Worth Watching: 'Muppets Now' and Forever, Beyoncé's 'Black Is King,' 'The Go-Go's' Got the Beat, 'Umbrella Academy' Returns
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Muppets Now (Streaming on Disney+): Wocka-wocka! Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and the beloved Muppet gang are back, once again adapting to the technological times, with intrepid Scooter now uploading their irreverent sketches digitally for a streaming audience. Recurring segments include Piggy's lifestyle tips with Taye Diggs, "Pepé's Unbelievable Game Show," where the excitable prawn makes up the rules as he goes, a Swedish Chef cooking competition and more freewheeling bits. The result is a frantically funny half-hour that comes as close as the Muppets have in a while to recapturing the joyfully chaotic spirit of the classic 1970s' The Muppet Show. (See the full review.)
Black Is King (streaming on Disney+): Inspired by themes and music from last year's The Lion King remake, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter delivers a visual and aural tone poem celebrating the Black experience, including full-length videos of the songs "Already," "Brown Skin Girl," "Mood 4 Eva" and "My Power." Filming locations range from New York and Los Angeles to South Africa, West Africa, London and Belgium.
The Go-Go's (9/8c, Showtime): They had the beat, all right. Director Alison Ellwood's infectiously vibrant documentary portrait of the female rockers charts their rise from punk to pop to the top of the charts. How they got there and what happened next is a classic rock ’n' roll, rise-and-fall showbiz story of dazzling divas who were ruthless in their ambition and reckless in their appetites. The Go-Go's makes the case, as do the band members in colorful interviews, that they deserve to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to acknowledge their achievement as the only all-female group to write their own songs, play their own instruments and hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart. This hits all the right notes.
The Umbrella Academy (streaming on Netflix): The hit fantasy series is back for a second round, with the super-powered adopted Hargreeves siblings surviving apocalypse only to face a doomsday scenario when Five's (Aidan Gallagher) time jump transports the family to Dallas in the 1960s, some in different years. With only 10 days to avert the new disaster and get back to the present to halt the other apocalypse, all while being hunted by Swedish assassins, these heroes are in for a busy and perilous time.
Inside Friday TV: The tributes to Regis Philbin continue as the syndicated Live with Kelly and Ryan (check local listings) presents an updated rebroadcast of the Emmy-winning "Regis Farewell Celebration Special" from November 2011. We missed him then, and we truly miss him now… Just in time for Harry Potter's birthday is the Disney Channel movie Upside-Down Magic (8/7c), based on a book series about Nory (Izabella Rose) and a group of gifted misfits who are overlooked at the prestigious Sage Academy… Preacher's Joseph Gilgun stars in Hulu's import of the six-part first season of ITV dramedy Brassic. He's Vinnie, a scrappy bipolar lad who pulls off small crimes with his buddies to make ends meet in the fictional English town of Hawley… Dramatized in Narcos: Mexico on Netflix, the true-life events of the cartel murder of DEA Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena are retold in powerful detail in the four-part Amazon Prime Video docuseries The Last Narc.