Sunday TV: A ‘Succession’ Season Finale

SUC_210_07212019_gh_3093The most consistent pleasure this fall has been the second season of “Succession” (HBO, 9 p.m.), which has been packing a lot of sharp jibes with lavish locations, bitter recrimination and a simple story: Who’s going to take over the family business?

It’s not clear the answer will come tonight, during the season finale. The family will be on another enviable location – on the Mediterranean on a yacht, where Logan will weigh who will be sacrificed for the latest blunder. And they’ll play that music one last time in a long while.

Also ending tonight is the first season of “The Righteous Gemstones” (HBO, 10:10 p.m.), with Jesse trying to keep his marriage together after he confessed all last week (and his wife got a gun).

But it’s the last episode ever for “Ballers” (HBO, 11 p.m.), with Spencer refusing to back down while fighting for the league’s players.

Steven Spielberg and Alex Gibney join forces on a timely documentary series about division, “Why We Hate” (Discovery, 10 p.m.) with the help of an evolutionary anthropologist.

Black Thought and Questlove are behind a new series “Hip-Hop: The Songs that Shook America” (AMC, midnight), starting with Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks.”

Noah is caught in the #MeToo movement on “The Affair” (Showtime, 9 p.m.).

Sunday Night Football has Pittsburgh at Chargers (NBC, 8:15 p.m.). Earlier games include Washington at Miami (Fox, 1 p.m.), Cincinnati at Baltimore (NBC, 1 p.m.), and Dallas at Jets (CBS, 4:25 p.m.).

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Saturday TV: Admissions Scandal Movie

the-college-admissions-scandal-lifetime-super-teaseThe best casting for a TV movie rather unimaginatively titled “The College Admissions Scandal” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.), of course, would be Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Apparently they weren’t available, so instead we have Penelope Ann Miller and Mia Kirshner not exactly playing any of the big name figures involved in the high profile scandal, but watered-down anonymous rich moms who’d do anything to get their kids in the best colleges.

But Michael Shanks portrays the real Rick Singer, an admission consultant who is soon enough collecting checks to help the process. When it’s over, the real facts (and bigger names) come out in the documentary that follows, “Beyond the Headlines: The College Admissions Scandal with Gretchen Carlson” (Lifetime, 10 p.m.), the second special by the former Fox News correspondent.

A completely fictional college story is “Happy Death Day 2U” (HBO, 8 p.m.), with Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard and Ruby Modine, making its premium cable debut.

The weirdest idea for a made-for-TV movie is the revival of the fuzzy 1970s kids show “The Banana Splits” (Syfy, 9 p.m.), with Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky becoming murderous robots once they get wind of cancellation. The resulting gore fest is not suggested for kids.

It’s a coincidence that the Hamburglar is also on tonight, but it’s the name of a blind puppy on “Amanda to the Rescue” (Animal Planet, 10 p.m.).

League championship series are in full swing with Game 2 of Washington at St. Louis (TBS, 4 p.m.) and Game 1 of Yankees at Houston (Fox, 8 p.m.).

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Friday TV: A New ‘Breaking Bad’ Movie

El Camino: A Breaking Bad MovieNot since “Deadwood: The Movie” or “Twin Peaks: The Return” has there been as much anticipation for a feature length sequel to a beloved show as “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” (Netflix, streaming).

Written and directed by Vince Gilligan, creator of the original, excellent series “Breaking Bad” — and its top-notch, ongoing prequel, “All About Saul” — it’s the story of Aaron Paul’s character Jesse Pinkman, following his escape from captivity at the end of the series and trying to find a way forward. First to help are his old pals Badger and Skinny Pete (Matt Jones and Charles Baker) but a surprising amount of other old cast members pop up in flashbacks, including Jonathan Banks, Jesse Plemons, Krysten Ritter and, yes, Bryan Cranston. Mostly, there is well-crafted tension that will make you miss the series more.

Also premiering online is the thriller “Fractured” (Netflix, streaming), in which Sam Worthington and Lily Rabe suddenly lose their daughter on a family trip.

A second season starts for “Insatiable” (Netflix, streaming), the middling comedy with Debby Ryan, Dallas Roberts and Alyssa Milano about a teen who loses weight and seeks revenge on those who bullied her.

The revived “Charmed” (CW, 8 p.m.) has its second season premiere, with Mel, Maggie and Macy taking over the duties of the Elders.

It comes alongside the third season start of “Dynasty” (CW, 9 p.m.), which begins with bodies being pulled from the Carrington Estate lake just before the fundraiser.

The National League Championship Series begins with Washington at St. Louis (TBS, 8 p.m.).

