Saturday TV: Space Flight, Take Two

SpaceLaunchWeather willing, there will be a countdown and launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, 3 p.m.). The Demo-2 test flight was to have launched Wednesday but was delayed due to lightning near the Kennedy Space Center. It was rescheduled for today, when there ought to be an even bigger audience (on TV only; it’s not open for a public launch viewing). Even the ,broadcast networks will probably run it, since they have no live sports to show anyway. The actual launch, the first for a U.S. spacecraft in nearly nine years, since the final flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2011,  is scheduled for about 3:22 p.m. And if it has to be postponed again, they’ll try once more Sunday at 3 p.m..

“Lucy in the Sky” (HBO, 8 p.m.), the Noah Hawley sci-fi film with Natalie Portman, Zadie Beetz and Jon Hamm,  makes its premium cable debut.

The 30th anniversary of the Lifetime Original Movie is marked with a handful of oldies starting with the 1984 “Death of a Cheerleader” (Lifetime, 11 a.m.) and followed by “No One Would Tell” (Lifetime, 12:30 p.m.), “Stolen By My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story” (Lifetime, 2 p.m.), “Flowers in the Attic” (4 p.m.) and “The Secret Lives of Cheerleaders” (6 p.m.).  It culminates in a new film, “The Captive Nanny” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.), staring Karynn Moore who gets a job with an odd family.

A new season starts for the married Nebraska veterinarians of “Heartland Docs, DVM” (Nat Geo Wild, 8 p.m.), who seek a canine blood donor.

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Friday TV: Steve Carell’s ‘Space Force’

space_force_steve_carell-208d8d2Steve Carell’s latest comedy, devised with Greg Daniels, has him leading the newly-formed U.S. “Space Force” (Netflix, streaming) with a strong comic cast that includes John Malkovich, Lisa Kudrow, Ben Schwartz, Jimmy O. Yang, Jessica St. Clair, Chris Gethard, Roy Wood Jr. and the late Fred Willard. They throw a lot of resources at this and the cast alone nearly pulls it off. Your reaction to it may depend on your reaction to the phrase “boots on the moon.”

What would “Bob’s Burgers” look like with streaming resources, songs and its own stellar voice cast? “Central Park” (Apple TV+, streaming) is narrated by Josh Gad, who sings and helps create the story of a family that lives on the park, defending it from a heiress who wants to buy it for real estate. Leslie Odom Jr., Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell and Tituss Burgess lend voices. And the songs are pretty good.

No one could have foreseen the pandemic that not only caused the carnage and economic collapse but required the odd prime time programming of something called “Haircut Night in America” (CBS, 8 p.m.) in which top stylists try to coach celebrities to do it themselves, among them Kelly Osbourne, Lindsey Vonn and P.K. Subban.

“All on the Line” (Discovery, 9 p.m.) follows an 18-year-old fishing boat captain going after bluefin tuna in the Atlantic.

A disappearance of a 7-year-old boy in Portland, Ore., is the subject of “Little Boy Lost: An ID Mystery” (Investigation Discovery, 9 p.m.).

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Thursday TV: Questlove Hosts Potluck

questloveThe Roots drummer, late night TV presence and music journalist Ahmir Khalib Thompson, better known as Questlove, invites some friends like Tiffany Haddish, Zooey Deschanel, George Lopez, Hannibal Buress and Olivia Wilde over for dinner, virtually, on the special “Questlovle’s Potluck” (Food, 10 p.m.). It’s a benefit for the pandemic relief group America’s Food Fund.

There’s another approach on “Untold Stories of Hip Hip: Quarantine Edition” (WEtv, 10 p.m.) in which host Angie Martinez and guests that include Fat Joe, Ja Rule and Nelly, rematch old episode and provide updates. It follows a new episode of “Growing Up Hip Hop” (WEtv, 9 p.m.).

Hip hop trio Migos and former attorney general Eric Holder are on “Shelter in Place with Shane Smith” (Vice TV, 10:30 p.m.).

Competitors on “Top Chef” (Bravo, 10 p.m.) have their final L.A. challenge before the finale in Italy

Suitors on “Labor of Love” (Fox, 9 p.m.) are made to go camping.

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HBO Max Launches With Scant Originals

LoveLifeReady for a new streaming service with a monthly fee?

HBO Max is here, bringing with it the entire catalog of HBO shows, but also the wealth of AT&T and Warner Bros. products from “Friends” to “Big Bang Theory” to “Wonder Woman” “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Matrix” and “Batman.”

There seems fewer original new programming that usually comes with these kind of launches. So far the new originals announced could generally be classified as Not Good Enough for Real HBO. A much-ballyhooed “Friends” reunion that was to have accompanied the launch was delayed due to the pandemic.

