Worth Watching: An animated ‘Jurassic’ adventure, an insane ‘Ratched,’ Larry Wilmore keeping it real
A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous (streaming on Netflix): The blockbuster Jurassic franchise expands into the world of lifelike animation, impressively and gorgeously, in a family-friendly eight-episode adventure series set amid the mayhem of the Jurassic World movie. We’re introduced to six kids who’ve been invited to participate in the adventure park’s first summer program, and naturally, as these curious and mischievous teens run amok, so do dinosaurs. The characters hew to stereotypes — earnest dinosaur fanboy, self-obsessed social-media influencer, spoiled rich kid, annoying dweeb neurotic (you’ll recognize the voice of The Goldbergs‘ Sean Giambrone) — but the perilous action is fun to watch, and it all looks spectacular.
Ratched (streaming on Netflix): Cuckoo’s nest? More like Looney Tunes Central as Sarah Paulson, a Ryan Murphy regular (American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson), tries on the starched uniform of Nurse Mildred Ratched (immortalized in the book and film versions of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) in a gruesomely campy eight-part origin story. Set in the Technicolor late 1940s, Ratched is closer in tone to Murphy’s Nip/Tuck and American Horror Story than the Ken Kesey original. This lurid exercise in Grand Guignol is, in a word, nuts. (See the full review.)
Wilmore (streaming on Peacock): His terrific Nightly Show didn’t last long at Comedy Central, but humorist/producer and Daily Show veteran Larry Wilmore (The Bernie Mac Show) is back with a weekly showcase for topical late-night-worthy talk. His premiere episode keeps it real on the topic of protests, with guests including soccer star Megan Rapinoe, Missouri activist and Democratic Congressional candidate Cori Bush, and in a “Lightning Round” appearance, comedian-writer Amber Ruffin (Late Night with Seth Meyers), who launches her own Peacock show next Friday.
This is Friday, which means plentiful new streaming options on a variety of platforms.
Also on Netflix: American Barbecue Showdown, an eight-episode food contest where masters of the grill hope to smoke the competition. Rutledge Wood and Lyric Lewis host, with barbecue legends Kevin Bludso and Melissa Cookston as judges. (Good thing this doesn’t come in smell-o-vision.
On Apple TV+: Long Way Up, a visually and culturally stimulating road-trip docuseries, reunites Ewan McGregor and best bud/fellow world-traveling adventurer Charley Boorman as they traverse 13,000 miles from the tip of South America to Los Angeles on electric Harley motorcycles.
On Amazon Prime Video: The documentary All In: The Fight for Democracy is a timely and alarming look at the threat of voter suppression in America’s past and present, exposing barriers to voting rights of which many citizens may not be aware.
On Disney+: The inspirational Becoming, from producers LeBron James and Maverick Carter, sends celebrated athletes, entertainers and musicians back to their hometowns to reflect on (and sometimes interview) the mentors, coaches and teachers who helped shape their success. Participants include Adam Devine, Anthony Davis, Ashley Tisdale, Caleb McLaughlin, Candace Parker, Colbie Caillat, Julianne Hough, Nick Cannon, Nick Kroll and Rob Grankowski.
On Hulu: The first half of a second season of the acclaimed comedy Pen15, starring adult comedians Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle as 13-year-old versions of themselves, depicts the awkward, raunchy and comically painful rites of adolescence alongside actual 13-year-old actors. It’s not as gimmicky as it sounds, and Pen15 captures these girls’ growing pains with unusual authenticity. As the season opens, a pool party reveals how Maya and Anna have developed a reputation as “desperate sluts” after the recent dance. All together now: It gets better. Or will it?
Inside Friday TV: My favorite new comedy, Ted Lasso (streaming on Apple TV+), segues from sports humor to rom-com as gruff soccer-team captain Roy (Brett Goldstein) turns to the newly formed “Diamond Dogs” support group for advice regarding his blossoming relationship with spunky Keeley (the wonderful Juno Temple)… Reporter-author Bob Woodward joins the panel of PBS’s Washington Week (8/7c, check local listings at pbs.org) to discuss his explosive bestseller Rage and the revelations within… Need a moment of awwww? The CW’s World’s Funniest Animals (9/8c) gathers viral videos and film and TV clips of adorable animal antics… “King of Strings” Joseph Haydn is the subject of the second-season premiere of PBS’s Great Performances classical-music travelogue Now Hear This (9/8c, check local listings). Violinist host Scott Yoo heads to Austria, Hungary, London and Charleston, S.C. to appreciate the composer’s legacy… While devastating fires ravage the West Coast, FX’s The New York Times Presents (10/9c) takes a look at the “Hurricane of Fire” that swept through Australia earlier this year, following families and first responders coping with unprecedented destruction… Here’s a combo you wouldn’t expect to see on the same show: HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher (10/9c) conducts virtual interviews with Michael Cohen, the president’s disgraced former personal attorney and hatchet man-turned-author, and activist-actress Jane Fonda. Separately, of course.