Worth Watching: Lucy and Desi, Back to Central Park, Marine Veteran Goes ‘Undercover’

If the Oscar-nominated Being the Ricardos whetted your interest, a new Prime Video documentary goes deeper into the story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Apple brings back the charming animated musical Central Park to finish its second season. A former Marine-turned-CEO of UScellular becomes an Undercover Boss. Toni Collette stars in the Netflix thriller Pieces of Us as a mother who’s a lot more than she seems.

Lucy and Desi

Documentary Premiere

Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem are nominated for Oscars as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in Aaron Sorkin’s dramatization of Being the Ricardos, but for those seeking the real deal, a new documentary directed by Amy Poehler, one of today’s leading comic stars, gives new insight into the I Love Lucy star/producers’ life, careers and relationship. Using home movies, clips from their early film work and previously unheard audio recordings, this will be a treat for all who will forever love Lucy.

Central Park

Digging into the back half of this delightful animated comedy’s second season, I discovered that Janelle James, a breakout star of ABC’s Abbott Elementary, is a contributor as story editor and occasional voice on the show. Extra reason to check back into the fun with the first three of eight new episodes. Among the highlights: a bee infestation at the Brandenham Hotel, which gets under the noxious Bitsy’s (Stanley Tucci) beehive; a questionable “period party” at the Tillerman home to mark Molly’s (Emmy Raver-Lampman) coming of age, and Schitts Creek’s Catherine O’Hara guest-voicing as a tassel heiress and animal activist who has bumped Bitsy off of the “50 women over 50 over $50 million” list. How will this affect her scheme to buy and decimate Central Park?

Undercover Boss


After less than a year as head of UScellular, Marine veteran Laurent “LT” Therivel hides behind glasses and a handlebar mustache to secretly work alongside his network engineers, customer service reps and call-center employees. Will they shape up or have to ship out?

Toni Collette as Laura Oliver in Pieces of Her

Pieces of Her

Series Premiere

Toni Collette gave one of her best performances ever on Netflix in the 2019 limited series Unbelievable. I wish the same were true of this sluggish adaptation of Karin Slaughter’s 2018 stand-alone novel. Collette brings an undercurrent of relentless anguish to the role of Laura Oliver, casting a dour pall over a supposed thriller that kicks into gear when Laura goes to surprising extremes to save her 30-year-old daughter Andy (Bella Heathcote) during a random shooting in their sleepy town of Belle Isle, Georgia. The ensuing media attention, and a less random attack, propel Andy on a dangerous quest of discovery when Laura’s (or whoever she is) long-hidden past begins to surface. A sullen Jessica Barden plays Collette’s younger self in flashbacks that dilute what suspense there is in Andy’s increasingly incredible ordeal. (See the full review.)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Two veterans of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s classic Gilmore Girls appear in the next batch of episodes (only one more week to go) of the spirited period comedy. Scott Cohen (the former Max Medina) is wealthy Solomon Melamid, whose hiring of matchmaker Rose Weissman (Marin Hinkle) on behalf of his unwed daughters puts the fledgling yenta on the radar of the imperious Benedetta (the great Kelly Bishop, aka our beloved Emily Gilmore). Also look for one of the last appearances by character actor Ned Eisenberg, who passed away earlier this week, as manager Lou Rabinowitz, who brokers an intriguing offer for Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) and Susie (Alex Borstein).

Elizabeth Holmes



The show revisits the case of Elizabeth Holmes, currently being dramatized on Hulu’s excellent The Dropout (Hulu and co-producer 20th Television are, like ABC, part of Disney), with a report on Holmes’ trial and conviction for fraud after the downfall of her blood-testing company Theranos. 20/20 goes behind the scenes of The Dropout, starring Amanda Seyfried as Holmes, and previews the upcoming trial of Holmes’ business partner and boyfriend, Sunny Balwani. Meanwhile, on Dateline NBC (9/8c, NBC), a less publicized crime—the 2017 murder of Missouri snake breeder Ben Renick—is explored by correspondent Andrea Canning. At first it was thought his missing anaconda was the culprit, but the sordid truth turned out to be much closer to home. (Sounds like the making of a Lifetime movie.)

Also on Apple’s busy Friday slate:

  • The Afterparty: Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish) gets her Poirot on in the season finale of the mystery-comedy as she gathers the wacky suspects to reveal who’s behind the death of Xavier (Dave Franco), thanks to the insights of an unexpected witness. She won’t be resting on her laurels, because Apple just renewed the show for a second season.
  • Severance: “I should tell you to go to hell, except you’re already here,” a defiant Helly (Britt Lower) tells her bosses in the workplace satire, where worlds begin to collide when a contraband book is discovered and Mark (Adam Scott) attends a former co-worker’s funeral. It’s getting pretty intense at Lumon Industries, and that doesn’t even count Irving (John Turturro) making a connection with Bert from Optics (Christopher Walken).
  • Dear …: Season 2 of the series where famous people read intimate letters from their fans features the late André Leon Talley, part of an eclectic lineup that includes Malala Yousafzai, Billy Porter, Jane Fonda, Sandra Oh, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Viola Davis, Ava DuVernay and surfer Laird Hamilton.

Inside Friday TV:

  • The Blacklist (8/7c, NBC): The Task Force seeks intel on the Conglomerate, a shadow organization of government-sponsored assassins, while Red (James Spader) keeps investigating the circumstances of Liz’s death.
  • Magnum P.I. (9/8c, CBS): Magnum (Jay Hernandez) is on a seriously ticking clock to find the missing son of crime boss Osi Shima (Eijiro Ozaki), who has poisoned the P.I. with only eight hours to complete the task and get the antidote or he’ll be D.O.A.
  • Love After Lockup (9/8c, WE tv): Fans apparently can’t get enough of this franchise, because it’s expanding to 90 minutes each week as a new season begins.
  • Blue Bloods (10/9c, CBS): We’ve seen this kind of video on our own local news, and after public outcry over an altercation between a school officer and a student that goes viral, Frank (Tom Selleck) is urged to defund the NYPD School Safety Division.
  • Streaming highlights include Hulu’s Fresh, starring Normal People’s Daisy Edgar-Jones and Pam & Tommy’s Sebastian Stan in what appears to be a romcom until it takes a stomach-churning twist; the Netflix competition series Making Fun, in which skilled makers attempt to bring kids’ ideas for impossible builds to life; and Prime Video’s The Boys Presents: Diabolical, an anthology of animated shorts inspired by the violent hit superhero satire.