Thursday TV: A Third Season for ‘Quantico’

quantico-season3“Quantico” (ABC, 10 p.m.), begins its third season with three years having gone by since the last — with Alex living peacefully in Italy, though Ryan needs her to help rescue Shelby from an arms dealer. Marlee Matlin joins the cast.

The first round of The NFL Draft (Fox, ESPN, NFL 8 p.m.) gets a prime time broadcast platform (and coverage on two cable networks).

Paper Boi is rumored to be at a pajama party on “Atlanta” (FX, 10 p.m.).

“Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, 8 p.m.) calls in crisis management.

How about some German standup comedy? Here’s “Enissa Amani: Ehrenwort” (Netflix, streaming).

Ronnie is still on a downward spiral all these years later on “Jersey Shore Family Vacation” (MTV, 8 p.m.).

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon are guest judges on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1, 8 p.m.), as the queens produce their own Drag Con.

On “Nobodies” (TVLand, 10 p.m.), Rachel and Larry try to get Kristen Wiig in their pilot.

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Who Was Azaria’s ‘Brockmire’ Inspiration?

BrockmireThere are a lot of vile jokes and uproarious situations in the series “Brockmire,” in which Hank Azaria plays a slightly unhinged alcoholic sports announcer.

But there’s nothing funnier in the show, which begins its second season on IFC tonight, than Azaria’s central impersonation of a Midwestern sports announcer who uses that flat cadence to describe everything including, in its first episode, an explicit reverie about his wife’s unfaithfulness that gets him kicked off his major league job.

There’s something tremendously satisfying about speaking in what is a beloved character voice to me, baseball announcer, and saying these absolutely insane and sometimes really insightful things,” Azaria says.

It’s all because he uses that familiar tone and cadence that’s less frequently heard in real life but was once as common in sports broadcasting booths as the loud plaid sportsjacket Brockmire also wears.

At the TV Critics Association winter press tour, I asked about the inspirations for Brockmire, who first appeared in a celebrated 2010 video on Funny or Die, which is listed as a producer of the IFC series.

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Also on Wednesday: ‘Handmaid’s’ Return

Handmaid’s_TaleThe multiple Emmy-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu, streaming) begins its second season unmoored from its Margaret Atwood source material, as Elisabeth Moss’s remarkable Allred faces the fate for trying to escape the appalling oppression of women that marks the too-familiar American society in the near future and heads to Canada.

Even more of the action seems to happen within Moss’ expressive face, but the producers do a good job keeping the all-too-conceivable horror going in this well-wrought cautionary tale. Two episodes stream tonight, with new episodes each Wednesday.

Meghan Markle, who will walk down the aisle in a royal wedding next month, walks down another one tonight in a precursor ceremony marking her final appearance as Rachel Zane in the two-part season finale of “Suits” (USA, 10 p.m.). She will be busy doing other things in the future presumably.

A drug bust and shootout begin the third season starts for the hospital drama “Code Black” (CBS, 10 p.m.) that stars Marcia Gay Harden, Rob Lowe and Luis Guzmán.

The popular animated spy caper “Archer” has, in recent seasons, gone with wildly different settings and approaches for its cast of characters. For season nine, “Archer: Danger Island” (FXX, 10 p.m.), is placed in the South Pacific in World War II.

“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.) gets to know Mike Pompeo.

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Other Things I’ve Written Lately

SallyMannTreeHere are some other things I’ve written in other places in the last couple of months:

  • A look at an illuminating new photo show by Sally Mann at the National Gallery of Art for the Washington Post Express.
  • A preview of the new PBS series “Civilizations” for Smithsonian Magazine.com.
  • Reviewing a play about revolutionary-minded sisters in the Dominican Republic at GALA Hispanic Theatre.
  • A story about the time jump for the final season of the series “The Americans.”
  • Talking to an artist who manipulated old Calvin & Hobbes comic strips for his new show at the Hirshhorn.
  • Listening to an inventive new track from Joachim Cooder from his new album, for Vinyl District.
  • Checking the veracity of the Hulu series on the lead up to 9/11, “The Looming Tower.”
  • A long chat with singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata about her process.
  • Reviewing a local revival of “The Gospel at Colonus” at Avant Bard Theatre.
  • A story about the approach to the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III in the new FX series “Trust.”
  • A Q&A with crooner Johnny Mathis about his long career.
  • A survey of contemporary dance curated for the Kennedy Center’s Direct Current series.
  • Looking at an ambitious show about contemporary art in the 1980s at the Hirshhorn.
  • And finally, a piece about the history of Rock Creek Park for a German website, featuring my own pictures.

 

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Antonio Banderas Becomes Picasso

picassoSmoldering leading man Antonio Banderas takes a big turn Wednesday portraying the second 20th century giant to get the spotlight in the miniseries “Genius: Picasso” (National Geographic, 9 p.m.).

Odd that the man who portrayed Zorro and Pancho Villa would play the bald, white-haired artist in a striped sweater, even though the series has provided its initial marquee star, Geoffrey Rush, with an Emmy nomination — the first for National Geographic channel.

But for Banderas, it’s personal.

For he, like his subject, is native to the port city of Málaga, in southern Spain.

“Picasso has been a very important figure in my life,” he told reporters at the TV Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena earlier this year.

“When I was going to school when I was a little kid, in the hand of my mother, we always crossed in front of Picasso’s house where Picasso was born,” Banderas said. “I am talking about a time in Spain in which we didn’t have too many international heroes, so Picasso trespassed that barrier at a time in which we were pretty much isolated by the dictatorship that we were living in with Francisco Franco in power.”

