Monday TV: Tracking Early Adversity

brokenHow does early adversity affect child development? It’s been the work of director Roger Weisberg. His film “Broken Places”(PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings)  includes subjects he filmed at age 5 who are now 35 and look back on it.

David Tennant stars with Cush Jumbo in the new mystery “Deadwater Fell” (Acorn TV, streaming), set in Scotland. Instead of being a detective this time, Tennant may be a suspect.

The former wrestler takes up sitcom in “The Big Show Show” (Netflix, streaming), raising a family of daughters.

Leading up to a celebrity reboot of the quiz show there is a pre-emptive behind-the-scenes look in “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Secrets & Surprises” (ABC, 10 p.m.).

The season finale comes for the airline mystery “Manifest” (NBC, 10 p.m.).

How have we ended up with a leader who doubles down on lies and never apologizes? The answer may be found in this documentary about the ruthless lawyer from the 1950s, “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” (Stars, 9 p.m.), making its premium cable debut.

An errand goes wrong for Jimmy on “Better Call Saul” (AMC, 9 p.m.).

There’s an invitation to a state dinner in honor of a Nazi official on “The Plot Against America” (HBO, 9 p.m.).

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Sunday: Revisiting Atlanta’s Lost Children

Atlantas-Missing-and-Murdered-2There were two big projects recently about the bombing at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta that killed one, but has never been much about the rash of child killings there a decade earlier. The shocking story is told again in the documentary series “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children” (HBO, 8 p.m.).

It’s timely and gripping; the mayor there reopened the cases last year. And those who attend a meeting on the tragedy, hardly anybody believes that Wayne Williams, who was convicted of killing two adults, was involved at all. Race and an urge to present the best side of Atlanta botched the investigations from the beginnings, the series compellingly shows.

The seven-part “World on Fire” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) is an ambitious “Masterpiece” series about the beginnings of World War II in Europe, set across five countries. It’s a production of the BBC with a cast that includes Sean Bean, Helen Hunt, Jonah Hauer-King, Julia Brown and Lesley Manville.

It’s followed by another drama from the same period, “The Windermere Children” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings), a feature about child survivors of the Holocaust brought to an estate near england’s Lake Windermere to recuperate.

In place of the postponed ACM Awards, there is yet another multi-star, play-at-home concert from the stars of Nashville. “ACM Presents: Our Country” (CBS, 8 p.m.) promises acoustic performances from Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Kane Brown, John Legend, Luke Bryan, Brandi Carlile, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Sheryl Crow, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Old Dominion, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban. There will also be a salute to Kenny Rogers and, if they’re smart, Bill Withers.

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Saturday TV: When Egypt Had 10 Plagues

tencommandmentshd_pubHey, isn’t this coming a week early? Oh, well, everything is off kilter. And “The Ten Commandments” (ABC, 7 p.m.) has 10 plagues.

The British series “Line of Duty” (AMC, 10 p.m.), which made a splash on Acorn TV makes its U.S. debut, with Lennie James stars as a chief inspector heading an anti corruption unit.

I think the Defense Production Act could be used to force broadcasters to present something new during the forced shelter in place. Instead, an even more dreary than usual  Saturday night of reruns.

Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe star in the Tony-winning revival of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical “The King and I,” first broadcast last year on “Great Performances” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings).

“Live PD” (A&E, 9 p.m.) presents a special edition focusing on law enforcement and medical authorities working during the era of the coronavirus.

The randy comedy “Good Boys” (HBO, 8 p.m.) makes its premium cable premiere, with Will Forte, Molly Gordon, Lil Rel Howery, Retta and Michaela Watkins.

Also on is the more family-friendly “A Dog’s Journey” (Showtime, 8 p.m.) with Dennis Quaid, Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin and Josh Gad as the voice of the dog.

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Friday TV: Kid Reporters to the Rescue

Home-Before-Dark-TV-show-1The new family mystery “Home Before Dark” (Apple TV +, streaming) seems at first far-fetched: a murder cracked by a 9-year-old self-declared reporter. But the character of Brooklynn Prince (of “The Florida Project”) is based on the work of Hilde Lysiak, an enterprising young reporter I met. Looks kind of entertaining too.

On the new sci-fi series “Tales from the Loop” (Amazon, streaming), a rural town deals with a machine designed to solve the mysteries of the universe. Based on the art of Simon Stålenhag, it includes the music of Philip Glass. The cast includes Rebecca Hall, Tyler Barnhardt and Jonathan Pryce.

