Friday TV: A New, Messed Up Detective

marcellaAnna Friel stars as “Marcella” (Netflix, streaming), a London detective with her own set of problems, as she returns to work after 12 years away. She has blackouts, she gets a little violent and she’s vexed by a serial killer she failed to catch in the past. The eight-episode series is from Hans Rosenfeldt, one of the writers of “The Bridge,” and also stars Laura Carmichael of “Downton Abbey,” Harry Lloyd of “Game of Thrones,” Nicholas Pinnock and Sinead Cusack. It premiered in the UK in April.

Also new on the online site, a stand-up special from the Aussie comedian, “Jim Jeffries: Freedumb” (Netflix, streaming) in which he has a couple of things to say about Donald Trump.

In the Brexit of “The Great British Bake Off” to American public television, it’s become the flatter sounding “The Great British Baking Show” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) (Pillsbury, it seems still owns the right to the term “bake-off” in the states). The show has found a footing in the U.S. nonetheless, with a third season of the show (which played as the sixth in the U.K.) beginning its civilized competition among a dozen new contestants. Sue Perkins and Mel Gledroyc are back to host; Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry return as judges.

The U.S. Olympic Trials (NBC, 8 p.m.) begins with more swimming from Omaha in the first hour, before moving to track and field events in Eugene, Ore., at 9 p.m.

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Paul Simon, One Last Time at Wolf Trap

Photo: Bryan Murphy, courtesy of Wolf Trap

Photo: Bryan Murphy, courtesy of Wolf Trap

It was about the middle of Paul Simon’s set at the Wolf Trap Tuesday when the news alert came across phones — Simon told the New York Times he was ready to quit music altogether, making these final set of concerts, which close out this weekend at Forest Hills, in Queens, his last U.S. dates. (He still has a fall European tour to do).

That only made the sprightly show in the Northern Virginia woods one to cherish more. By now, Simon combines the most crowd pleasing of his era dabbling with world music with nuggets from his earlier solo career, and even a couple from the duo that preceded it all. At the same time, he’s got some pretty smart new material which you can’t say he’s exactly shoving down anyone’s throat — he only played three songs from the current “Stranger to Stranger.”

At 74, his voice is remarkable — clear and evocative that’s able to replicate the notes from decades ago, though he declined mostly to do that. Not because he wouldn’t reach notes, but because he enjoys still playing around with the music, stretching a line, giving it a bluesy turn or otherwise keeping the show from being a nostalgic singalong, which he could have very easily done.

Indeed, ripples of applause greeted the enduring melody of the Incan pipes of “El Condor Pasa” but it was just played as an instrumental, leading into the slightly more obscure but even more welcome “Duncan,” which has its own, just as lovely counter melody (using those same pipes).

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Thursday TV: Dredging Up the ’80s

REOSpeedwagonandPitbullGreatestHits_061316I’m not sure the summer can be saved by REO Speedwagon performing with Pitbull, but here is “Greatest Hits” (ABC, 9 p.m.), hosted by Arsenio Hall and Kelsea Ballerina.

Each week they concentrate on some old era and have original performers teamed with contemporary stars to sing the oldies. First up are the early 80s.Also performing are Ray Parker Jr., doing “Ghostbusters,” Kenny Loggins doing “Footloose,” Kim Carnes’ “Betty Davis Eyes,” Rick Springfield “Jessie’s Girl” and Kool and the Gang singing “Celebration.” The Jason Derulo tribute to Michael Jackson just might save it though. If not the light sticks.

Speaking of which, “The Eighties” (CNN, 9 p.m.) ends its run, looking at the advent of the personal computer.

“Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” (FX, 10 p.m.), the Denis Leary project, returns for a second season.

Swimming finals are held in the U.S. Olympic Trials (NBC, 8 p.m.).

The first eviction of the season on “Big Brother” (CBS, 9 p.m.) will see the ouster of Jozea, Paulie or Bridgette.

