Best-bets for June 2: Sci-fi, sitcoms, swirling dancers

1) “World of Dance” (shown here in last week’s opener), 10 p.m., NBC. Here is true diversity – in style, in roots, in everything. A Dutch group creates stunning visuals with arms alone, even before the legs begin; a Navajo group offers a swirl of color and motion. One couple has been dancing together for 26 years … another for one year, while the guy works full-time at McDonald’s. It’s a dazzling set of auditions, with a bonus: Unlike other shows, these judges – Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough and Ne-Yo – bring insightful comments. Read more…

Americans agonize over bad cops and bad hair

It was a glimpse of American life, TV-style.
People raged over the death of an unarmed black man in police custody. They chanted, marched, threw rocks and bottles.
Also, Kelly Osborne worried about her hair color. And Rebecca Romijn fretted about her roots. And Lindsay Lohan (shown here), happy with her reddish hair-coloring, wanted to get just the right wave.
Both things were happening simultaneously Friday on our TV sets. Switch back and forth and you might decide that television is pretty strange. Or life is pretty strange. Or, at least, that social critics are correct when they say there are two Americas Read more…

Best-bets for June 1: It’s a gender-flip “Cinderella”

1) “The Baker and the Beauty” finale, 9 and 10 p.m., ABC. Let’s credit this for good intentions. Avoiding the usual TV turf (cops and courts and doctors), the show flipped the Cinderella tale: Daniel – a decent chap working at the family bakery – accidentally met Noa, a pop-culture star. Now they reconnect (shown here) after a falling-out, with Daniel wanting a normal life; his sister hopes her quinceanera can mend their parents’ rift. The second hour has turning points for the parents and for Daniel and Noa. Read more…

CNN’s racial-divide special is delayed

Note: When passions erupt, thoughtful discussions can vanish. The story below was about a contemplative special that CNN scheduled for tonight, May 31. The problem: Protests continued loudly; CNN kept its cameras there, putting the special on hold. Here’s the original story, now in limbo.)
CNN is reacting quickly to racial issues that have now hit close to home.
“I Can’t Breathe: Black Men Living and Dying in America” will be 8-10 p.m. ET Sunday, with Don Lemon hosting. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for June 1: Two finales, lotsa country

1) “CMT Celebrates Our Heroes,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, CMT, rerunning at 10. Country stars were the first to switch to at-home music. When their April awards show was postponed, they filled a CBS special with songs from homes, porches, barns and beyond. Now they offer music plus tributes. The line-up includes Carrie Underwood, Thomas Rhett, Miranda Lambert, Darius Rucker, Kelsea Ballerini, Sam Hunt, Kristen Bell, Lauren Daigle, Brandi Carlisle, Lady Antebellum and (shown here in pre-distancing days) Little Big Town. Read more…

Best-bets for May 31: Quiz shows … and a quiz controversy

1) “Quiz” opener, 10:03 p.m., AMC, rerunning at 12:09 a.m. Back in 1998, British viewers obserssed on “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” Ratings soared … people schemed ways to get on the show … and some went to extremes. This terrific, three-week mini-series starts with the trial of a couple accused of cheating, then flashes back to the start. Brilliantly directed by Stephen Frears (“The Queen”), it mixes humor and humanity, with great work from Matthew Macfayden (shown here celebrating) as a suspect. Read more…

It’s a Connicks/COVID road trip

CBS is preparing another special stuffed with social-distance music.
This one is led by Harry Connick Jr. and his daughter, Georgia (shown here), a filmmaker. “United We Sing: A Grammy Salute to the Unsung Heroes” (8-10 p.m. June 21), a road trip to New Orleans, will include the greats of jazz (Herbie Hancock, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Jon Baptiste, Irma Thomas, Trombone Shorty) and pop.
Connick grew up in New Orleans, where Ellis Marsalis (the father of Wynton and Branford) was one of his music teachers. Marsalis died April 1 at 85, of pneumonia brought on by COVID-19. Read more…

“Quiz” captures a TV obsession

Back in 1998, all of England seemed obsessed with “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?”
Old people watched it; they always seem to like quiz shows. But so, surprisingly, did others.
“I was 18 years when it launched,” writer James Graham, whose delightful “Quiz”(shown here) starts Sunday on AMC, told the Television Critics Association in January.
He first saw it on a Saturday, he said. “I was a hugely geeky child. I should have been out with my friends, but I was at home with my grandparents watching.” Read more…

Best-bets for May 30: Fun with Wiig and Carell

1) “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Over a three-week stretch, “SNL” has been rerunning its social-distance episodes. Here’s the third one, a season finale that’s erratic, but shows improvement. Alec Baldwin opens the show as a bleach-gulping president, Kristen Wiig (shown here in a previous setting) hosts, Boyz II Men (plus Babyface) are music guests and Tina Fey has a terrific bit about the woes of sudden home-schooling. Read more…

Best-bets for May 29: Hedy, haircuts and Hulu

1) “American Masters: Bombshell,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Hedy Lamarr made an instant impression, In Austria (where she grew up comfortably), she posed for nude photos at 16 and did nude scenes in a movie at 18. In Hollywood, Mel Brooks says here, she was “the best-looking movie star ever.” But beyond that was a sharp mind. Lamarr kept labs (shown here) in her movie trailer and at home. She created small inventions and co-created a torpedo-guidance system. This rerun skillfully tells a fascinating story. Read more…