Tuesday TV: Romantic Series ‘Love Is __’

LoveIsThe new romantic series “Love Is __” (OWN, 10 p.m.) from Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, who worked together on “Being Mary Jane” and “Black Lightning,” is based on their own relationship as a couple working in Hollywood. Michele Weaver and Will Catlett, above, star in the series set in the 1990s.

As a couple, the Akils, who also worked on “Girlfriends” and “The Game,” aren’t much better known than, say, the gospel world’s Warryn and Erica Campbell, who star in their own reality series starting tonight “We’re the Campbells” (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.). He’s a music producer, she is a member of Mary Mary.

“Drunk History” (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.) returns with some new episodes, highlighting World War II. In addition to the Ghost Army trick, the episode has a timely look back at Japanese internment camps.

The NBA Finals could have gone as long as last Sunday, but ended at Game 4 with another Golden State win. Behind the scenes look at the truncated finals is found in the hour long documentary “Courtside at the NBA Finals” (HBO, 9 p.m.). Later, “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” (HBO, 10 p.m.), looks at crackdowns on dissent during Russia’s hosting of the World Cup.

A look at light, color and spiritual ecstasy takes “Civilizations” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings) from Gothic cathedrals to India to modern art.

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Jimmie Dale Gilmore Joins Dave Alvin

IMG_5821Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore had known each other for years on the Americana circuit, but it wasn’t until they joined forces for a brief acoustic tour last year did they find that they also cut their musical teeth watching blues greats at the old Ash Grove club in Los Angeles.

They decided to cut an album together for Yep Roc, Downey to Lubbock, that represented their respective hometowns and have gone out on tour together as a duo with the backing of Alvin’s band The Guilty Ones.

“I thought I was retired,” Gilmore, 73, said from the stage in explaining his gratitude at this late life venture. But the hollow wail of his unique tenor sounds just as compelling as it did in the Flatlanders . Together, their trading off of verses featuring personal traits on the album’s title song made for as entertaining a show theme song as you’d hope for. Then they followed largely with covers of songs by artists they both admired (and put on the album) as well as the best of the songs they’re known for.

That meant the lovely and enigmatic “Tonight I Think I’m Gonna Go Downtown,” “Dallas” and “My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own” (jumped up to a rockabilly beat) from Gilmore; and from Alvin, “Fourth of July” a couple weeks early, “Dry River” and “Marie, Marie” – the sole Blasters song.

They made an odd looking pair — Gilmore tall and gangly; his long white hair adding a ghostly appearance, opposite the solid and shorter Alvin, clad in his usual cowboy gear. Their two voices couldn’t be more different either. Gilmore’s high, keening lonely sound was opposite Alvin’s deep Western baritone. Trading off on songs meant a concise punch of their best stuff.

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Monday TV: MTV Movie & TV Awards

MTVMovieAwardsThe 2018 MTV Movie and TV Awards (MTV, VH1, BET, CMT, Comedy Central, TV Land, 9 p.m.) will be enlivened by its host, Tiffany Haddish, who is also nominated for Best Comedic Performance. .and Scene Stealer.  “Black Panther” and “Stranger Things” lead nominations with seven each. Chris Pratt will win the Generation Award; Lena Waithe will get the Trailblazer Award. Performers include Nick Jonas with Mustard and Chloe x Hall.

The experience of migration in the Mediterranean is seen from several perspectives in the documentary “It Will Be Chaos” (HBO, 8 p.m.) by Lorena Luciano and Fillippo. It includes two Syrian refugees en route to Germany and the arrival of thousands of immigrants in Italy.

In another documentary on “POV” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings), filmmaker Jonathan Olshefski focuses on a Philadelphia family raising a teen during the Obama years.

“Bachelor” producer Mike Fleiss seems to be exploding the conceit of his shows by having what happens over the course of a season flattened into a single hour on the new series “The Proposal” (ABC, 10 p.m.) in which ten even more desperate women line up in hopes of connecting with a single man who will propose to one of them by the end of show.

Taking more time with the choice, still, is “The Bachelorette” (ABC, 8 p.m.) on which Becca has time to test their lumberjacking skills.

