Sunday TV: ‘Treehouse of Horror XXVIII’

TreehouseWhen it comes to Halloween confections, let us not forget the annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode of “The Simpsons” (Fox, 8 p.m.), which is now all the way up to XXVIII, or 28. This time Maggie is possessed, Lisa visits a “Coraline” world and Homer finds cannibalism delicious. The episode includes some interesting new 3D animation for the characters as well, and the  comedy to horror mix will be better than on, say, “Ghosted” (Fox, 8:30 p.m.).

Speaking of eating flesh, the 100th episode of “The Walking Dead” (AMC, 9 p.m.) coincides with the start of the eighth season. They’ll probably be giddy about that on “Talking Dead” (AMC, 10:07 p.m.).

Also returning on that channel tonight, the seventh season of “Comic Book Men” (AMC, midnight).

There is more Simpsons today, however, as Morgan Spurlock presents mocukentary “Springfield of Dreams: The Legend of Homer Simpson” (Fox, 3 p.m.). It looks aback at the “Homer at the Bat” episode years later, done in a Ken Burns style and including the voices of such famous sportscasters as Bob Costas and Joe Buck.

The comedy about an ex-President starring Nick Nolte, “Graves” (Epix, 10 p.m.), ought to be better than it is, and with the second season, perhaps it will be.

It sure is taking a long time to get Candy behind the camera on “The Deuce” (HBO, 9 p.m.).

Larry acts up at a funeral on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

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Saturday TV: How’d ‘Carvey Show’ Fail?

Too-Funny-to-Fail-insideHow could this go wrong? Dana Carvey, fresh from “Saturday Night Live” was given a chance to do his own prime time sketch comedy show on ABC in 1996, co creating it with Robert Smigel of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog fame. Louis C.K. was head writer, as was later screenwriting whiz Charlie Kaufman. Greg Daniels, who’d create the American “The Office” contributed material. The cast included two new faces to comedy — Stephen Colbert and Steve Carrell, as well as Bob Odenkirk.

And yet, it rubbed the viewers of the popular lead-in comedy, “Home Improvement” the wrong way. And the sponsors. And eventually the network, who didn’t even air all 10 of the planned episodes, yanking it at seven.

Now there’s a documentary about how it all went wrong, “Too Funny to Fail” (Hulu, streaming).

Much more successful in the 1990s was half the pop team called Wham! His story is told in another documentary tonight, “George Michael: Freedom” (Showtime, 9 p.m.) in which he narrates the story of his success until his 1990 album “Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1.” Michael died last Christmas at 53.

A movie from the 1980s gets a remake, by Melissa Joan Hart of all people (perhaps Clarissa will explain it all).  Anjelica Huston stars in the stab at “The Watcher in the Woods” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.).

Hillary Clinton wears a cast when she appears on “The Graham Norton Show” (BBC America, 10 p.m.) — her only appearance before she canceled stops on her book tour in London after an injury. Also on the show: Jeff Goldblum, Gerard Butler, Jack Whitehall and Gregory Porter.

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Friday TV: Laura Benanti in ‘She Loves Me’

SheLovesMeLaura Benanti, who does such a good Melania impersonation, stars opposite TV’s Zachary Levi (“Chuck”) in the Roundabout Theater revival of the 1963 Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick musical “She Loves Me,” whose plot may be familiar:it used the same source as “You’ve Got Mail.” Jane Krakowski and Gavin Creeel are also featured. Best of all, you don’t have to pay Broadway prices. It’s on “Great Performances” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings).

On the new season of “Tracy Ullman’s Show” (HBO, 11 p.m.) some of her impersonations of famous women of a certain age, from Angela Merkel to the ever-mischevious Dame Judy Dench, are spot on. Other, much more UK-oriented personalities, such as TV host Clare Balding or Scottish politician Nicola Sturgeon don’t play that well stateside. Still, the sketch show (with a built in laugh track right out of Benny Hill) moves quickly and comments on some things that are universal, such as missing a package delivery.

The third and final season of the appealing period comedy “Red Oaks” (Amazon, streaming) drops online.

Back for a second season is the strangely appealing annoying girl Miranda Sings on “Haters Back Off!” (Netflix, streaming).

Also online is the three-part documentary “The Day I Met El Chapo” (Netflix, streaming) in which Kate del Castillo, the Mexican actress, tells of her 2016 meeting with the notorious drug kingpin.