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Thursday TV: Probing Border Separation

TornApartA new 40-minute documentary “Torn Apart: Separated at the Border” (HBO, 9 p.m.) looks at two mothers from among the nearly 3,000 families with children separated at the U.S. Mexico border last year. Filmmaker Ellen Goosenberg Kent follows the women over nine months as they escape dangerous conditions in their home countries to seek asylum in the U.S.

“Supernatural” (CW, 8 p.m.) begins its 15th (!) and final season, with San, Dean and Castiel left to defend the world from all the zombies in hell who have been released.

Back for its second season is the vampire spinoff “Legacies” (CW, 9 p.m.).

The rebooted “Temptation Island” (USA, 10 p.m.) finds another four couples who make the questionable decision to come to an island where they’ll be separated and swarmed by singles.

Nine Democratic Candidates participate  in a Town Hall (CNN, 7:30 p.m.) on LGBTQ issues, co-sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. The order is: Cory Booker at 7:30 p.m., Joe Biden, 8 p.m.; Pete Buttigieg, 8:30 p.m.; Elizabeth Warren, 9 p.m.; Kamala Harris, 9:30 p.m.; Beto O’Rourke, 10 p.m.; Amy Klobuchar, 10:30 p.m.; Julian Castro, 11 p.m. and Tom Steyer, 11:30 p.m.

Thursday Night Football has Giants at New England (Fox, 8 p.m.).

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Wednesday TV: A New ‘Nancy Drew’

PilotAs a dark, updated story of the 175-book teen detective series, the new “Nancy Drew” (CW, 9 p.m.) stars Kennedy McMann as an 18-year-old sleuth who foregoes college to look into a local murder of a socialite in her small town. She’s got a stake in the inquiry, since she’s also a suspect.

From the makers of “Gossip Girl,” the new adaptation promises to be sexier with more pop culture references. But also: a flock of ghosts. Maddison Jaizani, Alex Saxon and Tunji Kasim round out the cast. Scott Wolf (“Party of Five”) plays her dad.

The new show has as little to do with its source material as the accompanying “Riverdale” (CW, 8 p.m.), the Archie series which begins its fourth season paying tribute to Luke Perry, the actor who died after season three wrapped last May. They get another “90210” star, Shannen Doherty, to guest star.

The streaming service’s first music competition show, “Rhythm + Flow” (Netflix, streaming) seeks a new hip hop star. The formidable judges’ panel has Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and T.I.

The unusual new series “Taken at Birth” (TLC, 9 p.m.) seeks to locate the estimated 200 babies illegally sold by a Southern doctor in the 1950s and ‘60s, and reunite them with their biological families, while unearthing more information about the doctor in question, Thomas Hicks. Which is not quite the plot of the new “Almost Family” (Fox, 9 p.m.) that premiered last week.

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Luna Revisits its Penthouse at the 930 Club

IMG_1153On the various Luna tours the band has done since it reunited in 2015 following a 10 year pause, they almost seemed miffed to have to play the old stuff fans wanted. Not that they had much new stuff — just an album of covers and another of instrumentals.

But now, embarked on one of those full album recitals popular with heritage groups, they seemed to have turned the corner into appreciating anew all that they accomplished.

The showcase for an early show at the 930 Club in Washington Saturday was the 1995 album Penthouse — though some stops have been showcasing the two prior albums, Lunapark and Bewitched in their entirety.

But Penthouse might have been the best of the three to see, featuring the band at its prime, with a a lazy surf-like riff to start with “Chinatown,” then the wavy, underwater-like figure on “Sideshow by the Seashore.”

It wasn’t quite the lineup the band had when it recorded the album 24 years ago — Britta Phillips played bass in place of the originating Justin Harwood, and Penthouse was the last album for drummer Stanley Demeski, who’d go on to The Feelies; it’s been the hard hitting Lee Wall ever since.

But Dean Wareham held court front and center as he always did, with his searching, mysterious lyrics in deadpan tones and interesting guitar figures. And still with him, trading off on some guitar interplay was Sean Eden, who has been around since their second album.

It’s a formidable group, who face one another when they’re sitting out sparks of elongated anthems as if they’re a jam band on long workouts like “23 Minutes in Brussels”  or “Freakin’ and Peakin,’” which speeds up, slows down and speeds up again before it ends.

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Tuesday TV: Lil’ Bit of Hip-Hop Awards

Lil+KimThe BET Hip Hop Awards (BET, 8 p.m.) return to Atlanta with Cardi B receiving the most nominations. But performance seems a more important aspect, from Chance the Rapper, Rick Ross, T-Pain, Anderson Paak, Offset, Saweetie, Rapsody and Megan Thee Stallion.

Maybe it should be renamed the Lil’ Awards: Lil’ Kim (right) wins a special award, Lil’ Jon, Lil’ Cease, and Lil’ Wayne all appear. The whole thing is hosted by Lil’ Duval. Though many of you may have lil’ interest in the proceedings, I keep thinking of Trump defending his use of the word “Liddle” and whether he meant to be trying to say Lil.’

