Bashir Salahuddin, center, on a special episode of “Sherman’s Showcase.”Michael Moriatis/IFC
When to watch: Friday at 10 p.m. on AMC, or at 11 p.m. on IFC.
This special installment of “Sherman’s Showcase,” the fast and very funny mockumentary series, is the show’s “Black History Month Spectacular,” so it’s an extra good episode. Bashir Salahuddin, one of the show’s creators, stars as Sherman McDaniels, host of a (fictional) music and variety show, and every episode includes sketches, songs, spoofs and some of the best one-liners you will hear on television. The “Peanuts” parody on this special is particularly great, and it makes me even more excited for the series to return in earnest for its recently announced second season.
The “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi takes things in a more serious and thoughtful direction on this new cooking and identity series, which includes episodes about Native American food sovereignty and about border-town cooking as a lens for examining attitudes about immigration. For Juneteenth, Hulu is making the fourth episode free for nonsubscribers. It’s about the Gullah Geechee community in South Carolina, people whose ancestors were enslaved West Africans and whose food, language and customs are under attack. “The culture happens between the healing and the hurt,” the food writer and historian Michael W. Twitty says to Lakshmi. “That’s where our culture has been made.”
Regina King in a scene from “Watchmen.”Mark Hill/HBO
When to watch: Now, free on the HBO website or On Demand.
Also free to watch this weekend: Damon Lindelof’s sensational reimagining of the “Watchmen” mythology, which aired last fall. Regina King stars as a Tulsa police officer and the superhero Sister Night, and the show uses its alternate American history — Robert Redford has been president since 1993, for example — to re-examine the actual American history of anti-Black racism. There’s a lot happening on every episode of “Watchmen,” and a lot of discourse to go alongside it, but the episodes are free only through Sunday night. Binge hard.
Your weekend double feature: D.A. Pennebaker
Bob Dylan in the D.A. Pennebaker documentary “Dont Look Back.”D.A. Pennebaker/Morrison Hotel Gallery
‘Original Cast Album: Company’ and ‘Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back’
The Stephen Sondheim musical “Company” had an unexpected pop-culture resurgence last year. First, IFC’s niche mockumentary series “Documentary Now!” staged an episode-long parody of D.A. Pennebaker’s 1970 doc “Original Cast Album: Company,” which was the undisputed highlight of its third season. Then, Noah Baumbach ended “Marriage Story” with back-to-back numbers from the musical, “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” and “Being Alive.” Many Sondheim fans and converts might have scrambled to watch the Pennebaker film, but it was not available digitally.
Until now. This week, the Criterion Channel added “Original Cast Album: Company” to the service, and included a commentary track and a Zoom conversation with John Mulaney and the rest of the “Documentary Now!” team that put the episode together. Pennebaker intended the hourlong doc as the pilot for a TV series on Broadway cast recordings that never came to fruition, but what resulted is a stand-alone treasure. Over an exhausting 14-hour studio session, Sondheim chain smokes in a black turtleneck, the cast struggles to stay awake and Elaine Stritch powers through multiple takes of “The Ladies Who Lunch.”
Three years earlier, Pennebaker refined his fly-on-the-wall style in “Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back,” which is on Criterion Channel and HBO Max, as well as the usual rental services. The film opens with a music video of sorts for “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” with Dylan rifling through cue cards and Allen Ginsberg chatting casually in the background. But mostly, Pennebaker’s camera surreptitiously drifts around hotel rooms and concert halls, catching great performances, some awkward scenes with Joan Baez and a memorably frisky exchange with a stuffy reporter as Dylan powers through his 1965 tour of England. — Scott Tobias
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