Sunday TV: Grammys at a Shaky Time

lizzo-live-dec-2019-rx-billboard-1548Newcomers top the nominees for The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards (CBS, 8 p.m.), but whether Lizzo (above) or Billie Eilish  go home with the big prize is secondary to the controversy roiling the Recording Academy, with just-ousted chair Deborah Dugan alleging rape in the ranks and a rigging of winners and nominees.

Anyway, there will be a whole lot of performances from Lizzo and Eilish as well as Aerosmith, BTS, Blake Shelton and Gwen StefaniAriana Grande, Demi Lovato, Camila Cabello, Brandi Carlile, H.E.R., Jonas Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Rosalía, Run-DMC, Tanya Tucker, Tyler the Creator, Charlie Wilson, Joshua Bell, Gary Clark Jr., Common, Misty Copeland, Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, Sheila E., Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled, Lang Lang, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Lil Nas X, Meek Mill, Ben Platt, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Roots, Trombone Shorty, Usher and YG.

“The Circus: Inside the Craziest Political Campaign on Earth” (Showtime, 8 p.m.) returns in time to test the waters in Iowa.

Also back is “Our Cartoon President” (Showtime, 8:30 p.m.), undergoing his own impeachment.

The two hour special “American Ninja Warrior: USA vs. The World” (NBC, 9 p.m.) has American competitors going after those from Europe and Australia.

“Shameless” (Showtime, 9 p.m.) reaches its 10th season finale; its next season will be its last.

It’s election night on the first season finale of “The L Word: Generation Q” (Showtime, 10 p.m.).

“Avenue 5” (HBO, 10 p.m.) tries to arrange a NASA rescue for the off-course space cruiser.

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Saturday TV: Courageous Doctors in Syria

theCaveThe Oscar-nominated “The Cave” (National Geographic, 9 p.m.), presented commercial-free, follows the work of a courageous female doctor who literally works underground in Syria to treat casualties of the ongoing war.

Those who still miss “Twin Peaks” must click on the weird new 17-minute film from David Lynch, “What Did Jack Do?” (Netflix, streaming), in which the eccentric director portrays a detective grilling a monkey named Jack Cruz over coffee in a train station. They trade non sequiturs (the monkey has a surrealistic human mouth) and there is a torch song sung (by the monkey) in glorious black and white.

The NHL All-Star Game (NBC, 8 p.m.) gets a rare Saturday night broadcast showcase from St. Louis. Other prime time sports include, from the NBA the Lakers at Philadelphia (ABC, 8:30 p.m.).

The latest far-flung veterinarians followed for a new series are Drs. Ben and Erin Schroeder, working out of Hartington, Neb., on the series “Heartland Docs, DVM” (Nat Geo Wild, 10 p.m.).

The new natural history series “Seven Worlds, One Planet” (BBC America, AMC, IFC, Sundance, 9 p.m.) takes a look at North America from the Yukon to Florida.

From what they’ve shown so far, the White House defense team might not have much to present when it’s their turn today at the Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump (CSPAN, CNN, MSNBC, 10 a.m.), which starts earlier than usual and is expected to only last a couple of house. But the defense  continues even more hysterically on such propaganda outlets as “Justice with Judge Jeanine” (Fox News, 9 p.m.).

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Friday TV: ‘Shrill’ and ‘Sabrina’ Both Return

shrill-season-2-1Second seasons begin for a couple of the most entertaining leading women in the streaming world.

Aidy Bryant stars in the sharp comedy “Shrill” (Hulu, streaming) that picks up the moment season one ended, when she quit her job and got revenge against an internet troll with a bit of vandalism.

A second season also starts for Kiernan Shipka in the “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” (Netflix, streaming) and with Sabrina having defeated Lucifer last time, now she has to get her boyfriend sprung from hell.

Healing and wellness, celebrity style, is served up on “The Goop Lab with Gwyneth Paltrow” (Netflix, streaming) which sounds like a product line infomercial.

It’s the final day for the prosecution in The Impeachment Trial (CSPAN, CNN, MSNBC, 1 p.m.) and the case is building.

The unusual sitcom “The Ranch” (Netflix, streaming), returns for an eighth and final season, with Ashton Kutcher, Elisha Cuthbert and Sam Elliott.

The Turkish import “Rise of the Empires: Ottoman” (Netflix, streaming) is a docmentary featuring such multi-accented Turkish stars as Cem Yiğit Üzümoğlu and Tuba Büyüküstün

The U.S. Figure Skating Championship (NBC, 8 p.m.) makes its debut on a broadcast network.

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Thursday TV: Streaming ‘Star Trek: Picard’

PicardIt’s the kind of role that hobbled his career but in the end, at 79, he succumbed to the title once again as the famous bald “Star Trek” commander in “Star Trek: Picard” (CBS All Access, streaming). The first few episodes are slow – he’s living on a vineyard and retired as a Starfleeet admiral, ruminating on the death of Data and Romulus. He must be encouraged to, as they say, re-engage.

