Tuesday TV: More Late Night Commentary

throwingShadeOn the new “Throwing Shade” (TV Land, 10:30 p.m.) Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi move from College Humor website to cable, talking about the days issues and throwing in some filmed sketches they made.

“It’s based on our podcast that we started in 2011 where we talk about feminist issues and issues affecting LGBT, politics, pop culture, the latest updates on the ‘Splash’ remake,” Safi told reporters at the TV Critics Association winter press tour last week.

“Is he going to wear a wig? Is he going to wear a coconut bra? Nobody knows,” Gibson pipes in.

It’s the first late night comedy from TV Land, which is in the throes of changing its image from nostalgic sitcoms to more modern fare, such as the comedy “Teachers” (TV Land, 10 p.m.), returning for a second season.

One hardly needs to turn on “Frontline” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) to realize that the country is divided. The two part “Divided States of America” begins by looking at how things started falling part early in the Obama presidency, leading to Republican vows of gridlock. Part two is Wednesday.

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How Trent Reznor Met Ken Burns

Ken Burns, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Lynn NovickIt seemed an odd contrast: The sexagenarian Beatle bob of Ken Burns vs. the darker, calculated spikes of the rock star.

But where the documentarian is pegged with using (or overusing) old timey fiddle music on his epics like “The Civil War” or “National Parks,” Trent Reznor is slashing and burning in Nine Inch Nails.

It’s Reznor’s instrumental soundtrack work with collaborator and now Nine Inch Nails member Atticus Ross on “The Social Network,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “Gone Girl” that got the ear of Burns and his collaborator Lynn Novick that they would also be perfect to score their upcoming 18-hour public television documentary on Vietnam.

“The soundtrack they delivered us permitted us to have both the discomfiting anxiety of feeling what this world was about but, underneath it, a kind of melodic and emotional core,” Burns told critics at the TV Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena last week. “I’m an emotional archaeologist, and they were able to deliver both the reality of the Vietnam War to us, but also the underlying sense of possibility and hope.”

I asked Reznor what his touchstones were for the project, and whether it included things like Jimi Hendrix- Band of Gypsys “Machine Gun.”

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Monday TV: The End of ‘Regular Show’

RegularShowSay goodbye to Mordecai the blue jay and Rigby the raccoon as “Regular Show” (Cartoon Network, 6 p.m.) gets an hour-long episode, “A Regular Show Epic Final Battle” that will end the show’s run after eight seasons.

Martha MacCallum jumps the gun with her new show “The First 100 Days” (Fox News, 7 p.m.), taking the old Tucker Carlson time slot.

The new “Summer House” (Bravo, 10 p.m.) looks at nine privileged New Yorkers vacationing in Montauk, Long Island.

“The Story of God with Morgan Freeman” (National Geographic, 9 p.m.) begins a second season,.

“Timeless” (NBC, 10 p.m.) returns and goes immediately to see Houdini and the Chicago World’s Fair.

The surprise about this week’s “Big Fan” (ABC, 10 p.m.) is that Kim Kardashian has any fans in the first place. She’s followed by Kristen Bell.

Friday, he’ll be President; today, he’s executive producer of “Celebrity Apprentice” (NBC, 8 p.m.), where the competition concerns marketing Kawasaki motorcycles.

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Little Hope for ‘The Young Pope’

YoungPopeOne of HBO’s most confounding new series — more than “The Leftovers,” more than “Westworld” — begins tonight with “The Young Pope” (HBO, 9 p.m.).

Already a target on internet memes, the Italian series stars Jude Law as an arrogant new American pope who angers the college of cardinals and acts weird, but not weirdly on a more expected, premium cable, “Borgias” kind of way. He doesn’t appear to be a sex fiend kind of guy.

He’s just kind of smug, power hungry and empty in a way that will remind most, in this epochal week, of a similar figure who ended up in high office on a fluke (or foreign interference).

Director Paolo Sorrentino has created some beautiful tableaux, with expensive Vatican-like sets and sumptuous costumes. But pangs of weirdness keep coming in, such as Diane Keaton, as the new pope’s spiritual mentor.

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Also on Sunday: ‘Homeland,’ Back Home

HomelandOne of the most durable TV dramas this century has been “Homeland” (Showtime, 9 p.m.), which returns for its sixth season set back in the United States, where Claire Danes’ Carrie working to aid American Muslims in New York and aiding the still recovering Quinn (Rupert Friend). Meanwhile the agency is worried what a new female president will do to their agencies, and terrorists plot as usual.

It would seem, so soon after the release of the sumptuous “The Crown” (Netflix, streaming), about the life of Queen Elizabeth, to begin a similar dramatic series about an earlier queen. But “Victoria” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) is better than expected with Jenna Coleman playing the teenager who suddenly gets the title.Fresh-faced Jenna Coleman plays the queen.

After 28 seasons, “The Simpsons” (Fox, 8 p.m.) is only just now presenting its first hour-long episode, in which Mr. Burns tries to start his own Trump University. Guest voices include Snoop Dogg, RZA, Common, Keegan-Michael Key and Taraji P. Henson.

The classic band’s foray last year into South and Central America that ended with their first show in Cuba is chronicled in “The Rolling Stones Ole! Ole! A Trip Across Latin America” (Starz, 9 p.m.).

In NFL’s divisional showdowns, it’s Green Bay at Dallas (Fox, 4:30 p.m.) in the NFC and Pittsburgh at Kansas City (NBC, 8:20 p.m.) in the AFC, moved from earlier in the day due to weather forecasts.

