Stage: ‘The Sound of Music’ vs. ‘Hedwig’

soundofmusicIt’s amusing to me that on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the namesake of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, there are two popular, quite different musicals on either end of the Grand Foyer.

What if ticket holders to the traveling national tour of “The Sound of Music” made it by mistake to “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” or vice versa?

But are they so different? Both are musicals representing a chunk of the 20th century, both are Tony winners with celebrated revivals, are vaguely about family relations fractured and reformed elsewhere, and in both, the legacy of German looms.

In “Sound of Music,” it’s Hitler’s Austrian takeover that hangs like a cloud over the family musical — the Von Trapp Family singing beneath huge swastikas near the end is still a visual shocker. And the titular character in “Hedwig” was born in a divided Berlin before transplanting to a Kansas trailer park and starting a career in the end of glam rock that used Nazi symbolism as a shock (though there seemed none in the production).

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Sunday TV: ‘My Mother & Other Strangers’

EeMy_Mother_and_Other_StrangersThe newest Sunday night import for public television is “My Mother and Other Strangers” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings), set in Northern Ireland during World War II and the effect of a huge U.S. Army Air Force invading to establish an airfield. The five part series focuses on the effect on one family of five. Hattie Morahan and Owen McDonnell star.

Seems the wrong season to celebrate Christmas but here’s the third season of “Grantchester” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) doing just that. but there is still murder to investigate for the man of the collar and detective.

The new series “America’s War on Drugs” (History, 9 p.m.) looks at government involvement in drugs dating back to the Cold War and the CIA’s secret LSD experiments.

Kristen Chenoweth appears at the latest god on “American Gods” (Starz, 9 p.m.) just in time for th series’ first season finale.

Erlich flies the coop on “Silicon Valley” (HBO, 10 p.m.) in which the others are busted trying to hack Hooli-Con.

Selina’s book arrives on “Veep” (HBO, 10:30 p.m.).

“Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly” (NBC, 7 p.m.) gives airtime to the odious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

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Saturday TV: T.J. Miller Does Standup

TJMillerJust before his Erlich Bachman character bids farewell on “Silcon Valley,” the network gives a suitable launch to the comedian with his own stand up comedy special, “T.J. Miller: Meticulously Ridiculous” (HBO, 10 p.m.), taped in Denver. From its repeated use of water stunts in the promos, a little on the Gallagher side. Here’s an interview I did with him a couple of years ago for the Washington Post.

The fourth season of “Turn: Washington’s Spies” (AMC, 9 p.m.) begins in a Saturday night slot with Benedict Arnold rounding up spies in New York.

“Doctor Who” (BBC America, 9 p.m.) fights literal darkness.

Rachel gives Sarah an ultimatum on “Orphan Black” (BBC America, 10 p.m.).

“The Conjuring 2” (HBO, 7:45 p.m.), with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga,in makes its premium cable debut, as does “Inferno” (Starz, 8 p.m.)with Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones.

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Friday TV: Canada’s ‘Cardinal’ Makes Bow

cardinal-700x400With the first season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” complete, Hulu tries to keep the momentum going with an imported Canadian drama. “Cardinal” (Hulu, streaming). Based on the John Cardinal novels by Giles Blunt, it stars Billy Campbell as a police detective in Ontario trying to solve the death of a First Nations girl, with the help of a detective (Karine Vanesse) who is also investigating him.

A third season of the Ashton Kutcher comedy “The Ranch” (Netflix, streaming) begins, with a cast that also includes Elisha Cuthbert, Sam Elliott, Debra Winger and Danny Masterson.

Nostalgia for large scale investigations and presidents who swore they weren’t crooks continues with the special “Truth and Lies: Watergate” on “20/20” (ABC, 9 p.m.), in which Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, John Dean and Dan Rather appear, along with the daughter of “Deep Throat,” Joan Felt. And home movies from H.R. Haldeman and John Erlichman are shown.

“The Great British Baking Show” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) returns for a new season of making fussy little confections, with Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood presiding. They play two episodes in a row to start.

After four seasons, “Reign” (The CW, 9 p.m.) ends its run with a big decision from Mary.

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Thursday TV: Diane Keaton Gets AFI Award

keaton-streep-1-2000Even Woody Allen showed up last week for the 45th AFI Life Achievement Award: A Salute to Diane Keaton (TNT, 10 p.m.), an event that also brought tributes from Al Pacino, Jane Fonda, Warren Beatty, Morgan Freeman, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Silverman, Emma Stone, Steve Martin, Martin Short and Meryl Streep, wearing some “Annie Hall” duds.

The British crime drama “The Tunnel: Sabotage” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) returns with a slightly different tunnel, owing to the fact that a plane also crashes into the English Channel near the site of an abduction investigation at the Eurutunnel. Originally closely based on the Scandinavian hit “The Bridge” (which had a successful U.S. adaptation as well), the series returns Clemence Posey and Stephen Dilate as detectives from different countries hoping to solve the events.

Oliver Stone wraps up his four-part conversations with the Russian President, “The Putin Interviews” (Showtime, 9 p.m.).

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Wednesday: Syfy Holds Gory ‘Blood Drive’

BloodDriveThe Syfy channel goes all out splatter with its new series “Blood Drive” (Syfy, 10 p.m.) which has at its touchstone the trashy “grind house” B-films like “Death Race 2000” in particular. In fact this one is set in “Los Angeles in the future: 1999.” It’s a time when the best thing you could have is a red sports car, even with gas and water unavailable, they have to run on blood. Christina Ochoa stars as driver; Alan Richson stars as the last cop in sight; and Colin Cunningham is a shifty ringleader.

