Worth Watching: ‘Emily in Paris,’ Return of ‘Undercover Boss’ and ‘Warrior,’ Apple’s ‘Tiny World’ & ‘Ted Lasso’ Finale
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Emily in Paris (streaming on Netflix): If the mere thought of the City of Lights sends you into a swoon, meet Emily. “Oh my God, I feel like Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge,” the effervescent Emily (Lily Collins) chirps while soaking up the view from her sixth-floor flat. The latest romantic comedy from Darren Star (Sex and the City, Younger) relocates the spunky Chicago social-marketing whiz to Paris, where she’s a poisson out of water, in part because she hasn’t bothered to learn the language. (Zut alors!) Her snooty boss (Philippine Leroy-Beaulier) at the luxury marketing firm isn’t impressed, but many others are soon enchantée by the unassuming fashion plate. Workplace and romantic intrigue follow, because… when in Paris… Ooh-la-la!
Also new to Netflix: the quirky but heartfelt documentary Dick Johnson Is Dead, in which filmmaker Kirsten Johnson stages elaborate death scenes starring her ailing 86-year-old psychiatrist dad as a way of keeping him alive and close… The four-part musical docuseries Song Exploder goes inside the songwriter’s creative process to break down the inspirations behind the music and lyrics. Featured artists include Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alicia Keys, R.E.M and Ty Dolla $ign.
Undercover Boss (9/8c, CBS): The Emmy-winning reality series returns with five new episodes, all shot before the pandemic changed workplaces forever, especially restaurants. Which makes the premiere unusually poignant, as Ray Blanchette, the CEO of the TGI Fridays chain, goes into the kitchen and behind the bar at several franchises to see what really goes on behind the scenes.
Tiny World (streaming on Apple TV+): If you ever doubted great things come in small packages, this visually captivating six-part nature series (from Planet Earth II‘s Tom Hugh-Jones) will convince you to look closer at the world’s more minute inhabitants. Ant-Man‘s Paul Rudd is an inspired choice as narrator, as cameras reveal rare glimpses of such creatures as the miniature leaf chameleon, the golden gecko and the coqui frog in action. Series locales range from the African savannah and the Caribbean during hurricane season to the Australian outbreak and a suburban backyard. Another six episodes will follow in 2021.
Also on Apple TV+: the season finale of the terrific sports comedy Ted Lasso, in which the AFC Richmond soccer team faces the prospect of being relegated to a lower division after their final match if they can’t upset arch-rival Manchester City, whose arrogant star player Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) was on the Richmond squad earlier in the season. Win or lose, it’s hard to find a more feel-good show anywhere on TV right now, and as Ted, Jason Sudeikis elevates cornball schmaltz to an art. Even though he’s warmed most of the town to his all-American nature, and Ted’s settling in nicely, one thing hasn’t changed: “Tea and I are still on a lifelong hiatus.”
Warrior (10/9c, Cinemax): The exhilarating martial-arts period action drama returns for a second season, set amid the violent Tong Wars in San Francisco’s politically oppressed Chinatown in the late 1800’s. Top fighter Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) is back with Hop Wei as season 2 begins, taking on the rival Long Zii tong, a mission complicated by the fact that it’s now being led by Ah Sahm’s sister, Mai Ling (Dianne Doan).
Inside Friday TV: The Showtime documentary Kingdom of Silence (9/8c), from Oscar winner Alex Gibney and Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright, examines the history of the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia before and after the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The film premieres on the two-year anniversary of his death… Though there are supernatural elements in Hulu’s eight-episode anthology Monsterland, the demons are just as likely to be psychological. The riveting Kaitlyn Dever (Unbelievable) stars in the first segment as a stressed-out single mom living in poverty in small-town Louisiana. When she opens her door to a possible serial killer (Jonathan Tucker), everything changes, though not in the way you’d expect. It’s all rather dreary, but that’s kind of the point… FX’s true-crime series Wilderness of Error (9/8c) concludes with back-to-back episodes that relive the fallout from Joe McGinniss’ book Fatal Vision, about convicted killer Jeffrey MacDonald, and then follows filmmaker Errol Morris to North Carolina as new evidence emerges in a possibly futile search for the truth… With his delightful talk show returning to the studio in front of a limited audience next week, BBC America’s The Graham Norton Show (11/10c) presents a “best-of” compilation of memorable moments from last season’s “From Home” episodes, with guests including Sandra Oh, Lady Gaga and Jeff Goldblum.