Tuesday TV: ‘Downward Dog’s Demise

Downward-Dog-S01E01-b2a7815a98234a7e1f51eb5a9173890c-thumbIt may have seemed the cutest little sitcom on network TV when it premiered in May. But ABC never figured out what to do with “Downward Dog” (ABC, 10 and 10:30 p.m.), or what to pair it with, so they decided to cancel the Allison Tolman talking dog series altogether. Tonight’s pair of episodes will be its last — at least the last of it on ABC.

“Pretty Little Liars” (Freeform, 8 p.m.) reaches its series finale after seven seasons, so they’d better have answers for everything. Then at 10 p.m., there’s a wrap party with the cast and creators.

The next two episodes of “The Story of China” (PBS, 8 p.m.) looks at the Song Dynasty, andMichael Wood visits to the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

On the new anthology series “Tales” (BET, 8 p.m.), little movies are based on famous hip-hop songs. The first, “F*ck The Police.”

On an unusual Tuesday night episode of “The Bachelorette” (ABC, 8 p.m.) someone on the two-on-one date is sent home and then everybody else goes to Copenhagen.

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Alejandro Escovedo at the Birchmere

IMG_4118Alejandro Escovedo brings a lot of talented approaches into one rock figure. His show at the Birchmere in Alexandria Saturday had aspects of both his hard rocking postpunk career and also his quieter acoustic material. In both he was backed by a talented three piece, who wailed when the electricity was full and sat with him when he grabbed the acoustic.

Bringing a variety of influences into his music, from rock, to Texas songwriter traditions, to country, punk and Tejano, Escovedo seems to have been super-energized since a life-threatening health scare 14 years that also sidelined his music for more than a year.

With the proverbial new lease, he seems at 66 unleashed on stage, and appears as youthful as the other new additions to his band, bassist Aaron McClellan and guitarist Nick Diaz, who added soaring solos in a number of songs. Longtime associate Scott Laningham continues on drums.

Too bad it’s not the all-star backing band he had last spring when touring his latest album “Burn Something,” which featured Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey on guitars and co-writing. But Escobedo’s plenty able to do these things without him, so he started with

rockers he recorded from the last few albums, “Can’t Make Me Run,” “Dear Head on the Wall” and “Shave Cat” before pulling up a chair and considering some of his oldest songs, dating back to “Five Hearts Breaking,” which came alongside a long monologue about the old country musician who inspired it. It was from his first solo album, “Gravity,” now marking its 25th anniversary.

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Monday TV: Syrian Girl Adjusts in L.A.

DalyaThe 30th season of “POV” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) begins with two films about Syrian crisis. Julia Meltzer’s “Dalya’s Other Country” follows a teenager from Syria adjusting to a new life in Los Angeles. It’s accompanied by Daphne Matziaraki’s short film “4.1 Miles” about a Greek coast guard captain caught in the middle of the refugee crisis.

Drake hosts the first, purely unnecessary “NBA Awards” (TNT, 9 p.m.). But Bill Russell gets a lifetime achievement award.

“Preacher” (AMC, 9 p.m.) continues its second season premiere that began Sunday, settling into its regular time slot.

The travel really begins on “The Bachelorette” (ABC, 8 p.m.) with Rachel taking the remaining guys from South Carolina to Oslo.

The auditions for “So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox, 8 p.m.) moves to New York.

“American Ninja Warrior” (NBC, 8 p.m.) has a qualifying round in Daytona Beach.

“Antiques Roadshow” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings) looks at some appraisals it made 15 years ago.

Tommie and Dime try to hash out differences on “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” (VH1, 8 p.m.).

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Sunday TV: A Younger Jane Tennison

prime-suspect-s1-e1-episode-icon-3200x1800Helen Mirren’s character in “Prime Suspect” has retired, so like “Endeavor” told the story of early “Inspector Morse,” here’s “Prime Suspect: Tennison” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings). Stefanie Martini plays the young constable Jane Tennison on her first murder case in early 1970s London on this three episode run.

The fourth season of the solid drama “Power” (Starz, 9 p.m.) finds Omari Hardwick’s character Ghost in jail because his former girlfriend, played by Lela Loren, decided to do her job as a federal prosecutor.

A second season starts for “Preacher” (AMC, 10 p.m.), the brash series of blood and excess. And now Dominic Cooper’s lead character is going on the road in search of God with his dangerous girlfriend, played by Ruth Nega, and the Irish vampire played by Joseph Gilgun. But there’s a bad dude on their tail.

