Friday TV: New “Ozark’ ‘Descendants 2′

OzarksThe good will that Jason Bateman and Laura Linney have built up through their careers compels you to give their sudden new series a chance. “Ozark” (Netflix, streaming), despite its name, is about a Chicago financier and secret money launderer who gets in deep trouble with a cartel. Easi Morales is on Bateman’s case and he has to move the family to the Lake of the Ozarks where he can more quietly do his work out of the glare of feds who are still after him. The series, whose first episode is directed by Bateman, has the dark feel of “Breaking Bad,” and its initial episode is packed with twists. But how it plays out will remain to be seen. Still, it’s a solid midsummer surprise.

Disney tries to make the biggest splash possible with its anticipated sequel to its 2015 musical about the offspring of various Disney villains, debuting it on six networks simultaneously. In “Descendants 2” (ABC, Disney, Disney XD, Freeform, Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, 8 p.m.), Dove Cameron plays Mal, daughter of Maleficent; China Anne McClain is Uma, daughter of Ursula; Booboo Stewart returns as Jay, son of Jafar. Uma’s cohorts are Thomas Doherty as Harry, Captain Hook’s son, and Dylan Playfair as Gil, son of Gaston. The Kenny Ortega musical will be followed by “Descendants 2: ABC Afterparty” (ABC, Disney,  10:30 p.m.).

This is so Raven: Raven-Symone, star of her own long running kids series, is now at the top of the bill on “Raven’s Home” (Disney, 10 p.m.), in which she is now a single mom.

Condoleezza Rice and Tony Blair are featured in “VICE Special Report: A World in Disarray” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

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Thursday TV: Parole for O.J. Simpson?

O.J. Simpson watches his former defense attorney Yale Galanter testify during an evidentiary hearing in Las Vegas“Today the day.”

Such were the memorable words of a guy on the street in Key West, Fla., 22 years ago. Nobody had to ask what he was talking about: It was the day the O.J. Simpson murder trial began.

Back then, it was the stuff of all three networks’ wall to wall coverage. Something similar happens today as the O.J. Simpson Parole Hearing (ESPN, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, 1 p.m.) gets coverage just about as wide. He’s spent nine years of a 33 year sentence for armed robbery, trying to reclaim sports memorabilia at a hotel. In recent years, it was the murder trial that were the subjects of award winning miniseries and documentary series. Today, some of its figures, from chris Darden to Mark Fuhrman, will provide commentary on today’s hearing.

A new film in the documentary series “30 for 30” (ESPN, 8:30 p.m.) concentrates on Manchester United player George Best, a huge star in the 60s who needed police protection from the IRA and women in pursuit.

It’s followed by Manchester United vs. Manchester City (ESPN, 9:30 p.m.) in the international champions cup.

Comic nerds have landed in San Diego for the annual conference to pump up new superhero movies and, increasingly, TV shows. Zachary Levi hosts the first of a three night special reporting “Live from Comic-Con” (Syfy, 11 p.m.). His first guests are Adam Scott and Craig Robinson of the Fox TV show “Ghosted.”

Opposite that coverage is “Conan” (TBS, 11 p.m.) also originating from Comic-Con.

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Steve Earle & the Dukes at the Birchmere

IMG_4224It’s a brash move to close out a show on one of the hottest days in the D.C. metro with a song called “Christmas in Washington,” but Steve Earle’s career has been one of brash moves.

He started his generous show at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday with a handful of songs from an album that’s only been out a month, beginning with its title track, “So You Wanna be an Outlaw.”

The collection followed an all blues and a lighter approach with Shawn Colvin on a duet album, he returned to ringing outlaw country, inspired by old Waylon Jennings and a couple of songs he had written for TV’s Nashville.

Backed by a stomping version of the Dukes that was sweetened by pedal steel and fiddle, he eventually brought in those early career anthems like “Guitar Town” and “The Galway Girl” (its bagpipe sounds courtesy of the keyboards).

The Christmas song was less about the season and more about the chorus, “”Come back Woody Guthrie, come back to us now.”

He had just lead a singalong “This Land is Your Land,” with its own new Trump Tower verse and Guthrie’s spirit was hanging in the air.

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Wednesday TV: Caribou, Migration Champs

Nature's Great Migrations: Ep 002Let’s hear it for the caribou, who take the longest land migration of all the species on the series “Nature’s Great Race” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings). It involves 2,000 miles through the frozen Arctic wilderness of Canada and Alaska and conquering frozen rivers, rugged mountains and a few ravenous bears and wolves.

It follows the finale of “Big Pacific” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings), which pauses to take a look at how they filmed the ocean series.

The premiere of “Salvation” (CBS, 9 p.m.) attracted 4.8 million viewers last week; it’s still not too late to get on board (the asteroid is still coming).

Jessica and Dominique are up for eviction on “Big Brother” (CBS, 8 p.m.), but tonight is the power of veto competition.

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The Zombies Come Alive at Birchmere

IMG_4221Half a century ago this summer, the Zombies were in Abbey Road studio, working on an album that would both break up the band and bring them back together decades later.

Fifty years later, they were winding up another U.S. tour whose center point was a group of songs from that album that only grew in stature over the year, Odyssey and Oracle.

In a show at the Birchmere in Alexandria Monday, the songs soared as lovely chamber pop concoctions — “Care of Cell 44,” “A Rose for Emily” and “This Will Be Our Year,” leading into their biggest hit, “Time of the Season.”

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Tuesday TV: Photographing Every Species

photoARKNational Geographic photographer Joel Sartore has a big ambition: to document every species on the planet in a project he calls the Photo Ark. Each is shot, if possible, in high resolution 4K on a black background. And some are farewell portraits.

