Month: March 2021

Best-bets for April 2: Doc wails, comics surge

(Here are the five TV best-bets for Friday, April 2; feel free to use in any form – all or some, print and/or web)

1) “American Masters,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS. When Doc Severinsen was 6, he insisted on learning the trumpet; his dad (a small-town dentist) preferred a violin. Doc (shown here) is still playing and touring, 87 years later. “You can’t say to Picasso, ‘Put the paintbrush down,’” his third wife says, adding that she’s “happy he’s with a trumpet player (Cathy Leach, a music professor) now.” Rippling with great music, this film views his diligence (including gym work-outs), plus pizzazz he molded with Johnny Carson. Read more…

Brooks starring in “Mahalia”? The universe insisted

The world conspired to make sure of two things: Danielle Brooks would play Mahalia Jackson and Kenny Leon would direct her.
Now “Mahalia” debuts at 8 p.m. Saturday on Lifetime, rerunning at 11:03 p.m. and then at 5:30 p.m. the next day, Easter Sunday.
Jackson (shown here) was a gospel star – the first to win a Grammy – and an ally of Martin Luther King. People recall different first impressions: Read more…

Best-bets for April 1: New comedies, new drama, new baseball season

1) “United States of Al” debut, 8:30 p.m., CBS. Chuck Lorre keeps preserving a fading art – comedies shot with multiple cameras, in front of an audience (when COVID allows). This one lacks the large laughs of his “Big Bang Theory” and “Mom,” but has lots of little ones, plus likable characters. Riley, a Marine, had Amalwir (“Al”) as his Afghan translator, friend and sometimes protector. Now Al reaches the U.S.; culture shocks begin for him and for Riley and his dad, sister and estranged wife (all shown here with Al). Read more…

News specials eye Asian-American bias, COVID overview

Two timely specials are airing – or re-airing – this week:
– “Asian Americans Battling Bias: Continuing Crisis” is Wednesday (March 31) on the CBS News network, at, with Elaine Quijano hosting. It’s at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and midnight ET (3, 5 and 9 p.m. PT) and will air on the Smithsonian Channel at 10 p.m. Easter Sunday (April 4).
– CNN will rerun “COVID War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out” with Dr. Sanjay Gupta (shown here, pre-pandemic) from 8-10 p.m. ET (5-7 PT) Friday on CNN. Read more…

Leary’s lives bring chaotic fun

What we learn from Denis Leary’s lives – his real one and his fictional one in the new “Moodys” comedy – is basic:
Marriage and family are works in progress. Occasionally, you get it right.
“Within the course of a marriage, you do have a lot of love and anger and stories and experiences to build on,” Leary told the Television Critics Association, “in dealing with, especially, adult children.”
In “Moodys,” Leary and his wife — played by Elizabeth Perkins (they’re shown here) — have three grown-up children. A mini-series in December of 2019 saw all of them return home for Christmas; now the series (debuting at 9 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday, April 2, on Fox) has them moving back in, at least temporarily. Read more…

Best-bets for March 31: a very good “Good Trouble”

1) “Good Trouble,” 10 p.m., Freeform. The young people in this Los Angeles co-op usually have scattered lives, jobs and relationships. But now a brilliant screenplay blends them together – with subtle bits of drama and romance, plus big bursts of humor. A “new moon” ceremony (soul-cleansing and such) involves six of the residents (four are shown here, in a previous episode) and three invitees. Then someone else arrives … as does a mysterious critter. It all builds to a daft and delightful crescendo. Read more…

Best-bets for March 30: Black issues, past and present

1) “American Experience,” 9-11 p.m., PBS. Isaac Woodard was a Black veteran of World War II, still in uniform and heading home to South Carolina. He argued with a bus driver who didn’t want to make a rest-room stop; at the next stop, police jailed, beat and blinded him. The result had national impact: President Truman promptly desegregated the military and the federal government; a local judge became a pariah in his community as he spoke up for civil rights. It’s a powerful story, but a tough one to watch; for a modern racial view, “Soul of a Nation” (shown here) is the next item. Read more…

Best-bets for March 29: “Piercer” ends season, “Proof” ends tale

1) “Snowpiercer” season-finale, 9 and 10 p.m., TNT, rerunning at 11 and midnight. Wilford is in charge again, living in luxury and planning a carnival (really). Layton (Daveed Diggs, shown here in a previous episode) – formerly a revolutionary hero – is at the bottom, working with sewage. Still, he schemes to rescue Melanie, who left the train to gather vital information at a research station. These two hours are harsh, brutal and, as usual, beautifully crafted. Read more…

“Mayans” duo world — noisy action, subtle passion

It’s a small, quiet scene in a show known for big, noisy ones. And it packs the emotional power we expect from “Mayans M.C.”
On one side of the glass is Alicia, who hasn’t been in jail before; on the other is EZ (shown here, second from right, in a previous episode), who has.
“Anything you try to keep – hope – will just get destroyed” in prison, he tells her. “So kill it first …. Shut it all down.”
Her question: “When I get out, how do I turn it back on?”
That’s a question for Elgin James, who’s been on both sides of the glass. He’s the co-creator and producer of “Mayans,” which airs at 10 p.m. Tuesdays on FX, then goes to Hulu. He’s in charge of a much-praised drama; he’s also spent a year in prison. Read more…

TV helps fill any empty Easters

For the second straight year, television has a bigger Easter role.
Some churches remain closed by COVID; others downsize their events. TV, however, booms ahead. It has old movies — “Ben-Hur” (shown here) and “Ten Commandments” and such — and new ones, including “Mahalia,” on Easter eve. It has music and mini-seres and more.
Here’s a round-up of events between Palm Sunday (March 28) and Easter Sunday (April 4). Not included here are the kids’ shows, with bunnies and eggs and such. Read more…