Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Synchronize your watches to Adventure Time

Jake The Dog and Finn The Human in Adventure Time: Distant Lands – Together Again
Jake The Dog and Finn The Human in Adventure Time: Distant Lands – Together Again
Image: HBO Max

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Thursday, May 20. All times are Eastern. 

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Top picks

Adventure Time: Distant Lands – Together Again (HBO Max, 3:01 a.m., premiere): “Looking back, the first two installments of Distant Lands, HBO Max’s four-part follow-up to Cartoon Network’s animated odyssey Adventure Time, are easy to map onto the show’s existing structure. Released last June, BMO was essentially a 45-minute version of one of the stories from “Five Short Graybles,” following one of the show’s beloved side characters on a far-flung adventure to the farthest reaches of its expansive universe. Obsidian, by contrast, served as a sequel to episodes like “Simon And Marcy,” delving into the backstory of fan favorite Marceline The Vampire Queen, while also giving her a well-earned happy ending. But the most recent special, Together Again—ostensibly designed to reunite fans of the show with protagonists Finn and Jake, missing in action since the series proper ended—is a much trickier and more complicated enterprise. It’s a shell game of sorts, designed to keep its characters, and its viewers, from looking too closely at its actual goals before the trap is ready to be sprung.” Read the rest of William Hughes’ pre-air review. 

Too Close (AMC+, 3:01 a.m., complete limited series): More of a “whydunit” than a whodunit, AMC’s new British import Too Close starts with quite the attention-grabbing scene: Traveling along a road at night in the rain, a woman (Denise Gough) pulls her car up to a raised drawbridge, and, after waiting a moment, deliberately drives right off the edge, plunging into the water below—taking the two children she has buckled into the backseat along with her. From that inciting incident begins a methodical and tension-filled character study, as forensic psychiatrist Emma Robinson (Emily Watson) is assigned to Denise’s case in an effort to find out if the woman now accused of attempted murder of two kids is telling the truth when she says she can’t remember the night in question. So begins a battle of wits, as Emma slowly pulls the complicated story of what led to that event out of Denise, while the accused, in turn, slowly starts to get inside Emma’s head, leading the doctor to see eerie parallels between her life and that of her client. Watson is typically excellent, but the real show here is Gough, an actor largely unknown to American audiences, but who seizes her meaty role with gusto, making Denise a wily, unpredictable force of nature. If the final installment of this three-part series can’t help but feel like a bit of a letdown in its all-too-plausible explanation of the intriguing drama, that doesn’t make the first two episodes any less thrilling in their richly textured mystery. [Alex McLevy]

Special (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., complete second season): We’ll have more on the second season of creator Ryan O’Connell’s acerbic, warm series later this month.

Regular coverage

Wild cards

It is once again time for a wild card lightning round.

Genius Factory (Discovery+, 3:01 a.m., premiere): This doc tells the story of (per a press release) “the largest legal genetic experiment in human history,” a so-called genius sperm bank created by billionaire Robert Graham.

Carmen Christopher: Street Special (Peacock, 3:01 a.m., premiere): The latest pandemic-era stand-up special sees Carmen Christopher wandering the streets with a mask and a big amp, telling jokes to, you know, people walking by.

Psycho Goreman (Shudder, 3:01 a.m.): Small children find deadly and highly melodramatic alien, promptly snag the remote control that governs his free will. Get into it.

Spy City (AMC+, 3:01 a.m., series premiere): “This six-part espionage drama from AMC+ is poised to take viewers back to the Cold War. Spy City stars Dominic Cooper, an English spy sent to Berlin in 1961. His mission is to sift out the traitor who might be part of the U.K. embassy or even among their allies. He’s on a tight deadline, as the construction of the Berlin Wall is about to begin.” Read the rest of Saloni Gajjar’s thoughts in our April TV preview.

Let’s Be Real (Fox, 8:30 p.m., first-season finale): The news puppets are signing off for the year. Read more about the show in our Random Roles with Robert Smigel.

9 Months With Courteney Cox (Facebook Watch, 5 p.m.): This episode is called, “I Want to Get Pregnant Using My Dead Husband’s Sperm,” so if you want to feel some big feelings, this will probably do the trick.

Last Man Standing (Fox, 9 p.m., series finale): Kaitlyn Dever returns to the show for its hour-long series finale. Also, Jay Leno hugs Tim Allen, so.

Alex McLevy is a writer and editor at The A.V. Club, and would kindly appreciate additional videos of robots failing to accomplish basic tasks.

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!