Racial Terror in ‘Them,’ A Comical Superduo in ‘Thunder Force,’ Two P.I.’s and a Baby on ‘Magnum,’ Bye to ‘Wynonna Earp’
If you liked Get Out, check out the new horror anthology Them. Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer spoof the superhero genre in the Netflix movie Thunder Force. And on the Magnum P.I. reboot, Magnum and Higgins face their greatest challenge yet: changing a diaper.
Nightmarish echoes of Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us permeate the first season of a bold horror anthology from Lena Waithe (The Chi) and creator Little Marvin. Set in the 1950s during the Second Great Migration, Them: Covenant follows a Black family from North Carolina to a white-bread California suburb. There, they find the overtly racist hostility of their neighborhood is even more terrifying than the supernatural threats within their own apparently haunted dream home. The scares are plentiful, but the portrayal of the racist neighbors (led by a diabolically prim Alison Pill) is so cartoonishly over-the-top they’re almost too laughable to be taken seriously.
Bound to be a hit, this comedic twist on the overdone premise of ordinary people given superpowers benefits from the teamwork of two pros: Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and scene-stealer extraordinaire Melissa McCarthy. Written and directed by McCarthy’s husband Ben Falcone (who appears in a cameo), Thunder Force teams these talents as former best friends whose new lab-enhanced gifts of super-strength and invisibility make them public heroes, to the chagrin of criminal mastermind Bobby Cannavale, who fumes: “How can we not stop two chicks in their 40s?” Maybe he’s never seen a Melissa McCarthy movie.
Magnum P.I. (2018)
They can take down bad guys without breaking a sweat, but let’s see how Magnum (Jay Hernandez) and Higgins (Perdita Weeks) manage when caught in a parent trap after a baby is left in their care, abandoned at the estate’s gates. While Kumu (Amy Hill) searches for the baby’s mother, the private-eye team seeks pricey stolen truffles. All in a day’s work, except maybe for those constant feedings. And who’s on diaper duty?
Will Waverly Earp (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), the half-sister of rip-roaring monster killer Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano), get her happy ending in the cult thriller’s series finale and finally marry Sheriff Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell)? And how about Wynonna and Doc Holliday (Tim Rozon), while we’re on the subject? Lots to be wrapped up, including the arrival of a new witch in Purgatory, unless someone comes to the show’s rescue with a fifth season. (Looking at you, Netflix.)
Also on Netflix:
The Oscar-nominated live-action short film Two Distant Strangers, filmed in five days during the pandemic by directors Travon Free (who wrote it) and Martin Desmond Roe in response to the social-justice crisis. Joey Bada$$ stars in this Groundhog Day-meets-George Floyd set-up as a young Black cartoonist who’s just trying to get home to his dog one morning, when a deadly encounter with a white cop forces him to experience the incident over and over.
Inside Friday TV:
- The Oprah Conversation (streaming on Apple TV+): Eddie Murphy opens up to the Queen of Talk, nearly 35 years after their first interview together, to discuss his career, the decision to film a sequel to Coming to America and life at 60 as a father and grandfather.
- For All Mankind (streaming on Apple TV+): After a sluggish midsection, the alt-history space drama picks up steam as the second season nears the end, with Gordo (Michael Dorman) heading back into space after 10 years to face his demons and reconnect with his ex, Tracy (Sarah Jones). On the Moon, tension is rising between the Russians and the U.S. military.
- Ed Gein: The Real Psycho (streaming on discovery+): The latest “Shock Docs” special revisits the legend of the notorious serial killer Ed Gein (said to have inspired the cinematic horrors of Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) with a paranormal twist. Filmmaker/paranormal investigator Steve Shippy and psychic medium Cindy Kaza head to Gein’s Wisconsin home to tap into the monster’s evil vibe.
- More true crime on ABC’s 20/20 (9/8), which reaches back more than 30 years with a report on serial killer Danny Rolling, who murdered five college students in Gainesville, Florida and was responsible for a triple homicide in Shreveport, Louisiana. On Dateline NBC (9/8c), Dennis Murphy reports on the murder of a Michigan woman found dead in her SUV, with the investigation revealing a hit-for-hire plot.
- Oliver Sacks: His Own Life (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Ric Burns celebrates the life and philosophies of neurologist Oliver Sacks in an American Masters documentary made even more poignant by the director’s interviews with Sacks in February 2015, just a few weeks after he received a diagnosis of terminal cancer. (He died in August of that year.) Burns weaves Sacks’ reflections with interviews of friends, patients, families and colleagues.
- Blue Bloods (10/9c, CBS): Another NYPD official has to answer for past actions when Frank (Tom Selleck) tries to salvage Lt. Gormley’s (Robert Clohessy) career after decades-old complaints about excessive force surface.
- Doing the Most with Phoebe Robinson (11/10c, Comedy Central): The outspoken comedian (2 Dope Queens) dishes with fellow comics and celebrities in an offbeat variation of a talk show, where she meets her subjects on their own turf for one-of-a-kind experiences. In the back-to-back opener, she visits Whitney Cummings on a farm, where she’ll try to learn how to ride a horse. Then it’s time for gymnastics with fellow late-night rising star Amber Ruffin.