Worth Watching: Tabloid Queens Britney and Anna Nicole, ‘Malcolm & Marie,’ Apple’s ‘Snoopy Show’
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears (10/9c, FX an FX on Hulu): A fascinating exploration of pop star Britney Spears‘ rise and fall is an indictment of the tabloid culture’s hype-and-hate mentality. New York Times editors and producers interview people inside and outside her circle as they trace her evolution from Star Search and Mickey Mouse Club child performer to vixenish pop superstar who eventually lost control of not only her image but her freedom and finances. Center stage are rabid fans of the “Free Britney” movement who follow every twist of her court battle to remove her father from her conservatorship.
20/20 (9/8c, ABC): Another even more tragic tabloid queen, Anna Nicole Smith, died 13 years ago on this date at the young age of 39. With Deborah Roberts reporting a comprehensive look at her public and personal life, the centerpiece of the two-hour remembrance follows her 14-year-old daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead, as she travels to Texas and Los Angeles with her father, Larry, to revisit some of the significant touchstones in her mother’s brief but colorful existence.
Malcolm & Marie (streaming on Netflix): Emmy winner Zendaya and John David Washington star in an intimate two-hander from Euphoria‘s Sam Levinson, who wrote and directed this long-night-of-the-soul romantic drama. It unfolds on the evening following filmmaker Malcolm’s latest movie premiere, a catalyst for the celebrity couple to examine their relationship.
Also new to Netflix: Strip Down, Rise Up, a documentary produced and shot by an all-female crew, elevating the pole dance as a form of sensual therapy for women of all ages and body types, working through trauma and other issues by expressing themselves physically on the pole. One of the coaches may look familiar: actress Sheila Kelley (The Good Doctor).
The Snoopy Show (streaming on Apple TV+): Peanuts fans weren’t thrilled when it appeared as if the streamer would keep the classic Charlie Brown specials behind a paywall. (A sharing agreement with PBS fixed that.) In a charming new series joining Apple’s Snoopy in Space and Peanuts in Space: Secrets of Apollo 10, the irreverent beagle and his airborne buddy Woodstock embark on whimsical new adventures. Each of the six episodes is divided into three segments, including gems like “When Snoopy Met Woodstock,” or when Charlie Brown relieves his social anxiety by reminding himself that “Happiness Is a Dancing Dog.” The jazzy score by Jeff Morrow is a fitting homage to the immortal Vince Guaraldi.
Inside Friday TV: CBS’s lineup is all new, including Magnum P.I. (9/8c), where Magnum (Jay Hernandez) and Higgins (Perdita Weeks) are enlisted by a Neighborhood Watch group to check out a suspicious neighbor — who to their shock just might be a serial killer… Back-to-back episodes of PBS’s In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl include highlights from conductor Gustavo Dudamel’s favorite classical performances with the L.A. Phil (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org) and then a selection of fireworks-heavy extravaganzas (10/9c), featuring Katy Perry (naturally), Pink Martini, Nile Rodgers & CHIC and composer John Williams, whose Star Wars selections bring out the glow stick… On Discovery+: the “Shock Doc” The Exorcism of Roland Doe, purporting to be the real-life story behind The Exorcist, involving a possessed 13-year-old boy… Now that they’ve pulled back the curtain on the Disney+ mindblower WandaVision, will anything be the same for Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany)?