Monday TV: Strangely Familiar New Sitcom

ManWithaPlanCBS is adamant at creating a sitcom slate that can be easily mistaken for the continuation of old shows. So if “Kevin Can Wait” (CBS, 8 p.m.) is just a slightly retooled “King of Queens,” the new “Man With a Plan” (CBS, 8:30 p.m.) has as its main feature flaunting another familiar face. Matt LeBlanc of “Friends” and “Joey” (as well as cable’s “Episodes”) returns to broadcast TV as a dad who raises the kids while mom (Liza Snyder) goes to work. Not the most original premise, nor one fraught with much humor.

The other sitcom intended to remind you of the past: Another member of “Friends,” Matthew Perry, in an even older format: “The Odd Couple” (CBS, 9:30 p.m.).

On “POV” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings), a family deals with a son’s cancer by devising a video game.

“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.) talks to female leaders at the United Nations.

The eighth season of “Hotel Impossible” (Travel, 10 p.m.), which fixes up three South Dakota hotels in the premiere in advance of the Sturgis motorcycle rally, is accompanied by a new upscale spin-off, “Hotel Impossible: Five Star Secrets” (Travel, 11 p.m.), in which Anthony Melchiorri looks at what makes luxury hotels work.

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Sunday TV: Ramos Finds ‘Hate Rising’

ramos-haterising1Jorge Ramos, who Donald Trump threw out of a press conference this year, reports on the growth of white supremacist groups that have been encouraged by this election in the documentary “Hate Rising” (Fusion, Univision, 10 p.m.), presented on two networks in two languages.

“The Walking Dead” (AMC, 9 p.m.) returns for its seventh season with a question to answer: Who was Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan beating to death with his barbed-wire covered bat at the end of last season? Then there’s more gore after that, presumably.

“Talking Dead” (AMC, 10:06 p.m.) talks giddily about the proceedings immediately after, with Morgan, Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reeds, Lauren Cohan and Steven Yeun as guests, from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

On a new “Insecure” (HBO, 10:30 p.m.), Jared meets Molly’s friends.

Emmy Rossum takes a turn behind the camera on “Shameless” (Showtime, 9 p.m.), directing her first episode.

Dr. Ford talks about the future of the park on “Westworld” (HBO, 9 p.m.).

“Edge of Alaska” (Discovery, 10 p.m.) starts its third season, with Neil trying to open the Motherload mine to tourists.

Krusty introduces a new candy, Krustaceans, on a new episode of “The Simpsons” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

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Saturday TV: ‘Weiner’ Laid Bare

weiner-sundance-2016If timing were a little better, they could have shown the documentary “Weiner” (Showtime, 9 p.m.) in late August, about the time of his last sexting indiscretion of the former Congressmen, the one that caused the separation to his wife. But that one is still in the news — last week feds were interviewing a 15 year old on the receiving end of those transmissions.

But there’s enough in the previous downfalls of the congressman to make for compelling viewing in the documentary by a couple of people Josh Kriegman and Elyse Sternberg to chronicle the innermost tragedies of the last indiscretion, when his comeback race for Mayor of New York was suddenly undone. Fascinating political watching. And like his own bad habits, the movie also repeats at 10:35 p.m.

It runs opposite a new documentary “Rats” (Discovery, 9 p.m.) from Morgan Spurlock. Sparked by Robert Sullivan’s best seller in 2004, it aims to scare you into the predominance of the rodents in cities, to the point where they’ll crawl up your toilet. Watching this may change your seat-down habits for life. The two hour documentary is prefaced by a special episode of “Naked and Afraid” (Discovery, 8 p.m.) set in Thailand where the two have to fight off rats and monkeys for food.

Elijah Wood is pretty good in roles where he’s trying to figure out what’s going on. The latest such role is as an assistant to “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” (BBC America, 9 p.m.). Unfortunately, Gently, as played annoyingly by Samuel Barnett, is the biggest detraction to the series, adapted from the novels of Douglas Adams that means to solve crimes by the supposed interconnectedness of all things. The series, which clumsily blends humor and gore, is meant to fill in on Saturday nights until “Doctor Who” returns. It’s one of the first original series from the U.S. offshoot of the BBC.

