Friday TV: Netflix Doc on Dead’s Bob Weir

weirdocThe most youthful of the founding members of the Grateful Dead, Bob Weir, is now the grizzled survivor who can tell the tale of the long running band having something of a reunion this summer, in the documentary “The Other One: The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir” (Netflix, streaming).

Mike Fleiss, the “Bachelor” producer who previously co-directed the music documentary “God Bless Ozzy Osbourne,” allows Weir to talk about band history history, feelings toward Dead fans, the plight of being a chick magnet and his relationship with the late Jerry Garcia. Weir also drives around  old haunts in Haight-Ashbury and points out where the band lived and played. And yes, there’s some music, too.

Also new online today is the standup comedy special “Jen Kirkman: I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine)” (Netflix, streaming). And also on the service a third season comes for the series “Richie Rich” (Netflix, streaming), adapted from the comic book.

Rhiannon Giddens, Aloe Blacc, Gavin DeGraw, Harvey Keitel, Nick Jonas, Arturo Sandoval, Whitney Cummings, Jerry Lewis, Rob Riggle, J.R. Martinez, Gregory Porter  and the American Military Spouses Choir all perform for veterans on “The Lincoln Awards: A Concert for Veterans and the Military Family” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings). It may be notable, however for bringing Brian Williams back to TV, though he taped this in January before he was suspended as NBC News anchor.

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Thursday TV: Netflix’ ‘Between,’ Noses

betweenIn a small city of Pretty Lake, the old folks are dying. Actually, everybody over 22. Which makes it a prime place for a new CW drama (or a remake of “Wild in the Streets”). Instead, the six episode sci-fi drama “Between” (Netflix, streaming) exists online, with a new episode dropping every week for a change, putting the kibosh on the binge option. Accordingly, it has a start time: 5:30 p.m. Eastern, 8:30 Pacific. It features former kid star Jennette McCurdy of “iCarly,” all grown up (but not grown up enough to die).

In what will now be TV’s longest charity telethon of the year, “Red Nose Day” (NBC, 8 p.m.) makes its U.S. debut. Based on similar events from the UK the three hour jumble of comedy skits and music is meant to raise money for a number of different children’s charities. Among those taking part include John Legend, Jack Black, Christina Aguilera, Gwyneth Paltrow, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Will Ferrell, Jennifer Hudson, Sam Smith, Adam Levine, Martin Short and  Sean “Diddy” Combs. Seth Meyers, David Duchovny and Jane Krakowski host.

David Letterman is really gone. For the first time in 22 years, there’s no late night talk show on CBS — at least until September. For now, reruns of “The Mentalist” (CBS, 12:35 a.m.).

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Tonight is Letterman’s Last ‘Late Show’

Picture 7.JPGNo details have been released about what exactly will happen on tonight’s very last episode of “The Late Show with David Letterman” (CBS, 11:35 p.m.).

That doesn’t mean there will be no guests. I’m guessing Letterman would be as uncomfortable just talking out the hour as you would be listening to it.

An admirer of Johnny Carson, he’d probably prefer being succinct and sincere at the end of the program though there’s no saying he won’t go splat with a Velcro suit either.

Jay Leno, who was batted about as a final guest, would put an end to that long rivalry perhaps, but apparently that’s not going to happen either. Maybe a string of stars will run in, one after another, the way Jimmy Fallon began his show.

It will be a big thing, though. One you ought to watch. Because after he’s gone, despite whatever Stephen Colbert will accomplish in the same studio in September, it won’t ever be quite like this.

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Also on Wednesday: ‘Survivor’ Finale, Too

survivorFinale night for “Survivor” (CBS, 8 p.m.) is always fun, but it may struggle to be so this woeful season, so full of unlikable characters, lack of action and bad moves. And if it’s OK to go through people’s stuff to see their secret clue, what prevents them from stealing hidden immunity idols as well? At any rate, whoever wins might want to give the million bucks to that Boston lug Rodney, though. He never won reward and it was his birthday, man.

Now we know why Richard Quest seems like such an oddball correspondent when he’s called upon to over dramatically cover all things British: He’s better suited to be a game show host. So in the tradition of stern schoolmarm Anne Robinson of “The Weakest Link,” Quest (who we can only hope has son named Jonny) presents the “500 Questions” (ABC, 8 p.m.) to the brave contestants in a show meant to last just seven episodes (lest it take over the airwaves and burn out as did the primetime “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.”

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Dylan’s Last Stand at ‘Late Night’


Bob Dylan’s return to “The Late Show with David Letterman” Tuesday for its penultimate broadcast was, like the rest of the show and the one Monday too a little wandering.

The final Letterman shows may have reached their peak last week, when big stars like Al Pacino walked in to read Top 10 lists unannounced, where George Clooney handcuffed himself to Dave to keep him from going (a gag that lasted two nights, since the Thursday and Friday editions are taped the same night); when Tom Waits unveiled a new song and Norm MacDonald had a funny and heartfelt tribute to the host.

This week, Tom Hanks and Eddie Vedder Monday spoke to an earlier, not so special episode. Bill Murray, for his part Tuesday, broke through in a cake and got frosting all over. Then he seemed pretty wiped out and Letterman tried to pry “Caddyshack” details out of him.