Two new nature films almost get overshadowed by their narrators. “Dolphin Reef” (Disney+, streaming) is narrated by Natalie Portman; “Elephant” (Disney+, streaming) by “Meghan, Duchess of Sussex”), actually a former actress on “Suits,” Meghan Markle.

“High Maintenance” (HBO, 11 p.m.) ends its fine season with a snowstorm that shuts down the city at Christmas, and its sheltering in place looks awfully familiar.

James Marsters, William Sadler and Mark Dacascos all return for the two hour series finale of the reinstituted “Hawaii Five-0” (CBS, 9 p.m.). The new version with Alex O’Loughlin didn’t last quite as long as the original that aired from 1968-80. But ten seasons is a pretty good run.

The Spanish crime series “Money Heist” (Netflix, streaming) returns for a fourth season.

In the action/comedy “Coffee & Kareem” (Netflix, streaming), a 12 year old (Terrence Little Gardenhigh) tries to scare away Ed Helms from dating his mom (Taraji P. Henson).

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Virus Takes Adam Schlesinger, 52

It’s clear COVID-19 will mow us all Adam-Schlesinger-(in-Tinted-Windows)down, spiritually if not literally, decimating every aspect of life.

The music world is already being cut down from every genre. I just saw Joe Diffie playing some agreeable country at my first visit to the Grand Old Opry in October; he’s dead of it at 61. Jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis, such a giant in New Orleans and in raising a generation of jazz figures, died of complication at 85; jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli now, too, at 94. John Prine, 73, has been hospitalized with the virus; Jackson Browne, 71. tested positive.

The coronavirus targets the elderly, we hear, so it’s even more devastating and surprising when it starts to take the young. And in music, the death of Adam Schlesinger at only 52, was such a sad shock.

He was co-founder of Fountains of Wayne, a band that cut deeper than their breezy rock songs might indicate. “Stacy’s Mom” may have been their best known song, but the band’s music had yearning, a sense of place and expressed the ennui of a 20-something displacement specific to East Coasters driving around in their ’92 Suburus, in the midst of losing their dreams and jobs.

The song that came after “Stacy’s Mom” on “Welcome Interstate Managers” rarely fails to stop me in my tracks. “Hackensack” was the tuneful song about a high school crush that left New Jersey for some measure of fame (“I saw your talikin’ to Christopher Walken”) while he keeps the flame going: “If you ever get back to Hackensack, I’ll be here for you.”

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Thursday TV: Abby Goes to a Sitcom

broke_cbs_resizedLongtime “NCIS” star Pauley Perrette turns to comedy in the new “Broke” (CBS, 9:30 p.m.) in which she plays a single mother whose sister and brother-in-law come to live with her. That couple, played by Natasha Leggero (“Another Period”) and Jaime Camil (“Jane the Virgin”) likely carrying most of the comedy weight.

It accompanies the fourth season start for the Matt LeBlanc sitcom “Man With a Plan” (CBS, 8:30 p.m.) with Kevin Nealon and Stacy Keach.

The new crime show “If I Should Die” (Investigation Discovery, 9 p.m.) looks at particularly tough-to-solve murders.

A 12th season starts for “The Real Housewives of New York City” (Bravo, 9 p.m.) with a newcomer, Leah McSweeney joining Luann, Ramona, Sonja, Dorinda and Tinsley.

There’s a two hour third season premiere for the mermaid series “Siren” (Freeform, 9 p.m.).

“River Monsters” host Jeremy Wade hosts the new series “Mysteries of the Deep” (Science, 10 p.m.), in which he takes up the hunt for things like the Loch Ness monster.

Sam goes to a New Orleans wedding on “Better Things” (FX, 10 p.m.).

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Wednesday TV: Wearing the Stetson Inside

garthbThe next coronavirus concert brings the country star Garth Brooks and his wife Trisha Yearwood, performing from their home recording studio in “Garth & Trisha Live!” (CBS, 9 p.m.). It comes just three days after Brooks’ star turn at the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize was on public television.

There are no wild tigers in the documentary series “How to Fix a Drug Scandal” (Netflix, streaming), which chronicles the 2013 case when two prominent drug-testing labs in Massachusetts were shut down and thousands of cases had to be dismissed because its testers weren’t doing the work or were indulging too much in it. The four-part series is from Erin Lee Carr.

The new “Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show” (Netflix, streaming) provides a new comedy realm for the comic, after five stand-up specials for the service.

