Daily Best Bets

Best-bets for April 10: Carrie & Cudi, “Law” &”Lust”

1) “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Carey Mulligan makes her “SNL” debut as host, with Kid Cudi as music guest. Mulligan has her second Academy Award nomination (this time for “Promising Young Woman,” shown here), a decade after being nominated for “An Education.” And on April 25, she’ll be featured in the final episode of PBS’ “My Grandparents’ War” documentary series. Read more…

Best-bets for April 9: another great Burns bio

1) “American Masters,” 9-11 p.m., PBS. A great week of Burns brothers biographies concludes. For three nights, we had Ken Burns’ “Hemingway”; now here’s a beautifully crafted Ric Burns film: In 2015, Oliver Sacks (shown here), 81, learned he was dying of cancer. He spent 80 hours with Burns, who added other interviews. We see the gentle neurologist (depicted in the movie “Awakenings”) who was also a champion weightlifter, an amphetamine addict and someone who painfully buried his homosexuality. Read more…

Best-bets for April 8: A drama debuts on comedy’s big night

1) “Rebel” debut, 10 p.m., ABC. Erin Brockovich (shown here) was a law-office clerk – a former beauty-pageant winner, with no legal training – when she confronted a utility giant. Using savvy and social skills, she helped get a $333 million settlement. That was back 1993; the “Erin Brockovich” movie arrived seven years later, with Julia Roberts winning an Academy Award. Now Brockovich is one of the producers of this series, with Katey Sagal playing someone a lot like her. Read more…

Best-bets for April 7: Two shows begin; ‘Hemingway” ends

1) “Kung Fu” debut, 8 p.m., CW. This reboots the 1972 series, but borrows only the basic notion: A Chinese-American studies at a monastery in China, then returns home after a teacher is slain. This time, there’s a modern spin: It’s an all-woman monastery; Nicky (shown here in a rendering) returns to San Francisco with stunning skills and a hint of the supernatural. The visuals and fights are spectacular, but “Kung Fu” also has balance: Nicky’s brother, sister and ex-boyfriend are far from her martial-arts world, adding human depth. Read more…

Best-bets for April 6: “Rock” romps, “Soul” is searing

1) “Young Rock,” 8 p.m., NBC. After several misfires, this show comes up with a slick and funny episode. It flashes back to when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (shown here nowadays) was a college football player … and to when action films dominated the box office. Now he has an on-campus mission that rivals the ordeals of Stallone and Schwarzenegger. That’s joined by two sub-plots, one so-so (Johnson’s grandmother returns) and one quite good (in the future, he chooses a pun-afflicted vice-presidential candidate). Read more…

Best-bets for April 5: Burns and basketball’s best

1) “Hemingway” debut, 8-10 p.m., PBS, rerunning at 10; continues through Wednesday. Here is one of the best shows of this season – or any season. Ken Burns (shown here) is at his best when tracing a big and complicated life … and few lives were bigger or more complex that Ernest Hemingway’s. He was brash and macho, yet insecure. He told about (and sometimes exaggerated) great adventures, but he also wrote fiction slowly and carefully, in a no-frills style that created classics. Read more…

Best-bets for April 4: A busy Easter, from “Atlantic” to “Zoey”

1) “Masterpiece: Atlantic Crossing” opener, 9 p.m., PBS. Martha (played by Sofia Helin, shown here) had a life of royal comfort: Her uncles were the kings of Sweden (her homeland), Denmark and Norway; her husband (also her first cousin) was Norway’s future king. They had three children and she charmed Franklin Roosevelt during a visit. Then World War II changed everything. This eight-week film (sometimes in Norwegian, with sub-titles) turns soapy in its mid-section, but starts and ends strongly. Read more…

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…

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…