What’s on TV Thursday: ‘Fauda’ and ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’

What’s on TV Thursday: ‘Fauda’ and ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’

A surprise international hit offers nuanced thrills. And Martin Freeman brings humanity to Middle-earth in the second film of the “Hobbit” trilogy.

What’s Streaming

FAUDA on Netflix. The first season of this Israeli show made our list of the best international series of 2017. In that season, a former Israeli soldier (played by the series’ co-creator, Lior Raz) came out of retirement when a notorious terrorist (Hisham Suliman) returned after being presumed dead. The second season should offer plenty more than just thrills; the show has delved deeply into the personal lives of its characters, and one of its strengths has been its portrayal of human struggles on all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. David M. Halbfinger, The New York Times’s Jerusalem bureau chief, wrote that the show offers “a chance for Israelis to visit places and engage with subjects that they ordinarily avoid — and then return home safely with the flip of a switch.”

CHEWING GUM on Netflix. If you missed this series from the British writer and actor Michaela Coel — also on our best international series of 2017 list — both seasons are available for streaming (and bingeing). Ms. Coel plays a young woman in London on a quest to lose her virginity.

AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973) on iTunes and Amazon. Ron Howard stars alongside Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfuss and some boisterous hot rods in George Lucas’s sweaty, pre-“Star Wars” coming-of-age film. The movie follows a group of teenagers on their last evening of summer vacation in Modesto, Calif., in 1962 — a decidedly more terrestrial setting than in Mr. Lucas’s later fare. This week, the latest tale from the epic world invented by Mr. Lucas arrives with the release of “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” with Mr. Howard in the director’s seat to delve into the background of the character made famous by Mr. Ford.

What’s on TV

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (2013) 5 p.m. on Syfy. While many fans questioned whether J. R. R. Tolkien’s slim novel warranted Peter Jackson’s three-film adaptation, most were happy to have another excuse to escape into Middle-earth, at the very least to see Ian McKellen in wizard’s robes again. The second film in this “Lord of the Rings” prequel trilogy finds Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) continuing an adventure with dwarfs bent on reclaiming their homeland. “There are, once again, too many busy, uninterestingly staged battles,” Manohla Dargis wrote in her review for The Times. “But there are also pacific, brooding interludes in which the actors — notably Mr. Freeman, an intensely appealing screen presence — remind you that there’s more to Middle-earth than clamor and struggle.”

THE LAST DAYS OF MICHAEL JACKSON 8 p.m. on ABC. When the “king of pop” died in 2009, Brooks Barnes wrote in an obituary in The Times that “it is impossible to calculate the full effect Mr. Jackson had on the world of music.” This special profiles the performer through archival clips and new footage, including an interview with Navi, a Michael Jackson impersonator from Trinidad.

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