Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, July 29 and Saturday, July 30. All times are Eastern.
Tallulah (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): Ellen Page and Allison Janney star in this indie dramedy making its debut on Netflix. Page is one of those “free spirits” (paging Nathan Rabin) who decides that she’d be a better mother to a neglected infant than the child’s irresponsible mom, and steals the kid. Passing the child off as the result of her relationship with an ex-boyfriend, she shows up on the doorstep of her ex’s mom (Janney), explaining that the baby is Janney’s grandchild. (Conveniently, Janney is estranged from her son, allowing for all manner of misunderstandings before she gets around to giving the guy a call.) Decent reviews all around for this film from writer-director Sian Heder (Orange Is The New Black), and Page and Janney should certainly have teamwork enough to raise a child at this point, having already worked together in both Juno and Touchy Feely.
The Great British Baking Show (PBS, 9 and 10 p.m., Friday): The amateur bakers have to take on Victorian delicacies and patisserie in these back-to-back episodes. Check out Kate Kulzick’s deliciously insightful For Our Consideration for a Paul Hollywood/Mary Berry-esque dissection of just why this cooking competition show should be your Friday night feel-good reservation. Or just tune in if you like looking at cake.
Sharknado and Sharknado 2: The Second One (Syfy, 7 and 9 p.m., Saturday): Syfy’s going all-in with this whole “sharks in unlikely places” thing, having proclaimed the seven days leading up to Sunday’s premiere of (sigh) Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens, “Sharknado Week.” (Sadly, if you’re reading this, you already missed Atomic Shark, Dam Sharks!, Ice Sharks, Planet Of The Sharks, and, yes, Ozark Sharks.) Look, we’re all to blame here, people, what with our hashtags and our postmodern, ironic appreciation of the deliberately terrible. We have reaped the Sharknado, friends.
Stride Gum Presents Heaven Sent (Fox, 8 p.m., Saturday): In this week’s example of “please don’t do this, we can find other ways to entertain ourselves without someone dying” programming, a skydiver and stunt man jumps out of a plane without a parachute. But don’t worry, it’s only from… 25,000 feet?! C’mon, dude—we can watch literally anything else. The 42-year-old husband and father (c’mon, dude) claims that, using only air currents and whatnot, he will not be horrifically killed while advertising some sort of “extreme” chewing gum product, but will instead waft gently to Earth, presumably before unwrapping said chewing gum product with hands not horribly crushed and mangled. So, good luck. Buy a particular brand of gum!
Premieres and finales
Last Chance U (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): Being the reigning national champions of junior college football might seem like a dubious honor. But this six-episode documentary series centered on the East Mississippi Community College Lions is an insightful, often wrenching examination of college athletics in unique miniature. EMCC became top of the college minors by almost exclusively recruiting talented young high school an college players with a lot of baggage, their hopes for Division I or even NFL success riding on this one last chance to show their stuff. Sporty type Dennis Perkins says, in his review, that the series’ examination of sports, academics, money, and race makes this a series fans of Friday Night Lights will appreciate.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (Disney Family, 11:30 a.m., Saturday): Saturday morning cartoons! It’s the sixth season summer premiere of the show that delights little children and Bronies alike. Look for the Trump campaign to be watching the dialogue very carefully, as is their way.
Boston EMS (ABC, 10 p.m., Saturday): Sure, Chicago has a fictional series for essentially every municipal department in the city (coming soon: Chicago DMV). But this Boston series about first responders is all real, all the time. Take that, Chicago—not a Dick Wolf in sight.
The American West (AMC, 10 p.m., Saturday): With lead-in Hell On Wheels wrapping up its Old West journey once and for all last week, its left to this Robert Redford-produced docudrama series to tell us how that whole “taming the West” project really turned out.
Stranger Things (Netflix, noon, Friday)
Steven Universe (Cartoon Network, 7 p.m., Friday)
BoJack Horseman (Netflix, 4 p.m., Saturday)
“The 30% Iron Chef,” Futurama (Netflix): Kate Kulzick’s deep appreciation for the subtle, tasty splendors of The Great British Baking Show has our mouths watering for the time that everyone’s favorite alcoholic, sociopathic robot, Bender, decided he wanted to become a great chef—despite having no taste buds, or working understanding of the nutritional requirements of humans, or even whatever Zoidberg is. Like some GBBS contestants, Bender is tempted by the dark side of cooking—“cilantro, mango salsa, raspberry vinaigrette”—endangering his chances of becoming the 30th century’s equivalent of top baker. Luckily, he’s got a vial of a secret ingredient to put him over the top. For viewers who already know what that ingredient is, it’s hard not to imagine someone slipping the same thing to GBBS judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry—that would be a final judging for the ages.