Worth Watching: Patrick Dempsey in ‘Devils,’ ‘Books of Blood,’ ‘Archer’s Perfect Valet
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
Devils (9/8c, The CW): This French-Italian co-production, with the feel of an international Billions, is one of the more curious off-brand acquisitions by The CW, as the network vamps until the time its regular lineup can return (mostly in 2021). Grey’s Anatomy‘s Patrick Dempsey, transitioning into graying-fox status, is the marquee star, playing Dominic Morgan, the enigmatic American CEO of a New York/London bank that breeds financial sharks. (Devils is set in London and was partially filmed in Rome.) His No. 1 protégé is the dashing Massimo Ruggero (Alessandro Borghi), who’s expecting a big promotion when personal scandal and murderous intrigue leave him wondering just who the devil his boss truly is under those designer clothes.
Books of Blood (streaming on Hulu): The latest attempt to do justice to Clive Barker’s influential style of skin-crawling horror is a grim affair, threading together several stories that may have you squirming for all the wrong reasons. Britt Robertson (Under the Dome) stars as a traumatized runaway with severe sensitivity to sound who takes refuge in a B&B that might send Norman Bates running for the hills. In the most successful vignette, based on the title story, Anna Friel shines as a professorial debunker of supernatural fakers who meets her match in a charming young “speaker for the dead” (Rafi Gavron).
Hubie Halloween (streaming on Netflix): Or you could go the lighter seasonal route with the latest Adam Sandler comedy for Netflix, in which he taps into his inner Jerry Lewis to play town patsy Hubie Dubois, the butt of every prank on Halloween in Salem. But it’s no joke when Hubie tries to convince the authorities and his fellow citizens that real monsters, or worse, are on the loose. The unusually star-studded supporting cast includes Kevin James and Kenan Thompson as local cops, plus Julie Bowen, Ben Stiller, Maya Rudolph, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, Rob Schneider, Michael Chiklis, Tim Meadows, Stranger Things‘ Noah Schnapp and Shaquille O’Neal.
Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones (8/7c, BBC America): A missing chapter from the iconic sci-fi series has been resurrected with the help of animation in a six-part serialized story that concludes Thursday. First shown in spring 1967 as part of the fourth season, with Patrick Troughton as the Doctor, only two of the six episodes were fully preserved. Animation over off-air recordings of the episodes’ soundtrack fill out the narrative, which begins as the TARDIS lands at Gatwick Airport, where a new menace is discovered when Polly (Anneke Wills) is kidnapped after witnessing a murder and all signs point to the Chameleons, a race of identity-stealing aliens.
Archer (10/9c, FXX): Finding a replacement for the long-suffering but loyal valet Woodhouse (the late George Coe) has been a running gag throughout Archer‘s enjoyable post-coma season. Granted, the petulant and self-centered spy (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) isn’t easy to please, but an instance bromance blossoms when he puts the suave recruit Aleister to the test. “Do you really think you can outshine him in being abused by me?” Archer demands. The answer is yes, and genre favorite Simon Pegg is a delight as the servant who seems too good to be true.
Inside Wednesday TV: We can only hope the first and only Vice Presidential Debate (9/8c, all major broadcast and cable news networks) will be more decorous and substantive than last week’s cacophonous presidential debacle. Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris square off, plexiglass or no plexiglass, in Salt Lake City, with USA Today’s Susan Page as moderator… The CW’s Canadian import Coroner (9/8c) segues into its second season with Jenny (Serinda Swan) investigating a fire and empathizing with a woman who lost everything… A new cast member, soon-to-be-divorcee Elizabeth Lyn Vargas, joins Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Orange County (9/8c) for the 15th season, which tracks their lives before and during the pandemic… The HBO documentary Wild Card: The Downfall of a Radio Loudmouth (9/8c) is the cautionary profile of polarizing New York sports-radio personality Craig Carton, who rose to the top of his profession until his gambling addition led to crime, arrest and conviction on charges of conspiracy, wire and securities fraud.