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Sunday TV: Return of ‘The Affair’

theaffairIf there ever was a show that seemed built for a single season it was “The Affair” (Showtime, 9 p.m.). But it went on, with a second season that was about the aftermath of the first and a third that was just about disillusion.

For the fourth season, Noah Soloway has moved to California, following his wife’s move there with the kids after her new partner snared a top job at a hospital. There’s still all of those divorced dad problems struggling to see kids who maybe don’t want to see you anyway. And besides the cast of Dominic West and Maura Tierney (the other couple, Ruth Wilson and Joshua Jackson con’t appear in tonight’s season premiere), “The Affair” has that marvelous conceit of looking at a situation from two sides, which may be more necessary now than ever.

Two stories comprise “Man in an Orange Shirt” on “Masterpiece” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings). The first is set just after World war II when homosexuality was all but illegal, then jumps to the present time, when a grandson navigates contemporary gay life.

The new series “Deep State” (Epix, 9 p.m.) may share its title with a discredited right wing U.S. term, it’s actually an imported U.K. action spy series starring Mark Strong as an Mi6 agent brought back into action to avenge the death of his son.

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Saturday TV: The College World Series

CWSCan’t say there’s much new on TV today, but the College World Series begins in Omaha with a couple of games, North Carolina at Oregon State (ESPN, 3 p.m.) and Washington vs. Mississippi State (ESPN, 8 p.m.).

Add to the number of Saturday night animal shows one from a judge on “America’s Got Talent.” “Howie Mandel’s Animals Doing Things” (Nat Geo Wild, 9 p.m.), is a kind of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (ABC, 8 p.m.) for pets.

On the made for TV “Love at First Dance” (Hallmark, 9 p.m.) Becca Tobin stars as a woman hired to teach Manhattan’s former Most Eligible Bachelor (Niall Matter) how to dance for his wedding.

Idris Elba and Kate Winslet star in the thriller “The Mountain Between Us” (HBO, 8 p.m.), making its premium cable debut.

“Grease: Behind Closed Doors” (Reelz, 9 p.m.) looks into the making of the popular 1978 musical.

Koalas are rehabilitated on “Dodo Heroes” (Animal Planet, 9 p.m.).

“Truth and Lies: Tonya Harding” (ABC, 9 p.m.) gets a replay.

“Dr. Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet” (Animal Planet, 8 p.m.) tries to save a pit bull puppy.

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Friday TV: Second Season of ‘Goliath’

GoliathThe downside of the TV glut is overlooking some great series. One prime example is “Goliath” (Amazon, streaming), the well-wrought legal drama from David E. Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro starring Billy Bob Thornton. There are some threads to tie in the aftermath of the first season’s case, against a malevolent William Hurt. But mostly Thornton’s dissipated lawyer, spending the money from the last case and living by the beach has to be coaxed into looking into a double murder case involving the son of a friend (Lou Diamond Phillips).

There’s a political angle to this saga, and Mark Duplass plays a great comic lawyer in the tradition of Bob Odenkirk’s Saul. With relaxed, naturalistic dialogue and real life settings, it’s a series that doesn’t deserve to be missed.

Getting more attention: A second batch of shows from the new integration of “Queer Eye” (Netflix, streaming).

Also returning tonight online is the Ashton Kutcher comedy “The Ranch” (Netflix, streaming), whose main task in season five is writing out  Danny Masterson, who was fired in December after being accused of rape.

The much-promoted rom com “Set It Up” (Netflix, streaming) about assistants setting up their demanding bosses with each other, finally makes its debut.

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Thursday TV: The World Cup Begins

worldCupClear your schedule for a month and fire up the vuvuzela: The 2018 FIFA World Cup begins in Moscow, an odd location since Russia was banned from the Winter Olympics for doping earlier this year. The time change means that a lot of games in the quadrennial international soccer competition.will be live around midday in North America (which was awarded the 2026 games yesterday). Things kick off before noon with Russia vs. Saudi Arabia (Fox, 11 a.m.).

“Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce” (Bravo, 10 p.m.) returns for its fifth and final season, with Lisa Edelstein’s character posing a big question to her boyfriend.

The new series about a janitor turned rocket scientist “Strange Angel” (CBS All Access, streaming) is only available online.

A second season starts for the Marlon Wayons comedy “Marlon” (NBC, 9 and 9:30 p.m.), with two episodes.