But the best of the originals on hand today, the rom-com “Love Life” (HBO Max, streaming) stars Anna Kendrick as a woman who looks back at all of her relationships, one per episode, but also comes with the built-in bummer of their having to break up each time.

From there, “The Not Too Late Show with Elmo” (HBO Max, streaming) a talk show starring the “Sesame Street” star in a suit behind a desk, is designed to attract the small fry with human stars (Jimmy Fallon and Kacey Musgraves in the first one) and a comic sensibility out of the old “Muppets Show.” A 15 minute length is about right.

“Looney Tunes” (HBO Max, streaming) brings new work starring Bugs Bunny and company using an exaggerated, slightly jazzier modern animated style. The only other things for youth is “Craftopia” (HBO Max, streaming, a kids’ crafting competition hosted by a YouTube personality.

The Russell Simmons documentary “On the Record” (HBO Max, streaming) was picked up after having been dropped by Apple + TV; and there’s a vogue-ballroom competition a la “Pose” called “Legendary” (HBO, Max, streaming) who are judged by Law Roach, Jameela Jamil, Leiomy Maldonado and Megan Thee Stallion.

Mostly there’s a ton of catalog,10,000 hours of it not only from HBO, but TNT, TBS, TCM, Cartoon Network and Studio Ghibli. Its $14.99 monthly fee is nothing to sneeze at. And whether you can even sign up, through your own cable company, is complicated. So far, it’s not even on Roku or Fire TV.

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Also Wednesday: Netflix Take on Epstein

EpsteinThe new four-part documentary series “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich” (Netflix, streaming) covers the disgraced financier found dead in his cell, using accounts of some of his victims. Director Lisa Bryant began her project before Epstein’s arrest last July.

The  SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch (ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, 4:20 p.m.), the first one in a decade, occurs in Florida with a rocket provided by Elon Musk’s Space X. Discovery begins coverage at 2 p.m.; the liftoff is actually scheduled at 4:33. Musk is also a guest on “Jay Leno’s Garage” (CNBC, 10 p.m.).

The latest over-the-top physical competition on network TV, “Game On!” (CBS, 8 p.m.) is hosted by Keegan-Michael Key and features sports stars doing unusual activities, such as Rob Gronkowski, Venus Williams. It won’t look so different than the recently premiered “Ultimate Tag” (Fox, 9 p.m.).

A new season starts for “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (ABC, 10 p.m.) in a new time slot. It begins back in time, in 1930s New York.

A second season starts for the series about Don Cornelius’ “Soul Train” show, “American Soul” (BET, 10 p.m.), picking up the action in 1975.

Guillermo meets his predecessor on a new “What We Do in the Shadows” (FX, 10 p.m.).

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Tuesday TV: ‘The Genetic Detective’ Begins

GeneticDetectiveThe new true crime series “The Genetic Detective” (ABC, 10 p.m.) follows the work of CeCe Moore, who uses DNA to help solve cold case murders. The first is a couple found dead in Seattle in 1987.

Her last comedy special, “Nanette,” made her a star. Now she’s back with the follow-up “Hannah Gadsby: Douglas” (Netflix, streaming) named after one of her dogs.

Sofia Vergara joins the judges panel for the 15th season start of “America’s Got Talent” (NBC, 8 p.m.). And why not? She can’t be worse than Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel.

It’s accompanied by the third season of “World of Dance” (NBC, 10 p.m.) with producer Jennifer Lopez, Ne-Yo and Derek Hough as judges.

Part two of “Grant” (History, 9 p.m.) is consumed by the general’s battles with Robert E. Lee in the Civil War. Sunday’s part one is rerun at 7.

Tomorrow’s space launch is preceded by a special about preparations for the event, “NASA & Space X: Journey to the Future” (Discovery, Science, 9 p.m.)

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” (CW, 9 p.m.) are trapped on different TV shows.

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Monday TV: Re-Examining U.S. Grant

grant-miniseries-2048x1152-primaryfix-16x9-1The History channel gets back to its original mission with the three-part “Grant” (History, 9 p.m.), telling the comipicated story of the Civil War general turned President. Historians and ex-generals from biographer Ron Chernow to retired Gen. David Petraeus help tell the tale, fleshed out by actors, with Justin Salinger playing the general. The first part ends in the bloody battle of Shiloh.

The new limited series “Barkskins” (National Geographic, 9 p.m.) concerns the intersection of French settlers, the Iroquois Nation and the Hudson Bay Company in the 17th Century North America. Based on the Annie Proulx novel of the same name, the eight-part series has a lot of interesting characters and a cast that includes David Thewlis, Marcia Gay Harden. The first two episodes run tonight.

The Safdie brothers’ “Uncut Gems” (Netflix, streaming) with Adam Sandler as a gambling jeweler, makes its streaming service debut.

Climate change and tourism is changing the cultural heritage of Easter Island, as reflected in the documentary “Eating Up Easter” making its debut on “Independent Lens” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings).

