Worth Watching: ‘Grace and Frankie’ Are Back, Paramount’s ’68 Whiskey,’ The CW Goes to the Dogs
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
Grace and Frankie (streaming on Netflix): It’s going to be an eventful sixth season — the next-to-last for one of Netflix’s longest-running comedies — as golden girls Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) once again adjust to change. Frankie is thrown for a loop when Grace announces her impulsive marriage to Nick (Peter Gallagher, also on Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist this season). Their exes-turned-lovers Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston) have their own worries with a serious health scare. In happier news, G&F develop another new product that takes them all the way into the Shark Tank.
68 Whiskey (10/9c, Paramount Network): Downing a shot of a strong spirit might be in order to make this over-the-top wartime dramedy palatable. A real disappointment, 68 Whiskey is the sort of show that’s so proud of its “cable edge” indulgences when it comes to portraying raunchy sexual shenanigans, vulgar behaviors in language and irreverent attitude that it fails to compensate with actual wit or bite. More hash than M*A*S*H, the series follows the wheelings and dealings of a rogue Army medical unit operating in war-torn Afghanistan. It’s an inspired premise, and there are moments of surreal danger that suggest what the show could be if it weren’t so mired in sophomoric and smutty hijinks. The best parts involve a tension and rivalry between the military grunts and a team of sinister, shadowy mercenaries. The would-be Hawkeyes and Trapper Johns are mostly forgettable, but an early standout is Cristina Rodlo (The Terror) as Sgt. Rosa Alvarez, whose sense of duty is challenged when her status changes after her father is deported back home by ICE.
The CW Dog Honors (8/7c, The CW): Because we’re suckers for a dog show, no matter how cheesy, we’re tempted to join host Mario Lopez, daughter Gia and their family pooch Julio for a “New York Street” block party on the CBS Radford lot celebrating canines and their celebrity partners. Categories include Best Supporting Actor to a Dog, Celebrity Dog Selfie, Top Movie and Top TV Dog.
Party of Five (9/8c, Freeform): Nothing’s easy for the Acosta kids in this timely family drama as they struggle to keep the family restaurant afloat and their household together after their parents are deported to Mexico. Eldest son Emilio (Brandon Larracuente) is rocked when he realizes that a family friend — “Uncle Louie,” who runs an Italian restaurant down the street — may have been taking advantage of them for years regarding their liquor license. Will he make matters worse by trying to rectify the situation? He’s already annoying his brother Beto (Niko Guardado) by stealing the affections of hostess Vanessa (Amanda Arcuri). And yet the family must come together to ease the fears of youngest sis Valentina (Elle Paris Legaspi), whose separation anxiety from mom and dad escalates when an earthquake briefly knocks out communication across borders.
Stumptown (10/9c, ABC): Dex (Cobie Smulders), our favorite TV private eye of the season, needs a distraction now that brother Ansel (Cole Sibus) has moved out to bunk with Grey (Jake Johnson). So she accepts the help of Sue Lynn (Tantoo Cardinal) to find the birth parents of a fellow veteran who recently learned he’s adopted. Grey has a busy agenda as well. The Bad Alibi bartender goes undercover to infiltrate a carjacking ring on behalf of Detective Hoffman (Michael Ealy), while also helping Ansel check off items on his bucket list now that he’s turned 21.
Inside Wednesday TV: Fred Willard returns to ABC’s Modern Family (9/8c) as Phil’s (Ty Burrell) dad, Frank, who’s due a visit from his concerned son. Back home, Jay (Ed O’Neill) gives Claire (Julie Bowen) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) a treasure trove of childhood memorabilia that has them rethinking some of their vacation memories… Syfy’s The Magicians (10/9c) is back for a fifth season, with one wizard down: Quentin (Jason Ralph), who sacrificed himself to save his friends. Now it’s up to them to save the world without Q as a surplus of magic threatens to lead to apocalypse… PBS goes to uncharted parts of the planet in Expedition with Steve Backshall (10/9c, check local listings at pbs.org), following the explorer and naturalist to exotic and physically challenging settings. First stop: the Arabian desert canyon of Oman… Netflix launches the three-part true-crime docuseries Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, exploring the factors that led the celebrated football star to be convicted for murder in 2015.