Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Devon Terrell (Photo: Linda Kallerus/Netflix)

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, December 16, and Saturday, December 17. All times are Eastern.

Top picks

Barry (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): Devon Terrell answers the call to play the young, idealistic, college-age Barack “Barry” Obama, as he navigates the racial tensions (and romantic tensions) of his junior year at NYC’s Columbia University. Predating this summer’s Before Sunrise-esque, 1989-set Southside With You (and Michelle), this younger Obama is processing the daily challenge of being a mixed-race person in America (and dating his white college girlfriend, played by The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy), all in preparation for a life of public service we are all pining for pretty hard right about now.


The 85th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade (CW, 8 p.m., Friday): This warm-weather parade features Grand Marshal Olivia Newton-John with special guests Erik Estrada, Laura McKenzie, Dean Cain, Montel Williams, and Santa, of course. Not sure if Estrada will have the opportunity to tell us all how movies are made.

Running For His Life: The Lawrence Phillips Story (Showtime, 9 p.m., Friday): This sports documentary about the infamously troubled, late former NFL star once again raises the question of how much entertainment value you can wring from a woman-beating jerk’s wasted life.

The Great British Baking Show: Christmas Masterclass (PBS, 8 p.m., Saturday): It’s truly the end for fans of this enduringly refreshing cooking extravaganza, as the four endearingly quippy, snippy hosts are splitting up for two different, hopefully equally delightful rival cooking shows next season. But at least we’ll get one last sweet, not soggy-bottomed treat, as Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry whip up some holiday delicacies to soothe our pain.

Cram-jammed full of holiday cheer (Photo: PBS)

Premieres and finales

Call Me Francis (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): This autobiographical miniseries stars Rodrigo De La Serna as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the unassuming Argentinian priest who rose to become the first South American pontiff, Pope Francis (a.k.a., the cool pope). Sure, he’s still a pope, so he’s not super-cool with women being priests or having control of their own bodies, or gay people being, well, gay people. But, hey, he thinks rich people shouldn’t greedily exploit the poor or the environment, and that those right-wing fake news stories on your Facebook page are a sin, so that’s, indeed, relatively cool.


The Man In The High Castle (Amazon, 3:01 a.m., Friday): The second season of this adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s dystopian novel about a fascist takeover of America begins, just in time for jokes most people in this reality are too fucking exhausted and unnerved to make. Although if anyone’s got the gumption, it’s returning reviewer Scott Von Doviak.

Justice League Action (Cartoon Network, 6 p.m., Friday): Quick, before Zack Snyder makes you forget that DC’s premiere superhero team has a sense of joy and adventure, check out this new animated series. It features the big guns, but a scan down the membership list reveals the presence of colorful B- and C-listers like Booster Gold, Mr. Terrific, Zatanna, Plastic Man, and more. We all know the C-list is where the cool heroes live.


Last Man Standing (ABC, 8 p.m., Friday): This series concludes its sixth season, presumably with Tim Allen bellowing, “Men and women are different!” for 22 straight minutes.

MacGyver (CBS, 8 p.m., Friday): The first season finale of this reboot is called “Scissors.” MacGyver may make use of a pair of scissors at some point.


Dr. Ken (ABC, 8:30 p.m., Friday): Ken Jeong ends his second season as the head of this talent-stacked sitcom, a medical practice, and a wisecracking family well used to his shenanigans.

Hawaii Five-O (CBS, 9 p.m., Friday): This remake has been on for seven seasons at this point. So, congrats, we guess, cast and crew. Keep wearing that sunscreen.


Z Nation (Syfy, 9 p.m., Friday): After caving in to the essential truth that a zombie show doesn’t have to be a dour slog through the soul-deadening depravity of the human soul, The A.V. Club finally let Alex McCown-Levy cover this third season of Z Nation. As the season of cuckoo-banana-pants zombie action comes to a close tonight, we salute this decision.

The Exorcist (Fox, 9 p.m., Friday): Another A.V. Clubber wraps up a gig tonight, as Dan Caffrey reviews the first season finale of yet another show based on a movie that should not have worked as well as it did. Sure, it might not be as successful as Fargo or Hannibal, but, as Dan says, it’s a lot better than it has any right to be. Tonight, that pesky Pazuzu is just possessing people all over the place, as you do, while the titular holy type tries to convince him that that power of Christ compels him. It’s a whole exorcism thing.


Regular coverage

Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m., Saturday)

Streaming pick

Sealab 2021 (Hulu): Before Adam Reed and Matt Thompson did Archer (phrasing!), they took a ludicrously static 1970s animated adventure series about wet-suited dullards saving the ocean and retooled it into this bizarre conceptual comedy concoction. An amazing, improvisational voice cast (including, yes, Erik Estrada) turn the experiment into a brain-melting mix of digression, violence, and continuity-defying base explosions. And remember—Pod 6 is full of jerks.


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