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Wednesday TV: ‘Barely Famous’ is Back

Barely-Famous-Sara-Erin-FosterFor growing up in a kind of epicenter of reality TV (where David Foster, Brody Jenner and Gigi Hadid mom and “Real Housewife” Yolanda Foster are all part of the clan, sisters Erin and Sara Foster have retained their sense of humor.

On “Barely Famous” (E!, 10 and 10:30 p.m.), they present the rare fake reality show that’s self-deprecating and funny, even as it draws in a number of Hollywood stars who don’t mind making fun of themselves either.

On the first few episodes of the second season that starts tonight that includes Chris Martin of Coldplay, Kate Hudson, a heavily drinking Jessica Alba and Joey Fatone. It’s still tough at times to tell the two model-like sisters apart at times, but they make fun of that, too.

In the new three-part “9 Months That Made You” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) follows human life in the 280 days from conception to birth is tracked, starting with a view of how individual traits that made us all unique were acquired in the first 12 weeks.

The U.S. Olympic Trials (NBC, 8 p.m.) in swimming continue in prime time.

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Tuesday TV: Improving the Force in Newark


On a new “Frontline” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker takes a harrowing ride with the Newark Police in light of the Department of Justice charged that said its force regularly violated citizen’s rights. It’s a thoughtful, tough and more measured report that shows the efforts to change policies there.

Olympic preparations continue apace, with not only the Olympic Trials (NBC, 8 p.m.) but a look back on the original games on the limited series “The Greeks” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) and, of course, a reality show about athletes preparing, “Gold Medal Families” (Lifetime, 9 and 10 p.m.).

The horror at summer camp theme becomes the basis of a new series “Dead of Summer” (Freeform, 9 p.m.) that co-stars Elizabeth Mitchell and Mark Indelicate.

Back for a second season is the network adaptation of Robert Patterson’s “Zoo” (CBS, 9 p.m.).

The first season of Gloria Steinem’s “Woman” (Viceland, 10 p.m.) looks at violence in Pakistan.

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Monday TV: Bad News About the Climate

josh-foxJosh Fox does a happy dance at the start of his latest documentary. After “Gasland” and a sequel, oil companies abandoned plans to frak in the Delaware River Basin near his home. Then he finds his trees are dying because of beetles who are advancing up the coast because it doesn’t freeze hard enough any more to kill them. The bummers just keep coming in the latest documentary “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change” (HBO, 9 p.m.), in which Fox, like Michael Moore before him, seems to be as much before the cameras in his baseball cap as behind them, constantly narrating in a voice of hushed shock, but stopping every so often for a song anyway. The culmination of disaster footage and shocking talk from scientists make this compulsive viewing, though.

In another documentary tonight, an ophthalmologist strives for answers for the death of his brother, one of more than 1 million killed after a military coup in Indonesia a half century ago in Josh Oppenheimer’s “The Look of Silence” on “P.O.V.” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings).

Before he was the darling of late late night karaoke, James Corden was a staple of British comedies, as star and writer. He puts those to use on the new import “Very British Problems” (Acorn TV, streaming) with David Tennant, who may be more recognizable from his many roles, including “Doctor Who” and “Broadchurch.”

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Sneak Peek at the Capital Fringe Festival

PrintWith more than 130 different productions being staged over three weeks at 20 different venues, the Capital Fringe festival can be an overwhelming undertaking.

To ease the avalanche of choices coming next month, Fringe has produced not only a 66 page catalog cross referencing the possibilities, but throws a one night preview in which more productions are staged in one night than some theater companies mount in several years.

Of course each of the 20 acts in this year’s preview at the Fringe Arts Bar headquarters Friday only had four minutes to work with. Go any longer and as one elder storyteller found, the red overhead lights go on as if a fire alarm. But everybody pretty much stuck to their time.

As Fringe founder Julianne Brienza said at the outset, these glimpses can be “real random.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “Some maybe amazing, some might be horrible. You be the judge.”

