Thursday TV: ‘Love Actually’ Update

RedNoseThe 2003 romantic comedy “Love Actually” (Showtime 2, 8 p.m.) never got an official sequel despite its popularity, especially at Christmastime. That changes tonight, sort of, in a 15 minute update from writer-director Richard Curtis called “Red Nose Day Actually,” in accordance with “The Red Nose Day Special” (NBC, 10 p.m.) to raise funds and awareness for organizations aiding poor children in the U.S. and abroad.

Hugh Grant, Kiera Knightley, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Marcos Brigstocke and Rowan Atkinson are all back from the original cast in the film originally made for BBC One and shown in the UK in March.

For the U.S. premiere tonight, additional scenes include Laura Linney and Patrick Dempsey. (Emma Thompson, Martin Freeman, Rodrigo Santoro did not take part; and Alan Rickman died before production started earlier this year).

That segment is part of the hour-long special hosted (of course) by Chris Hardwick that otherwise features Ben Affleck, Jack Black, Orlando Bloom, Bryan Cranston, Ben Stiller, Patrick Dempsey, Seth Meyers, Kenan Thompson, Mindy Kaling and Julia Roberts, who also appears in a Red Nose Day-themed “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” (NBC, 9 p.m.) in Kenya.

The evening begins with “Celebrity Ninja Warrior” (NBC, 8 p.m.), where the celebrities consist of Derek Hough, Mena Suvari, Erika Christensen, Nikki Glaser and Jeff Dye on the obstacle course.

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Is That Jack Bauer on Guitar?

KieferAmong the perks of being a successful actor is the ability, at the drop of a hat, to fulfill every vague rock star notion you ever had. Unlike most struggling artists, there is no barrier to hiring a decent band, recording an album, or booking a tour that sells out based simply on your celebrity, giving fans the opportunity to see you in the flesh  in their own towns,  even if you don’t happen to be doing the thing that made you famous — acting — but happen to be singing or playing music instead.

It’s a formula that’s worked for Kevin Bacon, Keanu Reeves, David Duchovny, Bruce Willis, Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner. So why not  Kiefer Sutherland?

The star of TV’s “24” and the current “Designated Survivor” is spending time away from the camera on an extensive tour to promote his album ”Down in a Hole,” produced by Jude Cole, that was released last summer. His show at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday had been sold out for weeks.

With a solid band behind him that handled nearly all of the music, Sutherland, 50, still carried an acoustic guitar, occasionally switching to electric, though neither seemed to add a lot to the total sound.

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Wednesday TV: ‘Dirty Dancing’ Done Cheap

dirtyDancingHigh on the list of unnecessary, unasked for things on TV this season is a three hour musical remake of the 1987 movie “Dirty Dancing” (ABC, 8 p.m.) about romance in the Catskills in 1963. I like to imagine Abigail Breslin squealing when she got the Jennifer Grey role, as she did when she got into the pageant in “Little Miss Sunshine.” Colt Prattes takes the Patrick Swayze part. Debra Messing and Bruce Greenwood play her parents; Sarah Hyland is her older sister. Despite some stabs at updating the story, there seems little reason to bring it back (when the original is still available and often played). It’s one thing for networks to stage live musicals, which come with their own kind of excitement (and forgiveness), but less so filmed rehashes.

Elsewhere, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu, streaming) looks at life before Giliad for Offred’s family.

Things really start going down on “Fargo” (FX, 10 p.m.).

Demi Moore begins her run on “Empire” (Fox, 9 p.m.), just as the third season comes to an end.

A winner is named on the twisty season of “Survivor” (CBS, 8 p.m.), with the requisite reunion (and actual naming of the winner) at 10 p.m.).

Finales also come for “Arrow” (The CW, 8 p.m.) and “The 100” (The CW, 9 p.m.). And in the season finale of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (NBC, 9 p.m.), after a night of episodes, a crime is committed against a Muslim family.

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Tuesday TV: Dark Force in the White House

BannonsWar_SignatureImageHe’s already been regularly depicted as a menacing Skeletor figure on “Saturday Night Live.” But what does the role of Setphen Cannon continue to be at the White House? A new report on “Frontline” (PBS, 10 p.m.) looks at his role in the jarring rollout of the travel ban and other struggles that have marked the early days of the administration. “Bannon’s War” is from the team that previously made “Choice 2016” and “Divided States of America.”

A third season comes for the agreeable online comedy “Casual” (Hulu, streaming) about the family ties of a therapist (Michaela Watkins), her brother (Tommy Dewey) and her daughter (Tara Lynne Barr), the leading comedy from the service currently riding high with “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu, streaming).