Leslie Jones hosts the BET Awards (BET, 8 p.m.) from Los Angeles, which features performances from Mary J. Blige, Bruno Mars, Big Sean, DJ Khaled, Future, Migos, Tamar Braxton, Trey Songz and SZA among others. New Edition gets a lifetime achievement award; Chance the Rapper gets a humanitarian award.

HBO’s two best comedies end their seasons. Richard has to go through hoops to make things right on the fourth season finale of “Silicon Valley” (HBO, 10 p.m.), which also features the last regular appearance of T.J. Miller’s Erlich Bachman. Then Selina prepares for the groundbreaking of her presidential library on the sixth season finale of “Veep” (HBO, 10:30 p.m.).

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Saturday TV: The Worst Idea for a Movie

roar“Roar: The Most Dangerous Movie Ever Made” (Animal Planet, 10 p.m.) chronicles the making of the 1981 film “Roar,” about a family beset by big game animals which resulted in serious injuries to the crew and its cast, that included Tippi Hedren and her daughter Melanie Griffith.

All told, the ill-fated flop “Roar” was 10 years in the making and resulted in the injuries of more than 70 people. The film’s story, about a family who dealt with 150 lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars and elephants, resulted in the so many bites for its director Noel Marshall, he contracted gangrene. Hedren, his wife, was bitten on the back of the head by a lion. Griffith, then a teenager, was clawed in the face by a lion. The cinematographer needed 120 stitches in his head.

The documentary about the fascinating failure represents a new direction in the network better known for Saturday night fare like “My Cat from Hell” (Animal Planet, 8 p.m.).

Unusual Saturday Night fare is the Nitro Circus Special: From Salt Lake City (NBC, 8 p.m.), with BMX, skate, inline and scooter action from the Nitro World games in Utah.

It’s a coincidence that tonight’s “20/20: In an Instant” (ABC, 9 p.m.) also takes place in Salt Lake City, in a hostage event at the library.

For its season finale “Doctor Who” (BBC America, 9 p.m.) falls into a black hole, and with it, the four year run of Peter Capaldi in the 12th incarnation as the title role.

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Review: Elvis Costello at Wolf Trap

IMG_4108At a time when heritage artists have been distinguishing their tours with reverent presentations of their classic albums, playing them in strict order, one side and then the other, Elvis Costello has found a more flexible vehicle in a tour to celebrate his 1982 ”Imperial Bedroom.”

A landmark album in his rich period of complex pop, it’s provided him with a playground, not only to revisit most (but not all) of its songs, but to veer off into other parts of his career. That means some of the early hits with the Attractions that are staples of his live shows, but also a couple of intriguing but as yet not recorded songs he wrote for a musical version of “A Face in the Crowd.”

Still, that means his generous show with the the Imposters at Wolf Trap Thursday skipped pretty much everything from his last 17 or so studio albums, dating back to 1986.

Costello, 62, already played the tour in the market, back in November, but had some new tricks up his sleeve for the outdoor venue, whose ambience on a hot summer night he likened to “the tropical bird house at Regent’s Park.”

Preparing a D.C. setlist, he said, “every song sounded like it was some bad satiric revue.”

He toyed with playing “Waiting for the End of the World,” for example, or “Brilliant Mistake.”

He ended up marking the political moment with “Accidents Will Happen.”

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Friday TV: Netflix’ New ‘GLOW’ Shines

GlowThe prim and petite Alison Brie would seem exactly the wrong person to star in “GLOW” (Netflix streaming), a new series based on the classic 80s series “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.” While that late night show celebrated tough and unconventional women in the ring, Brie seems too proper to be the center.

That’s something she also has to prove in the series. Executive produced by Jenji Kohan, creator of “Orange is the New Black” and “Weeds,” it’s full of humor and sharp commentary on female opportunities in the 80s; Brie’s surrounded by a diverse and interesting cast as well. And it’s great to see Marc Maron back on TV as the convincing crank organizing the league. This may well be your show of the summer, if you don’t tear through it too quickly.

Vintage Hulk Hogan pops up in the first episode of “Glow,” but is the basis of the documentary “Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press” (Netflix, streaming) which chronicles the wrestler’s suit against Gawker Media after a sex tape was released. Bankrolling Hogan’s defense, it turned out, was a billionaire intent on bringing down the company for previously outing him. Brian Knappenberger’s documentary shows the implication of that in his stand-alone documentary.

Alvin Ailey, Cyndi Lauper, activist Cleve Jones and the creators of “Will and Grace” are among those feted at the “Logo Trailblazer Awards” (Logo, VH1, 9 p.m.) which features appearances from Don Lemon, Debra Messing, Darren Criss, Tituss Burgess and Jussie Smollett.

