Sunday TV: ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ — Once

star_trek_discovery_bridge_The latest iteration of the cult series, “Star Trek: Discovery” (CBS, 830 p.m.) makes its debut — but look quick. It only shows on network TV once. Like a previous series it introduced this way, “The Good Wife” sequel “The Good Fight,” the one time showing is meant to build up the CBS All Access streaming service, where subsequent episode will show. Seems to me they’re throwing away the best candidates it would have had for its broadcast station

A host of top Latin stars participate in the four hour “Todos Unidos” (Telemundo, 7 p.m.), telethon to raise money for victims of the Mexican earthquake and hurricane-strikes Puerto Rico. Don Fracisco hosts broadcasts from Miami, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Houston and Los Angeles, with performances by Chyno, Elvis Crespo, Luis Fons, Ricardo Montaner and many more.

Take a knee: Sunday Night Football has Oakland at Washington (NBC, 8:25 p.m.). Earlier games include Pittsburgh at Chicago (CBS, 1 p.m.), Giants at Philadelphia (Fox, 1 p.m.) and Cincinnati at Green Bay (CBS, 4:25 p.m.).

Recess is over! “The Vietnam War” (PBS, 8 p.m.) picks up at the Tet Offensive and other things that occurred in the first half of 1968.

“60 Minutes” (CBS, 7 p.m.) kicks off its 50th (!) season with its newest correspondent, Oprah Winfrey.

Vincent gets an unexpected partner on the third episode of “The Deuce” (HBO, 9 p.m.).

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Saturday TV: The Global Citizen Concert

GlobalCitizenStevie Wonder, Green Day, the Chainsmokers, Pharrell Williams, Andra Day, the Lumineers, Big Sean and Alessia Cara all play the Global Citizen Festival 2017  (MSNBC, 3 p.m.), a benefit for fighting inequality and ending poverty, live from New York’s Central Park.

College football dominates network prime time TV with Penn State at Iowa (ABC, 7:30 p.m.) and Notre Dame at Michigan State (Fox, 8 p.m.).

Donna makes a play for a heavy hitter on a new “Halt and Catch Fire” (AMC, 9 p.m.).

An author who seeks an escape from the media crashes her car and gets amnesia, then gets to know the doctor who treats her on the made-for-tv romance “Falling for Vermont” (Hallmark, 9 p.m.). It stars Julie Gonzalo and Benjamin Ayres.

The video game adaptation “Assassin’s Creed” (HBO, 8 p.m.), with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, makes its premium cable debut. Also on tonight: “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” (Starz, 8 p.m.).

“The Ultimate Guide to Sounding Smart” (History, 10 p.m.) spreads information such as what is America’s favorite cheese and when the phone sex industry started.

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‘Take Me to the River,’ the Concert Version

IMG_4598Since Martin Shore released his 2014 documentary “Take Me to the River,” telling the story of Memphis soul while trying to introduce a hip hop generation, a number of its featured artists have died, including Bobby “Blue” Bland, Hubert Sumlin and Teenie Hodges.

But three other of its featured participants went on to win their first Grammys this year — singer and songwriter William Bell, bluesman Bobby Rush and producer Boo Mitchell.

The latter three are now part of a touring version called “Take Me to the River: Memphis Soul and Rhythm & Blues Revue National Concert Tour” that gave a taste of what they can do before a receptive but reserved audience at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History Tuesday.

The event, which included snippets from the film that can now be found on Netflix, also offered BBQ, drinks and a formal presentation to the Smithsonian of the spangly green suit Rush wore about the time of ”Porcupine Meat”, what he calls his 374th album, which got him his first Grammy in February.

But once the Hi Rhythm Section got on stage with the Stax Academy Alumni, the main event began, largely with familiar tunes made hits by Al Green and Otis Redding. (The director Shore was also on stage, adding negligible additions on conga).

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Friday TV: Johnny Paycheck, the Cartoon

paycheckAfter successfully mastering action comedy with his first-rate “Silicon Valley,” Mike Judge returns to the animation with the unusual approach to music documentary, “Mike Judge Presents: Tales from the Tour Bus” (Cinemax, 10 p.m.). It’s a strange hybrid, with live action Judge explaining his motivations — there’s a lot of weird stories in country music — and presenting a lot of rare performance footage amid a lot of interviews with former bandmates and roadies, whose interviews are rendered in animation.