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Saturday TV: ‘Star Wars’ Women Get Funny

CarrieSNL“Star Wars” women can be funny, tonight’s set of “Saturday Night Live” (10 and 11:30 p.m.) mean to show.

The new late night show features not only a serious backlog of political humor to deliver, but Felicity Jones, who plays Jyn Erso in the current “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” in her first time as host. Sturgill Simpson is musical guest.

Earlier, the first “Star Wars” starlet, Carrie Fisher, can be seen in her first hosting gig on a 1978 “SNL” at 10 p.m. — a show so old that the Blues Brothers are musical guest and Gilda Radner does an Annette Funicello impersonation. So many of those who appear are no longer with us.

Divisional playoffs begin in football, with Seattle at Atlanta (Fox, 4:30 p.m.) in the NFC and Houston at New England (CBS, 8 p.m.) in the AFC.

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Friday TV: Sneaky Pete, Lemony Snicket

sneaky-pete-Some days, you might think all the interesting television is streaming.

Today might be one of those days, with two big premieres online.

The new “Sneaky Pete” (Amazon, streaming) stars Giovanni Ribisi as a con man freshly sprung from prison who takes the identity of his former cellmate is hunted by a gangster he robbed. The drama, from Bryan Cranston, Michael Dinner and Graham Yost, also features Cranston as well as  Marin Ireland, Margo Martindale and Peter Gerety.

The “Lemony Snicket” books are adapted for TV in “A Series of Unfortunate Events” (Netflix, streaming) that stars Neil Patrick Harris as the malevolent Count Olaf, on the warpath against the children for whom he is supposed to be a guardian. Patrick Warburton narrates the high budget affair.

Ann Patchett’s novel “Bel Canto” is turned into a opera by Jimmy Lopez and Nilo Cruz and presented on “Great Performances” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) by the Lyric Opera of Chicago starring Australian-Aerican soprano Danielle de Niese.

Lester Holt interviews President Obama on “20/20” (ABC, 10 p.m.).

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Thursday TV: Celebrating the New Museum

GEN. COLIN POWELL, TUSKEGEE AIRMENThe big Kennedy Center concert that marked the opening of the National Museum of African-American Culture and History finally gets a broadcast with “Taking the Stage: African American Music and Stories That Changed America” (ABC, 9 p.m.) with performances from Stevie Wonder, Dave Chappelle, Quincy Jones, Will Smith, Savion Glover, Jesse Williams, Angela Bassett, among others. And Colin Powell, above, presenting the surviving Tuskegee Airmen.

What was an Australian cooking competition using non-celebrity contestants has been turned into a D-list fest in “My Kitchen Rules” (Fox, 9 p.m.) in which celebrity pairings — Lance Bass and his mom and Brandy and her brother Ray J — compete with dinner party fare and try to advance. It’s no “Top Chef” (Bravo, 9 p.m.), or even “Hell’s Kitchen” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

This sounds a little derivative as well: “Caraoke Showdown” (Spike, 10:30 p.m.) which sounds like a hybrid of Carpool Karaoke and “Cash Cab,” in which strangers are asked to sing in a car. Craig Robinson is the driver and host.

In her latest stab at her own reality show “Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian” (E!, 8 p.m.), she gets people in shape so they can get back on people.

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When David Lynch Met TV Press Tour

DavidLynchTwinPeaksWhat are we to expect of “Twin Peaks”?

The bizarre and exasperating series that shook up the zeitgeist more than a half century ago is suddenly back with an 18 hour return, on Showtime. It picks up in real time 25 years later with many of the same characters.

There have been few hints at what’s coming — such as a long list of cast members. But the idea that the entire thing will be directed by auteur and noted weirdo David Lynch, 70, who created it with Mark Frost, is raising anticipation from nostalgic older fans and younger fans who have discovered the iconic series on streaming services.

Showtime chief David Nevins calls it “the pure heroin version David Lynch.”

Still, the network had typically nothing to reveal in a panel to promote the show, which starts May 21. Even at a panel at the TV Critics Association winter press tour with original cast members Kyle MacLachlan, Madchen Amick and Kimmy Robertson and Robert Forster — as well as addition Laura Dern — they could really say nothing.

But there was also a surprise when they trotted out Lynch himself to take questions — take questions but not necessarily give answers. In the spirit of the series, I  guess.

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Jim Carrey Recalls Stand Up Days

Carrey Jim Carrey jumped on the main stage at the old Ice House in Pasadena, one of the oldest comedy clubs in the country, the other night.

He was one of the biggest names at the TV Critics Association’s winter press tour so far. But while he struck a pose similar to his standup heyday and coiled up with a sly look behind his grey beard, he decided to hand off the spotlight to other comics who are part of the Showtime series he’s producing and was there to promote, “I’m Dying Out Here.”

Carrey so far doesn’t appear in the Showtime series, set in the early 1970s, that starts this summer.

“I, for a very long time, have wanted to do something about this era,” Carrey said. Back then, the road to comedy stardom came through appearing on Johnny Carson’s couch on “The Tonight Show.”

“We all came out and gathered around the heat of that and were hoping for the best,” Carrey says.

He had that chance as a young comic, but he also had to struggle like a couple of other characters depicted in the series.

“I lived in a closet when I first came to L.A. I met somebody at the Improv who said they had a room, and it turned out to be a closet,” Carrey says.

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