Saturday: Phoebe Waller-Bridge on ‘SNL’

taylor-swift-phoebe-waller-bridge-snl-oct-5-2019-billboard-1548The tall Emmy winning Phoebe Waller-Bridge of “Fleabag” fame hosts a new “Saturday Night Live” (NBC, 11:30 p.m.) with even taller musical guest Taylor Swift.

The comedian addresses his mental health struggles amid his latest standup special from Brooklyn, “Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

Broadcast TV is dominated again by college football with Michigan State at Ohio State (ABC, 7:30 p.m.) and California at Oregon (Fox, 8 p.m.).

“Austin City Limits” (PBS, 11 p.m., check local listings) begins its 45th season with a show featuring Gary Clark Jr.

The annual great salmon run is the focus of “Planet Earth: Nature’s Great Events” (BBC America, 9 p.m.).

Virginia Hudgens and Jordan Fisher host the 90-minute “31 Nights of Halloween Fan Fest” (Freeform, 8 p.m.).

“Amanda to the Rescue” (Animal Planet, 10 p.m.) begins its second season taking on two dogs who need immediate medical attention.

There’s also a second season start for the new generation of “Crikey! It’s the Irwins” (Animal Planet, 8 p.m.), in which they relocate an aggressive crocodile and check a giraffe’s bum knee.

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Friday TV: Kids With Strange Powers

Raising-Dion-760x570“Raising Dion” (Netflix, streaming) is yet another series about a young boy who has mysterious superhero abilities. Alisha Wainwright plays his mom; Michael B. Jordan, a producer of the series,  his late father. Also starring is Jason Ritter.

A different young boy gets lost in a field of tall grass, and when a a pregnant woman and her brother come to save him they become victim to weird forces in the field in the movie adaptation “In the Tall Grass” (Netflix, streaming), based on the novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill.

Billy Bob Thornton returns for a third season of the legal saga “Goliath” (Amazon, streaming). In it his lawyer looks into California water shortages with a cast this time that includes Amy Brenneman, Beau Bridges, Illeana Douglas, Griffin Dunne and Dennis Quaid.

“Peaky Blinders” (Netflix, streaming) also releases its fifth season; the animated “Big Mouth” (Netflix, streaming) begins its third.

In the South Korean import “My Country: The New Age” (Netflix, streaming) Yang Se-jong plays a 14th century warrior between two dynasties.

A second season starts for “Rotten” (Netflix, streaming), the documentary series about the sometimes unsavory origins of the food supply.

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Thursday TV: Alicia Keys, Others, Sing

aliciaThe second half of the “iHeartRadio Music Festival” (CW, 8 p.m.) from Las Vegas features performances from Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus, Chance the Rapper, Zac Brown and Mumford & Sons.

The revival’s second season won’t officially start until next week, but in its place today is a casting special for “Temptation Island” (USA, 10 p.m.) with a look at the four participating couples and the singles that will tempt them.

The National League Divisional Series begins with St. Louis at Atlanta (TBS, 5 p.m.) and Washington at Dodgers (TBS, 8:30 p.m.).

Thursday Night Football has Rams at Seattle (Fox, 8 p.m.).

In the new anime series “Seis Manos” (Netflix, streaming), three orphaned martial arts warriors join forces with a DEA agent at a border town in 1970s Mexico.

Lifetime is getting into the Halloween business with its own Shocktober, beginning with a film about a household employee who wants to take over. “A Working Mom’s Nightmare” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.) stars Lydia Wilson, Rupert Graves and Tuppence Middleton. New residents show their true colors on “The Good Place” (NBC, 9 p.m.).

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Wednesday TV: Fox’s New ‘Almost Family’

AlmostFamilyThe best of the new “Almost Family” (Fox, 9 p.m.) plays like an instant-sisterhood of women played by Brittany Snow, Emily Osment and Megalyn Echikunwoke. But the reason they’re half sisters is because a fertility doctor – Snow’s father — used his own DNA on unwitting women. Timothy Hutton is the shamed doctor, which seems refreshing in that it’s not about cops, hospitals, lawyers or sci-fi. Here’s a little something I wrote about it for AARP.

