Best-bets for Oct. 18: a dramatic leap and a departed star

1) “The Big Leap.” 9 p.m., Fox. “Leap” tries to do everything. It has light comedy, dark drama and bits of romance, all while adding zesty dance numbers and satirizing a manipulative reality show. Tonight has two drama twists. One – Mike learns that his new love, Paula, was the executive who eliminated his job – is fairly good; the other is quietly powerful. Gabby finally reveals (and confronts) her son’s biologic father; with subtle perfection, Nicole Recasner (shown here in a previous episode) projects deep pain and rage. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 17: “Succession” (at last) and “Baptiste” return

1) “Succession” season-opener, 9 p.m., HBO. We’re back – at last – to the story of a media mogul and his offspring and minions … each hoping to take over the empire. When the second season ended, his son Kendall (shown here) had publicly said he’s corrupt. The show won seven Emmys (including best drama), then had a long COVID pause. After a two-year absence, it’s back, simultaneously rippling with humor and intense drama. Kendall fidgets, then plans his next move; his siblings and others jockey for position. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Oct. 18: bees, bachelors, “Blacklist”

1) “The Blacklist” season-opener, 8 p.m. Thursday, NBC. As the eighth season ended, Red (James Spader, shown here) told Liz (Megan Boone, who was leaving the show) she shoot him an then read a letter revealing his secrets. Instead, a gunman killed her; Red killed him and fled. Now, on a new night, we jump ahead two years. Red vanished, the task force folded, but a new threat brings them back together. It’s the 175th episode; then again, at 9 p.m., NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” has its 500th. Read more…

Real-life police hero: no guns or quips or lollipops

By now, we’ve seen lots of TV cops.
We’ve met cops with attitudes, cops with quips, cops with guns or lollipops. Now meet Colin Sutton – the real-life Englishman at the core of two “Manhunt” stories (shown here with Martin Clunes as Sutton), the second arriving on www.acorn.tv.
Calm and quiet, Sutton is like no TV cop, with one exception: “There’s a faint element of Columbo,” said Ed Whitmore, the series’ writer and producer. He “invites people to underestimate him.” Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 16: second chance to see “Diana,” “Ghosts,” more

1) “Diana,” 9 p.m. ET, CNN. If you missed the opener last Sunday (a crowded night), here’s a second chance. This starts a six-week documentary that mixes old film, new commentary and the audio tapes Diana (shown here) made for Andrew Morton’s biography. Tonight, we meet near-opposites: As a nanny, her first employer says, Diana was “very tactile,” warm and loving. And Prince Charles? “There was never anything tactile about him,” Diana said. On Sunday, we’ll see the wedding and some ominous signs. Read more…

Two years after a (verbal) bomb dropped, “Succession” is back

HBO fans are used to long waits.
That’s the thing about networks that want quality; they take their time and get it right.
“Game of Thrones” once went 20 months between the end of one season and the start of another. “The Sopranos” had gaps of 16 months one year, 15 the next and 22 months before the final season.
But all of that was without a COVID shutdown. Now “Succession” (shown here) returns at 9 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 17, rerunning at 10 and 11:35 p.m.) … a full two years after the last season ended. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 15: Reality shows offer togetherness

1) “Home Sweet Home” debut, 8 p.m., NBC. Each week, people with opposite lives will trade places. That’s been done before (“Wife Swap,” “30 Days”), but now Ava DuVernay (shown here, working on an upcoming episode) – the “Selma” director and “Queen Sugar” producer – is in charge, awash in good intentions. In the opener, a Greek Orthodox family swaps with a two-mom Black family. Both families are deeply evolved, so similar phrases – “we’re all the same,” etc. – persist. The intentions are sweet, but quite repetitious. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 14: Annaleigh is back; so is “Runway”

1) “B Positive” season-opener, 9:30 p.m., CBS. Lately, the world has been discovering the remarkable Annaleigh Ashford. Already a Tony-winner, she did this year’s Emmy and Tony shows; she sang in the “Wicked” concert, the “Broadway’s Back” special and the vibrant opening of CBS’ fall preview … and has been brilliant as Paula Jones in “Impeachment.” Now she’s back as Gina (shown here), the good (if daft) soul who donated a kidney to a guy she barely knew. Tonight, they adjust to post-surgery life; also, he tries a new romance and she learns about a friend’s death. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 13: blissful “Conners,” bitter “Dopesick”

1) “Dopesick” debut, any time, Hulu. On the national level, this epidemic is massive. Each year, studies say, two million people misused opioids; in a 20-year stretch, almost a half-million died of ovedoses. Danny Strong (“Game Change,” “Recount”) has written a brilliant eight-parter that does it all. We see the big picture, as Purdue Pharma mis-represents OxyContin. We also see moving stories about composite characters, with great work from Michael Keaton, Kaitlyn Dever and Rosario Dawson (shown here), as an earnest doctor, a pain-plagued miner and an investigator. Read more…

Mini-series tells the maxi-agony of opioid epidemic

There are some stories that seem too big even for Hollywood.
One is the opioid epidemic that overwhelmed the judicial and medical systems. Now Hulu, the streaming network, debuts “Dopesick” on Wednesday (Oct. 13).
The real-life story was “a shocker to me,” said Michael Keaton (shown here), who stars. “The ease with which it became epidemic kind of knocked me out.” Read more…