This made Dylan have more life by comparison and he was the oldest guy on the show. He turns 74 Sunday; Letterman is 68; Murray, 64.

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Tuesday TV: The Road to Torture

Stryker Brigade Patrols For Insurgents in IraqThe latest episode of “Frontline” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) begins at the premiere of “Zero Dark Thirty,” the Hollywood hit that purported the inside story of the killing of Osama bin Laden. The movie’s supposedly inside details were provided by the CIA, bent on keeping up the illusion that its “enhanced interrogations” led to the killing.

Actually, the techniques of torture were not only illegal by Geneva or any moral standards, they didn’t work. But that wasn’t known until details were told in a massive torture report finally released in December after much effort to suppress it. Tonight’s important report by Michael Kirk, “Secrets, Politics and Torture,” is perhaps the most succinct — and hence shocking — report of how your government became one that tortures, denies it, and  scrambles to cover it up.

A winner is named on both “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC, 9 p.m.) where Patti LaBelle, Sia and Jason Derulo will also perform; and “The Voice” (NBC, 9 p.m.), where other performers will be Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, John Fogerty, Meghan Trainor, Luke Bryan and Ed Sheehan. A fifth hour of “The Voice” this week comes at 8 p.m. with a recap.

Also reaching its first season finale tonight is “The Flash” (The CW, 8 p.m.).

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Theatre Review: ‘No Rules Sketch Show’

sketch3A comedy sketch show by nature is hit or miss. What the plucky No Rules Theatre Company attempts to do in ”The No Rules Sketch Show” at Signature Theatre in Arlington actually pretty much follows every rule of contemporary sketch work by including some slightly topical humor, some celebrity impersonations, broad physical comedy and a lot of bawdiness meant to be enhanced by the available cocktails.

Like a lot of sketch ensembles, especially that of, say “Saturday Night Live,” the work succeeds as much in the inherent manic energy of the individual performers as from the writing, which can be either flat or, at one point, completely wrong-headed.

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Monday TV: Post-Segregated Prom Season

southern-ritesGillian Laub ruffled some feathers when she went down to Montgomery County, Ga., in 2009 and photographed one of the most glaring vestiges of segregation in the South – separate proms for races just as they used to have separate drinking fountains. (Some locals said it made them look racist, imagine that).

The result was a memorable spread in the New York Times Magazine. She returned to finish the story, when they decided to have their first integrated prom a year later and stumbled onto a more complicated local story: A young black man shot by a white man, who was guardian to a young black woman the victim was visiting. The resulting story on the documentary “Southern Rites” (HBO, 9 p.m) points to how ingrained and messy the simplest of stories can seem.

Even when tables are occasionally turned, and  ”The Bachelor” can become “The Bachelorette” (ABC, 9 p.m.), men still sometimes hold the power. That happens tonight when two women, Britt Nilsson and Kaitlyn Bristowe, who lucked out by not being chosen by small-town Iowa farmboy Chris Soules last season, have to compete to decide which will proceed as official Bachelorette.

That means the 25 potential suitors will be judging them that first cocktail party and making their own deciding votes. Women never seem to win on this thorny show of rose-giving.

Soules was a castoff himself, not only on the previous “Bachelorette,” but this season on “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC, 8 p.m.), which has its final dance-off tonight between its three remaining “stars,” one who is the daughter of stars, another who is a singer of a band you’ve never heard of, the third is a personal trainer. The show has been renewed for another year, but it should be renamed “Dancing without the Stars.”

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‘Mad Men’ Finale: Don Goes Om


Don Draper has been off the rails for a few episodes now on “Mad Men.” He walked out of a meeting and just took off driving, first to look for a waitress with a sorrowful look in her eyes that seemed to speak to him, and then just out West, where he got beat up after a night out at the VFW and was last seen sitting on a park bench in the rural nowhere, having given his Cadillac away to a young con artist so he can begin life on a better start.

Don saw something familiar in him as well; he had, after all, taken somebody else’s name and built his life on a fraudulent premise in an industry that praises just that type of behavior. But now he had just had it and, in the parlance of the time, dropped out (though nobody used that phrase in the show).

By the time the highly anticipated finale began, he was out on the desert cranking up the speed on an experimental car — grist for those who still believed Don would turn out to be D.B. Cooper (a crazy notion based on the idea that every series since “Lost” has to have a big revealing explanation).

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The Very End of ‘Mad Men’


It’s been an unexpectedly emotional week in front of the TV, alternating between a backlog of recent episodes of “Late Night with David Letterman” and the entire run of “Mad Men” (AMC, 10 p.m.).

Letterman’s retirement is something we’ve seen coming, but the last couple weeks of shows have been extraordinary, relaxed, with the very best guests and superbly curated combination of songs and musical performers. There’s a lightness in his mood and a diplomacy with which he’s received his deserved accolades.

“Mad Men,” too, had an expiration date as the 60s ran out. But immersing myself in the current marathon of all seven seasons of the show, leading up to the finale tonight has made me much more appreciative of all it has accomplished and the consistently high quality with which every episode was made.

More than once I’ve stood and said of both shows, This can’t end! Something must be done! Somebody do something! It’s almost a matter of preserving a segment of American culture and experience and holding on to it.

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