More culinary messes are made in the fourth season of “Nailed It!” (Netflix, streaming).

“Sunderland ’Til I Die” (Netflix streaming), the documentary series about a third tier English league, returns for a second season at a time when there aren’t any live sports to watch.

“The Magicians” (Syfy, 10 p.m.) ends its run with a final episode. Oddly it comes opposite the broadcast special “David Blaine: The Magic Way” (AB, 10 p.m.).

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Tuesday TV: Bribery in NBA Recruiting

TheSchemeThat the NCAA basketball tournament was called March Madness seems quaint now. In a much deeper era of madness, the absence of the event means no brackets, no elite eight, and maybe one good thing: no chance of the kind of scandal that arose in recent years and led to the conviction last year of NBA scout Christian Dawkins. He was charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery along with several assistant coaches and some executives at Adidas. Dawkins is among the interviewees in a film about the scandal, “The Scheme” (HBO, 9 p.m.).

In a new “Frontline” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) investigates whether the plastics industry has been using recycling to sell more plastics and imperil the ocean.

 “NBC News Special Report: Coronavirus Pandemic” (NBC, 10 p.m.) will now air weekly on Tuesdays at least through April.

A 2009 documentary about a previous epidemic, polio, and the efforts to find a vaccine, gets a timely replay on “American Experience” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings).

“Miracle Workers: Dark Ages” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.) has its season finale with Danielle Radcliffe’s character Prince Chauncley reunited with a flame (Geraldine Viswanathan).

It sounds like a porn parody of “Star Wars,” but “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch” (History, 10 p.m.) instead is a new series about a paranormal site in Utah.

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Monday TV: ‘One Child Nation’ on PBS

one-child-nation2We are learning too clearly these days that government policy can have devastating consequences. It happened in China, too, and we’re not talking about the coronavirus. It was its one child policy that has had ripple effects in the generations following. Filmmaker Nanfu Wang’s Oscar-nominated “One Child Nation” makes its debut on “Independent Lens” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings).

On the new series “Almost Paradise” (WGN America, 10 p.m.), Christian Kane plays a former DEA agent in the Philippines where she gets caught up in some of its lawlessness.

The imported Dutch series “Schouwendam 12” (Acorn TV, streaming) a 25 year old case is rekindled when someone shows up in a small village looking like one of the two teens who disappeared in 1995.

A new show on the network’s gear head night, “Driven” (Discovery, 8 p.m.), old one-of-a-kind models are rebuilt by a team from Galpin Auto Sports, starting with the Pantera.

The news special “America Rising: Fighting the Pandemic” (ABC, 9 p.m.) has an unaccountably cheery title.

Most late night hosts return to try new shows tonight, most of them recorded at home, some without guests. James Corden not only records his show in a garage, they move it into prime time with  “Homefest: James Corden’s Late Late Show Special” (CBS, 10 p.m.).

Hell helps Jimmy and Kim build a legal firewall on “Better Call Saul” (AMC, 9 p.m.).

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Sunday TV: Sad Songs Save So Much

eltonJohnHow does popular culture confront every huge disaster? With a concert!

It happens again tonight with the hastily-planned Living Room Concert for America (Fox, 9 p.m.) hosted by Elton John, with performances from Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Billie Eilish, Billy Joe Armstrong, Mariah Carey, Sam Smith, H.E.R., Dave Growl, Camila Cabello and Tim McGraw. The caveat: Each performance is filmed in their own homes with their own equipment. It’s raising money for Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation.

“The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) was held recently enough here in D.C. that I questioned when honoree Garth Brooks shook my hand on the red carpet. But that’s his whole deal: Country nice guy and big seller. The roster of stars who come out to do his songs include Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, Ricky Skaggs and Brooks’ wife Trisha Yearwood. But Brooks there a wrench into the well-planned event by playing an hour of acoustic covers from 70s songwriters. I have no idea how they’ll edit it down for broadcast. Here’s a piece I wrote about the event for Entertainment Weekly.

The ninth season premiere of “Call the Midwife” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings) begins with the 1965 funeral of Winston Churchill.

Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, the surreal humorists behind th long running “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” try their hand at a sitcom with their usual weird approach in “Beef House” (Adult Swim, 12:15 a.m.). It follows the debut of a comedy about three housewives produced in part by Amy Poehler, “Three Busy Debras” (Adult Swim, midnight).

While Elton John plays in the charity concert “Collector’s Call” (MeTV, 9:30 p.m.) features an Elton John superman who has been collecting for more than 40 years.

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