Saturday TV: Kids Step Up

Would that we were only worried about the assault of slime on children. It falls again as part of the 2018 Kids Choice Awards (Nickelodeon, 8 p.m.), hosted by John Cena.

Meanwhile, in the real world, CBS News picks up on the remarkable work of the Parkland students in demanding change after a mass shooting at their school. The special “39 Days” (CBS, 8 p.m.) traces their work from the day of the tragedy to today’s March for Our Lives (which, with any luck, will be covered by reputable cable news networks and maybe C-SPAN.

Another network documentary looks how the media covered a second ongoing social movement as we approach the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.: “Hope & Fury: MLK, the Movement and the Media” (NBC, 8 p.m.)., hosted by Lester Holt.

The Charlize Theron spy movie “Atomic Blonde” (HBO, 8 p.m.) makes its premium cable debut.

The first “Pacific Rim” (FX, 8 p.m.) is on, to prepare you and promote the impending box office sequel “Pacific Rim: Uprising.”

Randy has his runway show on “Say Yes to the Dress” (TLC, 8 p.m.) and Monica of “Gold Rush” (Discovery, 8 p.m.) pops up. And then there are updates on “Say Yes to the Dress: Since I Said Yes” (TLC, 10:30 p.m.).

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Friday TV: Tale of the Brown Buffalo

FearLoathingFans of Hunter S. Thompson will know a bit about Oscar Zeta Acosta, the manic sidekick sometimes known as Dr. Gonzo in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” But a brazen new documentary on his life, “The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) looks further into the life of the radical Chicano lawyer.

Director Philip Rodriguez takes a lot of flights of fancy in his telling of the tale, including extensive use of re-enactments and even some illustrations and animation. But surprisingly, none of the iconic Ralph Steadman illustrations that defined the character. At the TV Critics Association winter press tour, I asked him why.

“Steadman’s style, for me, is the Gonzo style,” Rodriguez said. “And the Gonzo style, in a certain way misrepresented Oscar in his fullness. It created a cartoon out of him. And this film is, in many ways, a reaction to that particular characterization. So I’m not as enamored of the Steadman esthetic of the “Fear and Loathing” film as some people might be. I was simply, in some ways, trying to correct the record, that this man was an extraordinary fellow, a man of action, a man of intelligence and insight and courage in his own right and deserved his own kind of esthetic.”

“High Maintenance” (HBO, 11 p.m.) ends its strong second season with the arrival of a solar eclipse. Plus the Guy has to prepare for some life changes.

Mitch Landrieu, Gina McCarthy, Mona Charen, Chris Hayes and Malcolm Nance are guests on a new “Real Time with Bill Maher” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

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Thursday TV: The Final ‘Portlandia’

portlandiaFor an episode to end its delightful eight season run, it was last week’s “Portlandia” (IFC, 9:30 p.m.) that included a glimpse of most of the many characters created by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein that we’ll miss. Tonight’s finale at 10, though, is one of those full episode things involving the running of the Portland Marathon in a pattern that the mayor insists should be a rose. He risks it all in negotiating the route, meanwhile Candace takes in a runner and annoys her as much as she did Toni. Guest stars include Cherry Jones, Tessa Thompson and Dolly Wells. Miss some of the season? It’s rerun in a marathon that begins at 5:30 p.m.

It took forever for Shondaland to find a name for its second spinoff of “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, 8 p.m.) that involves a fire department and rescue team that serves the hospital. They really didn’t want to call it “Seattle Fire” lest it be confused with “Chicago Fire” (NBC, 9 p.m.) — which is on at the same time! So instead, it’s called “Station 19” (ABC, 9 p.m.). Its two hour premiere includes some folks from “Grey’s” but mostly a cast that includes Jaina Lee Ortiz, Jason George and Grey Damon and looks to be a passable (and easy to pass over) procedural.

The regular “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1, 8 p.m.) is back for its 10th season and Christina Aguilera stops by.

On “Atlanta” (FX, 10 p.m.), the town of Marietta is a factor.