Eight undocumented families try to survive under current policies in the documentary “Living Undocumented” (Netflix, streaming).

Both “SEAL Team” (CBS, 9 p.m.) and “SWAT” (CBS, 10 p.m.) return for their third season premieres.

With WWE SmackDown going to Fox this season, cable gets another new wrestling show — and entire new federation — called “All Elite Wrestling” (TNT, 8 p.m.). It includes Chris Jericho and Randy Rhodes’ daughter, Brandi Rhodes and the first bout is from Washington’s Capitol One Arena.

Not to be outdone, WWE moves its “WWE NXT” (USA, 8 p.m.) from its online site to cable for the first time with a two hour show. It will also run on Wednesdays.

In the world of non-scripted sports, the Florida Gators are the focus of this year’s “24/7 College Football” (HBO, 10 p.m.).  The football betting guide will be available to all the fantasy sports players this college season in our directory! Make sure to follow this years college football teams, they are supposed to be the best in years with top prospects expected to make the first round of the NFL draft.

And the hockey season begins with Washington at St. Louis (NBC Sports, 8 p.m.) and San Jose at Vegas (NBC Sports, 10:30 p.m.).

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Other Things I’ve Written Lately

lee_ufan_press_image_2Here are some other things I’ve written lately:

  • Looking over a new sculpture show at the Hirshhorn with the artist Lee Ufan, for Smithsonian Magazine.com.
  • Some TV reviews I did for AARP’s feature TV for Grownups.
  • An interview with singer Kathy Mattea about the “Country Music” documentary series and her career, for Songfacts.
  • Catching up with Ken Stringfellow of The Posies on his solo tour and his 2001 album ‘Touched’ for Vinyl District.
  • Theater review of Jocelyn Bioh’s “School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play” for Broadway World.
  • Review of the Spanish play “Life is a Dream (La Vida Es Sueño).”
  • Preview of a Staples Singers Jr. track from a strong gospel compilation, for Vinyl District.
  • A review of a site specific play about an Irish barkeeper telling his tale at a bar, “The Smuggler.”
  • Covering Mosaic Theatre’s season opener, “Fabulation, or, The Re-Education of Undine.”  
  • These concert reviews have previously run here, but didn’t have these much better photos of The B-52′s with OMD and Berlin, Peter Frampton and JBLZE, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, and Vampire Weekend.
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Tuesday TV: Investigating the Crown Prince

CrownPrinceOn a special two hour “Frontline” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) correspondent Martin Smith looks at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, including his ties to the murder of Jamal Kashoggi a year ago Wednesday.

Asif Kapadia’s documentary “Diego Maradona” (HBO, 9 p.m.) profiles the Argentine soccer star who became consumed with his own fame.

HBO tries to keep up with the international flavor of streaming by presenting the hit Taiwan drama series “The World Between Us” (HBO Now, HBO Go, streaming) a 10-part series following the aftermath of a mass shooting from many angles.

In the new series “In a Man’s World” (Bravo, 10 p.m.), a group of women get makeovers to look like men and see how differently they are treated. First up is Emily.

The saucy comedian has a new standup special, “Nikki Glaser: Bangin’” (Netflix, streaming).

Where in the world is “Carmen Sandiego” (Netflix, streaming)? In an animated online series, entering its second season, where she is a kind of Robin Hood. Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”) provides her voice.

“Finding Escobar’s Millions” (Discovery, 10 p.m.) begins a second season, since they didn’t find the millions in the first season.

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Monday TV: Remembering the Regime

SilenceOfOthersVictims of Spain’s 40-year dictatorship under General Franco battle against a state-imposed amnesia of his crimes against humanity, in organizing the groundbreaking “Argentine Lawsuit” in the documentary “The Silence of Others” making its debut tonight on “POV” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings).

