Worth Watching: ‘Upright’ Finale, Madea’s Farewell, ‘Class Action Park’ & More on HBO Max
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
Upright (streaming on Sundance Now): The heartfelt Australian dramedy comes to the end of its madcap road trip in the final two episodes, some of the most satisfying entertainment you’re likely to find in these mid/late-summer doldrums. The misadventures continue as down-on-his-luck musician Lucky (co-creator Tim Minchin) parts with his spunky teenage runaway companion Meg (Milly Alcock), only to discover the real purpose of her journey. Before that can be resolved, Lucky pays the consequences for her stealing a horse trailer, but all roads eventually lead to Perth — and a rocky reunion for Lucky and the family from whom he’s been estranged for eight years. And will the upright piano he’s transported across the country finally find a safe home? The backstory of those 88 keys packs quite an emotional punch. (I hope this eventually finds its way to linear Sundance or IFC to reach a wider audience.)
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Farewell Play (streaming on BET+): The prolific Tyler Perry appears as his most famous creation, the gun-toting matriarch Madea, in a final stage run, captured for posterity. Madea is at her irrepressible and meddling best as she drives across Georgia to celebrate the graduation of her great-grandson Malik (Jacobi Brown) from law school — and also to help support his divorced and financially strapped mother Darlene (Alexis Hollins) in her time of need. The fireworks really start when Darlene’s ex shows up uninvited.
HBO to the Max: As in maximum amount of new content. On another busy Thursday for the new HBO Max streamer, highlights include the documentary Class Action Park, which explores the wild history of New Jersey’s infamous Action Park water amusement park, with dangerous and unregulated attractions leading to death and litigation… Despite its title, the six-episode British import Pure is all about impure thoughts, in a dramatic comedy of self-discovery about 24-year-old Marnie (Charly Clive), whose obsessive-compulsive disorder manifests itself in disturbingly explicit sexual fantasies… On a higher plane, the four-part docuseries Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness follows the comic actor on a spiritual global journey, accompanied by family and friends, to seek enlightenment on deep subjects including retirement and aging, parenting and gender roles, work/life balance and the immigration crisis… The final round of at-home cooking show Selena+Chef features four episodes of Selena Gomez being guided through diverse cuisines by master chefs, including guac and wok tips with Angelo Sosa, Southern soul food with Tanya Holland, meatballs with The Meatball Shop entrepreneur Daniel Holzman, and Southern California treats, including homemade doggy biscuits, with Nyesha Arrington.
Science and Zombies: With the various Walking Dead franchises not scheduled to return until October, Science Channel steps in to feed our obsession with the undead. In a new episode of What on Earth? (9/8c), satellite images of an abandoned American wilderness town shed light on a top-secret military plan to battle a zombie army. The new series Secrets in the Ice (10/9c) premieres with the discovery of a 30,000-year-old zombie virus excavated from an icy tomb. Perhaps some things should stay buried, because if this ancient virus were somehow revived, think global catastrophe.
Inside Thursday TV: When Ensign Mariner’s (Tawny Newsome) disrespect for authority finally crosses the line on CBS All Access’s Star Trek: Lower Decks, her exasperated mother, Capt. Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), punishes her by giving her the worst jobs on the ship… The wacky firefighters on truTV’s Tacoma FD (10/9c) get spooked when called to put out a blaze in a haunted house… Get to know Greenland with Jaime Lannister — aka Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau — as the actor plays tour guide in the visually stunning five-part travelogue Through Greenland, streaming on Topic.