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Also on Tuesday: ‘Trafficked in America’

traffickedThe title of tonight’s surprising report on “Frontline” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings), “Trafficked in America” may be misleading. It’s not about prostitution, but about young people from Guatemala who were forced to work against their work in the terrible conditions of rural egg farms after being smuggled to the U.S.

It was a condition caused in part by U.S. laws, according to the report from Daffodil Altan and Andrés Cediel.

The star of “Kevin Can Wait” turns in a stand-up special on “Kevin James: Never Don’t Give Up” (Netflix, streaming).

“The 100” (The CW, 9 p.m.) has one of the latest season premieres on TV. It begins as Clarke struggles to survive on a scorched earth.

The second episode of “Civilizations” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings) concentrates on how the human image has been portrayed over the years.

Confusingly, the series is now paired with the nine-episode “First Civilizations” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings), which begins with a look at Mesoamerica, the Middle east and the Indus Valley.

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Monday TV: Wendell Berry’s Farm Elegy

WendellBerryWendell Berry, the celebrated writer and poetic voice about rural agriculture is the subject of a profile on “Independent Lens” (PBS, 10 p.m.).

“Look & See: Wendell Berry’s Kentucky,” about changes to the land in Henry County, Ky., is by filmmaker Laura Dunn and it’s produced in part by another champion of individual values, Nick Offerman. The other executive producers are notable as well: Terrence Malick and Robert Redford.

A roundup of recent singalong driving bits from his late night show makes prime time on “The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2018” (CBS, 10 p.m.) that includes Christina Aguilera and a crosswalk musical of “The Sound of Music” with Allison Janney, Anna Faris, Kunal Kayyar and Iain Armitage.

On the two hour season finale of “UnReal” (Lifetime, 9 p.m.), Quinn’s plan to take down Gary takes a turn and Gary makes a confession.

The documentary “Intent to Destroy: Death, Denial and Depiction” (Starz, 9 p.m.) looks at the destruction of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire a century ago and the efforts to cover it it.

“American Idol” (ABC, 8 p.m.) announces the Top 10; The Top 12 perform on “The Voice” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

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Sunday TV: ‘Westworld’s Violent Return

westworldPerhaps HBO measures its quality television by the number of dead bodies with which it can cover the landscape – there are a lot of them on the second season start of “Westworld” (HBO, 9 p.m.), where the robot revolution is in full swing and the sheer massacre brings to mind “Walking Dead” body counts.

With more money and time to develop the story in different directions, the writers create a constant battle going on that recalls “Game of Thrones” — with Dolores the unwavering Khaleesi of the cyber-West.

It will take a while to remember who was revealed to be a robot and who wasn’t, and things get more intriguing when they take a moment to explore how the theme park came to be (starting next week). But it’s worth keeping watching for performances from Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton and Jeffrey Wright.

Speaking of violence, the martial arts saga “Into the Badlands” (AMC, 10 p.m.) returns for a third season, with Sunny and Bajie going undercover on The Widow’s frontline, and Tilda confronting her.

Jared overshadows Richard in an on-camera interview on “Silicon Valley” (HBO, 10:15 p.m.).

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Saturday TV: The Struggle of Motherhood

the_letdown_stillRaising a new baby isn’t a competition, but if it were, the beleaguered Audrey on the Australian comedy import “The Letdown” (Netflix, streaming) would be losing. Every terrible thing about having a newborn is exploited for laughs in the six-episode series co-created by its star, Alison Bell with Sarah Scheller that includes a lot of scenes of an appalled mothers’ group.

The Funeral of Barbara Bush (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, noon), who died Tuesday at 92 will be attended by four former presidents – her husband George H.W. Bush, son George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton (Jimmy Carter is out of the country). Also a no-show: Donald Trump, who said he will decline “out of respect for the family.” Melania Trump will attend the event at St. Martin’s Church in Houston as will former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs make prime time with Toronto at Boston (NBC, 8 p.m.). Earlier games include Columbus at Washington (NBC, 3 p.m.) and New Jersey at Tampa Bay (NBC Sports, 3 p.m.).

A CIA agent is disguised in Vienna on “Ransom” (CBS, 8 p.m.), the Canadian import that is the only new scripted fare on broadcast TV tonight.

“War for the Planet of the Apes” (HBO, 8 p.m.) makes its premium cable debut, as does Michael Apted’s spy thriller “Unlocked” (Starz, 8 p.m.) with Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom and Michael Douglas.

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Reviving Two Bergman Works on Stage

PersonaFor being the centennial of Ingmar Bergman’s birth, there seems to be very little evidence of the Swedish director’s work around. It’s hard to find even his best known films; his name is known to some generations only as a reference in the work of Woody Allen.

And the average age of the opening night for a brilliant Dutch revival of “After the Rehearsal” and “Persona” at the Kennedy Center Thursday tended to be those who could recall seeing all of Bergman’s films upon release or in repertory from the 1950s to early 80s.

There are few screenwriters who plumbed so deeply into the human experience, with touches of a bottomless pessimism one would scarcely speak aloud let alone amplified on stage.

The internationally celebrated Belgian director Ivo van Hove, who received two Tony Awards for his “A View from the Bridge” and another nomination for his Broadway staging of “The Crucible,” has found an artistic muse in classic Bergman, having previously adapted his “Scenes from a Marriage” and “Cries and Whispers.”

Using his stark, minimalist style, van Hove’s adaptations of “After the Rehearsal,” a television play Bergman made immediately after “Fanny and Alexander,” paired with an adaptation of what Bergman considered his masterpiece, “Persona,” are resonant and rich.

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