Worth Watching: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Is ‘Mr. Corman,’ Lin-Manuel Miranda Is ‘Vivo,’ Up Close and Personal with Luke Bryan and Val Kilmer, Summer Olympics
If it’s Friday, it must be a busy streaming day. Give an Apple to Mr. Corman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s return to TV as star-writer-director. Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda gives voice to a musical honey bear in Netflix’s animated Vivo. Country music’s Luke Bryan and movie star Val Kilmer get personal in new documentaries. As the Summer Games enter the final weekend, highlights include the gold-medal basketball match between USA and France.
Returning to TV in his first starring role since coming of age on 3rd Rock from the Sun, the appealing Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also creator, writer and director for this passion project. The dramedy’s flawed hero is a 5th-grade teacher in L.A. who’s still learning to cope with disappointment in his personal life and professional musical ambitions, trying to keep anxiety and panic at bay—not easy as a pandemic rears its head. (See the full review.)
Lin-Manuel Miranda brings his infectious musical style back to animation (where he earned an Oscar nomination for Moana) for the colorful story of a loyal kinkajou—aka a rainforest “honey bear”—who embarks on a wild journey to deliver a message in the form of a song from his beloved owner (Buena Vista Social Club’s Juan de Marcos) to the one who got away, now a famous singer (Gloria Estefan). Vivo enlists an irrepressible tween, Gabi (Ynairaly Simo), to join him on the ride, which includes a detour through the Everglades. (The Walking Dead’s Michael Rooker voices a scary python.)
The country superstar and American Idol judge opens up about grief, failure and hope along the road to success in a revealing five-part docuseries. Home videos and other personal footage will give fans new insight into one of their idols.
Top Gun icon Val Kilmer is in front of and behind the home-movie video camera in a one-of-a-kind self-produced filmed autobiography that might help dispel his reputation as one of Hollywood’s more difficult, or at least inscrutable, personalities. Sifting through thousands of hours of 16mm footage, Kilmer exposes the ups and downs of an artist’s life while also opening up about his battle with throat cancer.
As the games head into the final stretch, NBC’s prime-time show stays up late for a live East Coast presentation of the highly anticipated men’s basketball final between USA and France (10:30 pm/9:30c). Other highlights include live coverage earlier of the women’s marathon along with more track & field finals. USA Network goes live with coverage of the women’s soccer final between Sweden and Canada, and the women’s volleyball semifinal, starting at 10/9c. Olympic Channel presents wrestling finals live starting at 10/9c, and Golf Channel goes live with the women’s third round at 6:30/5:30c. To wade through the algebra of what’s happening when, and where and how to watch, go to nbcolympics.com/schedule.
Also on Apple’s increasingly cluttered plate:
- The season finale of Physical, Rose Byrne’s dark comedy about an aerobics queen in the 1980s, just renewed for a second season.
- Two show-stopping performances from Tony winners bring down the house on the next-to-last episode of the musical spoof Schmigadoon! when Kristen Chenoweth channels “Trouble” from The Music Man, warning against “tribulation” as the town scold, and an elegantly absurd Jane Krakowski drops by as “The Countess” (a takeoff on The Sound of Music’s Baroness), brilliantly sending up Cole Porter—while driving.
- In the third episode of fan and critical favorite Ted Lasso, the coach (Jason Sudeikis) takes a bold new approach to get the team to accept the return of their humbled prodigal son, Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster).
Inside Friday TV:
- Cesar Milian: Better Human Better Dog (9/8c, National Geographic Channel): In back-to-back episodes, the dog behaviorist helps a family of first responders tame their large beasts, including an aggressive pit bull, then restores order to a military veteran whose German shepherd mix, who was there for him during his PTSD, has developed an unhealthy bond with his human.
- Real Time with Bill Maher (10/9c, HBO): Joining the host for a satellite interview is two-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Donna De Verona, founding member of Women’s Sports Policy Working Group. She’ll likely have an interesting perspective on recent events at the Tokyo Olympics.
- Making the Cut (streaming on Amazon Prime Video): The fashion competition’s second season wraps with the final two episodes, in which the three remaining designers create a concept store to represent their brand and present a business plan to the president of Amazon Fashion. Who will pass muster with judges Heidi Klum, Winnie Harlow and Jeremy Scott to get the $1 million prize?
- Hit & Run (streaming on Netflix): A nine-part action thriller stars Lior Raz as a grieving widower who travels from Tel Aviv to the U.S. for answers in the mysterious hit-and-run death of his wife-who, true to genre convention, may not be exactly who he thought she was.
- The Swarm (streaming on Netflix): More terror with an international flavor in a French thriller about a single mother breeding locusts as a high-protein crop, until she discovers the pesky insects have a thing for blood.
- For kids, Hulu streams a fourth season of the animated Madagascar: A Little Wild, while Disney+ presents the season finale of the live-action fantasy The Mysterious Benedict Society.