Sunday TV: Anthrax in a New ‘Hot Zone’

While its first season about the Ebola pandemic started before the current pandemic, the second season of the anthology “The Hot Zone: Anthrax” (National Geographic, 9 p.m.), as the title indicates, concentrates on the deadly white powder that started to appear just after 9/11 when everyone was already on edge. Daniel Dae Kim, Tony Goldwyn and Dylan Baker star. There’s a lot of facts about anthrax that you’ve already forgotten, and a serviceable tension established in the first episode. But it may be worth watching if only for Harry Hamlin’s terrible Tom Brokaw impersonation. 

It figures that the now-grown John Boy, Richard Thomas, would take on the narrator’s duty for “The Walton’s Homecoming” (CW, 8 p.m.), a Depression era tale with a whole new John Boy in Logan Shroyer. Ben Lawson and Bellamy Young play the parents of the famous rural family. The family Christmas movie is a rarity for the CW.

It’s one of an astounding five new original Christmas movies on tonight all at the same time, including “The Christmas Contest” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.) with both Candace Cameron Bure and Barbara Niven; “Miracle in Motor City” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.) with Tina Mowry and Smokey Robinson; “A Christmas Witness” (ION, 8 p.m.) and “Christmas is You” (GAC Family, 8 p.m.). 

“One Last Time: An Evening With Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett” (CBS, 8 p.m.) pairs the classic crooner on the occasion of his 95th birthday — and his quitting of concerts — in a show taped with Lady Gaga at Radio City Music Hall last August. 

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Saturday TV: ‘Nash Bridges’ Speeds Back

Twenty years after it went off the air after six seasons, Don Johnson and Cheech Marin revive “Nash Bridges” (USA, 9 p.m.) with the detective pair drawn back into the action in San Francisco all these years later. The TV movie includes the participation of original creator Carleton Cuse, who went on to help create “Lost.” 

“Wellington Paranormal” (CW, 8:30 p.m.) returns with a holiday special. 

Chrissy Metz and LeAnn Rimes are featured in the “Meet Your Makers Showdown” (Discovery+, streaming), a crafting competition.

“The Beatles – Get Back” (Disney+, streaming) ends its three night run with the famous concert on the studio rooftop. 

Primetime network college football has Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (ABC, 7:30 p.m.) and Notre Dame at Stanford (Fox, 8 p.m.). But there’s also another replay of the National Dog Show (NBC, 8 p.m.).

The Ahmaud Arbery case gets reviewed on “48 Hours” (CBS, 10 p.m.). 

Lacey Chabert and Stuart Townsend star in “Christmas at Heart Castle” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.), about a woman who goes to Ireland for Christmas and meets an Earl.

A businessman on the run from the mob disguises himself as a shopping mall Santa in the film “Soul Santa” (BET, 8 p.m.) with David Mann and Tamala Mann.

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Friday TV: The Secrets of Growing Up

The documentary “Cusp” (Showtime, 9 p.m.) is a coming of age documentary about three teenaged girls in a small Texas town dealing with their upbringing. 

The amusing confessional documentary “How to with John Wilson” (HBO, 10 p.m.), filled with lots of witty observations of the city, begins a second season, looking at the real estate market.  

Jimmy Fallon’s children’s book is made into a new network holiday special, “5 More Sleeps ’Til Christmas” (NBC, 8:30 p.m.). It comes alongside another new animated special, “Trolls Holiday in Harmony” (NBC, 9 p.m.) which features the voices of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Kenan Thompson and Rachel Bloom, among others. Their lead-in is the season’s first showing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” (NBC, 8 p.m.). 

Brooke Shields stars in the holiday romance “A Castle for Christmas” (Netflix, streaming) as a woman who wants to buy a small castle in Scotland but the owner (Cary Elwes) doesn’t want to sell. 

In a bit of a switch for a guy loved as Ted Lasso, Jason Sudekis plays a convicted felon who served 12 years for armed robbery, trying to stay straight upon his early release in the film “South of Heaven” (AMC+, streaming). Evangeline Lily, Shea Whigham and Mike Colter also star.

George finds his way back to the band in part two of the three part “The Beatles: Get Back” (Disney+, streaming).

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Thursday TV: Getting Back in a Big Way

Talk about a turkey. The idea at the time was to relocate the Beatles from a familiar studio to a cold one so to better film the creation of an album. They were a little strapped for material, picking up songs they had discarded years before. They snubbed new songs members would bring in, squabbled about arrangements and all but quit mid-project. But they ended up playing live on a rooftop and turning out a few classics before Phil Spector came in to pour overproduction of what was their last released (but not last-completed) album. 