There are two timely new series about our current malady, “Covid: Our Lockdown in Shanghai” (Smithsonian, 9 p.m.) and “America’s Hidden Stories: Pandemic 1918” (Smithsonian, 10 p.m.).

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Sunday TV: More Sports Documentaries

Lance-Armstrong39s-3930-for-3039-documentary-what-to-know-aboutSports documentaries are big recently (in the absence of actual sports), so ESPN follows its epic and popular Michael Jordan series with a two part look at cyclist Lance Armstrong. The four hour “30 for 30: Lance” (ESPN, 9 p.m.) concludes next Sunday.

Elsewhere, the documentary “Tiger Slam” (Golf, 8 p.m.) examines Tiger Woods’ run from 2000 to 2001.

There won’t be anything the same about the National Memorial Day Concert (PBS, 8 p.m.), which is usually presented before a crowd on the West Lawn of the Capitol. But this time it’s virtual performances from various locations and pre-taped pieces. Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise return to host the event that will include performances by Renee Fleming, Trace Adkins, CeCe Winans, Kelli O’Hara, Cynthia Erivo and the National Symphony Orchestra. Plus appearances from Colin Powell, Mary McCormack and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It took some preposterous turns, including the sudden appearance of producer Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a taxidermist, but “Run” (HBO, 10:30 p.m.) ends its run tonight as the train pulls into Los Angeles.

Pressure builds on “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” (Showtime, 10 p.m.), with police riots and the rise of Nazis.

“I Know This Much is True” (HBO, 9 p.m.) flashes back to earlier times for the twins. Here’s a story I wrote about the series for the Connecticut Post.

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Saturday TV: Memorial Day Marathon

SergeantYorkThe three-day, 31 film Memorial Day Marathon begins on Turner Classic Movies with “Drums Along the Mohawk” (6 a.m.), “Captain Caution” (8 am.), “Glory” (9:30 a.m.), “Sergeant York” (11:45 a.m.), “D-Day the Sixth of June” (2 p.m.), “The Steel Helmet” (4 p.m.), “The Green Berets” (5:30 p.m.), “Casablanca” (8 p.m.), “Waterloo Bridge” (10 p.m.), “Cornered” (midnight), “Uncertain Glory” (2 a.m.) and “Edge of Darkness” (3:45 a.m.).

Financial issues resulting from the pandemic are discussed on “Fear Not with Iyanla Vanzant” (OWN, 9 p.m.).It’s followed by “Girlfriends Check-In” (OWN, 10 p.m.).

Most of the proms this season were killed by the pandemic, but here’s “Killer Prom” (Lifetime Movie Network, 8 p.m.), a new made-for-TV thriller where a girl’s mother dies and is replaced by a strange cousin. Yvonne Zima and Mark Lutz star.

Miss the Michael Jordan documentary series everyone is talking about? “The Last Dance” (ABC, 8 and 9 p.m.) runs again on broadcast TV starting with episode one and two.

A rerun of “Labor of Love” (Fox, 9 p.m.), which didn’t do well in its premiere Thursday, gets a replay tonight, preceded by an episode of another recent dating reality series, “Flirty Dancing” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

The animated 2016 “The Secret Life of Pets” (NBC< 8 p.m.) gets a network showcase, and with it, the voice of Louis C.K., who plays the terrier.

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Friday TV: The Real Jane Roe Confesses

AKA JANE ROE (Airs Friday, May 22) -- Pictured: Norma McCorvey. CR: FXThe first documentary from FX is a consequential one: “AKA Jane Roe” (FX, 9 p.m.) is British filmmaker Nick Sweeney recording the final months of Norma McCorvey, who agreed to be the plaintiff in “Roe vs. Wade” though she never had an abortion, who campaigned for the choice for a time before she became born again Christian and fought against it. In her final days, the feisty woman with a hard life admits that she only made the turnabout for the money. Just as surprising is the clergyman who admits now that they went too far in trying to exploit her.

A second season of “Homecoming” (Amazon, streaming) doesn’t star Julia Roberts (except as executive producer) but instead focuses on a soldier played by Janelle Monae, who seems to have drug-induced amnesia as the mysterious season begins. Again, Sam Esmail creates a sleekness to the half-hour episodes about a shadowy corporate experiment.

The best response of the current pandemic in a single episode may be the special “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet — Quarantine” (Apple TV+, streaming) that takes the characters of Rob McElhenny’s workplace comedy into the current time, when their connection is necessarily virtual. Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani star in a romance that’s part mystery in the film “The Lovebirds” (Netflix, streaming).

In the British film “Military Wives” (Hulu, streaming) a group of women whose husbands are fighting in Afghanistan decide to become a singing group. Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan star in the film from Peter Cattaneo (“The Full Monty”).

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