Monday TV: Leaving Interpreters Hanging

Interpreters_Sig_Image-1920x830More than 50,000 Afghan and Iraqi people risked their lives by serving as interpreters for U.S. troops during missions in their countries. “The Interpreters”, a documentary by Andrés Caballero and Sofia Khan, looks into the risks and whether the U.S. protected them after their duties through the story of an Iraqi fixer who made his way to Minnesota through a years-long navigation through the Special Immigrant Visa Program. It makes its debut on “Independent Lens” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings)

The four-part miniseries “Catherine the Great” (HBO, 10 p.m.) starring Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke, concludes with the reign of the Russian empress also drawing to an end.

Last week’s debut of “His Dark Materials” (HBO, 9 p.m.) drew the most viewers for a Monday series on its network since “Chernobyl” and way more for the co-sponsoring BBC. Tonight, Lyra arrives to her new life in London.

A third season starts at “The Good Karma Hospital” (Acorn TV, streaming).

Live playoffs begin on “The Voice” (NBC, 8 p.m.) with performances by the Top 20.

Let’s call what has kept Shaun Spicer in “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC, 8 p.m.) what it is: Voter fraud. He’s scored far lower than the last three who have been eliminated, the latest of which was Kate Flannery. Tonight is boy band and girl group night.

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The New Pornographers Rise to Challenge

IMG_1451From the big sound that comes from The New Pornographers you’d almost expect more people on stage. But just seven were there Wednesday at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington D.C., covering songs from eight different albums before a happy, largely seated audience.

It was the rare second day in the city to satisfy demand. Even more rare was that they were inside a theater rather than a big nightclub. “In 15 years I don’t think we’ve ever not played the 9:30 Club,” frontman Carl Newman said. It was such a topsy turvy thing, he sang a line from “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” from “Hamilton,” perhaps inspired by being in the Nation’s Capital an extra day.

But doing a second night’s show, though, they were determined to present a different show than the night before. “It’s only polite,” said Newman, ever the Canadian.

So people didn’t hear the new “Leather on the Seat” from their new album “In the Morse Code of Brake Lights.”

Instead of “Dancehall Domine” from “Brill Bruisers” they played “You Tell Me Where”; two things were heard from “Challengers” including the title track that they hadn’t played the night before; they did a rare “Use It” but not “Stacked Crooked” from “Twin Cinema.” “Avalanche Alley” instead of “High Ticket Attractions” from “Whiteout Conditions”; and “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk” instead of “Crash Years” from “Together.”

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Sunday TV: Back from Prison, Readjusting

back-to-lifeBest known in the states for an unforgettable sour face (and sound) she made on “Episodes,” the U.K.’s Daisy Haggard stars in a new series of her own devising, about a woman just released from prison after an 18 year sentence for a murder that rocked her sleepy seaside town. But readjusting to life there in her parents’ house isn’t so easy. “Back to Life” (Showtime, 10 p.m.) shares a producer with the hit “Fleabag,” but this is much darker. It begins with a pair of half hour episodes.

In another new series “Dublin Murders” (Starz, 8 p.m.), Killian Scott and Sarah Greene star as a couple of detectives investigate a child’s murder on the outskirts of the Irish capital in 2006, based on the first two books of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series.

Normally, E! presents a red carpet show for something that airs on another channel. Tonight, for the second year in a row, The 2019 E! People’s Choice Awards (E!, Bravo, USA, 9 p.m.) is on its own channel, so there’s no need to switch over following its two hour “E! Live from the Red Carpet” (E!, 7 p.m.). “Game of Thrones” is up for TV show of the year, but so is “WWE Raw.” Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Aniston and Pink will each receive special awards.

It’s kind of a strange time for “The Circus: Inside the Wildest Political Show on Earth” (Showtime, 8 p.m.) to end its season, just as impeachment is heating up.

But it’s the 10th season start for “Shameless” (Showtime, 9 p.m.), with Debbie now the self-elected leader of the Gallagher family.

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Saturday TV: ‘Sesame Street’ Turns 50

sesameStreet50Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Patti Labelle, Whoopi Goldberg, Meghan Trainor, Sterling K. Brown and Elvis Costello lend their hand in celebrating Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration (HBO, 7 p.m.), though all that kids will want to see are Big Bird, Elmo, Oscar and the rest, none of whom look like they’ve aged a bit. It airs on PBS Nov. 17; new episodes begin Nov. 16.

