Friday TV: Ballet Slowed Way Down

balletRic Burns’ history of the American Ballet Theater is at times a corporate-approved biography, at other times an explanation of the necessity of dance itself. Mostly, it’s a lot of slow motion photography of dancers in motion, set to dramatic music that they’re not actually dancing to, while talking heads go on and on about how ballet is good. Yes, I think we know that already.

There’s some interesting history here and there in “American Ballet Theatre: A History,” which for some reason finds a home on “American Masters” (PBS, 9 p.m.). But like those nature films that slow down the movements of animals, one almost loses a sense of what this looks like in real time. Plus, if there wasn’t so much slow motion it would be half as long as it is — an hour and a half.

Things will move faster in “ACM Presents: Superstar Duets!” (CBS, 9 p.m.) with the kind of Nashville pairings usually reserved for awards shows, without the awards. It combines John Anderson and Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley with Ashley Monroe and Kip Moore, Miranda Lambert with Patty Loveless, Sara Evans and Darius Rucker and an association we’ve seen before, Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn.

The documentary “21 Years: Richard Linklater” (Showtime, 8 p.m.) looks at the filmmaker who takes his time to make films, from “Behore Sunset” to “Boyhood.” Last year’s “For No Good Reason” (Starz, 11:45 p.m.) is a documentary about the work of Ralph Steadman, best known as illustrator and companion at Hunter S. Thompson’s wiggier adventures.

“The Amazing Race” (CBS, 8 p.m.) sprints to its finale, ending the competition in Dallas.

A fourth season finale comes on “Grimm” (NBC, 8 p.m.), which has been renewed for a fifth season. The final pitches for the sixth season of “Shark Tank” (ABC, 8 p.m.) are also heard. It will be back next season as well.

John Waters, Charles Murray, Heather McGhee, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Killer Mike are guests on a new “Real Time with Bill Maher” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

A collection of dog programming heralds the start of Barkfest Weekend, with such titles as “World’s Greatest Dogs” (Nat Geo Wild, 9 p.m.), “Cesar 911″ (Nat Geo Wild, 10 p.m.) and a test you can take with your own pooch, “Is Your Dog a Genius?” (Nat Geo Wild, 10 p.m.). (If it’s chasing its tail, I’m thinking no).

The Friday night showcase of Orson Welles on Turner Classic Movies continues with “Chimes at Midnight” (8 p.m.) and his versions of  “Othello” (10:16 p.m.) and  ”Macbeth” (midnight). They’re followed by a couple of classics by Kurosawa: “Throne of Blood” (2 a.m.) and “Yojimbo” (4 a.m.).

NBA playoff games include Atlanta at Washington (ESPN, 7 p.m.) and Golden State at Memphis (ESPN, 9:30 p.m.).

Daytime Talk

Kelly & Michael: Queen Latifah, Alex Trebek. The View: David Muir, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, Skylar Astin, Melissa & Dallas Hartwig, Raven-Symone. The Talk: Anna Kendrick, Marcus Samuelsson, Chi-Lan Lieu, Gayle King. Ellen DeGeneres: Jennifer Lopez. Wendy Williams: Laurie Schacht, Steve Wilkos, Nikki Boyer, Sharon Carpenter. Meredith Vieira: Lil Jon, Tom Bergeron. Queen Latifah: Jeffrey Wright, Guillermo Diaz (rerun).

Late Talk

David Letterman: Oprah Winfrey, Norm Macdonald. Jimmy Fallon: Queen Latifah, Sam Rockwell, cast of “Something’s Rotten!” Jimmy Kimmel: Paul Giamatti, Science Bob Pflugfelder. Seth Meyers: Cobie Smulders, Andre Braugher, Phil Hanley (rerun). James Corden: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld. Carson Daly: Kurt Braunohler, the Budos Band, Haaz Sleiman (rerun). Tavis Smiley: Kristin Davis, Vijay Iyer.

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