Worth Watching: 'Sherman's Showcase' Celebrates Black History, Juneteenth Specials, Holland Taylor as Ann Richards, 'The Politician' Returns
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Sherman's Showcase Black History Month Spectacular (10/9c, AMC; 11/10c, IFC): Yes, we all know that Black History Month is in February, but the rules don't apply to this wonderfully irreverent salute to African-American pop culture, returning for a very special celebration on Juneteenth. In its tongue-in-cheek mock nostalgia for a cheese-tastic 1970s-era music-variety series in the Soul Train mode, Sherman's Showcase (just renewed for a second season) is like the love child of Flip Wilson and In Living Color. In this extended episode, host Sherman McDaniels (co-creator Bashir Salahuddin) welcomes guests including John Legend, Questlove, Michael Ealy, Mario Van Peebles, Bresha Webb and more celebs to play along in quick-hit sketches and musical parodies. Everything's fair game, from well-meaning Afterschool Specials (1977's "Pride Ain't Nothin' But a Bunch of Lions") to a song honoring kente cloth ("Panel by panel, it's black people's flannel"). Hey there, cats and kittens, don't miss it.
'Sherman's Showcase' Sneak Peek: Damon Wayans Jr. Gives Montell Jordan the True Story Treatment (VIDEO)
Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming (8/7c, ABC; simulcast on National Geographic Channel): In one of the higher-profile acknowledgements of a date that is gaining visibility, especially during a time of social and civic protest, ABC News anchors and correspondents take the long view of the holiday marking the end of slavery in America and the struggles for equality that continue. Among those reporting: Linsey Davis, Byron Pitts, Deborah Roberts, TJ Holmes, Steve Osunsam, Janai Norman and The View's Whoopi Goldberg. The special features reports from Tulsa, Oklahoma, site of the infamous 1921 race massacre and where the president plans to stage a rally on Saturday, and other cities across the U.S., spotlighting black-owned businesses, ongoing battles for voting rights and anti-lynching legislation, and the importance of black spirituality to uplift people during times of suffering.
Among many other TV celebrations: OWN presents specials throughout the day, culminating in a prime-time replay of the highly rated two-part OWN Spotlight: Where Do We Go From Here? (9/8c)… FX (with simulcasts on FXX and FXM) starts early, with broadcasts of the acclaimed films Hidden Figures (7 am/6c) and Selma (10 am/9c) followed by marathons of black-ish (starting at 1 pm/12c) and Atlanta (starting at 8/7c) and a showing of Jordan Peele's Oscar-winning Get Out (12:47 am/11:47c)… All nine episodes of HBO's provocative Watchmen, which opens with a recreation of the Tulsa massacre, are being made available for free viewing through Sunday on HBO's website and On Demand service. A marathon of the series starts airing at 1 pm/12c on HBO and HBO Latino.
Great Performances: Ann (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): The great character actress Holland Taylor (Three and a Half Men) found one of her greatest characters in the outspoken former Texas governor Ann Richards, whom she uncannily portrays in a one-woman play she wrote herself, and which earned her a Tony nomination in 2013. This impassioned, witty recreation is captured in performance in Austin following a national tour.
The Politician (streaming on Netflix): Much of the first season of Ryan Murphy's over-the-top political satire felt like a warm-up to the main event, which would be the second season, starring the sensational tag team of Judith Light and Bette Midler as the newest opponents standing in the way of young Payton Hobart's (Ben Platt) ambition to rise the political ranks with the White House as his ultimate goal. First, he'll have to dethrone incumbent New York State Senator Dede Standish (Light), whose ferocious chief of staff Hadassah Gold (Midler) could teach Payton a few things about political survival. Another complication: Payton's free-spirit mother Georgina (Gwyneth Paltrow) makes a decision that could steal away his spotlight.
Inside Friday TV: Just in time for Father's Day weekend, Apple TV+ premieres Dads, a documentary from first-time director Bryce Dallas Howard — whose own dad, Ron Howard, is mighty famous — celebrating fatherhood across the planet. The film profiles six special dads, while including humorous testimonials from the likes of Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O'Brien, Neil Patrick Harris, Patton Oswalt, Judd Apatow, Hasan Minhaj and, of course, Ron Howard… Not to be outdone, Netflix presents a second season of Babies… Brad Paisley appears in a new episode of Amazon Prime Video's Regular Heroes, which spotlights essential workers from across the country. The latest installment profiles the owner of a Kentucky chicken and cattle farm, an emergency vehicle mechanic from San Antonio and a coach bus operator from Seattle who transports health-care and grocery store workers to and from their jobs… Discovery's Dino Hunters (9/8c) tracks cowboys and ranchers in Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas who search for prehistoric fossils on their badlands, for their historic and monetary value.