Monday TV: Old Spy in the Nursing Home

An 83-year-old man is enlisted to become a private investigator to go undercover at a Chilean nursing home to check on mistreatment but gets involved with the residents instead. Maite Alberdi’s documentary “The Mole Agent,” making its debut on “POV” (PBS, 9:30 p.m., check local listings). 

The four part series from the UK, “The Salisbury Poisoning” (AMC, 10 p.m.) reenacts the crisis in the English city when an assassination attempt on a Russian spy exposed the town to a deadly chemical agent. Anne-Marie Duff, Rafe Spall and Annabel Scholey star. 

In the new six-episode French series “Reunions” (Acorn TV, streaming), two half brothers meet each other for the first time when they learn they have to share their inheritance — a hotel on an island in the Indian Ocean. Loop-Denis Elion and Nicholas Brideet star. 

A second season starts in the drama “Snowpiercer” (TNT, 9 p.m.) with Daveed Diggs, Sean Bean and Jennifer Connelly returning to their roles. 

“The Bachelor” (ABC, 8 p.m.) sometimes seems to be a scheme to drive some women crazy (Sarah) — and reward the craziest (Victoria). 

Spencer and Billy fail to get the welcome they expect on “All American” (CW, 8 p.m.). 

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Sunday TV: Epix’ New ‘Bridge and Tunnel’

Edward Burns returns to his Long Island roots in the nostalgic series “Bridge and Tunnel” (Epix, 9 p.m.), about a group of old pals trying to find their place after college in 1980. For most, that means hanging back at their parents’ homes (and in particular their backyards), reigniting old flames and such.

Burns, who was behind such films as “The Brothers McMullen” and “She’s the One,” also appears as the dad of one lovestruck character and there is an appeal to some of them. But it plays like an East Coast “Entourage” and its soft rock soundtrack is relentless.

Super Bowl teams will be chosen by the winners of today’s NFC championship of Tampa Bay at Green Bay (Fox, 3 p.m.) and the AFC championship of Buffalo at Kansas City (CBS, 6:30 p.m.). 

“SportsCenter Presents Kobe — The Legend, the Legacy” (ESPN, 9 p.m.) is a one hour special on the career of Kobe Bryant, who died a year ago this month.

The life of the celebrated mystery writer is explored in “Agatha Christie’s England” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings). 

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Remembering Larry King, 1933-2021

It’s hard to imagine a broadcast world without Larry King, who died Saturday at 87. He made his name as a radio and TV interviewer with bottomless curiosity that was also real — he prided himself on avoiding preparation. His gruff, staccato style made him both a throwback and an original,playing himself in dozens of movies. Even after a quarter century doing “Larry King Live” at CNN, he took on a number of other gigs.

It was when he was embarking on a Hulu show, “Larry King Now” in 2018 that I last interviewed him.

By then he’d been off CNN for a few years and was missing it only when there’d be a big news event — the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, he mentioned specifically. 

“I envisioned if I had been working that day, we’da gone nuts.” he told me. “We would have covered it for a week. I missed it. I didn’t miss tabloid stories that you have to do but I never loved much. But I missed it. I missed the action.”

The Brooklyn-born King began his broadcasting career in 1957 at a small radio station in Miami Beach, where he was doing odd jobs., taking over as disc jockey only when an announcer unexpectedly quit. 

In 1978, his profile turned national when Mutual Radio began running the overnight “Larry King Show” and “Open Phone America,” which he continued to host through 1994.

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Saturday TV: The Story of Salt-N-Pepa

Three hours seems an awful long time for a pop music bio-pic but the new “Salt-N-Pepa” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.) is buoyed by the music from the hip hop team, the spirited performances from GG Townson and Lalia Odom as Cheryl “Salt” James and Sandra “Pepa” Denton respectively. And there are oddball facts about their rise, if true, including the notion that Salt, Pepa, Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor, Kid-N-Play and Martin Lawrence all worked in the same Sears call center. 

It’s followed by an interview with the real life duo in the hour-long special “Let’s Talk About Salt-N-Pepa” (Lifetime, 11 p.m.). Here’s an interview I did with their DJ Spinderella in 2016 for The Washington Post, and a review or two I did of Salt-N-Pepa shows that date back nearly 30 years.