That’s because “We stand to lose half of all species to extinction by 2100,” he told reporters at a press conference earlier this year. “That’s a conservative estimate, because the human populations are on our way to going to 11 billion, and we’re already in pretty tough shape at 7 billion. So we see what could happen if people don’t stop and pay attention. So beyond just preserving these things for posterity, whether it’s in 4K video or high resolution stills, we really want people to be moved to the point where they will take action.”

The project is featured on the new three part series “Rare: Creatures of the Photo Ark” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings).

Also tonight on public television, Jail is hard for people but is parole. A new documentary on “Frontline” (PBS, 10 p..m.) concentrates on four people just released from the Enfield Correctional Institution in Connecticut and follows their progress, or lack of it. For some, it’s easier to slip into old habits, while others succeed in the documentary shot over an 18 month period by Matthew O’Neill.

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Rock Review: NRBQ Sustains at Amp

IMG_4215It was a shock six years ago when the newest incarnation of NRBQ was actually something that had been touring as the Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet. Adams had been been the mainstay of the Q since the start, more than 50 years ago now, but still. NRBQ had been on a hiatus for a couple of years because of Adams’ stage four throat cancer. Longtime fans were still ready to object to his seemingly arbitrary claiming a new group of younger musicians under the venerable name.

And then it turned out, hey they were pretty good. And the new version of Q that played the Amp by Strathmore in North Bethesda Saturday night were able to conjure up the spirit of daffy joy and unpredictable musical tangents for which the band has always been known.

Adams, at 69, is still the center of this musical maelstrom, calling out songs and attacking his keyboards with fists and karate chops with an electric fan blowing back his trademark bangs and hair, now turned grey. It looked like he was riding a horse more than playing an instrument half the time.

He wasn’t singing quite as much, either because of the bout with throat cancer or because this was the end of a tour that included a swing through California But he was full of music, playing more than 30 tunes that included Q favorites, catchy newer ones from the new lineup and oddball covers.

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Monday TV: ‘Presenting Princess Shaw’

PrincessShawHere is an internet story for our time: A woman in New Orleans posts videos singing a cappella for fun in her spare time and goes nowhere. Someone she doesn’t know in Tel Aviv finds the videos and adds backing tracks that make her a star in some online circles. She’s not sure how to adjust to the newfound status. Samantha Montgomery had been recording under the name Princess Shaw and is suddenly finding herself treated like a real one. Ido Haar’s documentary film of her unexpected fame, “Presenting Princess Shaw, debuts on “POV” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings).

In another adjusting to success story,  four British techies (Nick Helm, Jim Howick, Jonny Sweet and Samuel Anderson) become super rich when they sell their video game company to an American company in the brash new comedy new “Loaded” (AMC, 10 p.m.). As smart was they are with apps and such, don’t know quite what to do with the loads of money. Mary McCormack plays their new American boss.

It’s hometown visit time for Rachel and her final four on “The Bachelorette” (ABC, 8 p.m.).

“Preacher” (AMC, 9 p.m.) flashes back to Jesse and Tulip’s past.

The first round of callbacks come on “So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

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Sunday TV: Winter is Here

GOTThe anticipation is super-high for the return of “Game of Thrones” (HBO, 9 p.m.) for its seventh season, which can be seen as the first half of its final season. There will be only seven episodes this time around — it will be gone again by Labor Day, leaving just six episodes for next year’s final batch. By now the various threads are focused on the ultimate battle at King’s Landing, and the letting loose of the White Walkers which means there might be more than the usual share of battle scenes.

If that takes away from the series’ real strength — the quieter, often philosophic exchanges — then that will be a disappointment. But nothing will keep us from the set. No episode was made available in advance for review, so we’ll all be watching as one, as Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister takes a stern rule on the Iron Throne, Kit Harington’s Jon Snow tries to defend the north and Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys returns home. Plus you’ll have to wrack your brain to remember who 20 other characters are.

With less fanfare comes the fourth season premiere of “The Strain” (FX, 10 p.m.), Benito del Toro’s apocalyptic vampire takeover tale that’s been shaken by a nuclear blast.

“Twin Peaks” (Showtime, 9 p.m.) may get closer to its original mystery as its four word description tonight is “Laura is the one.”

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Saturday TV: Pretend It’s Christmas

TheChristmasCure4Hallmark takes a bold jump by filling up a sweltering summer week with its huge backlog of Christmas movies and including a new one tonight.

Brooke Nevin and Patrick Duffy play a father-daughter doctor team, but she’s tempted by a romance with a local guy ( Steve Byers) in “The Christmas Cure” (Hallmark, 9 p.m.). It caps a day of some of their older Christmas movies — and they have a lot of them: “A Rose for Christmas” (9 a.m.), “On the Twelfth Day of Christmas” (11 a.m.), “A Christmas detour” (1 p.m.), “Looks Like Christmas” (3 p.m.), “The Mistletoe Christmas” (5 p.m.) and “A December Bride” (7 p.m.).

It may be a thing. There is also a “30th Annual Christmas in July” (QVC, 10 p.m.).

Before she was Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot was in “Keeping Up with the Jones” (HBO, 8 p.m.), the comedy caper movie from last year with Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher.

Elsewhere there is Mel Gibson in last year’s “Blood Father” (USA, 9 p.m.), the director’s cut of “Alien” (Cinemax, 8 p.m.), “Toy Story 2” (Freeform, 8 p.m.) and “The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” (Nickelodeon, 9 p.m.),

Krystal gets a clue on “Orphan Black” (BBC America, 10 p.m.).

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