Best bets for April 27: “The Son” sprawls across time and Texas

1) “The Son” season-opener, 9 p.m. , AMC, rerunning at 10:05. Sprawling and ambitious, this hour leaps between Texas and Mexico … and between 1852, 1915 and even 1988. A young Eli (with his American Indian captors) leads their raid … An old Eli (Pierce Brosnan, shown here) searched for his son Peter, who rescued a neighbor when Eli attacked her home … And Peter’s daughter is a matriarch. All reflect the slow pace of a western – and the deadly intensity that seems to infect anyone in Eli’s life. Read more…

Best bets for April 26: Dogs have their day

1) “BarkFest,” 8 p.m. ET , NatGeo Wild. Sure, cats rule the Internet. Now, however, dogs get their due. “Puppy Pals” is at 8, followed by an all-canine hour of “Animals Doing Things With Howie Mandel” (shown here, from a previous episode) at 9 and “Tail of the Dog” at 10. They repeat at 11, 12 and 1 ET, with another doggy day starting at noon Saturday. Read more…

Best bets for April 25: “Gotham” ends … Batman begins (?)

1) “Gotham” series finale, 8 p.m. Fox. “This has been a long time coming,” Penguin tells Jim Gordon, as he prepares to kill him. It has, indeed; for five years, bad guys kept coming close to victory … then kept talking until someone intervened. Now all trends continue. As usual, this hour is too gory and too repetitious … with cops incapable of holding prisoners. And as usual, it has stunning, movie-quality sights and sounds. We jump ahead 10 years, with just enough glimpses of Batman to stir our souls. Read more…

Let’s talk new website and old Motown

My website reboot is finally here
.For a decade, I had a site that was designed for someone with my techno-talent (just north of zero). But now, some nice people who have lots of skill – Pamela Weil, Matt Borghi, Ryan Hughes (my son) – have nudged me into the 21st-century.
This new version includes all the things I send to papers – stories, daily best-bets, a weekly top-10. It also adds brief news items and/or random comments, such as these: Read more…

Best bets for April 24: Smollett’s moving farewell

1) “Empire,” 8 p.m, Fox. In a grim year for Jussie Smollett, here’s good news: He’s perfect in his final “Empire” episode. Smollet was fired amid suspicion that he faked a crime report; by then, however, this episode had been filmed, centering on the scheduled wedding of Jamal (Smollett) and Kai. We won’t say if the wedding happens – Jamal’s dad faces a federal probe and his own discomfort about a gay wedding – but we will say this: Smollett, an understated actor, is superb in a deeply moving hour. Read more…

Best bets for April 23: A ’60s flashback begins

1) “1969” debut, 10 p.m., ABC. Last year, TV eyed the 50th anniversary of 1968, the year when heroes were killed and cities were burned. Now ABC starts a six-part look at ’69. It puts a strong focus on the July 20 moon landing, but includes the backdrop of tragedy and transformation – Manson murders, Chappaquiddick, Woodstock (shown here), Vietnam and the Stonewall Inn raid that sparked the drive for gay rights. Read more…

Best bets for April 22: It’s Earth Day

1) Earth Day shows. Shouldn’t there be a gap between holidays? Fresh from all the Easter events, we find that this is Earth Day. Kids get a special “Nature Cat” (shown here) episode, at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on most PBS stations and 6 p.m. on PBS Kids. Adults can try National Geographic’s “The Last Animals” at noon ET and a jungle episode of the splendid “Hostile Planet” at 9 p.m., rerunning at 11. Or they could all go to a movie theater; “Penguins,” a delightful DisneyNature film, is in its first week. Read more…