Thursday TV: More Bad Teachers

those_who_cant-640x345The second in the number of cable comedies about the life of not the best teachers, originating from a regional improv comedy troupe, is the crude and largely unfunny “Those Who Can’t” (truTV, 10:30 p.m.) featuring members of the Denver-based Grawlix troupe, Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy, as well as Maria Thayer.

The disappointing show of inept teachers still promises a number of guest stars, including Sarah Michelle Gellar, T.J. Miller, Michael Madsen, Peter Stormare and Mary Lynn Rajskub. The other cable newbie, which started a few weeks ago, “Teachers,” on TV Land, is from a Chicago-based group of women called the Katydids.

Here’s something different: Yet another Democratic Presidential Debate (PBS, CNN, 9 p.m.). What’s different this time? Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff moderate and because it is public television, there will be no commercial breaks (or the kind of instant mid-debate analysis ABC likes to throw in). It will be on CNN only because that news network is licensing it from public broadcasting (and will likely get a nice tote bag as a premium for its hefty fee).

“Scandal” (ABC, 9 p.m.) has been off TV for a while, but not the six months since the breakup of Olivia and Fitz, but that’s where the series picks up.

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Wednesday TV: If You Can Remember

nova_memoryhackersDoes anybody remember what’s on TV Wednesday nights? Well the whole notion of memory is challenged on a fascinating new “Nova” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) that includes some of those people who remember details of every day they’ve been alive to people whose memories can be easily manipulated to others whose painful memories or memories of fears can be erased (and yes they bring up “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

There’s been no shortage of comedic material from this year’s presidential race, and here to jump on it is everyone’s favorite insult comic dog in “Triumph’s Election Special 2016″ (Hulu, streaming) in which the rubber puppet pooh-poohs politics through razzing a Jeb Bush rally, riffing off of John Kasich’s debut board, selling fake Donald Trump merchandise and sending out Tim Meadows as Ben Carson to fool voters. Also, there’s a panel discussion with experts in the field, Alan Dershowitz and Sanjaya.

The first half of the Top 24 perform on “American Idol” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

A year in the life of a moose is chronicled on a new “Nature” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings).

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Tuesday TV: Inside Fantasy Football

Fantasy_Sports_2The Super Bowl may be over, but sports betting continues unabated, especially the betting that goes under the name “fantasy.” In a collaborative report with the New York Times, “Frontline” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings looks at the world of fantasy football — essentially sports gambling in which networks and leagues have also heavily invested. The road takes them to offshore empires and of course the broke guys who threw away thousands.

She wasn’t all that funny when she was half of the team “Nikki & Sara Live” on MTV; now she isn’t any funnier on her own “Not Safe with Nikki Glaser” (Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m.), just dirtier.

A Velentine’s Day concert with Janet Jackson doesn’t actually happen on “Fresh Off the Boat” (ABC, 8 p.m.) but Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis do appear.

That unusual chapter in the O.J. Simpson case — the white Ford Bronco chase — makes for an unusual episode of “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” (FX, 10 p.m.).

The strange, enduring crime of Leopold and Loeb, committed in 1924, is still a mtter of fascination on “American Experience” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings).

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Other Things I’ve Written Lately

  • An interview with Julie Newmar, the original Catwoman, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of “Batman.”
  • A Q&A with David Cassidy, who is out on tour 45 years after “The Partridge Family” started.
  • A story about a new national music program, originating from Connecticut.
  • A thing about the history of 9:30 Club history, according to a new book on their 35th anniversary.
  • A chat with the Indian performer Falu.
  • Two different approaches to an exhibit about D.C. recent history at Anacostia; one in words and one in numbers.
  • An interview with Walter Martin of The Walkmen about his latest solo album.
  • Checking in with last year’s “American Idol” winner.
  • story about a bust of MLK that will go on display at the new Museum of African American Culture and History.
  • thing about an election season exhibit at the Museum of American History.


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Samantha Bee Breaks Through

FullFrontal2The boys club of late night infotainment is shattered tonight with the inaugural episode of “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.).

The longtime “Daily Show” correspondent is hosting a show that looks to be more along the lines of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” in that it is staffed with journalists and researchers as well as comedy writers.

And news will likely be broken on the show, which is being showcased tonight on other Turner channels at 10:30 as well — TNT, truTV, HLN and Cartoon Network. The clip she showed reporters at the TV Critics Association winter press tour last month had to do with previously unreported Veterans Administration issues.

As she explained it, “Recently, it was announced that women were going to be filling all combat roles in the military, and we did an investigation about whether or not the VA would be prepared to receive that huge influx of female soldiers. Not surprisingly, the answer is no.

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Also on Monday: Preventing Terror

homegrown-documentaryExcept in some political debate circles, fighting terrorism is not easy. And in Greg Barker’s documentary “Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma” (HBO, 9 p.m.), it’s downright complex. At what point is it justified to infiltrate and follow Muslim leaders? Does free speech exist for those people, or is it justification for government kidnapping and indefinite imprisonment?

