Our TV critic recommends the most recent season of “Documentary Now!” and the American version of “The Great British Baking Show.” (It’s actually good!)
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By Margaret Lyons
This weekend I have … a half-hour, and I like spoofs.
When to watch: Now, on Netflix or AMC+.
Season 4 of this brilliant, silly parody series is now on Netflix, and its targets include “My Octopus Teacher,” “The September Issue” and Werner Herzog, as played in a two-parter by Alexander Skarsgard. A giddy glee dwells in “Documentary Now!,” a sense that the show’s creators and audience are sharing in a deep and satisfying dorking out, where stylistic hyper specificity is a special currency. Even hilarious parodies are often shallow, but “Now!” can be startlingly evocative in its ridiculousness, and it is able to cram in the emotional arc of a feature into a short run time. Tragically, this season is only six episodes.
… 90 minutes, and I put music on shuffle.
‘Great Performances: Celebrating 50 Years of Broadway’s Best’
When to watch: Friday at 9 p.m., on PBS. (Check local listings.)
Sutton Foster hosts this special, honoring PBS’s “Great Performances” series with big numbers from the last 50 years of Broadway musicals. In the best possible way, it feels like the talent show on the last night of the most prestigious theater camp ever: Chita Rivera sings “All That Jazz”; André De Shields sings “So You Wanted to See The Wizard”; Donna McKechnie sings “The Music and the Mirror.” If your favorite part of the Tonys is the performances, or if greatest-hits albums are your love language, watch this.
… a few hours, and I love a beautiful crumb.
‘The Great American Baking Show’
When to watch: Now, on the Roku Channel.
“The Great British Baking Show” has fallen on if not hard times then at least bummerish times in recent seasons — less fun, less earnest, more contrived, racist. Thank goodness, then, for this season of “The Great American Baking Show,” which is a happy throwback to the glory days of the series, with well-calibrated challenges and endearing participants who can’t get over the fact that they’re on their favorite show. Technically, this is the American version’s sixth season, but it’s the first on the Roku Channel, the first with both Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith and the first with the hosts Ellie Kemper and Zach Cherry, who do a terrific job.
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