That makes the old boys talking about George Jones or Waylon Jennings seem like the same ones jabbering by the alley fence on “King of the Hill.” But they sure are free with the stories, that begins with the harrowing tale of Johnny Paycheck, who struggled for decades, had a big hit, and messed it all up again with drug-fueled rages. It all plays like a comic book history of stars from the real country. Other subjects include Jerry Lee Lewis (in a second episode tonight) and Tammy Wynette.

Another new animated series today is “Neo Yokio” (Netflix, streaming) about aristocratic teens in a futuristic New York City, done in an anime style. It’s from Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend and includes the voices of Jaden Smith, Jude Law, Susan Sarandon, Jason Schwartzman and Kieran Shipka. It’s not quite clear for whom it is intended.

The fourth season of the great series “Transparent” (Amazon, streaming) begins with a family trip to Israel, where Jeffrey Tambor’s Maura is about to speak at a conference.

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Randy Newman at the Birchmere

IMG_4589At 73, Randy Newman is still writing sharp and funny political songs, elaborate and cynical set pieces about the state of the world and, in between, the kind of stark songs that unexpectedly rip your heart out.

At a wide-ranging, two-set, 33 song panorama of his work of the past half century, fans responded to his oldest, most enduring numbers but were just as knocked out by the newest things, as collected on his new Nonesuch collection “Dark Matter.”

The new collection kicks off with a kind of mini-opera about science vs. religion, but he skipped it altogether on the first of a two night stint at the Birchmere in Alexandria, in place of several songs of particular interest to the politically-minded crowd.

Not only was there “Putin,” his opus to the preening Soviet leader, there was a new one imagining John and Bobby Kennedy in the White House talking about theCuba Missile Crisis, Celia Cruz, and the head of the Washington NFL team, “Mr. George Preston Marshall” who “runs them like a plantation,” “for never has a black man worn the burgundy and gold.”

He almost forlornly sang “Political Science,” his famously sardonic call to “drop the big one now” because “no one likes us.”

“It’s harder to sing this now,” he said, the day before the U.S. president would call for “the total destruction” of North Korea.

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Thursday TV: ‘Monterey Pop’ and More

montereypopSome great rock ’n’ roll concert films and documentaries back-to-back and commercial-free on Turner Classic Movies with the classic “Monterey Pop” (8 p.m.), 50 years after the event that helped kickstart careers for Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding, with some great performances by the Who and Ravi Shankar. It’s followed by the Bob Dylan documentary “Don’t Look Back” (9:30 p.m.), the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” (11:45 p.m.), a director’s cut of “Woodstock” (1:30 a.m.) that’s nearly four hours long and the 1973 documentary “Jimi Hendrix” (5:30 a.m.).

“Gotham” (Fox, 8 p.m.) begins its fourth season, inching closer to connecting to the Batman origin story.

It’s accompanied by the Seth MacFarlane space attempt “The Orville” (Fox, 9 p.m.), moving to its regular time slot with its dumbest episode yet.

The British series “Doc Martin” (Acorn, streaming) begins its eighth season online.

American casualties rise on the fifth chapter of “The Vietnam War” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings)  covering the last five months of 1967.

The ninth episode of “The Guest Book” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.) involves an Amish kid on Rumspringa.

Country singer Kelsea Ballerini is one of the guest judges on “Project Runway” (Lifetime, 9 p.m.), where the challenge is street style.

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Screams at the Yoko Tribute Concert

IMG_4575Aside from her considerable career as a conceptual artist, Yoko Ono may also be the most polarizing figure in rock. She still carries a lot of unfair blame for being a convenient target as the Beatles were breaking up, and may have showed up on too many Lennon solo albums for purists.

At the same time, she inspired a generation of edgy rockers who picked up on her extreme modes of expressions, the shrieks the trills and moans that accompanied some pretty far out records. Artists from the B-52s to Mariam Makeba took up the inspiration and noise bands made her a totem.

Sonic Youth was so enamored with the sound, their Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore cut an album with her called “Kimyokothurston.”