A wide variety of talents have been turned into competitive TV show, but perhaps none like “The Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Challenge” (TLC, 10 p.m.), which is just as it sounds: Full of artists who turn out wedding dresses from toilet paper. Winner gets $10,000.

Meanwhile, blind auditions continue on “The Voice” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

It’s movie night on “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC, 8 p.m.).

The tsunami wreaks havoc on “9-1-1” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

Lori returns to New York on “The Deuce” (HBO, 9 p.m.).

The “Halloween Cake-Off” (Food, 10 p.m.) gets under way.

L. Marvin Metz comes to “Lodge 49” (AMC, 10 p.m.) with Dud and Ernie.

On “The Good Doctor” (ABC, 10 p.m.), Dr. Marcus Andrews vows to help a good Samaritan injured while stopping a sexual assault.

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The 2019 Fall TV Season: Sundays

NEW FALL SEASON 2019

NEW FALL SEASON 2019

We close out a week of night-by-night considerations of the new fall TV season with Sunday, still a strong showcase ( following Saturdays, a night so dismal we skipped it altogether).  Again, cable has the most ambitious titles for the evening, mostly later in the season. But broadcasters reboot a 50s format that few remember, adds to the pile of superhero shows, and  adds an animated show that’s actually pretty good. 

NEW SHOWS

“Bless the Harts” (Fox, 8:30 p.m., starts tonight). “SNL” writer Emily Spivey crafts a story about a family from the South, with the voices of Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jilliam Bell, Ike Barinholtz and Kumail Nanjiani. It’s packed with jokes that don’t necessarily poke fun at the characters and the setting, and fits well among both “Bob’s Burgers” and “The Simpsons.”

Pilot“Batwoman” (CW, 8 p.m., starts Oct. 6). Australian model Ruby Rose stars as the wealthy heiress who becomes her own costumed crime fighter, who is inspired to fill the void of Batman, who with Bruce Wayne seems to have disappeared from Gotham City. She’s got some other mantles to carry too – the first out lesbian superhero (and start of a network show). With Meagan Tandy, Camrus Johnson, Nicole Kang and Doughy Scott, it’s another in the many shows currently on TV from Greg Berlanti and his associates. Expect many crossovers with the other CW shows from the DC Comics world.

“Kids Say the Darnedest Things” (ABC, 8 p.m., Oct. 6). No less than Tiffany Haddish takes the role originated by Art Linkletter and picked up by Bill Cosby for two seasons in the late 90s, prodding small fry into saying some funny things. Usually they need no prodding.

 RETURNING

“America’s Funniest Home Videos” (ABC, 7 p.m., back tonight), “60 Minutes” (CBS, 7:30 p.m., tonight), “The Simpsons” (Fox, 8 p.m., tonight), “God Friended Me” (CBS, 8:30 p.m., tonight), “Supergirl” (CW, 9 p.m., returns Oct. 6), “Bob’s Burgers” (Fox, 9 p..m., tonight), “Shark Tank” (ABC, 9 p.m., tonight), “Family Guy” (Fox, 9:30 p.m., tonight), “NCIS: Los Angeles” (CBS, 9:30 p.m., tonight), “The Rookie” (ABC, 10 p.m., tonight), “Madam Secretary” (CBS, 10 p.m., Oct. 6).

OF NOTE ON CABLE

“Godfather of Harlem” (Epix, 10 p.m., tonight). An interesting twist on the “American Gangster” tale of Bumpy Johnson sees him as part of social change in the black community once he’s sprung from prison in the early 60s New York. So in addition to the mob figures (played by Vincent D’Onofrio, Paul Sorvino and Chazz Palmister) with whom he had to deal, there are also historical figures, from Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch) to Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (Giancarlo Esposito). Looks ambitious.

“Watchmen” (HBO, 9 p.m., premiering Oct. 20). Damon Lindelof’s eye popping adaptation of the popular graphic novel of the near future stars Regina King as a cop in alternate reality Tulsa where an African American enclave is under siege by masked white supremacists. Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Jeremy Irons and Jean Smart are part of the cast. Hard to know where this will go, but the pilot is certainly dazzling and bold.

