FX’s 1980s-set drug drama Snowfall returns for a fifth season. A Louder and Prouder reboot of the animated The Proud Family heads to Disney+. Renowned actors read from abolitionist Frederick Douglass’ speeches in a stirring HBO special. Relationships become increasingly complicated for The Conners’ siblings Darlene and Becky.
The network’s most-watched show of 2021—amazing what a streaming boost on Hulu can do for one’s profile—is back for a fifth season, and while the drug trade in South Central continues to flourish for Franklin Saint (Damson Idris), his family and crew, social forces are pushing back harder than ever. The series resumes in summer 1986, when the high-profile tragedy of basketball star Len Bias’ death makes the crack cocaine epidemic front-page news—and a priority for law enforcement nationwide. In Los Angeles, the militarization of the police leads to the creation of C.R.A.S.H. (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) units, which can’t be good for the Saint family business.
The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder
The animated family comedy, which aired on Disney Channel from 2001 to 2005, returns in an updated fashion, with Penny Proud (Call Me Kat’s Kyla Pratt) now 14, coping with new challenges including social-media bullies and teenage hormones. New friends include Maya and KG, whose family situation with two dads is a first for Smithville. Also new to Disney+: the 2021 hit movie Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds as a mensch who discovers he’s living in a video game. Much comic mayhem ensues. (The movie arrives on HBO Saturday.)
Frederick Douglass: In Five Speeches
The words of 19th-century anti-slavery activist Frederick Douglass continue to resonate today, and they take center stage in a special featuring five leading actors reading from speeches covering a range of history from the pre-Civil War 1840s to the post-war 1890s. Denzel Whitaker (Black Panther) reads from “I Have Come to Tell You Something About Slavery” (1841), in which Douglass first spoke publicly about being raised in slavery. Lovecraft Country’s Jonathan Majors reads from 1847’s “Country, Conscience, and the Anti-Slavery Cause,” Sleepy Hollow’s Nicole Beharie reads from “What, to the Slave, is the Fourth of July?” (1852), 76 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Fear the Walking Dead’s Colman Domingo reads from 1863’s “The Proclamation and a Negro Army,” arguing for Black participation in the war after the Emancipation Proclamation, and Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright reads from 1894’s “Lessons of the Hour,” a plea to eliminate prejudice by adhering to America’s founding principles. These speeches should be required reading—and listening.
The road to independence never runs smoothly for Darlene Conner (Sara Gilbert). Trying once again to move out of her dad’s house into one of her own, she learns that to qualify for the home of her dreams, she’d be better off signing as a couple—so she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Ben (Jay R. Ferguson), to pretend to be together again. (If this was a Hallmark movie, we’d see where this was headed. The Conners isn’t a Hallmark movie—usually.) Darlene’s sister Becky (Lecy Goranson) has her own boyfriend issues, trying to keep her relationship with her professor (Veep’s Matt Walsh) secret, the sort of subterfuge that rarely ends well.
A special 90-minute edition of Nova features the story of Hugh Herr, a rock climber who became an MIT biophysicist after losing both of his legs below the knee to amputation at 17 from frostbite. Herr’s specialty: creating improved prosthetic limbs that use electronics to mimic the body’s muscle and nerve systems. Followed by the documentary short Predicting My MS (10:30/9:30c, check local listings at pbs.org): from filmmaker Jason DaSilva (When I Walk), who studies the science behind multiple sclerosis to examine the circumstances that may have contributed to his own rare condition of the disease.
NOVA where to stream
Inside Wednesday TV:
- The Goldbergs (8/7c, ABC): How awkward. Barry (Troy Gentile) comes face to face with his multiple exes and their boyfriends while attending sister Erica (Hayley Orrantia) and fiancé Geoff’s (Sam Lerner) beach bachelor/bachelorette party.
- Celebrity Big Brother Finale (8/7c, CBS): This is still on? Not after tonight, which makes us all winners.
- Nature (8/7c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): In American Horses, Bill Pullman narrates a picturesque history of the equine breeds that shaped the nation, from mustangs to the mighty appaloosa.
- The Amazing Race (9/8c, CBS): Who will emerge successfully from the ruins of Thessaloniki, Greece, as the teams look for a clue among a landscape littered with ancient stones?
- Resident Alien (9/8c, Syfy): It’s Family Day in Patience, Colorado, which takes on extra meaning for alien-in-disguise Harry (Alan Tudyk) when a new arrival in town delays his and Asta’s (Sara Tomko) plans to head to New York City. Adding to the misery: Town mayor Ben (Levi Fiehler) has written a play about the town’s sad history, and it truly is tragic.
- A Million Little Things (10/9c, ABC): Returning from a nearly three-month hiatus, the sudsy drama sends Gary (James Roday Rodriguez) and Maggie (Allison Miller) on a revealing road trip, while Eddie (David Giuntoli) helps Rome (Romany Malco) in his time of need.
- Chicago PD (10/9c, NBC): The Olympics are over, which means a full night of new Chicago procedurals, culminating in a harrowing adventure for Upton (Tracy Spiridakos), when she risks her life to save passengers in a terrible car crash. After the rescue, the search is on for the person responsible for the carnage.
- Three Months (streaming on Paramount+): Musician-actor Troye Sivan stars in a coming-of-age dramedy as Florida teen Caleb, whose life is on hold for three months while he awaits test results after being exposed to HIV. Co-stars in the impressive cast include Judy Greer and Oscar winners Ellen Burstyn and Louis Gossett, Jr.