Like the earlier streaming sequel, “Star Trek: Discovery,” a ton of money was thrown at the production, the gentler intent of the original 1966 series seem a long ago memory, and there’s an eventual jump to space warring.

Several faces from “The Next Generation” and “Voyager” pop up, including Jonathan Frakes, Jeri Ryan and Brent SPiner. But  I’m more taken by the fact that novelist Michael Chabon did not only helped write this but is its showrunner — a whole other career. But it’s hard to discern the show for his usual charm or sense of fun. Like old school TV, new episodes will trickle out weekly.

The exceedingly dumb new sitcom “Outmatched” (Fox, 8:30 p.m.) plays like a family populated with several Young Sheldons but parented by proud dopes, Jason Biggs and Maggie Lawson, who cower in the basement smoking pot.

J.C. MacKenzie and Tamara Taylor star as a married couple who fight evil and their monsters, aided by their teenage twins, in the new sci-fi horror series “October Faction” (Netflix, streaming), based on the comic of the same name.

The Impeachment Trial (CSPAN, CNN, MSNBC, 1 p.m.) is now restricted to fewer networks – even though it’s only happened three times in history.

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Wednesday TV: Awkwafina’s Own Show

AwkwafinaHot on the heels for her Golden Globe Award (for a film that wasn’t a comedy), Awkwafina stars in her own autobiographical series, “Awkwafina is from Nora from Queens” (Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, 10:30 p.m.) that presents a fictionalized account of her upbringing in an outerburough. She brings with her quite a distinguished cast, from Tony-winning BD Wong to “SNL” cast member Bowen Yang. But the scene stealer may be Lori Tan Chinn as a sly grandmother.

A timely new documentary series “Pandemic: How to Prevent and Outbreak” (Netflix, streaming) looks at heroes fighting influenza on the front lines, in six episodes.

The Impeachment Trial (CSPAN, CNN, MSNBC, 1 p.m.) continues; or maybe it’s still continuing from last night.

“Expedition with Steve Backshall” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) attempts to kayak across the world’s largest fjord in Greenland.

Emilio sees an opportunity in catering on the side on “Party of Five” (Freeform, 9 p.m.).

“Chicago Med” deals with a school bus crash; “Chicago Fire” (NBC, 9 p.m.) is hindered by false alarms from a private school; “Chicago P.D.” (NBC, 10 p.m.) brings down a group of dirty cops.

Davia’s attempt to reach her students goes wrong on “Good Trouble” (Freeform, 10 p.m.).

Not only did I meet the Utah family being helped tonight on “Supernanny” (Lifetime, 10 p.m.) last week at press tour, I took a picture of them.

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Tuesday TV: Impeachment Trial Begins

ImpeachmentClear your afternoons. The Impeachment Trial (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CSPAN, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, 1 p.m.) begin in the U.S. Senate, and will continue afternoons through the week. Chief Justice John Roberts presides. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is looking to end the thing as soon as possible and not call any witnesses. But the majority also control the cameras, so they’ll have say about what viewers see and hear.

“Frontline” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) is on the ground in Afghanistan with exclusive access to ISIS and the top negotiator of the Taliban.

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” (CW, 9 p.m.) begins its fifth season and the legends are all famous.

“Project Blue Book” (History, 10 p.m.) returns for its second season, this time in Roswell, N.M.

There’s a new standup comedy special, “Fortune Feimster: Sweet & Salty” (Netflix, streaming).

Terry Gross, Jeff Goldblum and Marc Maron are “Finding Your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates Jr.” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings).

Discussions of the bombing of Auschwitz are on “Secrets of the Dead” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings).

Brenda Blethyn returns for the 10th season of “Vera” (Britbox, streaming) the detective series with a case that touches on corporate corruption.

Becky brings home a Cheesehead to watch the Packers-Bears game amid the Chicago fans on “The Connors” (ABC, 8 p.m.).

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Monday TV: ‘Spy Games’ vs. ‘Brain Games’

spy-games-cast-800x500Let the games begin.

On the new “Spy Games” (Bravo, 10 p.m.), pictured above, ten contestants test to see if they can enter the world of espionage. The returning “Brain Games” (National Geographic, 8 p.m.) begins a new season with Keenan Michael Key at the helm and more of a focus on celebrity participants.

The third documentary to debut in five days about the NFL star turned murderer, the two hour “Aaron Hernandez: An ID Murder Mystery” (Investigation Discovery, 9 p.m.) follows the premieres of the docuseries “Killer Inside the Mind of Aaron Hernandez” (Netflix, streaming) that began Wednesday, and the three-hour “Aaron Hernandez: Killing Fields” (Reelz, 8 p.m.) that ran Saturday.

Marcus Samuelson visits the Armenian community in Los Angeles on a new “No Passport Required” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings).

