is part of the fun of one of TV's funkiest and most enjoyable new shows. Even the cases of the week are entertaining, including the one where a high-school nemesis of Dex hires her to go undercover as a substitute teacher at an elite school to crack a pill-peddling ring. Surround Dex Parios with a gaggle of mean girls, and guess how comes out a winner?
Castle Rock (streaming on Hulu): Annie Wilkes, action hero? That's how things have started to feel the last few weeks as the Stephen King-inspired thriller turned the nurse's (a pitch-perfect Lizzy Caplan) homicidal tendencies into assets, as she and a hardy few others rally to save the local populace from the resurrected demonic spirits of the town's 17th-century founders. In the season finale, Annie is mostly intent on rescuing her not-quite daughter Joy (Elsie Fisher) from becoming the vessel of the mystical Amity, leading to an explosive showdown. But can Annie win the ultimate battle against her own inner demons? A shivery coda includes some clever shout-outs to Misery, the King novel that made Annie a cultural icon.
Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements (9/8c, HBO): There's a remarkable moment in this evocative documentary when 11-year-old Jonas Brodsky removes the cochlear implant that helps him hear and plays the piano in silence. "When I play without my implants, I just feel really joyful," he says, then admits, "I only like it when I know I can go back to not being deaf." His mother, director Irene Taylor Brodsky, won a Peabody Award for Hear and Now, about her deaf parents' decision to get cochlear implants late in life. Moonlight Sonata strains to link young Jonas's efforts to learn a portion of Beethoven's masterpiece for a recital with the composer's own emerging deafness as he wrote this piece. The film is on more solid ground when depicting Jonas's poignant relationship with his deaf grandfather, now slipping away into dementia.
Inside Wednesday TV: One last Christmas for ABC's Modern Family (9/8c), and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) is suspicious of Cam's (Eric Stonestreet) family holiday trip to Missouri. Imagine if he knew that Cam was secretly preparing for an interview for a coaching job out of state!… Back-to-back episodes close out a second season of NBC's charming competition series Making It (9/8c), hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. Final challenges include turning a tool shed into a dream destination and creating a 3D party invitation for a party they will later design… In case you missed it during its run on IFC, the acclaimed comedy Sherman's Showcase is streaming its entire hilarious first season on Hulu. The series looks back at the turbulent and farcical history of a fictional Solid Gold-style urban music-variety show, with many celebrity guests.