A sixth season begins with “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings), with the Harvard professor taking on a soothsayer’s pose in telling truths to various celebrities (that had been turned up by an unseen staff of researchers). First up are a trio of actresses whose immediate genealogy in Hollywood royalty is already well known: Isabella Rossellini, Anjelica Huston and Mia Farrow.

A new “Frontline” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) takes a look at the chilling reign of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines where thousands of people have been killed on suspicion of drug dealing since he was elected. “On the President’s Orders” is such a strong report, it was also released theatrically last weekend.

The Chicago comic turns in a new stand-up special, “Deon Cole: Cole Hearted” (Netflix, streaming).

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Monday TV: PBS Brings the Laughs

PBS_RetroReport2019-44PBS is known for many things, from great documentaries to British drama, but it has never been known for humor. In fact, I maintain they’ve never booked straight comedy other than The Mark Twain Award (“Monty Python” was an import picked up by individual stations).

Therefore, it may be entering a new realm tonight with the debut of “Retro Report on PBS” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings), a variation of the history-centric producer of mini-documentaries on YouTube that will also include a weekly commentary by Andy Borowitz, the witty commentator (and inveterate Twitterer) from The New Yorker. Think of his segment as the Andy Rooney following the more serious reporting by Celeste Headlee and Masud Olufani, who tonight look at historical antecedents to NFL protests, and how experiments from the 1950s connect with social media habits of today.

A second season starts for “All American” (CW, 8 p.m.), with Spencer James facing a tough choice.

“Black Lightning” (CW, 9 p.m.) is back for its third season, resolving its cliffhanger.

“Our Boys” (HBO, 10 p.m.) ends its run with a verdict.

Vincent is bummed his club is closed on “The Deuce” (HBO, 9 p.m.).

On “Lodge 49” (AMC, 10 p.m.), Ernie meets his fate.

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Sunday TV: Here Comes ‘Batwoman’

BatwomanWhile another “Batman” character dominates the movies, here’s yet another starting a TV show. Ruby Rose stars as “Batwoman” (CW, 8 p.m.), TV’s first openly lesbian superhero, who decides to don a cape and protect Gotham City three years after Bruce Wayne has gone missing (and presumably blown his cover). It’s meant to mesh with the three (!) other DC Comics series on CW, and comes from the same producer Greg Berlanti. Hence it’s followed by the fifth season premiere of “Supergirl” (CW, 9 p.m.).

How about a strong woman without a cape? “Madam Secretary” (CBS, 10 p.m.) returns for its sixth and final season, with Elizabeth now President. Plus the First Gentleman goes on Colbert.

The fourth and final season of “Mr. Robot” (USA, 10 p.m.) returns, with the recent Oscar-winner in the lead role.

Tiffany Haddish picks up where Art Linkletter (and then Bill Cosby) once trod with a new version of “Kids Say the Darnedest Things” (ABC, 8 p.m.), on which the comedian coaxes the kids to say funny things and then riffs accordingly.

A new imported British drama “Press” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) concerns the competition between a broadsheet and a tabloid.

“The Walking Dead” (AMC, 9 p.m.) returns for its 10th season. Seems like the zombies would have all died out on their own by now. Whatever happens is then discussed on “Talking Dead” (AMC, 10:14 p.m.), just as “Power Confidential” (Starz, 9 p.m.) talk session will follow another episode of “Power” (Starz, 8 p.m.).

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Reviving ‘Merce Cunningham at 100′

Biped2Merce Cunningham’s legacy lingers in contemporary dance,  and avant-garde collaboration. He eliminated storylines in dance pieces, concentrated on movement as pointed as abstract art and vaulted modernist music (particularly that of his partner John Cage) to wide popularity.

His 50 year presence in the dance world guaranteed his influence continue long after his death a decade ago at 90. So to mark the centenary of his birth, Kennedy Center has devised a weekend’s celebration, capped by two reconstructed performances he created.

“Beach Birds,” from 1991, and “BIPED” from 1999 were performed by the Compagnie Centre National de Danse Contamporaine-Angers. It is a French company, where the artistic director since 2013 has been Robert Swinston, a 30-year member of Cunningham’s company who has reconstructed the two pieces in which he once danced.

The striking “Beach Birds” features 11 dancers, whose white leotards and black arm and shoulder coverings and gloves have them resemble a flock of penguins, while emphasizing the jutting, angular, inventive movements of the arms and hands.

In their various groupings, the dancers never quite do things together, similar to birds — one moves, and the next one does, and so on. Yet there is a kind of fluid unison in that they are all creating movements that have a singular effect.

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