Year: 2020

Best-bets for Oct. 29: A night of protests and pandemic

1) “City So Real,” 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET, National Geographic. Here is an epic documentary, tackling an entire city (Chicago), with all its passion and quirks. It starts on July 4, 2018, a half-year before the mayoral primary. Some 21 candidates announce, 17 file petitions, 14 make the ballot. But it also involves the flavor of the city, from bars to barbershops. “Real” originally ended with the election, but Geographic added a fifth part – showing the new mayor encased in protest (shown here) and pandemic. Read more…

Amid the inferno: animal-rescue heroics

Adrina Selles was getting used to this: Fires (shown here) raged through the Australian bush country, endangering her animal-rehab center.
“We were threatened on four different occasions, from four different directions,” Selles – featured in a “Nature” film at 8 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 28) on PBS – recalled. “We had to evacuate each time.”
Then came the big one – a massive, New Year’s Eve blaze that would consume 46 million acres.
“We thought we were going to lose the whole property,” she told the Television Critics Association. She couldn’t protect the 15 joeys (young kangaroos) in her care. “We just had to open the gates and (hope they would) find shelter.” Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 28: Comedies, cons and koalas

1) “American Housewife,” 8:30 p.m., ABC. As the season gradually emerges, here’s a boost: Now ABC has all of its Wednesday comedies in place. They range from “Goldbergs” at 8 to “Black-ish” at 9:30; now “Housewife” arrives a week later than the others. It starts with what was supposed to be last season’s finale: Kate scrambles to make sure Taylor (Meg Donnelly, shown here) graduates from high school. Also, her husband finishes his ghostwriting project and their younger-daughter agrees to try sleep-away summer camp. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 27: Strong drama, top documentaries

1) “This Is Us” season-opener, 9-11 p.m., NBC. The best drama on broadcast TV is back – and sooner than originally announced. That has to be a good sign for viewers who want a dab of normalcy. When they last saw, Kevin was furious at Randall (Sterling K. Brown, shown here) for convincing their mother to leave town for an experimental Alzheimer’s treatment; he even blurted that he wishes his parents had never adopted Randall. Now we jump forward a few months, the the 40th birthday for both men and their sister Kate. Read more…

Yes, books — real, physical ones — are still an artform

Yes, this is an era of Twitter and Tik Tok and tiny treatises. Thoughts are expressed in 280 characters.
But there’s a flip side to that. “The physical book is alive and well, thank you very much,” Mark Dimunation says in “The Book Makers” (shownhere), which airs Tuesday (Oct. 27) on PBS World and then is at pbs.org.
He should know; he works at the Library of Congress (as head of the rare books division), a place that has 38 million books. There are plenty more coming, as the film finds at the CODEX Book Fair. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 26: Latino heroes, frantic soulmates

1) “Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event,” 9 p.m., CBS. While waiting for its shows to return, CBS is making good use of open spots on its schedule. Two shows – this Latino hour and Thursday’s “Every Vote Counts” –mix music and celebrities. Tonight, Gloria Estefan (shown here in an earlier photo) hosts (with Eva Longoria and Ricky Martin) and sings. Also performing are Pitbull, Juanes, Luis Fonsi and Kelsea Ballerini Read more…

“Undoing”: Lies, murder and a secretive Hugh

As a director, Susanne Bier has been busy muddying the images of stately Englishmen.
First, she cast Hugh Laurie as a cruel arms dealer in “The Night Manager.” Now she has Hugh Grant as a husband clinging to secrets – possibly murder – in “The Undoing,” at 9 p.m. Sundays on HBO.
“I just go for Hughs,” she joked. Such casting can be calculated … or whimsy. There’s “an element of intuitive sense,” she told the Television Critics Association in January. “There is a certain matchmaking fun about it.”
One match was already in place: Nicole Kidman (shown here with Grant) would star and David E. Kelley would produce and write the scripts, adapting a novel. That combination worked for “Big Little Lies,” which drew eight Emmys (including best mini-series and best actress, for Kidman) and eight more nominations. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Oct. 26: “This Is Us” leads trio of openers

1) “This Is Us” season-opener, 9-11 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. Here’s a sign that TV is nudging back to normal: The best broadcast-network drama returns – sooner than first announced and with back-to-back episodes. Birthdays are big here – shared by Kevin, Kate and their adopted brother Randall. Now it’s their 40th, amid gloom. Their mom left to try an experimental Alzheimer’s treatment; as last season ended (shown here), Kevin blamed Randall for her decision and blurted out that he wishes his parents never adopted him. It could be tense. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 25: Old ‘Scream,” new dramas

1) “Scream” (1996), 9-11:30 p.m., CBS. We’re starting the final week (at last) before Halloween, with horror films everywhere. CBS has one of the best (airing a tad later than first planned). It began with a clever script from Kevin Williamson (“Dawson’s Creek”); then Wes Craven directed it beautifully, using a talented, young cast. Drew Barrymore has a great prologue; then the main body of the film stars Neve Campbell (shown here), Courteney Cox, Skeet Ulrich, David Arquette, Rose McGowan and more. Read more…