As The Good Fight nears its season’s end, Mandy Patinkin’s wacky alt-court gets serious with a case involving a hate crime against Asian-Americans. HBO Max pays homage to the seminal civil-rights documentary Eyes on the Prize with an evocative video essay. Brooklyn Nine-Nine contends with internal office politics and a child-care crisis. A discovery+ documentary sends American brainiacs abroad to sample high-performing schools in other countries.
The Good Fight
In the penultimate episode of the legal dramedy’s terrific fifth season, Judge Wackner’s (Mandy Patinkin) joke of an alt-courtroom—now made famous on TV—becomes a serious “alternate processing venue” for frustrated police who keep seeing perps bounced back to the streets because of Chicago’s overcrowded court system. Marissa (Sarah Steele) and other “real” lawyers are appalled when a case involving an anti-Asian hate-crime assault comes before Wackner’s bench, but it’s just the beginning. Back at the firm, Carmen (Charmaine Bingwa) and new hire Allegra Durado (Wanda Sykes) broker a deal for drug kingpin Oscar Rivi (Tony Plana), who’s trying to go legit by merging with a yogurt brand for edible cannabis—but first he’ll have to stay out of jail.
Eyes on the Prize: Hallowed Ground
Not so much a continuation or sequel to Henry Hampton’s seminal 1987 civil-rights documentary for PBS, filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison’s film is more of an evocative and visually literate meditation of themes of Black liberation. Hallowed Ground, described as “a portal through time,” uses poetry, dance and imagery to convey both ancestral memories and more contemporary struggles for women and the LGBTQ community. (The original Eyes on the Prize series is available for streaming on HBO Max.)
The precinct is caught short-handed when Capt. Holt’s (Andre Braugher) latest workplace antagonist, bellowing police-union president Frank O’Sullivan (Scrubs’ John C. McGinley), contrives a “blue flu” walkout of uniformed officers, and it’s up to Jake (Andy Samberg) and his motley crew of fellow detectives to expose the fraud. Little wonder Holt turns to newly minted private eye Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) to help. Her fee: getting a glimpse of the boss’ much buzzed-about tattoo. In the second episode, Jake and Amy (Melissa Fumero) find the balance between work and parenthood especially challenging when Jake’s elusive arch-nemesis resurfaces just as Amy is preparing a critical police-reform presentation. A first-rate subplot finds Holt moving in temporarily with Rosa and becoming unusually loquacious on the subject of his estranged spouse, Kevin (Marc Evan Jackson).
The Smartest Kids in the World
A documentary based on Amanda Ripley’s non-fiction bestseller explores the discrepancies between America’s struggling education system and top-performing schools in other countries by sending four American teens abroad to see how it’s done. Students from local high schools in Wyoming, Maine, Orlando, and the Bronx relocate to Finland, South Korea, Switzerland and the Netherlands, gaining insights on how U.S. high-school education can and needs to be reformed.
A new season of the Canadian medical mystery drama opens at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which gives Toronto coroner Jenny Cooper (Serinda Swan) another excuse to bury her feelings behind masks in the wake of lover Liam’s (Eric Bruneau) departure. Her first case in the third season involves the apparent murder of a popular care worker who’s found dead in her car. The trail leads to one of several nursing homes where she volunteered, and a memorial during which pot-laced brownies are served. At least she and Det. Donovan “Mac” McAvoy (Roger Cross), who’s got his own health worries, get a chance to kick back and giggle for a minute.
Inside Thursday TV:
- Marlon Wayans: You Know What It Is (streaming on HBO Max): The Wayans brother explores his deepest fears, including parenthood and making bad decisions for his family, in a stand-up comedy special.
- American Horror Stories (streaming on FX on Hulu): Renewed for a second season, the horror anthology wraps its first with a classic premise: a couple daring to spend a night in an infamous haunted house. (Next Wednesday, the original American Horror Story franchise kicks off its new Double Feature season.)
- Sweet Life: Los Angeles (streaming on HBO Max): Insecure’s Issa Rae is an executive producer of a docusoap about young Black friends following their dreams to find success and love in South Los Angeles.
- Ultra City Smiths (streaming on AMC+): Surely one of the most peculiar series of this or any year, the baby-doll noir with musical interludes presents its final chapter. The series begins a linear run on AMC on Sept. 13.
- Five Bedrooms (streaming on Peacock): The Australian dramedy about five singles sharing a house opens its second season with the friends seeking new quarters after losing their first communal home at auction. Plenty of personal crises and challenges await them as they go house-hunting and start a DIY renovation.
- Accused: Guilty or Innocent? (10/9c, A&E): The channel’s true-crime wave continues with a second season of the series that follows the journey through defense planning, trial and verdict for eight defendants who say they’re not guilty—or are at least justifiably so—of the charges against them. Wonder if any of them would prefer to be in Judge Wackner’s fictional Good Fight courtroom.