Wednesday TV: New ‘Imaginary Mary’

ImaginaryMaryAt 45, Jenna Elfman is a little old to still be playing the insecure ingenue, trying not to ruin her relationship with a divorcee with three kids. But she still has a few comic chops in “Imaginary Mary” (ABC, 8:30 p.m.), a new series in which she’s aided by her imaginary friend from childhood — a furry little thing only she can see, and who is voiced by Rachel Dratch. It’s one of those odd shows where the animated aspect (and kids) make it seem like it’s a family comedy for children, although it ultimately is not.

ABC is casting its comedy lot with these weird animated hybrids, but the better of them, “Downward Dog,” is yet to come this spring.

The new series “Harlots” (Hulu, streaming) concentrates on the rivalry of brothels in 18th century London — one run by a madam portrayed by Samantha Morton, the other played by Lesley Manville. Unlike other Hulu offerings, all eight episodes are available at once.

Melissa McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone are behind the new comedy series “Nobodies” (TV Land, 10 p.m.), about a trio of friends and improv actors and comedy writers struggling to get bigger jobs. It stars Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf and Rachel Ramras and is filled with guest stars, starting with Maya Rudolph and Jason Bateman.

It’s accompanied by a second season of “Lopez” (TV Land, 10:30 p.m.), which is already lasting longer than George Lopez’ last sitcom.

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Tuesday TV: One Last ‘Bones’ to Pick

bones2After 12 seasons and nearly 250 episodes, “Bones” (Fox, 9 p.m.) closes up shop with one last chase of a serial killer. Based on a real life forensic anthropologist, Hart Hanson’s series floated on the chemistry between Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz.

In addition to the two stars, the series built a nice ensemble that included Michaela Conlin, Eric Milligan, John Francis Daley, Tamra Taylor and T.J. Thyne.

The Fox series of Deschanel’s sister Zooey, “New Girl” (Fox, 8 p.m.), is in the midst of only its sixth season by comparison.

Battle rounds come to an end on “The Voice” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

Contamination from illegal dumping and relaxed regulations for oil companies is the subject of the second “Parched” (National Geographic channel, 10 p.m.).

The latest standup comedy special online is “Jo Koy: Live from Seattle” (Netflix, streaming).

The investigation and prosecution of international war crimes is subject of the three hour “Dead Reckoning: War, Crime and Justice: From WW2 to the War on Terror” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings).

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Monday TV: Who was Pocahontas Really?

PocahontasThis month marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Pocahontas, the Pamunkey tribe princess, who also served as an ambassador and peacemaker to invaders like John Smith near present-day Jamestown. Sure, her statue is in the U.S. Capitol and she’s become one of the Disney princesses with the best singing voices, but how accurate have been the stories we’ve told of her?

“Pocahontas: Beyond the Myth” (Smithsonian, 8 p.m.) has experts, historians, authors and the current chief of the Pamunkey on who exactly she was. For one thing her real name was Matoaka.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, meanwhile, presents a documentary about a rehabilitation boot camp for young people in Miami in “Rock and a Hard Place” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

A bicycle crew of young Latinas from East Los Angeles, the Ovarian Psychos Cycle Brigade, are profiled in a documentary on “Independent Lens” (PBS, 10 p.m.), by Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle.

“Dancing with the Stars” (ABC, 8 p.m.) hate comedians. So the lowest scores for last week’s premiere came for the former “SNL” cast member Chris Kattan. And the best score, once more, is for the Olympian, Simone Biles.

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Sunday TV: Brontë Sisters as Stars

To_Walk_Invisible__They’ve already adapted almost all of their novels, so “Masterpiece” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) concentrates on the sibling authors in the two-hour film “To Walk Invisible: The Brontë Sisters.”

Written by Sally Wainwright of “Happy Valley” and “Last Tango in Halifax” fame, it stars Finn Atkins as Charlotte, who wrote “Jayne Eyre,” Chloe Pirrie as Emily, who wrote “Wuthering Heights,” and Charlie Murphy as Anne, author of “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.” Jonathan Pryce portrays their father.

Oscar nominations are announced on “Feud: Bette and Joan” (FX, 10 p.m.).

Hannah reconnects with her baby daddy on “Girls” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

Quinn revisits his past on “Homeland” (Showtime, 9 p.m.).

Children try to keep the aquarium from closing on “Bob’s Burgers” (Fox, 7:30 p.m.).

Noah Wyle looks into his past on “Who Do You Think You Are?” (TLC, 10 p.m.).

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Saturday TV: Homegrown Terrorists

American JihadTravel bans aside, most terrorism in the U.S. in the past decade have come from homegrown enemies who became convinced of their cause. Alison Ellwood’s documentary “American Jihad” (Showtime, 9 p.m.) looks at the phenomenon, talking to former Jihadists and the families they affected. Super busy Alex Gibney executive produced.

“Planet Earth II” (BBC America, 9  p.m.) looks at wildlife in the cities.

A transgender bride shops on “Say Yes to the Dress” (TLC, 8 p.m.).

“Stalker’s Prey” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.) a teenage girl saved from a shark attack finds the man who saved her is obsessed with her. It stars Saxon Sharbino, Cynthia Gibb and Mason Dye.

Teens are lured into a trap in a French castle on “Ransom” (CBS, 8 p.m.).

