Daily Best Bets

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…

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…

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…

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…

Best-bets for July 20: Flash ends season; Suns might, too

1) Basketball, 9 p.m ET., ABC. At first, the NBA finals seemed in danger of ending prematurely. The Phoenix Suns (shown here) won the first two games; a four-game sweep would have robbed ABC of some high-ratings games … and robbed viewers of much-needed summer fun. But the Milwaukee Bucks won the next three. If they win tonight, they’re champions; if the Suns win, there’s a final game Thursday. Read more…

Best-bets for July 19: love, rage and murder

1) “The Bachelorette,” 8-10 p.m. , ABC. It’s almost time for the final four guys and home-town visits, but two still haven’t had one-on-one dates with Katie Thurston (shown here), 30. Brendan Scanzano, 26. is a firefighter trainee; Mike Planeta, 31, is a gym owner. The others: Blake Moynes, 30, wildlife manager; Greg Grippo, 27, sales rep; Justin Glaze, 26, investment salesman; Michael Allio, 36, business owner; and Andrew Spencer, 26, who has spent three pro-football seasons as a defensive back in Austria. Read more…

Best-bets for July 18: Dark gems on “Monday,” “Masterpiece”

1) “Black Monday,” 10 p.m., Showtime. The humor grows as the cast shrinks, one murder at a time. Now it’s Blair (shown hee, cente) who thinks his heiress wife will kill him … a move that many others would approve. There are great scenes here – a wayward surprise party, a reflection on “pansexual” – that can jump from big laughs to drama in an instant. This dark gem follows a surprisingly sweet “The Chi,” at 9: Kevin, Papa and Emmett try to retrieve romances they once had; Kiesha ponders a new one. Read more…

Best-bets for July 17: Lotsa sports, plus some laughs

1) Basketball,” 9 p.m. ET, ABC, with previews at 8 and 8:30. Yes, a winter sport has sprawled into the second half of summer. Hockey has finished its season, but for basketball this is the fifth game of a best-of-seven series, with Milwaukee (shown here with Giannis Antetokounmpo) and Phoenix. The other games, if needed, will be Tuesday and Thursday … on the eve of the Olympics opening ceremony. Read more…

Best-bets for July 16: The sounds and images of music

1) “Icon: Music Through the Lens” opener, 9 p.m., PBS. After a too-long introduction, we get great stories about photographing rock stars. Sure, some have been difficult; Kurt Cobain arrived four hours late, promptly asking for a vomit pale. But others — Beyonce and Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix and more – have shown a natural sense for great visuals. For one session, the photographer had only 30 minutes, a tiny apartment and – in lieu of catering – lollipops; Madonna turned them into sexy props. This is produced by Gered Mankowitz (see separate story), who photographed Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithfull (shown here) and more. Read more…