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The Magicians return (sans Quentin) and so do Grace And Frankie

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Top: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin; bottom: Olivia Taylor Dudley
Top: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin; bottom: Olivia Taylor Dudley
Photo: Saeed Adyani (Netflix), Eric Milner (SYFY)

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Wednesday, January 15. All times are Eastern. 

Top pick

Grace And Frankie (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., complete sixth season): Like The Golden Girls before it, Grace And Frankie has found success through a simple mantra; that life goes on. Yes, yes, excellent performances and incisive writing have also done their part in keeping this Netflix comedy as sharp as ever. But series creators Marta Kaufmann and Howard J. Morris remain committed to showing just how messy, wondrous and full life can be no matter what your age is. Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) have endured heartbreak, launched a successful business (“Vybrant: THIS is your mother’s/grandmother’s vibrator”), lost and recovered their home, all while continuing to provide guidance to their children and ex-husbands. In season six, the roommates and besties have their friendship tested once again, as well as find new love and new ways to antagonize each other. There are big shifts on the horizon for everyone, from a health crisis to a job opportunity to the discovery of a family member. Along with Fonda and Tomlin, the cast is aces once again; Sam Waterston, who’s making the most of this new, not-focused-on-justice stage of his career, regularly steals scenes as the beyond avuncular Sol Bergstein. There’s no better way to clear the hump day than to binge these new episodes. [Danette Chavez]


The Magicians (Syfy, 10 p.m., fifth-season premiere): Here’s a quick excerpt from Lisa Weidenfeld’s thoughtful pre-air review. Heads up: it discusses major plot details from the end of its fourth season:

“Any show heading into its fifth season may feel the need to take some big risks to find new stories to tell, and it’s safe to say The Magicians took a pretty massive one at the end of the fourth season by killing off its main character. The new season finds its remaining core characters unusually out of imminent danger, but the show returns suffused with grief, as all of them struggle to figure out what their lives mean in the aftermath of Quentin’s death.

What makes the entire situation more complicated is that the show gave Quentin (Jason Ralph) a hero’s exit: He died saving the world. Which means that his death weighs even more heavily on the survivors. What can they possibly do now to make his sacrifice worth it? What meaning can their lives have to earn what he did for them?”


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Regular coverage

Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m.)
Vikings (History, 10 p.m.)

Wild cards

The Circle (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., first-season finale): “Circle, write a message: ‘It’s time to find out what the final Circle influencers will do and see who wins it all, hashtag OMG hashtag the suspense is killing us hashtag drama. The real question is if we will ever meet the production assistants who do all the work making it seem like The Circle is an actual social network and not just some big TVs the contestants talk to, hashtag fast typing hashtag voice-activated, my ass.

Bring on the messy weirdness.’ Now add a kissy face emoji and a pizza emoji. And send.”