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Another Live Night for Chris Gethard

GethardAt a time when huge teams of writers script nearly every moment of late night comedy shows, with filmed bits are carefully shot in advance and even the nightly “live” shows taped hours in advance to accommodate editing, truTV’s freewheeling “The Chris Gethard Show” (11 p.m. ET) adheres to the fearless, no-net thrills of live TV.

After seven years on local public access, and one season of a taped show on Fusion, the current version, with its live call-ins and Skype connections, opens the door to real time interactivity. With top comedians invited on — often just to witness what might be a train wreck in progress — the bespectacled Gethard, a familiar comedy face who has already had an acclaimed HBO standup special this year, presides over the nonsense with generally a show theme, some sincerity and a wincing look that indicates that maybe he thinks it will all come to a crashing end at any moment as well.

But all around him, from his droll co-host Shannon O’Neill to the dozens of fans sitting cross-legged all around the studio, there is an underlying belief that keeping it real pays off, and that the show is a safe space for outsiders of any stripe (mostly young) to be heard and be part of it, in a way that they are not a part of any other corner of TV.

Last week, in addition to the open phone lines and a video phone booth in Austin, to hear from people about what they always wanted to take a chance to do, they also said that the first person to meet them at a nearby Manhattan street corer and say a secret phrase would immediately be escorted inside to be a co-host.

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Also on Thursday: ‘Great Pumpkin’ Again

pumpkinThe fruitlessness of faith may be the underlying theme to the beloved Peanuts holiday special that first premiered in 1966. There may be a new poignancy to this year’s annual showing of  “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (ABC, 8 p.m.), since Charles Schulz’s house was one of the thousands that were destroyed in this month’s California wildfires. And then there’s the 100th anniversary of World War I, the battle of Snoopy’s ace, who also flies around on his doghouse in the special.

In advance of the eighth season start on Sunday — and its 100th episode — the special “The Walking Dead: Behind the Dead” (AMC, 10 p.m.) looks back to the time when we were still watching the zombie saga.

On “The Eleven” (A&E, 9 p.m.) a journalist and retired detective take another look at the cases of 11 teenage girls murdered near Galveston in the 1970s.

Sam wants satisfaction on a “Better Things” (FX, 10 p.m.) titled “Eulogy.”

Jane Lynch and Andrew Rannells guest star on a new “Will & Grace” (NBC, 9 p.m.).

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Wednesday TV: Honoring Country Stars

jason-aldean-luke-bryanIt’s not quite the awards show, but the CMT Artists of the Year 2017 (CMT, 8 p.m.) will salute performers like Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan (pictured above), Florida Georgia Line, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban, with performances from Little Big Town, Lee Ann Womack and a couple of non-country artists, Common and Andra Day. But there will be more than a couple pauses to remember the hurricanes and the Vegas shooting.

A special “Frontline” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) that was going to look at the battle in Mosul, Iraq to defeat the Islamic State has been updated at the last minute to reflect the recent liberation of what’s left of Raqqa.

The horror series about high school students after a chemical plant explosions, “Freakish” (Hulu, streaming) is back for its second season.

“Empire” (Fox, 8 p.m.) pays tribute to Prince in an episode that includes the late star’s sister.

Because the Hustlers have been doing so poorly (and maybe because the episodes have been so boring), the buffs are dropped on “Survivor” (CBS, 8 p.m.) and the teams re-arranged.

Peri Gilpin plays Abbi’s mom, who comes visiting on “Broad City” (Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m.).

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Folger’s Close Up ‘Antony and Cleopatra’

Cleopatra_069 - webA condensed “Antony and Cleopatra” at the Folger Theatre still has time for a couple of ensemble dance numbers straight out of “Solid Gold,” a battle scene that’s almost as well choreographed and a whole lot of kissing.

There’s no questioning the physical attraction between Cody Nickell’s Antony and Shirine Babb’s Cleopatra. As the play begins, he’s in a kind of postcoital haze, his face painted up as the result of some kind of makeup sharing experiment. When they’re not kissing, she is jumping onto him and locking her legs. Even the fights seem merely preliminary sessions for makeup makeout sessions.

But in this production directed by Robert Richmond, the staging is almost as important as anything else because for the first time in memory in a performance space painstakingly replicating an Elizabethan stage, this production is played in the round. Its splendors are made clear right away. Even if one doesn’t have to practically step around the actors (postcoital haze already in progress) to get to a seat, the actors are vividly near, rather than on some removed proscenium. Even if an actor has a back turned, only to be facing your way a second later, it puts the viewer almost inside the action as it unfolds before us.