The season ends for the remarkable season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu, streaming), with Serena Joy onto Offred’s mingling with the Commander.

Last week Emmit went to Gloria Burgle to confess. Then things turn upside down in tonight’s penultimate episode of “Fargo” (FX, 10 p.m.).

“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.) has a too timely look at civil discourse.

The three part “30 for 30” documentary “Celtics / Lakers: Best of Enemies” (ESPN, 8 p.m.) concludes with the teams play from 1985 to 1987.

It’s right three of the four night sessions from Oliver Stone, “The Putin Interviews” (Showtime, 9 p.m.).

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Tuesday TV: ‘Oh Hello,’ Opens on Netflix

ohhelloYou may not have thought much of the recurring characters Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland when they kept popping up on “The Kroll Show.” But when John Mullaney and Nick Kroll later developed the characters first for a comedy tour then for a bona fide Broadway stint, people paid attention to the old coots they play, and their big trick: ordering someone too much tuna.

Now their “Oh Hello on Broadway” (Netflix, streaming) has been added to the online lineup: full circle back to your TV set.

Now that the season is finally over, the closest taste to the NBA tonight may be the “30 for 30″ documentary on the rivalry between Boston and L.A. in “Celtics / Lakers: Best of Enemies” (ESPN, 8 p.m.). It’s a long rivalry: parts one and two cover three hours.

It won’t get the daytime ratings (or probably, the network attention) that last week’s hearings with fired FBI director James Comey, but the Jeff Sessions hearing (CSPAN, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, 2:30 p.m.) before the Senate Intelligence Committee might be filled with some interesting nuggets as well.

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Monday TV: Oliver Stone Meets Putin

PutinStoneThe last time Oliver Stone took to cable to present his worldview, it was “The Untold History of the United States.” Now the director takes his passion for finding another side into his latest four-hour project, “The Putin Interviews” (Showtime, 9 p.m.). Though he was scooped in getting the access by the Megan Kelley last week, Stone spends an inordinate amount of time with the Russian president, in sessions taped from July 2015 to just last February.

He asks about alleged Russian involvement in U.S. elections, aggression in the Ukraine and state persecution of gay people. But they also play hockey and watch “Dr. Strangelove.” Stone comes away with a lot of respect for the guy, maybe too much. It continues nightly through Thursday.

“So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox, 8 p.m.) returns for its 14th season with auditions in Los Angeles.  Joining Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy on the judges panel is Vanessa Hudgens. Cat Deeley returns as host.

Game 5 of the NBA Finals with Cleveland at Golden State (ABC, 9 p.m.). Warriors lead the series 3-1 and could win it all at home tonight. “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC, 8 p.m.) precedes the game.

The penultimate episode of “Better Call Saul” (AMC, 10 p.m.), Jimmy visits an old friend and takes up a new pastime.

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Sunday TV: Frank Underwood Hosts Tonys

spaceyKevin Spacey takes time from “House of Cards” (Netflix, streaming) to host The 71st Annual Tony Awards (CBS, 8 p.m.). A theater buff himself, who will play Clarence Darrow in a tennis stadium this week, Spacey will preside over the first post-“Hamilton” Tonys, with a wider array of performances from “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Come From Away,” “Groundhog Day,” “Hello, Dolly!” “War Paint” and “Natasha, Pierre & the great Comet of 1812.” But by law Lin-Manuel Miranda will still appear.

That musical’s success leads the History channel to actually return to history with its special “Hamilton: Building America” (History, 9 p.m.), featuring Ron Chernow, Tom Brokaw and Maria Bartiromo.

Niecy Nash, so good in “Getting On,” now stars as a nail salon owner in Central Florida who gets involved with the local mob. The new “Claws” (TNT, 9 p.m.) has a swell cast including Dean Norris, Judy Reyes, Carrie Preston, Harold Perineau and Jenn Lyon and what looks to be a sassy approach. Rashida Jones is one of the co-producers.

Steve Harvey overload is reaching Chris Hardwick levels with him hosting his third or fourth primetime show, this one with his name on it, “Steve Harvey’s FUNDERDOME” (ABC, 9 p.m.), which is nothing more than a variation of “Shark Tank” with Steve Harvey reactions and a title copped from a Max Max sequel.

Harvey also hosts the third season premiere of “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC, 8 p.m.) it’s Kelly Clarkson vs. Amy Schumer and Bindi Irwin vs. Chrissy Metz.

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Remembering Adam West, Best Batman

AdamWestFor the number of actors who have donned the cape to become increasingly more dark Dark Knights in recent decades, the most iconic Batman was the one on TV in the 1960s.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the start of my favorite “Batman,” which succeeded in part because of the charm and good humor of its star, Adam West, who died Friday night in Los Angeles at 88, after a short bout with leukemia.

When I last saw him, at a TV Critics Association summer press tour, he seemed to have the right perspective on the comic book that made him rich: he had outgrown it.

On a panel along with comic book writers for a PBS documentary called “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle,” West proved his own such battle is long over. With his typical droll humor, West said he was “done with it. I just love the money.”

Asked what he thought about the various Batmen that came after him, West said, “I really don’t even think about it.”

West admitted he doesn’t even go to see the increasingly dark movies under that name. “I just enjoy seeing bits and pieces whenever I check into a hotel or something and it’s playing,” he said.

“Listen,” West finally said, “I’ve been an icon, I’ve been a Superhero, if you will, for almost 50 years. Now, in a sense I’m very grateful for this that we created something that is so lasting.”

But he also said that while he admired what modern comic book writers are doing, he has mostly outgrown it and “became a little more elevated.”

May he rest in peace.


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