So it seemed right that Gordon headline “A Concert for Yoko Ono, Washington and the World” to wrap up the so-called Summer of Yoko at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

The event, created around the 10-year anniversary of her ”Wish Tree for Washington, D.C.” in the sculpture garden, included a couple of other conceptual works, new and old at the museum and was concluding with a big concert outdoors in the museum’s plaza.

And while there may have been a number of more conventional approaches the invited acts could have taken — covering more straight ahead songs like “Walking on Thin Ice,” “Kiss, Kiss, Kiss” or any number of her dance remix hits of the past couple of decades, they all decided to take passages from her 1964 volume of poetry and performance suggestions, “Grapefruit,” and run with it.

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Wednesday TV: The 2 Minute Marathon

breaking2As marathon runners get closer to breaking the two-hour mark, the sneaker manufacturer Nike is trying all it can do to help, funding scientific and technological research that might help. And they’re documenting it in the film “Breaking2” (National Geographic, 8 p.m.) making its debut tonight.

The returning network comedy “The Good Place” (NBC, 10 p.m.), having revealed late last season that everyone was actually in the bad place does a reset this season — trying to fool the same set of characters led by Kristen Bell, by erasing their memories and trying again. It’s kind of a crazy thing for a show to do, but I’ve always found the fussiness of characters and setting a little off putting. After tonight’s one hour premiere, it moves to its regular slot on Thursday.

Finales abound on summer reality shows that all feature two hour finales. On “Big Brother” (CBS, 8 p.m.) it’s between Josh, Christmas and Paul, who has been pretty much running things since the start.

On “America’s Got Talent” (NBC, 8 p.m.), finalists are largely singers, but there is also a stand-up comic, a dog act, a light-up dance group and a kid ventriloquist who also sings.

And on “MasterChef” (Fox, 8 p.m.), the finalists are dancer Dino Luciano, counselor Eboni Henry and music teacher Jason Wang.

The horror anthology series “Channel Zero” (Syfy, 10 p.m.) returns with a tale of a haunted house that plays on the mind.

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Arcade Fire Adapts Well to Arena

IMG_4553Playing in the round isn’t always the best way to take in an arena concert. By definition, a band’s presentation is fractured in different directions, lacking a central, unified focus. Every time a band member is facing you means that another is facing the other way. If it’s a spinning stage, it can all be a little dizzying.

Arcade Fire seemed to solve all of that with the arena tour that stopped at the Capitol One Center in Washington Saturday (a place that was so recently the Verizon Center, it still said so on the central ice scoreboard).

For its purposes, being in the round means closer to its audience and being in the center of its party, something the Canadian band has always tried to do.

To start, it played up the boxing rink aspects of the stage set up with sports-like introductions and warm up suits as well as actual ropes that were shed after a few songs.

Wireless microphones allowed singer Win Butler and Régine Cassagne to wander the stage at will. Different platforms on the stage, from monitors to piano tops allowed them to stand out further on different levels. And yes, a central platform did spin around at times, moving mostly the drum set of Jeremy Gara as well as the standup piano.

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Tuesday TV: Conan Goes to Jerusalem

conanIsraelI always thought Jay Leno would be the former “Tonight” show host who would travel the world and send back specials. Instead, it’s been Conan O’Brien, whose latest sends him to the Middle East, where he creates laugh and has at least as good a chance as Jerod Kushner in creating good will in “Conan Without Borders: Israel” (TBS, 10 p.m.).

What’s been missing in stand up comedy specials this century? That brick wall! Jerry Seinfeld brings it back, as well as older pre-sitcom material on an unusual special “Jerry Before Seinfeld” (Netflix,streaming) that recalls childhood memories as well as the early days in the club. It’s his first for Netflix which will also inherit his “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” (Crackle, streaming) later this year.

The fall season isn’t quite here for broadcast TV but the season for hyping it certainly is. It reaches a new level tonight with a panel discussion “The Paley Center Salutes: The Best of’Will & Grace’” (NBC, 10 p.m.), in which the stars of the series that is returning this fall talk about the first eight seasons from 1998-2006.

Hillary Clinton visits “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (CBS, 11:35 p.m.).

What’s fascinating about the third installment of the epic documentary “The Vietnam War” (PBS, 8 p.m.) is that it makes use of President Johnson’s private phone conversations expressing frustrations with the war in examining the period from January 1964 and December 1965 when it was all about escalation and bombing.

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