Football dominates prime time broadcast TV once more, with Clemson at North Carolina State (ABC, 7:30 p.m.) and Iowa State at Oklahoma (Fox, 8 p.m.). Other games are listed below. Just about everything else is a rerun.

“Planet Earth: Blue Planet II” (BBC America, 9 p.m.) looks into a wale nursery in Mexico.

It’s not live anymore but “The Little Mermaid Live!” (Freeform, 8 p.m.) gets a rerun if you missed it earlier this week.

“Pit Bulls and Parolees” (Animal Planet, 9 p.m.) rescues a stray on the train tracks.

The King Arthur story is told once more on “The Kid Who Would Be King” (HBO, 7:50 p.m.), with Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Tom Taylor Patrick Stewart and Rebecca Ferguson, making its premium cable debut.

Elsewhere, Johnny Depp stars as “The Professor” (Showtime, 8 p.m.), about a teacher who upon learning his has cancer begins acting recklessly.

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Robert Gordon Brings It On Home

IMG_1442Rockabilly had its heyday and faded 20 years before Robert Gorden picked up the mantle in the late 70s. By then, he had already been frontman for CBGB’s mainstay Tuff Darts and he would bring the same punk energy to the bass-slapping vibrancy of the 50s sound.

He was the pre-Stray Cats king of the rockabilly revivalists even if he only grazed the mainstream. Still, Bruce Springsteen gave him the throbbing “Fire”; he recorded Marshall Crenshaw’s “Someday, Someway” before its author made it his signature song. Throughout a string of initial albums, he built a body of rockabilly works that would drive the music into the next decade.

Decades later, Gordon, at 72, is still performing and on Tuesday headlined a show at City Winery in Washington, D.C., not far from where he grew up in Bethesda, Md. A lot of old friends showed up for him, including the drummer for the first band he was in at age 15. But it was not as crowded a night as past local appearances have been.

In a stylish suit and cummerbund, with an attempt at a modish cut in his hair, he cut a figure like a retired baseball star or ex-boxer opening a nightclub. He was welcoming and debonair but with a rough-hewn, old school expression that put him from another era.

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Friday TV: An Animated Sam-I-Am

greenThere’s a lot of care put into an animated version of “Green Eggs and Ham” (Netflix, streaming). But the original 1960 Dr. Seuss book used only 50 words in its six dozen pages, so there may be an awful lot of story filler that may be as unpalatable as the emerald hue of breakfast items. Adam Devine voices the ever-annoying Sam-I-Am; the previously unnamed recipient of his suggestions, now called Guy-Am-I, is voiced by Michael Douglas. Others lending their voice for the lavish kids show: Diane Keaton, Eddie Izzard, Ilana Glazer, Keegan-Michael Key, Tracy Morgan, John Turturro and Jeffrey Wright.

The only other thing the streaming service is premiering today is the Christmas romantic comedy “Let It Snow” (Netflix, streaming) about teens in a snowstorm. The ensemble cast includes Kieran Shipka, Liv Hewson, Jacob Batalon, Mitchell Hope, Shameik Moore, Odeya Rush, Matthew Noszka, Isabela Merced, Mason Gooding, Miles Robbins and Joan Cusack.

Gaudy holiday sweaters are added to the mix in the special “The Great British Baking Show: Holidays” (Netflix, streaming).

The effects of China’s reproductive rules that lasted more than 30 years is explored in the documentary Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang’s “One Child Nation” (Amazon, streaming).

The 2015 Lincoln Center revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” with Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe is presented on “Great Performances” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings).

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Thursday TV: Conan Goes to West Africa

ConanGhanaSam Richardson of “Veep” and “Detroiters” joins Conan O’Brien in his latest traveling to the West African  in the latest of his series of globe trotting “Conan Without Borders: Ghana” (TBS, 10 p.m.).

“The Carbonaro Effect” (truTV, 10 p.m.) returns for a new season.

Now there’s new Christmas romances on Thursday nights too with “A Blue Bridge Mountain Christmas” (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, 9 p.m.) in which, guess what, a woman returns to her hometown to help plan a holiday event at her family inn (wonder if she’ll meet up with any exes while there).

Thursday Night Football has Chargers at Oakland (Fox, 8:20 p.m.).

The experiment ends on “The Good Place” (NBC, 9 p.m.) (but we’re only halfway through the final season).

Arthur adds a new singer to the choir who ruffles feathers on “Perfect Harmony” (NBC, 8:30 p.m.).

