Month: April 2023

Dead women keep probing killers

A young woman will soon probe her own murder … again.
That happened in “School Spirits,” which has just finished its eight-week run on Paramount+. Now it happens again in “The Rising” (shown here), which debuts at May 29 on CW.
Actually, “Rising” was there first. Based on a 2017 Belgian series, it debuted a year ago on British TV; one of its co-stars is Solly McLeod, now starring in PBS’ lusty “Tom Jones” remake. (“School Spirits,” by comparison, is based on an upcoming graphic novel.)
Clara Rugaard, 25, stars in “The Rising” as Neve, who’s unhappy to learn she’s dead. She uses her new, supernatural powers to try to learn who killed her. Read more…

Best-bets for April 26: fun with Carol, “Lies” and more

1) “Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. On Burnett’s 90th birthday, we get a cascade of clips, songs and praise. That’s a fine idea, even if the mix is wrong. There’s way too much praise (repetitious and sort of monotonous) and way too few clips of Burnett and friends in her series (shown here) and specials. Even with the mis-blend, however, this is a delight. It includes music from Katy Perry, Billy Porter, Kristin Chenoweth, Jane Lynch and more. Read more…

Tom Jones is back — younger, sweeter, but still a sexy rascal

Tom Jones is back, still young and frisky and fond of the ladies.
This is the 18th-century rascal (not the rock singer) of movie fame. He still has a vigorous sex life – but it’s not as loose and lusty as people might remember. Did we mention that this is on PBS?
Fresh from Jane Austen’s chaste world, “Masterpiece Theatre” starts “Tom Jones” (shown here) at 9 p.m. Sunday (April 30). Suzanne Simpson, the “Masterpiece” chief, calls it “a big-hearted love story.”
But isn’t this the same story that was a bawdy, box-office hit and Oscar-winner in 1963? Yes, Gwyneth Hughes told the Television Critics Association, but there’s a difference. Read more…

Bet-bets for April 25: Comedies migrate to Tuesdays

1) “How I Met Your Father,” 10 and 10:30 p.m., Freeform. Here’s a small-but-worthy trend: A few shows from streaming networks re-appear on cable, where more people can see tbem. FX did that with “Under the Banner of Heaven” and on Thursday will start Steve Carell’s compelling “The Patient.” Here’s a lighter choice: Hilary Duff(shown here) is looking for love, in a variation of “How I Met Your Mother.” Read more…

A passionate story percolated for decades

Some stories leap quickly from real life to the TV or movie screen.
Then there’s “Free Chol Soo Lee,” the involving documentary that debuts at 10 p.m. Monday on PBS’ “Independent Lens.” It percolated in Julie Ha’s mind for somewhere close to four decades.
That started with Korean-American reporter K.W. Lee, she told the Television Critics Association. “I was 18 years old and he inspired me to want to become a journalist.”
His stories helped spark a retrial. In 1983, after a decade in prison, Chol Soo Lee (shown here, center) was free.
Much later, in 2014, Ha went to the ex-prisoner’s funeral. “K.W, Lee stood up,” she said, “and he was clutching this Buddhist monk’s walking stick that Chol Soo had carved for him out of a tree. And he said, ‘Why is this story underground after all these years?’” Read more…

Week’s top-10 for April 24: Carol, Corden and a lusty “Tom Jones”

1) James Corden farewell, 10 p.m. Thursday and 12:37 a.m., CBS. For nine years, Corden (shown here) has brought a fresh and zestful approach to latenight TV – plus occasional primetime incursions. Now he has his last new late show (with Will Ferrell and Harry Styles as guests), preceded at 10 by “The Last Last Late Late Show With James Corden.” During the evening, we’ll see a final “Carpool Karaoke” and (really) Tom Cruise in a “Lion King” musical number. Read more…

Best-bets for April 22: an Earth Day cascade

1) Earth Day. You can spend the day in nature – or savoring it on TV. There are cable marathons (see next two items) and the streamers are busy. Apple TV+ has the beautifully filmed “Big Beasts,” plus fiction ranging from kiddie idealism in “Jane” (shown here) to the sobering “Extrapolations.” Netflix has “Chimp Empire”; PBS Passport had a rich trove. Disney+ has its epic nature movies, plus “Secrets of the Whales” and the start of “Secrets of the Elephants.” Read more…

Two potent Shakurs share a compelling film

In the quarter-century since his death, Tupac Shakur’s fame has flourished.
He would have appreciated that, filmmaker Allen Hughes said. “He was a myth-builder.”
Now Hughes’ documentary adds a second legend.: “Dear Mama” – starting at 10 p.m. Friday (April 21) on FX, then going to Hulu – is a compelling “dual narrative” of Shakur (shown here) and his mother, Afeni.
“Afeni was unapologetically truthful,” said Jamal Joseph, a producer of the film and her former Black Panther colleague. “She never sugarcoated anything. Aveni was that person who could be cussing you out one minute and in tears the next.” Read more…

Best-bets for April 21: whales, elephants and Tupac

1) “Dear Mama,” 10 and 11:30 p.m., FX. Here are the first pieces of a compelling, five-part biography – a double-bio, actually – that keeps surprising. We meet a sensitive teen, discussing his goals; this is Tupac Shakur, later (shown here) known as a fierce-tongued rapper. We also meet his mother, a Black Panther filled with pride and rage; her son argued with her and loved her, rapping: “And even as a crack fiend, Mama/You always was a black queen, Mama.” Read more…