Worth Watching: ‘Upload,’ ‘Blue Bloods’ Finale, ‘Hollywood,’ ‘Trying’ & More Streaming Premieres
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Upload (streaming on Amazon Prime Video): Welcome to TV heaven, courtesy of producer Greg Daniels (Parks and Recreation), in the form of a clever sci-fi comedy in the tradition of The Good Place and Amazon’s Forever. Set in the future, when a dying person’s consciousness can be transported to a digital afterlife, Upload is the story of Nathan (the charming Robbie Amell), whose mysterious death lands him in a plush eternal paradise, where he begins to fall for the tech-services “angel” (Andy Allo, a discovery) who’s trying to keep him grounded. This 10-episode binge is as endearing as it is endlessly clever. (See the full review.)
Blue Bloods (10/9c, CBS): In what series star Tom Selleckpromises will be an emotional finale to the popular police/family drama’s 10th season, Frank fields a request from a woman (NYPD Blue‘s Bonnie Sommerville) to transfer her son to a safer assignment, while grandson Sean (Andrew Terraciano) pursues a DNA match to discover the identity of an unknown relative. Keeping it in the family, Eddie (Vanessa Ray) and Jamie (Will Estes) discover a newborn outside the precinct, which inspires some baby talk among the newlyweds.
Hollywood (streaming on Netflix): Hooray for Hollywood? More like hooey, in Ryan Murphy‘s colorful but undeniably cuckoo revisionist fantasy of a late-1940s Tinseltown. As the seven-part series careens from graphic cynicism to cornball schmaltz, Hollywood follows the fortunes of young starry-eyed hopefuls whose road to cinematic success is challenged by the sexism, racism and homophobia of the era. Far from a downer, there are so many upbeat twists along the way that this version of Hollywood might give even Walt Disney pause. (See the full review.)
The long list of Netflix premieres — it’s Friday, folks — includes a third season of the medieval historical drama Medici: The Magnificent and the teen rom-com The Half of It, a Cyrano-inspired love triangle in which bookish Ellie (Leah Lewis) helps lovestruck jock Paul (Daniel Diemer) with his love missives to popular-girl Aster (Alexxis Lemire), who Ellie also has a crush on. On a more serious note, the original film All Day and a Night stars Moonlight‘s Ashton Sanders as a rapper gone wrong who re-examines his life when he lands in prison alongside his estranged father (Westworld‘s Jeffrey Wright).
Trying (streaming on Apple TV+): Tart, tender and occasionally madcap, with a touch of breakout British gems like Catastrophe in its DNA, this smart eight-part BBC Studios comedy stars Rafe Spall and Esther Smith as Nikki and Jason, a compatible couple of cut-ups who yearn to start a family. But when it’s clear that adoption is the only option, there’s a new set of comic and emotional hurdles to endure. Co-stars include Imelda Staunton and The Good Fight‘s Cush Jumbo as Jason’s ex, whose endorsement he awkwardly seeks along the path of fatherhood.
Other streaming highlights: Disney+ raids the iconic prop closet of Disney Studios for the eight-part first season of Prop Culture, in which film historian and collector Dan Lanigan excavates treasures from such classics as Mary Poppins, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Pirates of the Caribbean and Tron… Apple TV+ continues its kid-friendly series Ghostwriter with six new episodes, in which young sleuths are on the trail of a bookstore ghost who’s releasing fictional characters into the world… The fourth season of BritBox’s intriguing Welsh crime drama 35 Days: 35 Hours takes a page from 12 Angry Men, and then some. As a jury begins deliberating a gruesome murder case, no one dreams that within the titular time frame of 35 hours, one juror will be dead at the hand of another.
Inside Friday TV: The CW’s Charmed (8/7c) wraps its second season with the Charmed Ones trying to stop the Faction from reaching the sacred tree in the Command Center. Because that would be bad… NBC’s The Blacklist (8/7c) turns its focus to Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) when his brother beckons him home to face a traumatic family past… Jeri Ryan is back on CBS’s MacGyver (8/7c) as Mac’s (Lucas Till) Aunt Gwen, who messes with her nephew’s head to convince him and Riley (Tristan Mays) to join Codex… The Hawaii Five-0 connection continues on CBS’s Magnum P.I. (9/8c) when H50 co-stars Taylor Wily (Kamekona) and Shawn Mokuahi Garnett (Flippa) drop by… Fleabag‘s celebrated Phoebe Waller-Bridge drops by — virtually, of course — on BBC America’s “from home” edition of The Graham Norton Show (11/10c) with a hilarious anecdote about the series’ infamous “penis wall” that now resides in her living room… HBO’s six-episode Betty (11/10c), expanding on director/creator Crystal Moselle’s feature film Skate Kitchen, goes inside the world of female skateboarders in New York City, seeking to disrupt the male-dominated culture.