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Superman’s Planet, the Early Days

krypton-picThe new “Krypton” (Syfy, 10 p.m.), according to a network executive, “asks the provocative question; What if Superman never existed?”

Someone clue the guy in: He never really has.

Try to tell it to the superhero-addled, who now have something like the 18th or 19th current series with a caped comic book basis. You might think this one was particularly tearing at the furthest edges of the Man of Steel legend — two generations before he was born, back on the original planet, which was under the power of its own golden, two-faced leader, and as the tale begins is destroying the whole El family before they get to Jor-El.

Turns out the Fortress of Solitude is some kind of resistance thing from way back; and that red cape and S were something of a family crest long before Lois Lane got in the picture. On the other hand, in comes a kid with an Old English D on his dark baseball cap, and before you think the Detroit Tigers were also an old family of Krypton, we learn he’s here from Earth, far in the future, to urge the twenty something central character Seg-El to keep up the struggle so that we’ll all have Superman in the future. .

The depiction of pre-explosion Krypton has been the stuff of previous comic books and some of its legends are followed here. Also followed: the rules of action fantasy, with a fight every five minutes no matter what. The special effects are pretty good for a TV show, but the cast isn’t notable and it has the faint air of one of those generic international action series.

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Also on Wednesday: Finale for ‘Versace’

VersaceRyan Murphy’s underrated “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX, 10 p.m.) reaches its finale by going forward in time to the incident at hand and its immediate fallout: closing in on the killer and the mourning of Versace. It includes another remarkable performance from Judith Light.

It’s already the final episode of the first season of “9-1-1” (Fox, 9 p.m.) which was a good enough procedural to keep going.

JJ goes to a film festival where he’s honored on the second season finale on “Speechless” (ABC, 8:30 p.m.).

And “The X-Files” (Fox, 8 p.m.) reaches the end of his 11th season with the search on for William.

“Cheap Eats” (Cooking, 10 p.m.) begins its fourth season.

The 15th anniversary of the Iraq War is marked on “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.).

Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett are the focus on “The Men Who Built America: Frontiersmen” (History, 9 p.m.).

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Tuesday TV: Romance While Traveling

love-at-first-flightThere must be easier ways to meet a life partner. But on the new reality show “Love at First Flight” (Lifetime, 10 p.m.), eight strangers are selected by a matchmaker to take a 30-day, cross-country journey in which they may all couple up before they reach their destination. The trip starts in New York and the chance is there to get married when they get to the Los Angeles airport.

A second season starts for the half-hour stand-up comedy showcase “The Standups” (Netflix, streaming). Taking the microphone this time are Rachel Feinstein, Gina Yashere, Aparna Nacherla, Brent Morin, Kyle Kinane and Joe list.

The anything goes live talk show “The Chris Gethard Show” (truTV, 11 p.m.) returns after a pause with big, big prizes: cars for call-in fans. Abby Jacobson of “Broad City” is guest.

Adam Conover turns cartoon in an animated episode of “Adam Ruins Everything” (truTV, 10:30 p.m.) in which he examines American history, titled “Reanimated History.”

Battles continue on “The Voice” (NBC, 8 p.m.) as Trace Adkins, Julia Michaels, Hailee Seinfeld and Shawn Mendes stop in.

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Monday TV: A View from the Daughter

arthur-miller-writerMuch of the time when he was America’s premier playwright, he was taciturn and reserved; when he married Marilyn Monroe even more so. But in the comprehensive documentary “Arthur Miller: Writer” (HBO, 8 p.m.) the author of “Death of a Salesman” and so many other works is warm, thoughtful and expansive, probably because he’s talking to his daughter.

Rebecca Miller took years to complete the film of her father, who died in 2005, partly because of how to handle the story of the brother that her parents institutionalized and never spoke of — something she deals with in the film. But she gives equal measure to all his wives and follows his work when no one else did, until he enjoyed a deserving late career revival.

“Silicon Valley: The Untold Story” (Science, 8 p.m.) is a series about the place, not the comedy that returns Sunday to HBO. Three episodes run.

A survey of early Amazon fighters, “Epic Warrior Women” (Smithsonian, 8 p.m.) is narrated by early Wonder Woman Lynda Carter.