And so we were, as people sought seats or fought to make way to the limited performance face, they actually worked, as Fringe does, on a surprisingly orderly schedule.

Just one of the planned acts dropped out, either because they weren’t ready, had last minute stage fright or couldn’t make their way to the stage in time. As it turned out 20 was enough.

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America According to Second City

Second City, The Kennedy CenterLove it or hate it, the whodunit farce “Shear Madness” at the Kennedy Center represented D.C. theater for busloads of high school students for nearly 30 years.

It’s taking its first break, though, to make way for the one component of the Kennedy Center’s first District of Comedy Festival that will last the longest — seven weeks.

It’s from one of the longest running comedy incubators in the country, from Chicago. But given its location, “The Second City’s Almost Accurate Guide to America” is cognizant of many things, from the season’s overflowing gift to political humor, Donald Trump, to the departure of “Shear Madness.”

He’s mentioned more than once in the two hour cornucopia of political satire, some of which is simply corny, but other parts of which are very sharply crafted.

Working with a pretty much blank stage and six busy cast members go forward and back in time (at places with the help of a time machine) to present different eras in the American scene, the land of Mountain Dew, Hotels for Cats, and stuffed crust pizza.

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Cameron Crowe’s New Series ‘Roadies’

RoadiesThe same week that HBO cancelled its big name, high price rock ’n’ roll series “Vinyl” after one season, here comes a second premium cable series on the subject. Where one tipped the credibility scale on the excess of its drugs and violence,  Cameron Crowe’s “Roadies” (Showtime, 10 p.m.) may tip the scale with sweetness and light.

Crowe still carries with him the utopian feel of rock tours he latched onto as a teen journalist for Rolling Stone that he expressed in his well-liked 2000 movie “Almost Famous” in a tale that almost seems outdated (aren’t the bigger tours now the dance and pop extravaganzas?).

Worse is that the two leads — Luke Wilson and Carla Gugino are not quite believable in their parts. You never get the sense they live for rock ’n’ roll, let alone even listen to it. But there are interesting smaller characters, played by Imogen Poots, Luis Guzman, Finesse Mitchell, Peter Cambor, Colson Baker and eventually, Rainn Wilson as an annoying journalist. That the most believable road dog, played by Ron White, is only seen briefly, is not a great sign.

Still, it manages to make these backstage characters somewhat likable, which is more than you could have said for those on “Vinyl.”

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Also on Sunday: BET Awards, Games

BETAwardsThe BET Awards (BET, Centric, Comedy Central, Logo, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike and VH1, 8 p.m.) is usually very good at its tributes to stars who have died. So a tribute to Prince with Stevie Wonder, Sheila E., the Roots and Janell Monae is likely to be the highlight of this year’s event (and explains why its simulcasting across the Viacom cable channels). Otherwise, Samuel L. Jackson gets a lifetime achievement award and Usher, Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu, Maxwell and Jennifer Hudson are all scheduled to perform. Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, the couple from “Blackish,” host the event from Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. Drake has the most nominations, with nine; Rihanna and Beyonce have five each.

Celebrity-filled game shows as summer filler reaches overkill with a triple play of “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC, 8 p.m.), with Lance Bass, Kellie Pickler, NeNe Leakes and Ernie Hudson; Michael Strahan hosting “The $100,000 Pyramid” (ABC, 9 p.m.) with Sherri Shepherd, Anthony Anderson, Rosie O’Donnell and Kathy Najimy; and Alec Baldwin, for some reason, going all Gene Rayburn in hosting  celebrity “Match Game” (ABC, 10 p.m.) with Debra Messing, J.B. Smoove, Michael Ian Black, Rosie O’Donnell, Sutton Foster and Tituss Burgess.

The biggest game tonight on TV, though, is the season finale of “Game of Thrones” (HBO, 9 p.m.). And while there’s no way it can approach the excess of last week’s carnage, there will likely be something big enough for fans to chew over until next year. (Big enough, at least, for the episode to run 15 minutes over time).

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