The fact you couldn’t see the “Let it Be” film for decades is enough to make this weekend’s epic three-night “The Beatles: Get Back” (Disney+, streaming) much anticipated. But more than that director Peter Jackson has pored over 70 hours of footage and found eight that reflected the joy of the band members in their creation. Whether it’s an accurate reflection of what went down, or created to further burnish Paul McCartney’s standing, it sure seems like it will be more fun to watch than the original — and an enticing diversion from the all-too-traditional offerings of the day.

Speaking of which, after a purely virtual event last year, the 95th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (NBC, 9 a.m.) returns with crowds, balloons, floats and Santa. New this year is an inflated Baby Yoda. 

The rest of today’s holiday traditions include The National Dog Show (NBC, noon), with kid coverage this year on the National Dog Show Junior (Peacock, streaming, 2 p.m.). And all the day’s football, which includes Chicago at Detroit (Fox, 12:30 p.m.), Las Vegas at Dallas (CBS, 4:30 p.m.) and Buffalo at New Orleans (NBC, 8:20 p.m.). 

A lesser competition tonight: “World Pet Games” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

Hip hop fans may be less interested in mop tops than the Music Box feature documentary on the influential rapper, “DMX: Don’t Try to Understand” (HBO, 8 p.m.). 

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Wednesday TV: ‘Hawkeye’ Flies Again

Jeremy Renner, already the star of a grittier streaming series, “The Mayor of Kingston,” has a lighter role as “Hawkeye” (Disney+, streaming), the latest Marvel character with his own series. Hailee Steinfeld and Florence Pugh reprise their big screen roles as well. 

A 10-year-old Chicagoan is intent on getting the greatest video game of the 80s under the tree in the new comedy “8-Bit Christmas” (HBO Max, streaming), which stars Neil Patrick Harris and Steve Zahn.

Another new holiday film today, “A Boy Called Christmas” (Netflix, streaming), focuses on the early days of Father Christmas. Henry Lawfull, Jim Broadbent, Sally Hawkins, Toby Jones, Maggie Smith, Kristen Wiig and Stephen Merchant star.

Halle Berry stars and directs “Bruised” (Netflix, streaming), about a mixed martial arts fighter who gets involved in underground fights. Adam Canto and Shamier Anderson co-star.

From the studio that gave you “Wallace & Gromit,” here’s the animated short “Robin Robin” (Netflix, streaming), about a bird who had been raised by mice. The voice cast includes Bronte Carmichael, Gillian Anderson and Richard E. Grant. 

“Selling Sunset” (Netflix, streaming) returns for a fourth season, with the female agents as extravagant as the properties they’re now rich enough to buy themselves.

Kevin Hart takes on a dramatic role in the limited series “True Story” (Netflix, streaming) as a popular comedian who wakes up next to a dead body after a hometown arena gig in Philadelphia. Things just keep getting worse, in part due to his troubled older brother, played by Wesley Snipes. It’s not great.

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Tuesday TV: When Black Girls Go Missing

While missing white women tend to become national household names from Laci Peterson and Natalee Holloway to Gabby Petito, the families of the thousands of Black women who go missing each year can’t always get local police to call them. Or they might just dismiss them as runaways. A couple of women in Washington, D.C. have taken it upon themselves to follow through on the many cases, and a new four-part documentary series “Black and Missing” (HBO, 8 p.m.) chronicles their work. Soledad O’Brien worked with Geeta Gandbhir three years to produce the series; the first half shows tonight; the second half tomorrow. 

The scourge of federal Indian boarding schools, which wiped out cultures if not the children themselves is covered in the film “The Children of Carlisle,” about a trip of Northern Arapaho tribal members who travel from Wyoming to Pennsylvania to retrieve the remains of three children who died there. It premieres on “Independent Lens” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings). 

As her dad prepares for his moment in the six-hour “The Beatles: Get Back,” “Mary McCartney Serves It Up” (Discovery+, streaming) comes up with entertaining ideas for guests that include Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, her sister Stella McCartney, and oh yeah, dad, in four new episodes 

“Klutch Academy” (BET, 11 p.m.) is a new five part series following young college prospects working for pro careers. 

A 31st season begins for the British gearhead show “Top Gear” (BBC America, 10 p.m.). 

Kevin Smith’s rebooted “Masters of the Universe: Revelation” (Netflix, streaming) returns with new episodes. 

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CygnusRadio Playlist, 11-22-21

Returned to a regular radio show today, not on the radio exactly, but on the internet. Cygnus has me on Monday afternoons and I began shakily as usual, with loud music and whisper soft patter. Tried to adjust the levels as I went along, through a long set marking the 58th anniversary of the JFK assassination, the 45th anniversary of The Band’s “The Last Waltz” concert, and marking five years since the death of rocker Tommy Keene.

