Year: 2020

Best-bets for May 29: Hedy, haircuts and Hulu

1) “American Masters: Bombshell,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Hedy Lamarr made an instant impression, In Austria (where she grew up comfortably), she posed for nude photos at 16 and did nude scenes in a movie at 18. In Hollywood, Mel Brooks says here, she was “the best-looking movie star ever.” But beyond that was a sharp mind. Lamarr kept labs (shown here) in her movie trailer and at home. She created small inventions and co-created a torpedo-guidance system. This rerun skillfully tells a fascinating story. Read more…

Best-bets for May 28: A night of new (not rerun) dramas

1) “Council of Dads,” 8 p.m., NBC. Amid all TV’s summer silliness, it’s refreshing to see a drama in the “This Is Us” mode. After getting a week off (for “Red Nose Day”), the intense “Blindspot” is at 9 p.m.. with the quieter “Dads” at 8: Christmas is coming and Robin (Sarah Wayne Callies, shown here) worries: She’s a doctor; her late husband was the fun one who brightened the holidays for the kids. Before his death, he asked three friends to be part-time “dads,” but they’re floundering. Now two of his kids face troubles. Read more…

From Bugs and Elmo to Tony Soprano, new streamer goes max

So here people are, emerging from two months of socially responsible tele-viewing.
They’ve spent the pandemic with Netflix or Disney+, with Apple or Acorn or Amazon or whatever. Now they’re ready to do something else, maybe mow the lawn or play with a child or …
Or not. A new streaming service, HBO Max, debuts Wednesday (May 27) at $15 a month. With everyone from Bugs Bunny (shown here) to Tony Soprano, it’s capable of gobbling up many more months of quarantine time. Read more…

Best-bets for May 27: Two starts and a finish

1) “Agents of SHIELD” season-opener, 10 p.m., ABC. In a summer when the superhero movies have been delayed, we need something. The likable “Stargirl” is Tuesdays on CW; now this Marvel show begins its seventh and final season. The team finds itself in 1931 New York City (shown here), with its ship ready to time-jump at any moment. It must figure out what happened, before the past and future face disaster. To lure us in, ABC has Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” (2014), from 8-10 p.m. Read more…

Best-bets for May 26: Noisy reality, serious documentaries

1) “America’s Got Talent” season-opener, 8-10 p.m. NBC. This ratings champion works at a high-octane, high-decibel level. It wants lots of energy from performers, judges and studio audience. So it’s good that the auditions were done early, when crowds were still allowed. Later this summer, “AGT” may follow the “Idol”/”Voice” style of social-distancing; for now, however, here’s the full commotion. Sofia Vergera is the new judge, alongside Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel; Klum and Vergara are shown here, seducing a sow. Read more…

Best-bets for May 25: Movies, mini-series (two new ones), more

1) “Barkskins” debut, 9 and 10:03 p.m. ET, National Geographic; rerunning at 11:03 p.m. and 12:03 a.m. ET. This was supposed to be a big night for Nat Geo, launching “Genius: Aretha.” Alas, that was delayed and this eight-hour tale (shown here) – beautifully crafted, but grim and brutal – was inserted. Author Annie Proulx (“The Shipping News, “Brokeback Mountain”) is descended from French settlers who arrived 15 years after the Mayflower. This tells of indentured servitude, mail-order brides and a scheming land grab. Read more…

Best-bets for May 24: Crowd-less concert still has stars

1) “National Memorial Day Concert,” 8 p.m., PBS, rerunning at 9:30. The Washington event (shown here in a previous year) usually draws a mega-crowd. It was canceled this year, but the TV show, — with passionate tributes and powerhouse music — continues. A few tributes and choral groups will rerun from past years, but there are new performances — taped by small crews — from stars of country (Trace Adkins), classical (Renee Fleming) and Broadway – Tony-winners Cynthia Erivo and Kelli O’Hara and Tony-nominee Christopher Jackson. Read more…

Film finds global sweep of anti-semitism

Standing face-to-face with a racist, Andrew Goldberg found something surprising: He sort of liked him.
“He’s a very likable guy,” Goldberg said. “We had an interesting friendship.”
Goldberg interviewed Russ Walker(shown here) for “Viral: Anti-Semitism in Four Mutations,” the compelling documentary that airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday (May 26) on PBS. Walker proudly displayed a sign reading “What’s wrong with being a racist?” The flip side added: “God is a racist.”
Plenty of people saw the sign, knew Walker’s views … and voted for him anway, when he ran for the North Carolina House in 2018. “He was a 75-year-old guy with no staff,” Goldberg said, but he got 37 percent of the votes, running as a Republican in a strongly Democratic district. Read more…

Here’s a big jump in social-distance TV

The art of social-distance television has advanced quickly.
It’s been like watching evolution at hyper-speed. In just two months, the lowly water slug has transformed into a mighty cheetah.
OK, maybe just into a less-lowly land slug. But it’s been impressive, anyway.
The latest example – and the best so far – is an episode of “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,” arriving today (May 22) on Apple TV+.With some great moments for Charlotte Nicdao (shown here in an earlier episode) and Rob McElhenny (who wrote it), it’s witty, warm (briefly) and ends with a dandy visual stunt. Read more…