“Young Sheldon” (CBS, 8 p.m.) cheers on Missy as she tries out for a baseball team.

An effort is made to make Amy look tough in the face of the district manager on “Superstore” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

There’s more than it seems to a woman’s fall on “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, 8 p.m.).

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Wednesday TV: Saluting ‘The Apollo’

ApolloIt may be most famous for its hook and its democratic way of dealing with newcomers, but the New York landmark served as the stage for giants from Billie Holiday and Ray Charles to Aretha Franklin and James Brown. Roger Ross Williams’ documentary “The Apollo” (HBO, 9 p.m.), shows examples of each, but also preparations for a stage version of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me” it presented last year.

A longer-than-usual World Series has backed up the episodes of “The Masked Singer” (Fox, 8 and 9 p.m.) so much that they play two episodes tonight to try and catch up.

The 10th season of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” (Bravo, 8 p.m.) begins with Teresa awaiting Joe’s release from prison and transfer to a detention facility. It must make producers wonder whether they’ve cast the right people.

“Nature” (PBS, 8 p.m.) looks at the dry plains of the Lower Okavango River in Southern Africa, where zebra and Wildebeest search for salt.

A new “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.) may take a moment to savor elections in Virginia and Kentucky.

Can’t decide if the Island of the Idols ploy on “Survivor” (CBS, 8 p.m.) helped or hurt the season.

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Another New Flamin’ Groovies Lineup

IMG_1380The reunion this decade of the Flamin’ Groovies, the San Francisco band formed in the 60s’ that made its biggest mark in the 70s, hasn’t been easy.

Earlier tours were hit and miss, but inspirational enough for co-founding member Cyril Jordan and crew to record a new album in 2017. Part of the shakiness of recent tours was due to Chris Wilson who was co-writer of a lot of the 70s power pop stuff, including their classic “Shake Some Action.” The Massachusetts-born Wilson, who long ago transplanted to England, is officially on hiatus now. So for what they called the “Trick or Treat 2019 U.S. Tour,” which stopped at City Winery in D.C. Friday, Jordan was backed by Chris Von Sneidern, who played bass on the 2017, now playing guitar, and bassist Atom Ellis — both are seasoned San Francisco players; Ellis worked with Dieselhed and backed Link Wray from 1996-2003 (and was wearing a Wray T-shirt in D.C.).

On drums was Tony Sales — not the bassist who played with Runt, Iggy Pop and David Bowie’s Tim Machine, but his son. That would make the young drummer the grandson of comedian, kids’ TV host and sometime recording artist Soupy Sales (It all goes to make some fans seem particularly old, having been entertained now by three generations of Sales).

The new faces didn’t help reproduce many of the harmonies that shone on the Dave Edmunds-produced ”Shake Some Action” and its followups. Mostly it was Jordan who tried to hold up the lyrics alone with minimal help from Von Sneidern if any.

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Tuesday TV: ‘Little Mermaid,’ Quasi-Live

queen-latifah-little-mermaid-abc-jef-191028_hpMain_2_16x9_992The brief tradition of live broadcast musicals isn’t what it sued to be. Tonight’s “The Wonderful World of Disney Presents the Little Mermaid Live!” (ABC, 8 p.m.), for example, looks like it will largely the screening of the original animated film in honor of its 30th anniversary, that will cut from time to time to live musical numbers. ITs live cast includes Auli’i Carvalho, the voice in the original “Moana,” in the title role; Queen Latifah, above, as Ursula; Shaggy as Sebastian and John Stamos as Chef Louis. Amber Riley hosts. Expect a lot of ads for the impending streaming service Disney Plus.

One of the things that keeps me up late is catching the nightly monologue on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” (NBC, 12:37 a.m.) and its sharp updates on the day’s chaos. Tonight he comes out from behind the desk for his standup special “Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby” (Netflix, streaming), recorded at the Pantages Theater in Minneapolis. He’ll talk mostly about his life and family, but there will be a period dealing with Trump, as he often does. This time, Netflix technology will get some creative use, as a “Skip Politics” button will appear, in the manner of its “Skip Intro” feature.

A second season starts for the British comic book adaptation “The End of the F***ing World” (Netflix, streaming). The black comedy about a pair of teens on a road trip ended with the fate of one character unclear. The second season adds Naomi Ackie to the cast.

A two hour “Frontline” (PBS, 9 p..m., check local listings) looks at the promises and perils of artificial intelligence

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