Month: May 2022

Best-bets for May 30: dueling biographies — Jula and Teddy

1) “Julia,” 8 p.m., CNN; rerunning at 10. Julia Child (shown here) grew up comfortably, going to prep school and Smith. She did office work during wartime, moved to Paris with her husband … and discovered French cuisine. That changed her life; then she changed cooking, publishing and public TV. Child spent a dozen years co-writing “The French Chef,” sort of invented the book tour and, at 50, created breezy, no-script TV. Here’s a delightful documentary, from the people who profiled Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Read more…

Yes, it’s still pleasant to visit Downton

A visit to Downton Abbey always seems to be pleasant and unassuming.
That doesn’t sound like much … but it’s what we need now. “Downton Abbey: A New Era” (shown here) is not a great movie (or even an exceptionally good one), but it’s still worth catching.
For a couple hours, we’re in splendid settings, re-meeting people who – flaws and all – are good and well-meaning.
The film starts sluggishly, with a dispassionate wedding and then some stiff scenes about an unexpected windfall. “New Era” seems determined to show us everyone – it’s a HUGE cast – while getting us involved with no one. Clearly, something more is needed. We get that, when a movie is filmed in the mansion, at the very end of the silent-film era. Read more…

Here’s a great stretch of documentary profiles

This is something TV does beautifully – long-form profiles of complicated people.
From Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Washington and Lincoln to Ken Burns’ Franklin and Hemingway, films have found the points where history and personality merge. Now comes a confluence:
— Monday (Memorial Day): Goodwin’s “Theodore Roosevelt” begins at 8 p.m. on History. That’s the same night that CNN debuts “Julia,” its Julia Child (shown here) film, at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
— Tuesday: The second half of the Roosevelt film is at 8 p.m., preceded by a 5:30 rerun of the opener.
— Friday (June 3): Most PBS stations air “Joe Papp in Five Acts,” at 9 p.m. Also, on Saturday: CNN reruns “Julia” at 9 p.m. ET. Read more…

Best-bets for May 29: music, memorials, military music

1) “National Memorial Day Concert,” 8 p.m., PBS, rerunning at 9:30. For the first time in three years, this is back to what it does brilliantly – a live event on the Capitol lawn (shown here), on the eve of Memorial Day. Some of Broadway’s greatest voices – Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lea Salonga and Norm Lewis – will be there, plus country star Craig Morgan, old-time/blues master Rhiannon Gibbons and Pia Toscano, once a powerhouse “American Idol” singer. There will also be tributes, including one to the late Colin Powell. Read more…

Summer TV? Here’s an updated round-up

As June arrives, we accept the inevitable: The summer TV season is here.
The real season – the one with lots of scripted shows and few reruns – officially ended May 25, with a few shows departing a day or two later. Now the new phase begins.
The bad news is that two scripted shows – Fox’s “Fantasy Island” and CW’s “Coroner” – were set for summer, then delayed until fall. Fox’s “Lego Masters” was also delayed, except for one “Jurassic World” episode, which airs at 8:30 p.m. June 5
And the good news is everything else. There are a few new, scripted shows – including one, “All Rise”(shown here), that jumped from CBS to cable – and lots of returning ones. And there’s the usual reality cascade. Read more…

Best-bets for May 28: Catch up with “Yellowstone,” “Transplant”

1) “Yellowstone,” 10 a.m. to midnight, Paramount Network. This modern-day cowboy series with Kevin Costner (shown here) has become a ratings hit. You can catch up with it on Paramount+ or on TV. Today starts with the debut episode and ends early in the second season;; Sunday (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.) will reach midway into the third of four season; the fifth doesn’t arrive until November. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for May 30: Now we know it’s summer

1) America’s Got Talent” season-opener, 8-10:01 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. The summer season is taking hold now. We already have fun-and-games nights Monday (Fox), Tuesday (ABC) and Wednesday (Fox); also, NBC has an “American Ninja Warrior” special, with past contestants, from 8-10 p.m. today, a week before the new season. But this is the big show, the summer ratings leader. Now the auditions begin, with Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara as judges; they’re shown here with host Terry Crews. Read more…

Best-bets for May 27: “Blacklist” leaves, “Company” returns

1) “Great Performances,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS. Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” reached Broadway in 1970,drawing raves and six Tonys, including best musical. It was back in 1993 and in 2006 (winning a best-revival Tony); then a gender-flip version (starring Katrina Lenk, shown here) was set for March of 2020. Instead, Broadway shut down. At a preview, 20 months later, Sondheim drew a standing ovation; he died 11 days later, at 91. This film has way too much abstract talk, but also has glimpses of a great show, now up for nine more Tonys. Read more…

“Lincoln Lawyer” lofts lotsa legal loops

A decade ago, “The Lincoln Lawyer” was an OK movie that felt like a pretty good TV episode. Afterward, there was talk of turning it into a TV series, the sort where our hero wins a case each week. Fortunately, David E. Kelley has crafted something better (shown here).
Kelley has already done TV’s best lawyer shows – “L.A. Law,” “The Practice” and more. Lately, he’s spent more time on mini-series, including “Big Little Lies” and “Nine Perfect Strangers.”
Now he’s adapted some Michael Connelly novels into a 10-part”Lincoln Lawyer” mini that arrived recently on Netflix. “The Lincoln Lawyer” could go another season, but doesn’t have to. Read more…

Best-bets for May 26: “Grey’s” ends for now; “Bull” ends forever

1) “Grey’s Anatomy”, 8 and 9 p.m., ABC. This is the one primetime drama that seems to go on forever. Tonight’s second episode is the 400th overall; by comparison, “This Is Us” ended at 106. And Ellen Pompeo (shown here, right) has been at the core throughout, as Meredith. Now she wants to move to Minnesota for a key research job; first, she tries to help in Seattle, where the residency program is in trouble and there’s a blood shortage. Other problems pile up, including possible prison time for Owen. Read more…