A winner will be named on the finale of “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC, 8 p.m.). Of the three the NFL’s Rashad Jennings has the highest scores, including two perfect ones Monday; but that hasn’t guided home votes in the past. Plus the judges have to weigh in again tonight. His competition is Normani Kordel of Fifth Harmony and baseball’s David Ross.

Original songs are part of the finale scores on “The Voice” (NBC, 8 p.m.), a show that used to be only about singing. Tonight’s flashy finale is between Aliyah Moulden, 15; Jesse Larson, 34; Chris Blue, 26; and Lauren Duski. 25. Guest performers include Chris Stapleton, Alessia Cara and Miley Cyrus.

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Monday TV: The Bachelorette and Color

Rachel-Lindsay-ml-170517_16x9_992“The most diverse cast ever” is what they’re promising on “The Bachelorette” (ABC, 9 p.m.), which couldn’t even wait until she was eliminated from “The Bachelor” to tell Rachel Lindsay she’d be their first woman of color handing our roses. She has to do so, though, on the first season of the series to start in late May; usually this is a time for offshoots like “Bachelor in Paradise.” Instead, the network tries to shake free from criticism of its usual all-white approach and bask in the fact that “The Bachelor” was the only broadcast show to gain young viewers last season.

The finale begins for “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC, 8 p.m.), and with finalists like Rashad Jennings, Normandi Kordei and David Ross, you may well wonder: What happened to the Star part of the title? To indicate how ABC viewers view women of color when it’s let to them, though, they voted out Olympian Simone Biles last week despite two perfect judges scores last week.

“The Voice” (NBC, 8 p.m.) is down to its final four tonight. It’s among two singers on Blake Shelton’s team — Lauren Duski and Aliyah Moulden — and one each from Adam Levine and Alicia Keys: Jesse Larson and Chris Blue respectively.

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Sunday TV: ‘Twin Peaks’ 25 Years Later

Kyle MacLachlan in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIMEWhat should one expect from the surprise reboot of David Lynch’s legendary “Twin Peaks” (Showtime, 9 p.m.), picking up 25 years after it went off the air? No advance copies were made available for review and there have been only scant teases of what will transpire. Kyle MacLachlan will return as Agent Dale Cooper and the question of who exactly killed Laura Palmer hangs in the air.

In its time, “Twin Peaks” was both the most experimental and absorbing thing on network TV, which also went on to gain a wide audience anyway. The re-release of the original series in recent years has primed a whole new generation of fans. But at a time when surprising and artful TV is almost plentiful, can it possibly stand out? Post-series feature movies certainly weren’t satisfying — and those storylines are supposedly dismissed for this 18-hour revival. But there’s enough curiosity in it to at least check in to see what it has.

Here’s all Lynch would say about it when he met the press in January.

Drake and the Chainsmokers each have 22 nominations for the 2017 Billboard Awards (ABC, 8 p.m.), tying a record. Ludacris and vanessa Hudgens host the event, which offers performances from the aforementioned multi-nominees as well as Celine Dion, Cher, Bruno Mars, John Legend, Nicki Minaj with Lil Wayne, Ed Sheehan, Florida Georgia Line, Imagine Dragons, Miley Cyrus, Sam Hunt, Halsey, Julia Michaels, Lorde, Jason Derulo, David Guetta and Camila Cabello.

Joanne Froggatt, the former Mrs. Bates, plays against type on a new production on “Masterpiece” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) about Britain’s first female serial killer, Mary Ann Cotton, in “Dark Angel.”

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Saturday TV: De Niro Does Madoff

WizardOfLiesAfter Richard Dreyfuss already played Bernie Madoff on a two night mini-series, it hardly seems necessary to hash it out again. But although HBO’s “The Wizard of Lies” (HBO, 8 p.m.) begins dourly as he’s arrested for a $65 billion Ponzi scheme and marquee star Robert De Niro seems as stoic as the swindler, Barry Levinson’s film opens up in a way the earlier film never did, showing key moments with the family, where De Niro’s performance really starts to shine, stacking up as one of his best in years.

As his pained wife, Michelle Pfeiffer turns in a pretty good performance as well,  while the drama of the film turns on the effects or complicity of his sons. There are some beautiful set pieces as time moves forward and back and a kind of tension that matches whatever recent financial crisis film you want to compare it with. It’s good stuff.

The last ever episode of the struggling “Training Day” (CBS, 9 p.m.), which may not have been renewed even if Bill Paxton hadn’t died.