Much time on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1, 8 p.m.) is given to promote his podcast and “hit” single “American.”

A new set of challengers step up on “The Four: Battle for Stardom” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

Brad’s country music singing competition begins on “Nashville” (CMT, 9 p.m.).

Bonnie tries to get a handle on finances on “American Woman” (Paramount, 10 p.m.), whose stars Alicia Silverstone and Mena Savari go up against one another on the first of two episodes of “Lip Sync Battle” (Paramount, 10:40 p.m.).

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Other Things I’ve Written Lately

TemptationsHere are some pieces I’ve written elsewhere in the last couple of months:

  • A little thing for the Washington Post Express about the choreography of the new musical on the Temptations.
  • My first piece in TV Guide, advancing the standalone finale of the Netflix series “Sense8.”
  • A feature about Dom Flemons’ new album about black cowboys for Folkways, as part of the label’s 70th anniversary.
  • A review of a world premiere play about a Pride Weekend gender switch.
  • A story about an innovative exhibit of silhouettes old and new at the National Portrait Gallery for SmithsonianMagazine.com.
  • A story about the roots of Prohibition, and a new docuseries about it.
  • A Q&A with the set designer of “Hamilton,” David Korins.
  • A look at a new show at the African Art Museum on the work of the Swahili coast.
  • A review of a couple of ballets from the Ballet Nacional de Cuba at the Kennedy Center.
  • A blurb about a new compilation album of bands whose member work at a coffee franchise, for Vinyl District.
  • A review of a thriller by a Canadian playwright at Spooky Action Theater.
  • A notice of a theater company’s production of “The Rite of Spring” that is more of a dance performance.
  • And while my music reviews for Vinyl District have also appeared here, this one of David Byrne came with some great pix on that site.
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TV: Fresh Hell from Gordon Ramsay

gordonRamsayGordon Ramsay has hosted some 15 or so shows in the past decade – and a handful of them are still running on Fox, such as “MasterChef” (Fox, 8 p.m.). Now, there’s yet another to add to them. “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back” (Fox, 9 p.m.) sounds a little like “Hell’s Kitchen” but plays out more like “Kitchen Nightmares” in that the gruff-talking chef from the U.K. comes in and re-arranges American eateries on the brink. The catch this time is that he has just a day to do so. The command post for the work with his team on the turnarounds is a giant truck called Hell on Wheels — which could be the name of a future Ramsay show.

A fourth season starts for the Mexican wrestling saga “Lucha Underground” (El Rey, 8 p.m.).

“Archer” (FXX, 10 p.m.) enters a deadly temple.

A Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School teacher competes in the Miami qualifiers of “American Ninja Warriors” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

“Code Black” (CBS, 10 p.m.) deals with a boat crash.

An extramarital dating website is hacked on “The Split” (Sundance, 11 p.m.).

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Belle and Sebastian at The Anthem

IMG_5795Belle and Sebastian’s current tour is a movable feast, where substantially different set lists are conjured each night, whole sections of musicians are added and subtracted, and the fun being had on stage is certainly contagious to those in the crowd.

The setup at the Anthem Saturday for the group was an odd one: general admission, but with seats. That provided comfort while awaiting the show, but once the band was onstage, everyone was on their feet for the duration.

With its roots in a kind of literary folk rock, the Glaswegian band has since broadened its sound to include the big beats of the dance floor.

The wide-ranging Pride weekend set Saturday, though, surprisingly kept away from the latest things, taking advantage of a five-piece string section — and a hired trumpet — to delve into much older things. Indeed, it was the 15 year old Dear Catastrophe Waitress that was the source of most of the night’s material, from the title track to “Lord Anthony” to the suddenly improper-sounding  “Step Into My Office, Baby.”

Band co-founder Stuart Murdoch is the main surviving voice of Belle and Sebastian, utterly precise and distinctive in his accented vocals. He seemed especially glad to be playing a relaxed show, where he strolled gingerly, balanced on the security fence between stage and crowd, counting on front row members to steady him; invited a few dozen fans on stage to dance along to “The Boy with the Arab Strap” and “The Party Line,” and told everyone to enjoy themselves inside, isolated from any of the various problems outside.

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