Then came the Thanksgiving songs, some “Let It Be” outtakes that may or may not be in the big “The Beatles: Get Back” documentary series this weekend (the Tennessee Ernie Ford cut, probably not). There were also highlights from those honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a one song sendoff from Janet Jackson.

Here’s what I played on the internet today (and soon enough they’ll be able to be archived and briefly heard): “Capital Radio One,” The Clash

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Monday TV: Oliver Stone Revisits JFK Case

Still on the case on the 58th anniversary of the assassination, Oliver Stone sifts through evidence that has emerged in the 30 years since “JFK” in his documentary “JFK: Revisited: Through the Looking Glass” (Showtime, 7 p.m.), making its premium cable debut. Its narration is from Whoopi Goldberg and Donald Sutherland. 

The documentary series “Chasing Ghislaine” (Discovery+, streaming) focuses on the sidekick of sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. It comes to cable’s Investigation Discovery network Dec. 3.

“Dancing with the Stars” (ABC, 8 pm.) has its season finale tonight. After eliminating Olympic gymnast Suni Lee and TV star Melora Hardin last week, it’s down to four. I haven’t been watching and I can still tell you JoJo Siwa will win. Melanie C, Sporty Spice herself, is musical guest. 

Filmmaker Sian-Pierre Regis takes her 75-year-old mother on a road trip after she loses her job as a hotel housekeeper, but she still wants her job back. “Duty Free” makes its debut on “Independent Lens” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings).

“Behind the Holiday: Thanksgiving” (Smithsonian, 8 p.m.) tells truths about the holiday origin that we’ve been getting wrong all along. 

The Top 11 perform on “The Voice” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

The 1964 Christmas special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (CBS, 8 p.m.) makes its seasonal debut, violating some kind of law by coming before Thanksgiving. 

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Sunday TV: The American Music Awards

Cardi B, pictured above, hosts the 2021 American Music Awards (ABC, 8 p.m.) from Los Angeles, where Olivia Rodrigo leads all nominations with seven. She’ll also perform, as will Bad Bunny, who is up for five. Megan Thee Stallion had to pull out of her planned performance, perhaps due to a Hottie Sauce incident. Performances are expected from BTS, Silk Sonic, Coldplay, Maneskin, Walker Hayes, Tyler the Creator, Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean. 

A nature series and not a dating show, “The Mating Game” (Discovery+, streaming), looking at animal rituals, is narrated by David Attenborough. 

Sunday Night Football has Pittsburgh at Chargers (NBC, 8:20 p.m.). earlier games include Washington at Carolina (Fox, 1 p.m.), Baltimore at Chicago (CBS, 1 p.m.) and Dallas at Kansas City (Fox, 4:30 p.m.).

“Grantchester” ((PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) ends its sixth season with he case of a murdered music producer. 

Kody’s harem seems to be cracking up on the season premiere of “Sister Wives” (TLC, 10 p.m.).

On the season finale of “Baptiste” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings), Julien and Emma try to stop the next attack. 

“BMF” (Starz, 9 p.m.) ends its inaugural season in Detroit.

Expecting Kyle Rittenhouse to clean up on “The Patriot Awards” (Fox News, 10 p.m.).

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Film Review: Circumnavigating for Survival

When navigating a return to civilian life after being in the Navy proved rocky for one veteran Taylor Grieger, he dedicated himself to a mother mission: sailing down fo the treacherous waters of Cape Horn,. Inviting an old pal from his high school swimming team in Texas, Stephen O’Shea was a good choice. He had just finished studying the effect of PTSD on veterans, a malady his friend was also battling with. 

Embarking on the journey to inspire others and to raise awareness of mental health and the raising suicide rate among veterans, the two set up a website and decided to chronicle the journey extensively with cameras.

They didn’t know how it would all come out, but the resulting documentary “Hell or High Seas,” directed by Glenn Holsten, turns out to be nearly as dramatic as the mission itself. “The Odyssey” was a lifelong inspiration for Greiger and likewise the film has a sense of the monumental journey frought with unexpected problems.

Just a few days in, they run into Hurricane Harvey, a major Category 4 storm in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. They survive that, but Stephen scrapes the boat on some shallow coral, causing some leaks. A starter goes out and they have to drift for a few weeks. Pirates buzz them. There is no shortage of storms and high swells. This kind of seaward drama plays well on things like “Deadliest Catch” and it’s just as cinematic here, maybe more so since the two young men are so inexperienced. Still, they’re determined, and eventually a third vet joins them, John Rose, who is in need of his own healing.

Balancing out the fearsome dangers are moments of exhilaration, with big fish catches, amazing scenery and the thrill of approaching their long sought goal.

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