Worth Watching: ‘Lucifer’ Rises Again, Disney’s Cuddly ‘Ivan,’ ‘Drag Race’ Hits Vegas
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Lucifer (streaming on Netflix): The devil you say! The never-say-die cult supernatural procedural, which Fox sent into limbo after three seasons only to be resurrected by Netflix, is back for a fifth season. And while this was meant to be the beginning of the end — again — those fiendish streaming programmers gave a greenlight to a sixth! Tom Ellis is as hellishly charismatic as ever as the fallen angel who rose from the underworld to become an LAPD police consultant, and in the first half of the fifth season, he’ll get to do double duty, appearing as Lucifer’s twisted twin, Michael. Other highlights: a black-and-white noir episode and a meta case involving a TV show about the devil.
The One and Only Ivan (streaming on Disney+): Disney can’t get enough of its CGI menagerie, and neither will animal lovers in this cuddly adaptation of Katherine Applegate’s Newbury Medal-winning book about Ivan (voice of Sam Rockwell), a proud 400-pound silverback gorilla who believes he enjoys the responsibility of being the “headliner” for a shabby circus located inside a shopping mall. Bryan Cranston is the well-meaning proprietor and ringleader, who nurtured Ivan from childhood. But when an adorable baby elephant named Ruby (Brooklynn Prince) joins the company, Ivan begins to remember his early days in the wild, and circumstances compel him and his fellow animal performers — voices include Angelina Jolie, Chaka Khan, Mike White, Hamilton‘s Philippa Soo, Ron Funches and (an underused) Helen Mirren — to try to escape and show Ruby there’s more to life than cages. The film sanitizes and sentimentalizes their captivity, and yet it’s quite stirring when they get a taste of the world beyond. Danny DeVito steals the show as Ivan’s best friend, a scruffy mutt named Bob.
RuPaul’s Drag Race: Vegas Revue (8/7c, VH1): Sin City will never be the same after six fan-favorite graduates of the Emmy-winning RuPaul’s Drag Race descend on Las Vegas to prepare for a live residency. The docuseries follows Yvie Oddly, Asia O’Hara, Derrick Barry, Kameron Michaels, Naomi Smalls and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo on and offstage as they get ready to step back into the spotlight. Lip sync for your lives, ladies, these are paying customers!
Little Voice (streaming on Apple TV+): In the season finale of the charming musical dramedy, Bess (Brittany O’Grady) finally gets the nerve to get back in front of an audience on open mic night, with the urging and support of Samuel (Colton Ryan, recently cast in the movie version of Dear Evan Hansen). Elsewhere, keep an eye out for Sara Bareilles, who provided the soundtrack of catchy songs. As Bess’s brother Louie (Kevin Valdez) would say: “Wonder of wonders.”
Inside Friday TV: Stumptown‘s Jake Johnson gives voice to the raucous animated comedy Hoops on Netflix. He’s a foul-mouthed high-school basketball coach hoping to turn his lousy team, and even worse life, around… Hulu’s original comedy film Binge is a less violent twist on The Purge, in which there’s only one day a year when people can legally consume drugs and alcohol. Santa Clarita Diet‘s Skyler Gisondo stars… Discovery’s 100 Days Wild (9/8c) follows a group of mostly strangers who head to a remote area of Alaska to form a community living off the grid. They have 100 days to get their act together before the brutal weather sets in… Encore, Great Performances! The Tony-winning Lincoln Center revival of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic The King and I (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), starring Kelli O’Hara as Anna and Ken Watanabe as the King of Siam, is shown again in a 2018 presentation from London’s West End. It’s not a puzzlement why fans watch this over and over. Shall we dance?