The latest six-part wildlife series for BBC America, “A Wild Year on Earth” (BBC America, 8 p.m.), is narrated by Laura Carmichael — Lady Edith Crawley on “Downton Abbey.” 

Ken Burns and Doris Kearns Johnson join Anderson Cooper in discussing our current times in “Making History” (CNN, 11 p.m.). 

David Oyelowo, Storm Reid and Byron Mann star in the sci-fi thriller “Don’t Let Go” (HBO, 8 p.m.), making its premium cable debut. 

An average guy is mistaken for a millionaire by the concierge in the new romance “A Winter Getaway” (Hallmark, 9 p.m.).  Brooks Darnell and Nazneen Contractor star. 

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Friday TV: Lurie’s ‘Painting with John’

John Lurie, the hangdog musician, artist and occasional actor (“Stranger Than Paradise”) has reached a kind of Zen plateau at 68, painstakingly working on paintings as he serves up philosophy and observations in the very original “Painting with John” (HBO, 11 p.m.). 

Through its six episodes you watch his paintings come to life, see how they reflect his lush Caribbean surroundings and flourishing thoughts. He has problems with an opening drone shot that keeps crashing but we get to hear a lot of his inventive jazz with the Lounge Lizards and other ensembles, creating a ravishing deadpan series of beatnik cool, which comes 30 years after his first such reality series, “Fishing with John.”

There’s an intriguing new Israeli series, “Losing Alice” (Apple TV+, streaming) that stars Ayelet Zurer as a 40ish film director who becomes entangled with the work of a mysterious young screenwriter (Lihi Kornowski). It’s a thriller that jumps time and teases eroticism but is also quite different than most series. Sigal Avin wrote and directed. 

Another new series “The Sister” (Hulu, streaming), a British import about the murder of a woman kept secret for years, only to nearly surface and be revealed again. Russell Tovey of “Being Human” stars in the psychological thriller. 

The new “Fate: The Winx Saga” (Netflix, streaming) is set at a school for faeries. It’s a live action adaptation of the old “Winx Club.” It stars Abigail Cowen, of the “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” as Bloom. 

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Thursday TV: A New ‘Walker,’ Texas Ranger

With scarcely a break after “Supernatural” ended its 15-season run, Jared Padalecki returns to the grateful network as “Walker” (CW, 8 p.m.). He shares only the name with Chuck Norris’ famous character. This Texas Ranger returns to Austin spending half as much half time mending family relations as he does busting bad guys. It turns out to be a rather bland Western-tinged crime show.  

It’s followed by the third season premiere of “Legacies” (CW, 9 p.m.) in which a medieval monster challenges students on a field day. 

A fourth season starts for the engaging French series “Call My Agent!” (Netflix, streaming) with the ASK agency working for stars playing themselves including Charlotte Gainsbourg and Sigourney Weaver. 

“The Rev” (USA, 10:30 p.m.) is a new reality series about a Long Island pastor who isn’t Rev. Run. 

Another 10 new cartoons for time-honored Warner Bros. characters debut on “Looney Tunes Cartoons: Part 2” (HBO Max, streaming). 

A new special “Toddlers & Tiaras: Where Are They Now?” (Discovery+, streaming) catches up on the dolled up tykes they exploited a decade ago. Honey Boo Boo, I can already tell you, is 15.

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Other Things I’ve Written Lately

Here are some other things I’ve written lately:

  • A long Q&A with Richard Hell for The Vinyl District.
  • A story marking the 50th anniversary of TV’s “All in the Family” for Smithsonian Magazine.com
  • Review of a virtual production of “Mothers and Sons.”
  • A story about women who were active in the pioneering days of video art and helped create the SoHo artists community.
  • Preview of a conference on the vinyl industry, which has actually been boosted by the pandemic.
  • Good news about the future of pandas at The National Zoo.
  • Sampling a decent new Christmas album.
  • Review of a streamed version of “An Irish Carol” at Keegan Theatre.
  • One of the last interviews with the Puerto Rican artist Adál, which was was republished in January after news emerged of his death. 
  • Review of a decent audio version of “A Christmas Carol” from Ford’s Theatre.
  • Review of some experimental theater from Woolly Mammoth, “The Jook Joynt.”
  • A review of a play from the Adrienne Kennedy festival put on by “Round House Theatre in Bethesda.
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Wednesday TV: Celebrating the Inaugural