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Playlist 10-21-16

RadioCPR2A whole lot of Chess Records classics tonight, to celebrate the legacy of the classic Chicago blues label’s co-founder, Phil Chess, who died this week at 95. Heard a few Rolling Stones recordings they cut there as well.

Started with a salute to guitarist Steve Cropper who turned 75 today and noted what would have been the 70th birthday of Lux Interior, the lead singer of the Cramps who died in 2009 at 62. Also a bit from Emmylou Harris who was in town playing a benefit show earlier tonight.

Here’s what I played on the radio tonight:

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A Documentary Worthy of ‘Hamilton’

HamiltonAfter a bestselling soundtrack, coffee table book, and record breaking run on Broadway, where it’s won 11 Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, the much lauded “Hamilton” also now has a documentary worthy of it.

“Hamilton’s America,” making its debut on “Great Performances” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) has the advantage of telling the entire story of the phenomenon, from when it first popped into Lin-Manuel Miranda’s head to when he teased the first song at the White House in 2009, to writing it song by song while ensconced in historic locations that inspired him, such as Aaron Burr’s Manhattan bedroom.

His devising of the musical wasn’t as easy as it looks as he struggled to shape the story and compose new songs.

That director Alex Horowitz was an old friend at Wesleyan gained him entry to these early struggles, but the film also excels in giving a context to Hamilton’s story through a dizzying array of interviews with not only Ron Chernow, whose book inspired the musical, but various historians, secretaries of the treasury and two Presidents — George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Miranda’s fame gets him audiences with anyone, it seems, from Stephen Sondheim to Nas — both of whom are influences.

The film is also injected with many scenes from the musical — as close as many of us will get to the work in several years — as well as insightful interviews with the original cast, who also go visit key places in their character’s lives.

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New Batch of Exquisite ‘Black Mirror’

BlackMirror_EP3_nosedive_0101rLike a 21st Century “Twilight Zone” whose anthology of chilling stories look at the drawbacks of technology, the British “Black Mirror” (Netflix, streaming) is back after a nearly two year absence with six new stories, bigger budgets and better known stars.

Kelly MacDonald is a London detective looking into a killer online campaign in “Hated in the Nation.” Rashida Jones and Michael Schur co wrote “Nosedive,” which stars Bryce Dallas Howard as someone obsessed with her social media standing. And one shocking episode goes back to pre-cellphone 1987.

“These new episodes are certainly more ambitious, ambitious in scale, ambitious in terms of the talent we are working with, ambitious in some of the worlds, as well, that we have created,” executive producer Annabel Jones told reporters at the summer press tour of the TV Critics Association. “But I hope that they still feel very grounded and at the heart there’s a human story and a human dilemma that we’re exploring. So we try to sort of create entertaining ultimately entertaining but thought provoking dramas, but that also have a human element, a real human story.

Said the other executive producer, Charlie Brooker, “Technology is never the villain in this show. It’s always kind of there. It’s always about human failings and human messes, basically, that technology has helped facilitate.”

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Also on Friday: Crazier and Exier

crazy-ex-girlfriend-season-2The second season starts for last year’s broadcast standout “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (The CW, 9 p.m.), with Rebecca convinced her love for Josh is reciprocated. Greg, meanwhile, is missing altogether and Paula is eyeing law school.

Besides being so funny Zach Galifianakis is a pretty good political commentator from his talks “Between Two Ferns” to now on “America Divided: Democracy for Sale” (Epix, 9 p.m.), in which he looks into the gerrymandering and squeezing of voting rights in his native state of North Carolina.

The eighth season starts for “The Vampire Diaries” (The CW, 8 p.m.) with Stefan still in search of damon and Enzo. Its start comes just before Halloween, as dos the ninth season of “A Haunting” (TLC, 9 p.m.).

