Amazon Prime Video’s Modern Love anthology returns with a second season of all-star heart-tugging vignettes. For more uplift, Apple’s Ted Lasso presents a sentimental Christmas episode to take our mind off the summer heat wave, and the musical parody Schmigadoon! goes out on a high note. Jeopardy! wraps its season, having just announced its full-time hosts (yes, plural).
Modern Love (streaming on Amazon Prime Video): Be still our heart. A second collection of romantic short-story vignettes inspired by the New York Times column again boasts an impressive cast of new and familiar talent. Among the highlights: “Strangers on a (Dublin) Train,” starring Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington and Lucy Boynton in a “meet cute” aboard a train as each is heading to family in the early days of the pandemic quarantine. As they get to know each other, the rest of the train car chimes in musically to urge their relationship onward. (The hand of executive producer John Carney, of Once and Sing Street fame, is especially noticeable here.) Minnie Driver, Sophie Okonedo, Tobias Menzies and Anna Paquin are among the other standout headliners. (See the full review.)
Only a Grinch would turn its nose up at this week’s unabashedly sentimental Christmas episode, so feel-good in intent and execution that even said beast’s heart would likely grow three times by the carol-infused end. It’s Coach Ted’s (Jason Sudeikis) first holiday away from the family, and while you might think he’d join the team’s other “orphans” for family dinner at the happily overcrowded Higgins home, instead he’s rescued from his doldrums by fabulous boss lady Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) on a mission of mercy. Because who’d make a better elf than Ted Lasso? A drop-dead-funny subplot involves Roy (Brett Goldstein) and his beloved niece, in search of a Christmas miracle.
Not to be outdone in the feel-good department, the delightful musical spoof gets down to business in the season finale, wherein Melissa (Cecily Strong) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) finally come to terms with their feelings and even the town harpy Mildred (Kristen Chenoweth) might have a change of heart. Leaving this magical town is almost as hard as Dorothy saying goodbye to Oz, but as the clever score embraces influences from Stephen Sondheim to Stephen Schwartz, there’s no place like home to binge this tuneful treat over and over again.
For a very different musical experience, this aspirational movie stars Avantika as an Indian-American teen who realizes she has a gift for creating killer beats after falling for an aspiring DJ. Spin kicks off an all-new Disney night including the animated sequel Descendants: The Royal Wedding (9:40/8:40c), with Dove Cameron and Mitchell Hope reprising their roles as Mal and King Ben as they officially become Auradon’s power couple; and the premiere of Disney’s Magic Bake-Off (10:05/9:05c), a culinary competition for kids 6-14 who use their precocious kitchen skills to create Disney-themed cakes.
The 37th season, marked by the untimely death of the beloved Alex Trebek and a parade of guest hosts honoring his and the iconic quiz show’s tradition, comes to an end with the hilarious Joe Buck behind the podium. Will the reign of champ Matt Amodio extend into next season? If so, he’ll return with executive producer Mike Richards taking over as permanent host, a predictably controversial but hardly surprising decision. Mayim Bialik will host special prime-time tournaments and spinoffs on ABC.
Shades of Robert Ludlum in this conspiracy action thriller, starring Tenet’s John David Washington as a seemingly ordinary tourist in Greece who’s running for his life after a tragic car crash puts him in the crosshairs of corrupt local authorities and a gun-toting femme fatale. Even if Beckett makes it to the U.S. Embassy in Athens, will he ever be safe?
Inside Friday TV:
- Brand New Cherry Flavor (streaming on Netflix): We couldn’t let a Friday the 13th go by without mentioning something creepy. This eight-part series fills the bill, starring Rosa Salazar as an aspiring filmmaker in 1990s L.A. who gets caught up in surreal and magical intrigue when a producer betrays her and she enlists a strange woman (Catherine Keener) to put a curse on him.
- Roku Originals: The Roku Channel is adding 23—yes, 23—new series to its platform. (Take that, Netflix.) Titles include competition series Eye Candy (hosted by Josh Groban) and Squeaky Clean (hosted by Leslie Jordan) and Marina Zenovich’s show-biz exposé What Happens in Hollywood.
- CODA (streaming on Apple TV+): Winner of a Sundance Grand Jury Prize, CODA (stands for child of deaf adults) stars Emilia Jones as Ruby, a 17-year-old who is devoted to interpreting for her parents (Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur) and working on her dad’s fishing boat. But when her musical gifts lead to new educational opportunities, Ruby weighs her family obligations against her dreams.
- Secret Celebrity Renovation (8/7c, CBS): Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson remembers what it was like to be a struggling actor. One of his friends from pre-stardom days has a Texas farmhouse in need of a makeover, so it’s Jesse to the rescue in the series’ biggest restoration to date.
- Dateline NBC (10/9c, NBC): As part of the news division’s weeklong “Justice for All” series, Lester Holt reports on the wrongful conviction of Walter Ogrod for the murder of 4-year-old Barbara Jean Horn, and how this case revealed a systemic pattern of misconduct within Philadelphia’s criminal justice system.
- If Fox’s weekly dose of wrestling action in WWE’s Friday Night Smackdown (8/7c) leaves you wanting more, TNT complies with the premiere of AEW: Rampage (10/9c), featuring such headliners as Chris Jericho, Cody Rhodes and Sting—no, not that Sting.