“Doctor Who” (BBC America, 9 p.m.)looks in the Vatican’s secret library.

A meteor shatters space-time and shoots the gang on “Class” (BBC America, 10:05 p.m.) to unknown areas.

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Friday TV: Another Old Crime to Unravel

the-keepers-slice-600x200The brutal, unsolved murder of a nun in Baltimore in 1969 is not something her ex-students, now retired and grandmothers, will let go. So they meet in Facebook groups and continue to collect evidence that is carefully parsed out with music and overhead photography in the latest true crime documentary series, “The Keepers” (Netflix, streaming).

Did the murder of Sister Cathy, and another young woman in the same area a few days later, have to do with charges of sexual abuse against a fellow member of the clergy who died in 2001? And then there are the charges of citywide coverup. Things take a very dark turn in episode two.

On a lighter note, a third season starts for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix, streaming) with Ellie Kemper’s unflappable character off to college. The expanded cast includes not only Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski, but John Hamm and Fred Armisen as well.

A third season starts for “12 Monkeys” (Syfy, 8 p.m.), which begins with the birth of the Witness, who has the power to destroy the world. It’s followed by three more episodes at 8:45, 9:30 and 10:15 p.m. Is it a marathon or binge viewing?

“James Beard: America’s First Foodie” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) kicks off a series of documentaries about famous chefs, who had personality, culinary skills, TV shows and in his case, a food award named after him. It’s followed by someone even more dear to public television, “Julia! America’s Favorite Chef” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings).

Two new episodes of the 50s sitcom, involving Van Johnson and Harpo Marx, are colorized on “The New I Love Lucy Superstar Special” (CBS, 9 p.m.).

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Upfronts: Four New Ones from The CW

TheCW logoIn a season when old shows from “Roseanne” to “S.W.A.T.” have announced comeback seasons or reboots, The CW network closed a week of network upfront presentations saying it would bring back the old “Dynasty.”

It’s one of four new shows announced by the also-run network, whose only survivor from last year’s crop of new shows was “Riverdale.”

Still, shows at The CW tend to hang on much longer than they would on other networks due to niche targeting.

The new shows for the 2017-2018 season are:

  • “Valor,” a military drama about an elite unit of Army helicopter pilots, with Matt Barr, Christina Ochoa, Charlie Barnett and W. Tre Davis.
  • “Dynasty,” bringing the Carringtons back, with Elizabeth Gillies, Grant Show, Nathalie, Kelley, James Mackay and Alan Dale. From the producers of “Gossip Girl” and “Revenge,” along with the original producers of “Dynasty.”
  • “Black Lightning,” yet another DC comics superhero yarn starring Cress Williams as a man who wants to put his past behind him and run his charter high school. With Nafessa Williams and China Anne McClain. From Greg Berlanti, who is behind “Arrow” and “The Flash.” Midseason.
  • “Life Sentence,” starring Lucy Hale as a girl who thought she was dying from cancer but doesn’t. With Dylan also, Gillian Vikman and Elliot Knight. In part from Bill Lawrence. Midseason.

Returning shows on The CW are “The 100,” “Arrow,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “The Flash,” “iZombie,” “Jane the Virgin,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” “The Originals,” “Supergirl” and “Supernatural.”

Not returning are “Reign,” “The Vampire Diaries,” “Frequency” and, living up to its name, “No Tomorrow.”


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Thursday TV: Double Down on Finales

scandal-episode-15season-6-promo-pic-via-flickrcom_1323129It’s just been announced that “Scandal” (ABC, 9 p.m.) will present its final season this fall. So tonight’s season finale, over two hours, sets the stage with preparations for the inauguration of the first female president.

Plenty of shows go for double episodes tonight, from the season finales of “Supernatural” (The CW, 8 p.m.) and “The Blacklist” (CBS, 9 p.m.), both of which will be returning next season, to the season finale  of “MasterChef Junior” (Fox, 8 p.m.), where one kid is named winner.

There are also two hours from “The Amazing Race” (CBS, 9 p.m.) which is on its way to Vietnam.

“Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, 8 p.m.), which next season gets an accompanying fire department spin-off, has its season finale in typically dramatic fashion, after a dangerous patient escapes.

“This Old House” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings) covers urban farming in Detroit.

The three couples on “Married at First Sight” (Lifetime, 9 p.m.) go house hunting. One of the women on “Married at First Sight: Second Chances” (Lifetime, 10:17 p.m.) reaches a breaking point.

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