John Malkovich finally gets a decent showcase on “The New Pope” (HBO, 9 p.m.).

A Somalian refugee is shocked when’s son is arrested in an FBI counterterrorism sting in a new film on “Independent Lens” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings).

The remaining women go on a group date with “The Bachelor” (ABC, 8 p.m.).

“America’s Got Talent: The Champions” (NBC, 8 p.m.) welcomes another 10 former contestants to perform.

“The Good Doctor” (ABC, 10 p.m.) tries to treat a patent with severe swelling.

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Sunday TV: Space Cruising on ‘Avenue 5′

Avenue-5-HBOThe new comedy “Avenue 5” (HBO, 10 p.m.) is set on a space cruise ship in the future where a pleasure trip around Saturn goes seriously off course and there’s no help to be held from a staff that includes a captain played by Hugh Laurie and a rich twit owner played by Josh Gad and a scattered customer relations head played by Zach Woods.

But creator Armando Iannucci, whose previous gems include “Veep,” “The Thick of It” and “The Death of Stalin,” says there is a political metaphor tucked into it as well. “I want it to kind of feed off that generally slightly indefinable sense of unease that people have at the moment,” he told reporters at the TV Critics Association winter press tour earlier this month.

Complaints about modern life and its customs has been at the heart of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO, 10:30 p.m.), which begins its 10th season tonight with Larry getting into a feud with Mocha Joe.

Rob Lowe plays a firefighter who survived 9/11 called to Austin to run a paramedic squad in Austin in the new “9-1-1 Lone Star” (Fox, 10 p.m.), a spinoff of the network’s hit procedural. Liv Tyler is also part of the cast.

The 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (TBS and TNT, 8 p.m.) distinguishes itself by honoring whole ensembles of films and movies. It is presented live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

Super Bowl teams will be determined in the AFC championship game of Tennessee at Kansas City (CBS, 3 p.m.) and NFC championship game, Green Bay at San Francisco (Fox, 6:30 p.m.).

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Saturday TV: Australia Before the Fires

sevenworldsThe latest vast, mind-blowing nature series “Seven Worlds, One Planet” (BBC America, 9 p.m.) brings viewers to impossible corners of the globe to witness fascinating, often previously unseen species.

“This was the first time that we’ve went to the natural world through the continents,” producer Emma Napper told reporters at the TV Critics Association winter press tour this week in Pasadena.

Executive producer Jonny Keeling says though he’s worked on projects like “Planet Earth” and “Planet Earth II,” he was worried he wouldn’t find anything new in this series. “But, actually, in this series in every single episode there’s something really new and exciting and unexpected, and that’s what I really love about it.” Hans Zimmer’s score enhances the crisp photography. And of course David Attenborough narrates. Because of the recent disastrous fires there, the series begins with a look at Australia. And it won’t be too hard to find, as it will be simulcast on sister stations AMC, IFC and Sundance.

The latest made-for-TV movie from the headlines is “Stolen by My Mother: The Kaliyah Mobley Story” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.) about the Florida case of a newborn snatched by a woman posing as a nurse in 1998 and raised by her so long the child didn’t learn of what happened until she was 18. Niecy Nash and Ta’Rhonda Jones star. Then it’s followed by an interview with the actual victim on “Beyond the Headlines: The Kaliyah Mobley Story with Robin Roberts” (Lifetime, 10 p.m.).

The story of the NFL star who became a killer is investigated in the three hour true crime series “Aaron Hernandez: Killing Fields” (Reelz, 8 p.m.), shown all at once.

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Friday TV: Eight Immigrant Stories

LittleAmericaEight immigrant stories comprise the new anthology series from Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, “Little America” (Apple TV+, streaming), based on stories in Epic Magazine. A second season was already ordered.

There are two new projects on competing streaming services about ambitious preteen girls. “Diary of a Future President” (Disney+, streaming) stars Tess Romero as a Cuban American middle school girl with dreams of the White House.  Gina Rodriguez plays her eventual, grownup self and narrates.

In the new movie “Troop Zero” (Amazon, streaming), a space-obsessed 12 year old in 1977 hopes to get her girl scout troop recorded for the Voyager I. Mckenna Grace, Viola Davis, Jim Gaffigan and Allison Janney star.

In the Canadian sci-fi import “Endlings” (Hulu, streaming) four foster teenagers band together to try and save alien species.

The new eight-episode Dutch horror series “Ares” (Netflix, streaming) a pair of college friends stumble upon a secret society in Amsterdam that aligns the rich with the evil.

In the new Tyler Perry film “A Fall From Grace” (Netflix, streaming) Crystal Fox plays a woman who is on trial when her husband is found murdered. Bresha Webb, Phylicia Rashad and Cicely Tyson also star.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and candidate Andrew Yang are on “Real Time with Bill Maher” (HBO, 10 p.m.) as it begins its 18th season, which also welcomes Rep. Joe Walsh, Jon Meecham and Kara Swisher.

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