America’s course changes today on Inauguration Day (CNN, CSPAN, BBC World News, 7 a.m.; ABC, CBS, MSNBC, 9 a.m.; NBC, 10 p.m.; PBS, 10:30 a.m.; Fox News, 11 a.m.). Coverage begins early with two starkly different events: the 45th president flying off with as much of a military salute as he can muster, during the same hour Joe Biden and his family go to church. The inauguration ceremony itself is set for noon, with a bigger TV audience expected because nobody can really attend live. Lady Gaga sings the National Anthem, young poet Amanda Gorman will recite a new composition and there will be performances from Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks.

The parade will be virtual, and in lieu of the usual ceremonial balls is the primetime “Celebrating America” (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, 8:30 p.m.). Hosted by Tom Hanks, it features performances by Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, John Legend, Foo Fighters, Jon Bon Jovi, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tim McGraw, Tyler Hubbard, Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons — each performing at iconic locations across America. Also featured are Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington. It also livestreams on YouTube, Facebook and Amazon Prime. 

A new season starts for “Riverdale” (CW, 8 p.m.), with Betty and Jughead looking for clues.  And “Nancy Drew” (CW, 9 p.m.) is back as well.

The new series “Spycraft” (Netflix, streaming) looks at some favorite spy gadgets of the past. 

The fourth season of the British import “C.B. Strike” (HBO, 9 p.m.) makes its premiere on a new network (formerly it was on Cinemax). The crime drama based on the detective novels by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, stars Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger. 

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Tuesday: The Crimes of Early ’60s Perth

It seems at first another true crime story. But the four-part “The Night Caller” (Sundance Now, streaming) is unusual because it takes place in Perth, Australia, and occurred nearly 60 years ago. Those who remember the reign of a serial killer (and inveterate hit and run driver) are asked to read headlines about it to jog the memory, and one suspect is asked to retrace his steps as an elderly man. 

The life of Joe Biden so far is reviewed on an Inaugural Eve “Frontline” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings). 

In the new series “Life Below Zero: Northern Territories” (National Geographic, 10 p.m.), families in the Canadian north are followed. 

Glenn Close and John Waters discover their family histories on the season premiere of “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings).

Cain’s elective surgery patient has complications on “The Resident” (Fox, 9 p.m.).

On “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC, 9 p.m.) nightmares start to affect those close to her.

McGee works a case while on vacation in the Bahamas in the first of a pair of new episodes of “NCIS” (CBS, 8 p.m.).

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Film: ‘Donna: Stronger Than Pretty’

You can tell the title character of “Donna: Stronger Than Pretty” is making the wrong choice when she first lays eyes on Nick at the bar, fresh out of a restroom where he had obviously done cocaine.

She falls for every corny line he gives her, embraces his ambition for opening a high end flooring business in Long Island, and is willing to put aside her own dreams of attending college and becoming a teacher, so she could be a housewife and mother for the next few decades, even though — surprise! — he ended up going back to bars, doing cocaine (and even selling it) and picking up other women who fell for his lines.

And Nick also batted Donna around a bit, though it’s unclear how much in the muddled “Donna,” a substandard version of the kind of imperiled woman film the Lifetime network airs just about every weekend.

But this is the personal story of director and co-writer Jaret Martino’s own mother who raised three kids after finally divorcing after 30 years of marriage — and now gets her own co-writing credit. She even appears at the end of the film to say “Hi, my name is Donna. The film that you just watched was based on true events that happened in my life. I hope you walk away feeling empowered,” 

She is pictured looking over old family albums with Kate Amundsen, the actress who portrays Donna in the film and talks more about her experience, in an excerpt from a documentary of the same name that preceded this theatrical effort. 

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