Whats on TV Friday: Top Boy and Undone

 nytimes.com  09/13/2019 05:02:12   Gabe Cohn

A British crime drama is revived on Netflix. And a surreal new series hits Amazon.

ImageShone Romulus, left, and Ashley Walters in “Top Boy.”
Shone Romulus, left, and Ashley Walters in “Top Boy.”CreditCreditChris Harris/Netflix
Gabe Cohn

TOP BOY Stream on Netflix. Over two seasons released toward the beginning of the decade, Top Boy established itself as a very English, very gritty example of modern crime drama. Set in the Hackney borough of London, the show counted among its ensemble a pair of rapper-actors (Kane Robinson, who performs as Kano, and Ashley Walters). They played Sully and Dushane, two drug dealers whose rise over the course of the two seasons led to rivalry. Their stories halted after the shows network, Channel 4, canceled it. Five years later, it has been revived by Netflix  thanks in large part to the involvement of Drake, a fan of the show and an executive producer of its third season. The story resumes with Dushane (Walters) returning from exile in Jamaica to go into business with Sully (Robinson), who gets released from prison after a long sentence. Much of the drama centers on their conflict with Jamie (Micheal Ward), a young gang leader who has little interest in allowing the relative old-timers to resume business.

ImageA scene from “Undone.”
A scene from “Undone.”CreditAmazon Studios

UNDONE Stream on Amazon. The process of bringing this difficult-to-categorize, animated series to life involved rotoscoping, a technique in which artists trace over film footage. We started playing with conceptions of reality and asking what it would mean if reality were more flexible than we traditionally perceive it to be, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, one of the seriess creators, recently told The New York Times. (Bob-Waksberg is also the creator of Bojack Horseman.) The surreal imagery they produced fits naturally with this shows plot: It tells the story of Alma (Rosa Salazar), a 28-year-old whose ho-hum day-to-day routine is interrupted by a car accident that leaves her with the ability to communicate with her dead father (Bob Odenkirk) and alters her relationship with time. Its reality and its not reality, a grounded, naturalistic story that now and then slips its tether like a helium balloon and drifts into a half-dream state, James Poniewozik wrote in his review for The Times. It is magnificent art, he added, a world opulently realized from its oil-painted backgrounds to its sound design.

Raul Julia in “American Masters: Raul Julia — The World’s a Stage.”CreditFamily Collection

AMERICAN MASTERS: RAUL JULIA  THE WORLDS A STAGE 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). By the time of his death in 1994, the actor Raul Julia had become famous both for performing on and Off Broadway and for his later film roles, which included the role of Gomez in The Addams Family (1994). This documentary revisits his life and career through archival footage and interviews with figures including his fellow Addams Family star Anjelica Huston, the Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis and James Earl Jones, whom Julia once starred opposite in a production of King Lear in Central Park.

ROOM 104 11 p.m. on HBO. The brothers Jay and Mark Duplass are behind this chameleonic anthology series, which kicks off its third season on Friday. Sometimes horrifying, sometimes funny, the shows stories take place in many different time periods, and all revolve around a single room at an American motel. The third season involves an exotic animal and the reunion of a pair of estranged siblings.

Gabe Cohn writes about television, fine art, film and other topics related to culture and the arts. He joined The Times in 2017.

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