What's Worth Watching: Narcos, Building Star Trek, BrainDead and more for Friday Sept. 2 thru Sunday, Sept. 4.
Narcos (Season 2 available Friday, Netflix): It’s all about the manhunt as Season 2 of this absorbing and brutally violent drug-wars docudrama picks up in the immediate aftermath of Columbian kingpin Pablo Escobar’s (Wagner Moura) brazen escape from prison. Though a fugitive, Escobar continues to live large, protected by a populace that still sees him as a folk hero as he shuffles his beloved family to various secret locations, always a step ahead of the police. Moura is somehow both charismatic yet repellent as the inscrutable narco-terrorist, projecting a cold and unsettlingly quiet arrogance as he bedevils authorities from North and South America alike. The series continues to be hobbled by the bland narration of DEA Agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook), and since this season eventually leads—Historical Spoiler Alert—to Escobar’s inevitable downfall and demise, one can’t help but wonder what the draw would be for a third season.
Foodie Feast: Two steaming, streaming smorgasbords await fans of high-end food TV with full series available Friday. Amazon’s Eat the World With Emeril Lagasse sounds alarming, but is more of a culinary travelogue told in six half-hour chapters, as the celebrated Louisiana chef travels with equally renowned peers to exotic destinations including China (with Mario Batali), Spain (with Jose Andres), Sweden (with Marcus Samuelsson) and Cuba (with Aaron Sanchez). Netflix stays within the borders of France for Chef’s Table: France, which takes a more personal look at the lives of four masters of haute cuisine and their sumptuous creations.
Building Star Trek (Sunday, 8/7c, Smithsonian Channel): This year’s golden anniversary of Star Trek will inspire many tributes, but maybe none so unabashedly nerdy as this two-hour special that asks physicists, scientists and NASA techies to weigh in on the probabilities of such Trek tech as the transporter, the tricorder and the Romulan invisibility cloak becoming science fact. “We wouldn’t have gotten the reality without the dream,” gushes Trek scribe David Gerrold (“The Trouble With Tribbles”). Building Star Trek is framed by two ambitious museum projects: the restoration of the original model of the Enterprise by the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, and Seattle’s EMP pop-culture museum collecting rare props and artifacts for an elaborate display. It’s cosmically geeky.
BrainDead (Sunday, 10/9c, CBS): Burning off a new episode of anything on the Sunday before Labor Day is a sure sign that the show in question hasn’t much shelf life. A pity, because this wacky sci-fi/political satire was my favorite of the summer’s guilty pleasure. With only one more episode to go—actually, back-to-back hours on Sept. 11 to close out the season—Gareth (Aaron Tveit) finally joins “Team Bug” for good when he witnesses something he shouldn’t in Red’s (Tony Shalhoub) office.