“Leavenworth” (Starz, 9:30 p.m., Oct. 20). A true crome docuseries from Stephen Soderbergh about an Army lieutenant who ordered soldiers fire on three local men riding a motorcycle, and was sentenced to 19 years in the U.S. penitentiary for murder.

“Mrs. Fletcher” (HBO, 10:30 p.m., Oct. 27). Tom Perrotta has a second novel adapted to a series on the network (after “The Leftovers”). This one is a smaller story, about a middle-aged woman who adopts a new persona after her son goes off to college. Kathryn Hahn stars, with Casey Wilson, Jackson White and Owen Teague.

“His Dark Materials” (HBO, 9 p.m., Nov. 4) Phillip Pullman’s fantasy series about an alternate world where each human has an animal companion comes to life with a cast that includes James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Clarke Peters and Lin-Manuel Miranda. With production values meant to make us forget about “Game of Thrones,” there is a bear instead of a dragon.

“The L Word: Generation Q” (Showtime, 10 p.m., Dec. 8). The rebooted series about lesbians in Los Angeles returns several of the original cast members, including Jennifer Beals, Kate Moennig and Leisha Hailey, but includes a number of new faces as well.

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Also on Sunday: Durrells Continue in Corfu

durrellsPublic television has two premieres tonight of British imports, the fourth season start of “The Durrells in Corfu” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings), in which a mysterious new guest places Louisa’s boarding house under police scrutiny, and the fifth and final season of “Poldark” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings), which begins with the return of Ross to the capital.

A video of Bart and Homer goes viral on the 31st season premiere of “The Simpsons” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

Sunday Night Football has Dallas at New Orleans (NBC, 8:15 p.m.). Earlier games include Washington at Giants (Fox, 1 p.m.), Cleveland at Baltimore (CBS, 1 p.m.)and Minnesota at Chicago (CBS, 4:15 p.m.).

“Succession” (HBO, 9 p.m.) has been big on travel this season. After last week’s trip to London, here’s an episode in Logan’s hometown of Dundee, Scotland to mark his 50 years in the business.

Though her role to date has been small, Anna Paquin’s Joanie has a longer story on tonight’s episode of “The Affair” (Showtime, 9 p.m.).

Krystal drums up some press for her idea on a new episode of “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” (Showtime, 10 p.m.).

The fate of the world is determined on the series finale of “Preacher” (AMC, 10:14 p.m.).

On “Ballers” (HBO, 10:40 p.m.), Spencer prepares for his first owners meeting.

A Middle East missile attack needs to be neutralized on the 11th season premiere of “NCIS: Los Angeles” (CBS, 9 p.m.).

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Saturday TV: A 45th Season Start for ‘SNL’

SNL45Woody Harrelson hosts the 45th (!) season premiere of “Saturday Night Live” (NBC, 11:30 p.m.) where the cold open almost has to be the “Godfather” inspired phone conversation between the presidents of the Ukraine and U.S. that Adam Schiff envisioned. One hitch: Alec Baldwin said he was done impersonating Trump.

Also gone this season is Leslie Jones. New featured players include Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman. Shane Gillis was announced as third new player, but was let go days later when some of his dimmer remarks about Muslims, gays and women.

Heidi Gardner and Chris Redd have been elevated from featured players to the repertory group, while  another newcomer from recent years, Ego Nwodim, remains a featured player. Musical guest tonight is Billie Eilish (pictured right).

Leslie Jones will pop up, though, in the 2016 remake of “Ghostbusters” (FXX, 8 p.m.).

Queen with Adam Lambert, Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keys, OneRepublic, H.E.R. and Carole King headline “The 2019 Global Citizen Festival: Live from Central Park” (MSNBC, 4 p.m.) raising money and consciousness about a variety of issues. Hugh Jackman hosts the event, which runs until 10 p.m.

With the beads up in Greg’s attic love nest, “A Very Brady Renovation” (HGTV, 9 p.m.) reaches its conclusion.

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