With a starting off point, the upcoming book by Peter Bergen, “United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists,”  Barker looks to family members of accused terrorists and some of their victims, as well as the Muslim community and educators who had some connection to the suspects. What makes the film interesting is when the family members of a victim at Ft. Hood meets with the cousin of the terrorist there; or when the family of a young scholar meets with the FBI analyst who put him away, who asks finally, “What would you have done?”

In another documentary today, Misty Copeland’s rise to becoming the first African American female principal for the American Ballet Theatre is recounted in “A Ballerina’s Tale” on “Independent Lens” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings).

“War and Peace” (Lifetime, 9 p.m.) comes to a close after four weeks.

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Theater Review: ‘The City of Conversation’

CityofConversationWhen Anthony Giardina’s “The City of Conversation” opened at New York’s Lincoln Center Theater in 2014, the depiction of a Georgetown political salon seemed so perfectly reflective of Washington, Arena Stage’s Molly Smith rushed to get it staged here, and even succeeded in obtaining the same director, Doug Hughes.

Now, with a perfect cast to portray its shifts, ins and outs of the Reagan 80s to the inauguration of Obama, it is also the perfect play for politics-obsessed D.C., where your reviewer Metros to opening night listening to CSPAN, taping a Democratic debate to watch after the play.

Tracking that near-mythical time when politicians of opposite parties would meet and dine at night, bringing their wives and finest bourbon, to hash out the kinds of things they couldn’t in the halls of Congress, to an era where families were split based on their polarizing views on a Supreme Court nominee, “The City of Conversation” seems like the kind of play that should run in perpetuity in D.C., in place of tourist fare like “Shear Madness,” at the Kennedy Center.

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Sunday TV: Roman Numerals Are Gone

super-bowl-50-780x439The most hyped concussion-making event of the day, Super Bowl 50 (CBS, 6:30 p.m.) occurs in San Diego where somewhere inside all the excess and the overpriced ads it will be Denver vs. Carolina. If it’s the biggest broadcast of the year, as it usually is, it will tell us something about America, and probably something we don’t like.

Speaking of which, Coldplay does the halftime show with needed pizazz from Beyonce. Pregame coverage begins at 2 p.m. Elsewhere, the absurdism of frolicking animals and fish found in “Kitten Bowl III” (Hallmark, 3 p.m.), ”Puppy Bowl XII” (Animal Planet, 7 p.m.) and “Fish Bowl XXL” (Nat Geo Wild, 8 p.m.).

The post Bowl showcase goes to the network’s late night hosts, each providing a rare Sunday night show. First comes Margot Robbie, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Megan Kelly and Key and Peele on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (CBS, approximately 10 p.m.) and Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick and Adam DeVine join “The Late Late Show with James Corden” (CBS, approximately 11:35 p.m.) and Sir Elton John will join the host for some Carpool Karaoke.

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Theater Review: ‘Father Comes Home…’

father1Suzan-Lori Parks has made her name updating Civil War lore in striking modernist terms in “Topdog/Underdog,” the Pulitzer Prize winner from 2001, the same year she won a MacArthur “genius” grant.

She returns to that era for her current epic, “Father Comes Home from the War (Parts 1, 2 & 3),” which is itself the first third of what will be nine parts, running into the present day.

The first three parts, all set in wartime, are making their regional debut south of the Mason-Dixon line in a strong production at the Round House Theatre in Bethesda.

Each act gets quite a different approach and even its own title. In the opening “A Measure of a Man,” the terrific local bluesman Memphis Gold picks out a song on his National steel guitar, setting the stage nearly as effectively as Tony Cisek’s set, a shack in the field and, crucially, a high road out held up by underlying twisted forms that eerily but unmistakably resemble working men, reminding us who exactly built the South. Read More »

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Saturday TV: Death of a Photojournalist

jimThe photojournalist who was kidnapped on Thanksgiving Day 2012 and went missing for two years before his execution video by ISIS is the subject of the documentary “Jim: The James Foley Story” (HBO, 9 p.m.), directed by his childhood friend Brian Oakes.

With a wealth of interviews with colleagues in the field and family back in New Hampshire, it’s a good picture of contemporary freelance journalists in combat zones at first and a deep look at what captivity was like, from his fellow pen mates. By the end, it gets quite emotionally devastating. But while there are plenty of brutal combat shots in Libya and Syria, Foley’s beheading is not shown.

Lest you forget it’s some kind of football holiday weekend, there are a couple of specials to remind you. “NFL Honors” (CBS, 9 p.m.) treats the season, awards show style. But Conan O’Brien hosts. I could swear there was another two hour commercial special; here’s another one: “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials All-Star Countdown” (CBS, 8 p.m.), a countdown hosted by Kevin Frazier.

The field for the latest Republican Presidential Debate (ABC, 8 p.m.) is down to seven, but still they left Carly Fiorina out of the lineup for tonights three hour prime time event ‘s St. Anselm’s College in Manchester — the last event being held before the nation’s first primary vote Tuesday in New Hampshire. David Muir and Martha Raddatz moderate.

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