Mike Hughes

Best-bets for July 27: great blues, great gymnasts, good laughs

1) “American Masters,” 9 p.m., PBS. Growing up on a sharecropping farm in Louisiana, Buddy Guy (shown here) had one goal: Go to Chicago to hear Muddy Waters and other blues greats. He got there and was signed by record companies … which tried to change his wailing-guitar style. He was still driving a tow truck in his early 30s. Then Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger and others started emulating him. In this terrific documentary, Guy, 84, visits home and reflects on a style that shaped modern rock guitarists. Read more…

Best-bets for July 26: aliens and gymnasts

1) “Roswell, New Mexico” season-opener, 8 p.m., CW, rerunning Thursday. Sure, this might seem like a silly, sci-fi soap opera. We follow pretty people (three of them descended from outer-space aliens) and a couple others resurrected from the dead. But this is from Amblin, the Steven Spielberg company that made “Resident Alien” a gem; it’s well-cast and sharply filmed. Tonight, the three sorta-siblings eye an eerie lookalike. And in Los Angeles, Liz (shown here), a brilliant scientist, nears a breakthrough and a crisis. Read more…

Best-bets for July 25: Biles is back; Olympics soar

1) Olympics, NBC. Women’s gymnastics is back, with Simone Biles (shown here) and other favorites. The team event will be shown early evening (7-9:30 p.m.), then concludes Tuesday. In the afternoon (12:15-6 p.m.), NBC plans to show swimming, surfing and diving, plus a men’s basketball game with the U.S. and France and the finals for men’s street skateboarding. Later at night (9:30-11:30 p.m.), it has swimming and skateboarding. There’s much more on cable and on the Peacock streaming service. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for July 26: Lotsa Olympics, lotsa alternatives

1) Olympics. For two more weeks, the Olympics dominate on NBC, cable, Peacock and online (www.nbcolympics.com). American audiences are especially big on swimming (shown here), which continues through Sunday, and gymnastics, which keeps going: The team finals are today (men) and Tuesday (women); the individual all-around titles are Wednesday (men) and Thursday (women). Then, on Sunday, individuals start competing per-specialty. Also, the track-and-field events finally start Friday. Read more…

Best-bets for July 24: the splendor of Eden and Olympics

1) “Eden: Untamed Planet” debut, 8-9:30 p.m., BBC America. There are still Eden-like places, where nature thrives. This series will visit one a week, starting with Borneo (shown here)… which is merely a semi-Eden; agriculture has left orangutans short of land and potential mates. Still, there are amazing creatures here, from 30-foot pythons to hawks that snag up to 10 bats in a night. And this may be your only chance to hear Helena Bonham-Carter say “the excrement falls like rain” … which the footage amply illustrates. Read more…

It’s a golden Schmiga-Lasso time

Television has already had a Golden Age of Drama – twice; and a Golden Age of Comedy – twice. And now? Maybe we’ll call this the Golden Week of Apple TV+.
That streaming service – often outspent and outshouted by Netflix and Disney and more – has two simultaneous successes. On Friday (July 23):
– “Ted Lasso” starts its second season, awash in nominations. It leads the Emmys with 20, including best comedy; it leads the Television Critics Association with five, including program of the year.
– “Schmigadoon” starts its second week. A giddy swirl of music, dance and comedy, it manages to celebrate musical-theater traditions at the same time that it mocks them. Read more…

Best-bets for July 23: Olympics start, “Lasso” returns

1) Olympics opening ceremony, NBC. If you want to be one of the first to see this, you’ll need some effort: NBC plans to show it live, from 6:55 to 11 a.m. ET. Or you can catch it in the usual way – slightly edited, but seeming live – from 7:30 p.m. to midnight ET. Either way, you’ll see lots of flash (the 2016 ceremony is shown here), with no in-person spectators, but plenty of athletes. There are more than 11,000 of them from 206 countries – ranging from 600-plus Americans to one each from Nairu, Tuvalu, Aruba and South Sudan. Read more…

Bugs and LeBron? 10 plus 10 equals 2 or 3

By the end of the “Space Jam” sequel, most of the Warner Brothers empire has been pushed into duty.
Yes, Bugs Bunny and his Looney Tunes friends (shown here) are the stars, but you’ll also glimpse Yogi Bear and his Hanna-Barbera pals. There are brief glimpses of Wonder Woman and Superman and King Kong, of classics both old (“Casablanca”) and new (“Game of Thrones”).
All of this reminds us that sometimes more is less, that sometimes 10 plus 10 plus 10 equals 2 or 3.
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” – now on HBO Max and in theaters – does have its moments. I laughed out loud at one bit, a reference to Michael Jordan, who starred in the original, 1996 “Space Jam.” But then it pours on more moments … and more … and more. Read more…

Best-bets for July 22: “Good Girls” fades, “Grown-ish” pivots

1) “Grown-ish,” 8 p.m, Freeform. Here’s a sudden turn-around: The season’s first two episodes offered a wild resort party in Mexico; Zoey and Aaron had a first date, got married, got unmarried (it was never legal, they learned) and stayed together. It was slick and fun. Then, we’re told, the pandemic hit and the fall semester went virtual. Now we jump to spring semester … and the show shifts from a bright comedy to a fairly good drama. There are rough times for Zoey (foreground, in a previous episode) and for two of her friends. Read more…

Best-bets for July 21: Nature glows, athletes soar

1) Serengeti documentaries. With 12,000 square miles of protected land in Tanzania, Serengeti (shown here) has been a wonderland for filmmakers. “Serengeti” – with Emmy nominations for its narration and its cinematography – has just rerun on two cable channels; now “Serengeti II” is streaming on Discovery+. And at 8 p.m. today, PBS reruns “The Serengeti Rules,” an Emmy-winner for best nature film. It returns five scientists to the site of their key breakthroughs in the 1960s. Read more…