Worth Watching: ‘Ramy,’ ‘Space Force,’ ‘Central Park’ Top Streaming Menu, Cutting Hair on CBS, an ‘Imperfect’ Sports Story
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Ramy (streaming on Hulu): “I know you guys haven’t seen my show,” Ramy Youssef quipped upon accepting a Golden Globe for best comedy actor earlier this year. That should change for the second season of his boldly seriocomic series about a conflicted young Muslim in New Jersey seeking enlightenment from, but often trying too hard to please, the serene sheikh (Oscar winner Mahershala Ali) who has become his new mentor. (See the full review.)
Space Force (streaming on Netflix): Steve Carell and John Malkovich have the right stuff — call it comic chemistry — as an odd couple teaming to put a new branch of the armed forces into space in a spirited satire that stops short of being mean-spirited. (In other words, don’t expect the next Veep.) As gung-ho General Mark Naird, Carell’s nervous bombast bounces off the dour fussiness of Malkovich’s Dr. Mallory, his civilian science advisor. Up, up and away! (See the full review.)
Also new on Netflix: another season of global gastronomy on Somebody Feed Phil, as Everybody Loves Raymond creator continues his around-the-world sampling of mouth-watering local specialties in Marrakesh, Seoul, Montreal, Chicago and London, making friends across the table everywhere he goes. (Remember travel?)
Central Park (streaming on Apple TV+): Since Crazy Ex-Girlfriend closed shop, and Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist ended its euphoric first season, I’ve been pining for another TV musical. The creators of Bob’s Burgers, collaborating with co-executive producer/star Josh Gad (Frozen), step lively with a thoroughly charming animated comedy featuring original songs that set a jubilant tone. As narrator/busker Birdie, Gad tunefully introduces us to the wonderland of New York City’s fabled park that’s “Central to My Heart.” That’s especially true of upbeat park manager Owen (Hamilton‘s Leslie Odom Jr.) and his family, who try to save the park from mendacious matron Bitsy (the hilarious Stanley Tucci), who’d love to convert the wide-open spaces to condos and chain restaurants. The sparkling voice cast includes Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Tituss Burgess and another Tony-winning Hamilton vet, Daveed Diggs.
Haircut Night in America (8/7c, CBS): We have become a shaggy nation during this time of self-quarantine, and while some hair parlors and barbershops have resumed business in parts of the country, many of us (including my still-quiet Manhattan neighborhood) are very much in need of a trim. In that spirit, celebrity couple Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn host a light-hearted DIY special in which other famous types (including Olympian Lindsey Vonn and Kelly Osbourne) take tips from top hair stylists on how to replicate the perfect cut, color and style from home. Also featured: social-media highlights of some memorable self-haircare moments that went viral.
Imperfect: The Roy Halladay Story (7/6c, ESPN): A special edition of E60 airs on the 10th anniversary of a sports milestone: a perfect game pitched by the Phillies’ Roy “Doc” Halladay in 2010 against the Marlins in Miami. Imperfect is a more poignant remembrance, however, of the baseball star who retired in 2013. The special looks into his death in 2017 while he was pursuing his other favorite vocation—flying—when his light plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. A toxicology report revealed prescription meds in his system, which may have impaired the pitcher-turned-pilot, and his family speaks out for the first time in camera about his struggles and history with rehab.
On a more upbeat note, ESPN dips into parent company Disney’s treasure trove of sports films to present Cool Runnings (8/7c), the 1993 movie about four Jamaicans who strive to compete as bobsled racers at the Winter Olympics.
Inside Friday TV: New to Amazon Prime Video: the Twilight Zone-like film The Vast of Night, set in the 1950s and starring breakout Sierra McCormick as a switchboard operator in small-town New Mexico who enlists a local DJ (Jake Horowitz) to investigate a mysterious frequency that could be out of this world… Also streaming on Prime Video, Vimeo and YouTube: A Toy Story Near You, a self-filmed docuseries using iPhone footage to tell the stories of toy stores across the country (and as far away as Japan) that are trying to keep the lights on while their physical locations are closed. First stop: the Billy Galaxy toy store in Portland, Oregon… A new queen of the runway will be crowned on the season finale of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race (8/7c), just in time for an all-star edition to begin in a week… Another sign of the times: PBS chef Lidia Bastianich gives tips to sheltering-at-home kitchen novices in Eating In with Lidia (10:30/9:30c, check local listings at pbs.org), two back-to-back specials that take viewers “Back to Basics” and then “Craving Fresh” as Lidia makes the most of what’s in her garden.