Battle rounds begin on “The Voice” (NBC, 8 p.m.) but auditions continue on “American Idol” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

“The Good Doctor” (ABC, 10 p.m.) considers surgery to allow a young patient to smile.

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Sunday TV: Alan Cumming Takes the Lead

Alan-Cumming-InstinctAlan Cumming is a welcome prime time star, but the show he’s in, “Instinct” (CBS, 8 p.m.) is one of the sillier police procedurals around. He’s a criminal justice professor who helps out a police detective. She’s played by Bojana Novakovic, who is charming as well, but these crimes are treated like jokes.

What else is new tonight? New Patrick Harris hosts a game show for kids, “Genius Junior” (NBC, 9 p.m.).

If you hadn’t had enough kids on “Little Big Shots” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

Hard to get adjusted to “American Idol” (ABC, 8 p.m.) as a Sunday night show.

“The Chi” (Showtime, 10 p.m.) ends its first season, with little Kevin finally performing in the school play.

Both “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox, 8:30 p.m.) and “The Last Man on Earth” (Fox, 9:30 p.m.) return with new episodes.

Saul calls an old friend on “Homeland” (Showtime, 9 pm.).

Howard tries to thwart the Guest’s plans on “Counterpart” (Starz, 8 p.m.).

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Saturday TV: New Inquiry from Amanpour

ChristianeShe’s built a solid career in international reporting but switches topic for a new six-part series suitable for a Saturday night, “Christiane Amanpour: Sex & Love Around the World” (CNN, 10 p.m.). In it, she will still have an international approach, but presumably use a whole different set of questions in thing with  women about intimacy and their sexual satisfaction, starting in Tokyo. Think of it as a bridge between news and, say, “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown” CNN, 11 p.m.).

A network that has rebranded itself as “The New Network for Crime,” brings the first of a two night special, “Aaron Hernandez Uncovered” (Oxygen, 7 p.m.) about the NFL tight end convicted of murder, who hung himself in jail.

There’s a three hour salute in the posthumous episode “Stephen Hawking’s Presents” (Discovery, 8 p.m.).

Sofia Coppola’s Civil War film “The Beguiled” (HBO, 8 p.m.) with Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell, makes its premium cable debut.

The impending remake of “Roseanne” is fun, but I wonder if it can survive the incessant hype about it, which includes a special edition of “20/20” (ABC, 8 p.m.) interviewing the cast.

A man accused of killing his fiancee who fell 150 feet from a cliff, is investigated on “48 Hours” (CBS, 10 p.m.). It’s just about the only new thing on prime time TV.

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Friday TV: Spying on Five-Year-Olds

SecretLifeHooking up a bunch of cameras to watch 5-year-olds play sounds like an invasion of privacy, but the new series “The Secret Life of Kids” (USA, 9 and 10 p.m.) is spying on playtime for scientific reasons. In addition to the cuteness overload, adults watching monitors analyze their actions and development. It looks OK as long as they’re not trying to coax out a new Honey Boo Boo from the thing.

Amid the online windfall today is “Take Your Pills” (Netflix, streaming), a documentary on the popular drug Adderall and its possible effects.

A new docuseries focuses on the followers of an Indian Swami who moved to rural Antelope, Ore., by the thousands in the early 1980s and wore pink and maroon clothing. Locals despised what was initially called Rancho Rajneesh, though and the conflicts escalated, as seen in the series “Wild Wild Country” (Netflix, streaming). Mark and Jay Duplass are executive producers.

There has been no shortage of coming of age high school series, but “On My Block” (Netflix, streaming) is the rare one that focuses on teens of color in Los Angeles. It’s party from the maker of “Awkward.”

Brendon Camp, the son of Joe Camp who made the 1974 original film, has remade “Benji” (Netflix, streaming), with a new dog and new family for a new movie delivery system. (The original dog, who was also on “Petticoat Junction” died in 1975 at 17. Kiel Sanchez stars as the mom of the two kids (one of whom is also named Camp) who adopt it. Looks like it might have some appeal to kids.

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