Animated features dominate prime time broadcast TV with “Over the Hedge” (ABC, 8 p.m.) opposite “Despicable Me 2” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

“Independence Day: Resurgence” (HBO, 8 p.m.) gets its premium cable debut. Another recent remake on tonight: “Ghostbusters” (Starz, 9 p.m.).

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Friday TV: ‘Tangled’ Becomes a Series

rapunzelheader-1Mandy Moore and Zach Levi are the voices of “Tangled: The Series” (Disney Channel, 7:30 p.m.), based on the 2010 Disney feature.

Another series is based on a toy: “An American Girl Story — Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance” (Amazon Prime, streaming).

Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda return for the third season of their comedy “Grace and Frankie” (Netflix, streaming).

Lady Gaga helps kick off the ninth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1, 8 p.m.).

The controversial actress Kate del Castillo, who lured El Chapo out of hiding, portrays the first lady of Mexico in a fictional thriller “Ungovernable” (Netflix, streaming).

John Mellencamp joins up with Darius Rucker on a new “CMT Crossroads” (CMT, 10 p.m.).

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Trocks: Accomplished Men in Tights

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo_Don Quixote_Photo by Zoran JelenicIt’s a long way from a cramped second-floor loft in lower Manhattan to the splendors of the Kennedy Center Opera House with a full orchestra.

But that’s what has happened to Les Ballets Trockadaro de Monte Carlo, a troupe that began as kind of a joke – men in tutus! – Diaghliev in drag! – which grew to be quite an accomplished ballet company, without ever losing its sense of fun.

In its remarkable Kennedy Center debut Tuesday for a two night stand, the 43 year old group showed it’s not easy for men to dance on pointe, or spin or leap or bring to life the classic ballets of the past in all of the necessary wigs and makeup and costumes — enough to parody them. Harder still is to inject just the right amount of humor.

But the company, under the direction of Tony Dobrin, who was once a dancer in the company as well, has done just that.

An arched eyebrow, a little shove and a trip on stage can go a long way, and the Trocks parse these things out much less often than one would expect. To parody classic ballets – some of which are carefully restored from the 19th century — the real work goes into replicating the kind of solid ballet work that they aim to gently poke.

The yucks begin in the evening’s program book, where the array of fake Russian dance names include Ida Nevasayneva, Collette Adae and Helen Highwaters, among others.

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Thursday TV: ‘Baskets’ Season Finale

Baskets_9053One of my favorite shows, “Baskets” (FX, 10 p.m.) ends its second season with a big opportunity for Chip — a traveling Russian circus seeking an experienced clown.

Maggie’s mother visits on “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, 8 p.m.).

Mateo is transferred to a different store on “Superstore” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

Richard Blais is guest judge on “MasterChef Junior” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

Olivia gives Huck a tough task on “Scandal” (ABC, 9 p.m.).

Romance is breaking out on “Kicking & Screaming” (Fox, 9 p.m.).

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Wednesday TV: Direct ‘Shots Fired’

Shots FiredNetworks are getting better about tackling serious issues. The latest, “Shots Fired” (Fox, 8 p.m.), touches on racial issues that arise from a police shooting. The unnecessary twist is that it’s a white teen shot by a black cop. But it broadens from there.

The marquee stars, Richard Dreyfus, Dennis Haysbert and Helen Hunt appear fleetingly. It largely involves the work of a special investigator from the Justice Department well played by Stephan James. But his colleague, Sanaa Lathan is written so there can be a sexual subplot that is probably an effort to reach the territory of “The Wire,” but stumbles.

Still, like “American Crime” or “We Rise Up,” it’s still compelling viewing worth some attention.

“Empire” (Fox, 9 p.m.) returns from its hiatus, with Lucious announcing a new musical project and Rumor Willis popping up.

Two of the three tribes will be sending people home on tonight’s “Survivor” (CBS, 8 p.m.).

“Are You the One” has been so successful, it causes a spin-off, “Are You the One; Second Chances” (MTV, 9 p.m.), in which matches made on each season return for competitions testing their bond.

An investigative reporter gets classified information on “Designated Survivor” (ABC, 10 p.m.).

And “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.) tries to save journalism as well, one small paper at a time.

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Two Nights, 50 Songs: Magnetic Fields

MagFieldsThe Magnetic Fields has been known to write a whole lot of songs about one subject, the prime example being the epic “69 Love Songs” that came on three discs and a boxed set in 1999. The 2004 album “I” had songs all starting with the letter i.

Now, bandleader and writer Stephin Merritt accepted a more complex challenge from his record company. To mark his 50th birthday, it was suggested that he write one song for ever year he’s been alive.

The resulting “50 Song Memoir,” out this month on Nonesuch, was issued on five discs of 10 songs each.

Its release is accompanied by a 12-city tour that brings all 50 songs, in order, over two nights at each city. Its second stop last weekend was Washington, D.C., where nothing was going to stop the order of each evening — 25 songs a night, no more no less.

Even the death of Chuck Berry Saturday warranted only the slightest deviation from his scripted path, when he shouted “To Chuck!” before the planned performance of his sardonic “Rock ’n’ Roll Will Ruin Your Life.”

Merritt has been dabbling in stage musicals over the years — it’s a natural for his droll and melodic material. And the stage set up for “50 Song Memoir” was nothing if not theatrical, with a pink-edged playroom with flowered wallpaper, festooned with all manner of toys, arcane instruments, tin doc houses, lunch boxes, robots and animal creatures.

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