More vampire stuff happens on “Van Helsing” (Syfy, 10 p.m.).

But things are always scary on “The Exorcist” (Fox, 9 p.m.).

Way too soon for “High Maintenance” (HBO, 11 p.m.) to be ending its first season.

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Time Warped ‘Rocky Horror’ Remake

rocky-horror-press-fox-2016-billboard-1548What do you expect from a new version of a naughty old film musical as directed by the guy behind “High School Musical.”

Well, the new TV version with the full title “The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again” (Fox, 8 p.m.) by Kenny Ortega may seem tame for the medium — or changes in society that make Frank-N-Furter “the sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania” not that shocking or threatening any more.

Laverne Cox of “Orange is the New Black” takes on the role originated by Tim Curry, who returns to narrate.

Otherwise, it’s a Nickelodeon generation of stars including Victoria Justice and Ryan McCartan as Janet and Brad, and Adam Lambert popping up as Eddie. Christina Milian and Ben Vereen are also part of the network musical.

What was once the grandaddy of midnight movies because of the audience participation that grew organically from its fans, once its rituals have been incorporated into the production, the jig is up.

Still on board with the TV version is the show’s original producer Lou Adler, who was best known through his career as a record producer, of Carole King’s “Tapestry” and many hits by the Mamas & the Papas, not to mention helping put on the original Monterey Pop festival.

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Also on Thursday: More Country Honors

Aly Raisman,Carrie Underwood,Madison KocianAn excuse for country stars to gather is the 2016 CMT Artists of the Year (CMT, 9 p.m.) with Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapleton, Florida Georgia Line Thomas Rhett and Luke Bryan all to be honored. Shania Twain, pictured left, will receive a lifetime honor and Kelsea Ballerini will be named breakout artist.

The comedy duo returns with a sports-minded special, the “Key & Peele Sportsball Spectacular” (Comedy Central, 9 p.m.).

In the new spin-off “Project Runway: Fashion Startup” (Lifetime, 10:30 p.m.) leans more to the business end of fashion, with entrepreneurs pitching fashion ideas to industry bigwigs, “Shark Tank” style. It comes after a new episode of the mother show, “Project Runway” (Lifetime, 9 pm.) that has Emily Ratajkowski as guest judge.

Maybe you’re sick of them by now, but the final time Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be in the same room before election day will be to deliver remarks at New York’s annual Al Smith Memorial Dinner (C-SPAN, 8:50 p.m.). They’re supposed to be self-deprecating, humorous remarks, but that will remain to be seen.

Thursday Night Football has Chicago at Green Bay (CBS, 8:25 p.m.). The Chicago team to watch tonight might be the Cubs as Game 5 of the National League Championship Series of Chicago at Los Angeles (Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m.) with the series tied 2-2.

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Wednesday TV: One Last, Bitter Time

presidential-debateYou may just miss them when they’re gone. Maybe not. But tonight is the last of this year’s Presidential Debates (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, C-SPAN, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Univision, 9 p.m.) between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, though there can’t be more than a handful by now who haven’t made up their mind. Chris Wallace of Fox News hosts, so will Trump still accuse it of collusion and being rigged? It all occurs at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. But whatever happens there won’t stay in Vegas.

Hugh Laurie returns to TV in “Chance” (Hulo, streaming) as a different kind of doctor than “House” — a forensic neuropsychiatrist who is also the target of a patient’s abusive husband. Gretchen Mol and Paul Edelstein also star in the thriller.

It’s that time of year: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (ABC, 8 p.m.).

Tribes are switched up on “Survivor” (CBS, 8 p.m.) just as Gen X becomes frantic about finding a new hidden immunity idol.

Cinematographer Vianet D’jenguet revisits his homeland, Congo, on a new episode of “Nature” (PBS, 8 p.m.).

On a new “You’re the Worst” (FXX, 10 p.m.), Jimmy appears on Vernon’s podcast.

Bob Costas, Al Michaels and Vince Staples join “Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

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