Worth Watching: ‘Judas and the Black Messiah,’ ‘Hip Hop Uncovered,’ ‘Unseamly,’ Reviving Disney’s ‘Cinderella’
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Judas and the Black Messiah (streaming on HBO Max): The latest big-screen Oscar contender to get early exposure on streaming, Judas shouldn’t be missed. One of AFI’s Top 10 movies of the year, the film stars Get Out‘s Daniel Kaluuya (Golden Globe and SAG nominations) in an incendiary performance as charismatic Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. Atlanta‘s Lakeith Stanfield plays a petty crook recruited by the FBI — led by an almost unrecognizable Martin Sheen as J. Edgar Hoover — to infiltrate and spy on the revolutionary organization in the volatile 1960s.
Hip Hop Uncovered (10/9c, FX): Over six episodes on three successive Fridays, this dynamic docuseries digs deep to unearth the unsung heroes of the hip-hop revolution over its 40-year history, focusing not so much on the moguls as on the street culture that the music reflects and celebrates. The series begins in 1979 with “Rapper’s Delight” bursting onto the scene, with more to follow as hip hop becomes big business amid the crack epidemic and warring factions between labels.
Unseamly: The Investigation of Peter Nygård (streaming on Discovery+): A four-part true-crime documentary unravels the notorious history of Canadian “King of Polyester” fashion bigwig Peter Nygård, whose wealth, including a Bahamian palace, cloaked a pattern of alleged sexual assault and sex trafficking that ultimately led to a class action lawsuit and arrest.
The Discovery streamer stays on the true-crime bandwagon with the two-hour special If I Can’t Have You: The Jodi Arias Story, combing through the convicted killer’s private diaries, unseen police interviews and testimony, with interviews of those closely connected with the case.
Buried by the Bernards (streaming on Netflix): Like a real-life Six Feet Under, although apparently funnier, this reality “dramedy” goes inside the family operations of Memphis-based R Bernard Funeral Services, proving that undertakers don’t necessarily need to be a gloomy lot as they tend to their community’s mournful needs.
Also new to Netflix: To All the Boys: Always and Forever, concluding the teen-romance trilogy that began in 2018 with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It’s senior year for Lara Jean Song Covey (Lana Condor), and as she considers her post-grad future with dreamy boyfriend Peter (Noah Centineo), thoughts of coed coupling at Stanford are complicated after she begins to feel a cross-country tug upon visiting New York City. Could they survive a long-distance relationship?
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (streaming on Disney+): Joining the streamer’s “Celebrate Black Stories” collection, this proudly diverse 1997 remake of the made-for-TV musical classic (first shown live in 1957 with Julie Andrews) stars Brandy as the title heroine, Whitney Houston as her glam fairy godmother, Paolo Montalban as the dashing prince, Whoopi Goldberg and Victor Garber as the royals and Bernadette Peters as Cinderella’s campily villainous stepmother. The producers (including the late Craig Zadan and partner Neil Meron) added vintage Rodgers & Hammerstein tunes, including “The Sweetest Sounds,” to the classic score. There are few sweeter sounds than hearing “Ten Minutes Ago,” and “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” over and over.
Inside Friday TV: Nickelodeon’s horror anthology for kids, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, is back for a second season (8/7c), introducing a new Midnight Society club that aims to protect their seaside community from the threat of the mysterious Shadowman… NBC’s The Blacklist (8/7c) includes a tribute to the late Clark Middleton (who played Glen “Jellybean” Carter, Red’s tracker) when Red (James Spader) and Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) strive to fulfill their friend’s final wishes… Capping an all-new night on CBS, Blue Bloods (10/9c) finds Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) in conflict with the detective assigned to a drive-by shooting he witnessed, and Jamie (Will Estes) following a childhood friend’s lead when she thinks she’s solved a cold-case murder.