Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14. All times are Eastern.
The Amazing Race (CBS, 8 p.m., Friday): The venerable reality competition series might not be Shakespeare, but the 28th season finale has all the frenetic fun viewers demand. Dangling off of things! Running frantically toward things, or away from other things! Putting together a puzzle made from, um, wine casks! The whole deal. The Santa Barbara-set finale is titled “The Only First That Matters,” introducing the dispiriting thought that this whole thing is just a competition to see who can yell “First!”, then make a South Park reference.
Michael Ian Black: Noted Expert (Epix, 10 p.m., Friday): Yes, former and future McKinley Michael Ian Black does mention that he fucked Bradley Cooper in a potting shed that time. Of course, anyone who knows Black’s comedy stylings would expect no less. Still, this new standup special also reaffirms what longtime fans of The State, Stella, Wet Hot American Summer, The Jim Gaffigan Show, or any of his various books or comedy albums already know—Black’s smarmy, self-consciously dickish style carries a creamy center of pudding-like insight. Dennis Perkins tasted Black’s special and can confirm… butterscotch. Big, butterscotch laughs.
30 For 30: Believeland (ESPN, 9:30 p.m., Saturday): Oh, Cleveland. Sweet, sweet Cleveland, Ohio—we still believe in you, just as your beleaguered citizens still believe that, one day soon, a sports championship will once again grace your Lake Erie shores. This 30 For 30 documentary, directed by defiantly hopeful Ohio native Andy Billman, chronicles the half-century of futility experienced by the Indians, Cavaliers, and Browns, as the Cleve is the only city with three major sports franchises not to hoist a trophy in the past 50 years. Sure, the Cubs have their legendary curse to cope with, but Chicagoans have been able to dry their eyes on all those commemorative championship Bulls, Bears, White Sox, and Blackhawks jerseys. No such succor for folks in Cleveland. But, hey—those Cavs are looking pretty good! Maybe this really is the year, and… let us all now pray for the Cleve.
Premieres and finales
The Vampire Diaries (CW, 8 p.m., Friday): Look, it’s been a rough season for The Vampire Diaries. Not many people are arguing that, especially not long-suffering reviewer Carrie Raisler, who “B-plus”ed it with faint praise last week, saying the dream world adventure there helped “connect deeply to the core characters on the show and their history with each other, making the dream world more vital that much of the show’s actual reality has been recently.” Well, it’s back to reality for this week’s finale, so here’s hoping the fang gang can somehow pull things together and go out on a high note. You know, so they can go on biting and biting and biting.
Hawaii Five-O (CBS, 10 p.m., Friday): The title of this sixth season finale is “My Desire Is Only For The Chief,” which is only natural. The gorgeous, romantic Hawaiian setting, the constant murders, Scott Caan running around in Tommy Bahama shirts—it was just a matter of time. Congrats, Chief!
The Mother/Daughter Experiment (Lifetime, 11 p.m., Friday): The first season of this tightly controlled sociological experiment in familial relationships comes to an end, as teams of scientists finally present their conclusions as to whether the practice of jamming a bunch of cameras in the faces of their subjects allows pairs of loosely defined ”celebrities” to hug it out. Watch for next year’s Ted talk.
30 Rock, “Cleveland” (Netflix): Since Believeland is a 30 For 30 documentary about the Cleve, this Cleveland-centric episode from that other 30 series makes an inevitable double feature. Especially since, like our Cleveland, the 30 Rock version has had its share of terrible luck. Sure, on 30 Rock, the burg is presented as a refuge for exhausted New Yorker Liz Lemon, a magical, wondrous land of Midwestern wholesomeness, friendly police horses, people who let you cut the hot dog line, and Liz Lemon-sized food portions. There’s even a swinging-smooth Cleveland theme song (sung by Fey and guest star Jason Sudekis). But even the fictional Cleve can’t escape its destiny. Not only were the episode’s Cleveland scenes shot in… New York City!? But you just know they’re never going to get that Ikea. They’ve been burned before.