It comes after “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1, 8 p.m.) crowns America’s Next Drag Superstar in what may have been its widest-seen season, its ninth.

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Thursday TV: ‘The Gong Show’ Returns

GongShowSummer’s here and it’s time for the silliest of TV fare.

Why not embrace it fully? As ABC does for the unexpected reboot of “The Gong Show” (ABC, 10 p.m.), which pretty much follows the format of the original show from Chuck Barris, the zany host who died earlier this year. The host this time could be even zanier, though. Introduced as Tommmy Maitland, a washed up British host with a million zingers, there’s something about him that seems familiar, especially as his catch phrase is “Who’s a cheeky monkey?”

The array of talent is not so different than the self-important stars of “America’s Got Talent”; just dumber concepts. The first panel of judges — Zack Galifianakis, Will Arnett and Ken Jeong — are each fans of absurdist comedy that they like every weird thing before them. It isn’t until a handful of acts that they consider even picking up a gong. Even so, their rating system is unpredictable; what some score as 10, others rate as zero. Not that any of it matters, which is why this may be fun: at least they realize it too.

Less welcome is the much more conventional talent hunt of “Boy Band” (ABC, 8 p.m.), which suggests that there’s even a need for a new N’Sync. Backstreet Boy Nick Carter is one judge, as is producer Timbaland and Emma Bunton, Baby Spice of the Spice Girls (with Mel B on “America’s Got Talent,” maybe we’ve found a steady career path for the whole girl group; Sporty Spice can get on “American Ninja”; Posh on “America’s Next Top Model”). Rita Ora hosts; they begin with 30 guys that they’ll whittle down. The winner will likely never be heard from again.

In the new summer series “The Mist” (Spike, 10 p.m.), bad things happen when a fog rolls in on a small Maine town. Based on a Stephen King story, it stars Morgan Spector, Alyssa Sutherland and Gus Birney in what sounds like a variant of the “Under the Dome” syndrome.

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Rock Review: U2 Does ‘The Joshua Tree’

IMG_4094Playing whole albums from past catalogs is the variation that has kept arenas full for classic rock acts. It’s a way to both break from the greatest hits format and the struggle to push a new product fans may not prefer while providing a one time celebration of the past.

U2 may be one of the few acts to fill football stadiums no matter what they are doing, but celebrating the 30th anniversary of “The Joshua Tree,” one of their most revered albums has made their current tour a quick sellout. Among the estimated 1.7 million fans in 33 stops Tuesday was the 45,000 or so at FedExField in Landover, Md., the stop closest to D.C.

It may be easy to dismiss such celebrations of the past as rekindling nostalgia for an audience that seemed strictly on the 40 and up side. But from the rat-a-tat of Larry Mullen’s initial clarion drumming to the initial words from Bono — “I can’t believe the news today; I can’t close my eyes and make it go away” — it was clear that the messages of much of the band were just as riveting and up to the moment as they may have been, in the case of the opening “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” 34 years ago.

How long must we sing this song, indeed.

The spray of songs that would normally make for the encore’s rush — “Sunday Bloody Sunday” followed by “New Year’s Day,” “Bad” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” brought an quick urgency and immediacy to the proceedings, especially as the attack of “Bad” and its foray into Paul Simon’s “America” set its sights at the soul of the country not far from its capitol.

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Wednesday TV: Yellowstone’s Thaw

yellowstone-homeIt just turns summer today and it’s already been too hot this week to fly planes in and out of Arizona, and extreme climate extremes have also affected one of America’s favorite national parks. In the three part series “Great Yellowstone Thaw” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings), Kirk Johnson, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History shows its affects, from overheated baby owls, to rising competition between grizzlies and wolves for food, to beavers adjusting dams due to rising water levels.

It follows a look into ocean life, “Big Pacific” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings).

Though it’s not quite as apocalyptic and bloody as its past finales, the third season closer for spring’s sharpest series, “Fargo” (FX, 10 p.m.), has its twists and satisfactions. It begins with both the IRS and Nikki Swango out after David Thewlis’ creepy villain V.M. Varga — and Carrie Coon’s splendid Gloria Burgle about to quit law enforcement altogether.

Also reaching its finale tonight is the comedy “Nobodies” (TV Land, 10 p.m.).

A kind of mix of science and daredevilry, “Outrageous Acts of Danger” (Science, 10 p.m.) goes to the edge to prove scientific principles, as when host Todd Sampson stands in front of an AK-47 in a swimming pool, or tries to climb a skyscraper using vacuum cleaners. Don’t try these experiments at home.

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