And in Tony Cisek’s set design, Cleopatra’s lair is marked by a circular bed; but the palatial centers of Rome and Alexandria are marked with a triangle on the floor of the circle, which, yes, does spin for effect every so often. In Rome, the voices of the soldiers also echo, as if in some cold palace. Above, the angles of the official symbols below are eroded in a floating trapezoidal sculpture above.

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Tuesday TV: Two New Comedies on AT&T

LoudermilkAT&T picked the wrong time to buy DirecTV’s Audience Network, according to recent reports, at a time when cable-cutting is growing.

But it is also at a time when it is developing its first comedies, one of which has Ron Livingston as a grizzled rock critic in recovery who does a bad job as sponsor of an AA meeting. “Loudermilk” (AT&T / Audience Network, 10 p.m.) may not get recovery process quite right, but it’s got some sharp scenes. It’s from comedy director Peter Farrelly in his first stab at TV. The cast includes Will Sasso and Laura Mennell, but Livingston is one off-putting anti-hero that will be difficult to warm to.

It’s certainly better than its companion, the new “Hit the Road” (AT&T / Audience Network, 10 p.m.), Jason Alexander’s comedy about a bumbling family band in the tradition of the Cowsills and the Partridge Family. The family setting doesn’t mean it’s a family comedy, though, with a lot of cursing and graffiti having to do with the group’s unfortunate name Swallow. If it were funnier than it is, its  uncomfortable tone wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

Death, grief and life are topics on the new standup special “Patton Oswalt: Annihilation” (Netflix, streaming).

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Monday TV: Babies, Babies Everywhere

MotherlandYou may think your hospital is busy. But likely not as busy as the Dr. Jose Labella Memorial Hospital in Philippines, serving poor pregnant women, which has an average of 60 births a day, with some mothers sharing single beds. It’s captured in Ramona S. Diaz’s film “Motherland,” making its debut on “POV” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings). It won the Sundance World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Commanding Vision earlier this year.

On the six-episode Irish import “Acceptable Risk” (Acorn TV, streaming), Elaine Cassidy plays a woman who investigates the murder of her husband in Montreal, which opens up a global conspiracy.

A second season starts for the woozy “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party” (VH1, 10 p.m.) in which Martha Stewart joins forces with Snoop Dogg, who happens to be celebrating a birthday. Jamie Foxx, Patti LaBelle and Charlie Wilson stop by. And there is helium.

Battle rounds begin on “The Voice” (NBC, 8 p.m.) with Joe Jonas advising Adam Levine’s team, Billy Ray Cyrus helping his daughter Miley’s team, Kelly Rowland aiding Jennifer Hudson’s group and Rascal Flatts on call for Blake Shelton.

The NBA’s Derek Fisher was voted off “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC, 8 p.m.) last week, though Nick Lachey has had consistently lower scores. Tonight there’s synergy in the air with Disney Night. Disney is the corporate owner of ABC.

“Supergirl” (The CW, 8 p.m.) battles a thief with psychic powers.

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Sunday TV: Showtime’s ‘White Famous’

WhiteFamousJay Pharaoh, never used to his full potential on “Saturday Night Live,” bounces back with a series “White Famous” (Showtime, 10 p.m.), about a comedian trying to break into Hollywood movies. But he’s not trying too hard; there’s a number of things he won’t do, despite the fact that “the Golden Age of diversity” opens doors for African-Americans in film, if only for show.

As a sitcom, this one is a touch better than the now canceled “The Carmichael Show” but is far short of the standards set by “Atlanta” or even “Insecure.” Jamie Foxx, a producer, appears in the pilot episode.

Ashley Judd gets attention for her acting skills as she stars in the second season of “Berlin Station” (Epix, 9 p.m.) as the new CIA chief there. With a timely plot about white supremacist rise in Germany, the cast also adds Keke Palmer to a cast that already includes Richard Armitage, Michelle Forbes, Richard Jenkins and John Doman. And the theme music is from David Bowie (“I’m Afraid of Americans”).

“Fear the Walking Dead” (AMC, 9 p.m.) ends its third season with a two hour episode. It will be back for a fourth because it’s as hard to kill of zombie series as it is zombies themselves. Then pencil in a third hour for “Talking Dead” (AMC, 11 p.m.).

Michelle Dockery returns to star in a very different Sunday night drama than her “Downton Abbey.” It’s “Good Behavior” (TNT, 9 p.m.), in which she plays the con woman Letty Raines.

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