“Preppy Murder”: An unfair world in 1986 … and now

The “Preppy Murder” documentary tells us a lot about life in the 1980’s … and maybe about life now.
That starts with the fact that the case drew such fevered attention. “Before O.J. Simpson, this was the trial of the century,” tabloid reporter Steve Dunleavy says in “The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park,” a compelling, three-night cable documentary that starts Wednesday (Nov. 13).
And that was partly for the same reason the Simpson case drew such attention: The victim was young, female and attractive; the suspect (shown here) looked more like a hero than a villain.
“If something happened in Central Park to a white person, you paid attention,” said Magee Hickey, who covered the 1986 case for a New York TV station. Read more…

Best-bets for Nov. 13: Country soars; “preppy” tragedy

1) Country Music Association Awards, 8-11 p.m., ABC. A big night for country women has an opener with Carrie Underwood (the host, shown here), Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire (“guest hosts”), Martina McBride, Jennifer Nettles, Sara Evans, Gretchen Wilson, Tanya Tucker and more. Some will return for solos … and yes, there will also be guys: Blake Shelton sings alone and with Garth Brooks; also, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Chris Stapleton and more, including Brooks and Dunn with the Brothers Osborne. Read more…

Great advice: Find friends, ignore naked guys

A talented actress, we’re told, can ignore all distractions.
Still, that’s not easy when there’s a naked-guy table … and a naked-guy lamp … and more.
“We truly did mess a bunch of lines,” said Shay Mitchell, a “Dollface” co-star. “I’d be saying my line (and) a lamp-shade naked man was just walking by. I was like, ‘All right. Where was I?
”That’s part of the quirky approach of “Dollface,” which debuts Friday on Hulu.
Jules (Kat Dennings, shown here) has been casually dumped by her boyfriend of five years, propelling her fantasy scenes. “When Jules is going through a heightened emotion, the magical realism kind of comes in to guide her,” Dennings said. Read more…

Best-bets for Nov. 12: Dolly, Disney and doctors

1) “The Resident,” 8 p.m., Fox. It’s Nurse Appreciation Day at the hospital, a fact that’s met with skepticism. “If they really appreciated us, they’d get us more nurses, not cookies,” someone says. Chasing profits, the hospital keeps adding procedures without adding staff; it’s a flaw that strikes powerfully tonight. An hour that starts with fun and games (shown here) and starkly. “Resident” still flounders when trying a lighter story; a jockey sub-plot here is a prime example. But when it’s serious – as it often is – it works well. Read more…

Best-bets for Nov. 11: Veterans Day has movies. documentaries

1) “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Here’s a Veterans Day view of war-zone people; they’re interpreters, risking scorn and death to help American soldiers. Congress has said they should get hurry-up consideration, if they apply to move here. Bureaucracy, however, doesn’t seem to have a hurry-up mode. We meet a likable chap (shown here), a chain-smoker who goes by the name Philip Morris; he had to wait four years. Another man gave up on waiting and decided to flee, with tragic results. Read more…

Best-bets for Nov. 10: One British show starts; another nears the end

1) “Back to Life” debut, 10 and 10:30 p.m, Showtime. Returning to the seaside village where she grew up, Miri has her doubts. So does everyone else. Convicted of murder as a teen-ager, she was in prison for 18 years; now even her parents are afraid of her. Daisy Haggard (shown here) created this show, stars in it and is one of the producers. In just six half-hours (on three Sundays), she gives us humor, drama and a big finish. The parents’ sub-plot is lame, but the rest of this is a terrific little gem. Read more…

Week’s best-bets for Nov. 11: It’s country’s time

1) Country build-up, Tuesday and Wednesday, ABC. Dolly Parton, Barbara Walters has said, is the perfect interviewee; she has candor, intelligence and great stories to tell. We’ll see that at 10 p.m. Tuesday, when Robin Roberts hosts a Parton documentary. The next morning, Roberts and “Good Morning America” will be in Nashville. That night, at the Country Music Association awards, Parton joins the mega-opener and also does a gospel number; there’s more ahead, including a series (shown here) based on her songs, Nov. 22 on Netflix. Read more…

Best-bets for Nov. 9: “SNL” reruns a gem

1) “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. For Phoebe Waller-Bridge, this is a can’t miss year. She won three Emmys (for writing, producing and starring in “Fleabag”) and was nominated for a fourth (for producing “Killing Eve”). Then she hosted the season’s second “SNL,” which reruns here; it was a big improvement over the first. The “Mid-Day News” sketch was sharp and another – letters between a war-time soldier and his love, with Mikey Day (shown here) and Waller-Bridge – was wonderfully clever. Read more…

“Green Eggs”: A few words hatch a series

There are plenty of great books out there, still waiting to be movies or TV series.
Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” seemed to be a long shot. Jared Stern recalled his first reaction:
“I was like, ‘Uh huh – there’s like 50 words in the book. How do we make it into a movie?’” Stern told the Television Critics Association in August.
Or into something bigger. Now it’s a 13-week series (shown here) that reaches Netflix on Friday (Nov. 8). Read more…

Molly: A vibrant life and a great movie

Jim Ivins insisted that his daughter have a respectable name.
Ivins – an oil executive nicknamed “General Jim” – chose Mary Tyler Ivins. His wife disagreed; so, eventually, did their daughter (shown here).
This was no mere Mary; by 12, she was 6 feet tall and brash. She re-named herself Molly Ivins.
She would become a newspaper columnist, known for both her wit and her venom, and then a “60 Minutes” commentator. She had a great little life (dying of cancer at 62) and is the subject of a great movie. Read more…