Friday TV: Julia Roberts in ‘Homecoming’

homecomingThe new “Homecoming” (Amazon, streaming) is a welcome yarn from Sam Esmail, creator of “Mr. Robot,” and starring Julia Roberts as an operative in a secretive government-sanctioned facility that deals with soldiers exiting combat. Based on a podcast of the same name, it dwells in the paranoid world of Big Brother control, while never revealing its cards too early.

With half hour episodes – another streaming innovation — they fairly fly by even though action moves not slowly but deliberately, using a visual style of storytelling that goes back to Hitchcock, with slow zoom-ins, long tracking shots, way overhead points of view, split screens, and a framing device to indicate scenes in the future, when the program is being investigated. There is a fascination with staircases and hive-like enclosures, with an orchestral touch that recalls Bernard Herrmann.

And what a powerful cast, in every little role. Besides Roberts, who does remarkable, restrained work, there is the typically brash Bobby Canavale, Stephan James, Shea Whigam, Alex Karpovsky, Sissy Spacek and Frankie Shaw. Not sure if it needs new seasons, but maybe more stories like this, told in this way.

Like “Roseanne,” “House of Cards” (Netflix streaming) begins its final season without its main star. Kevin Spacey’s president is dead, and Robin Wright is the widowed Commander in Chief, the kind of change that may invigorate the series. Among the new cast members are Greg Kenner and Diane Lane, who is also part of “The Romanoffs” (Amazon, streaming).

It’s a big moment for film buffs with the release after more than 40 years of the final film of Orson Welles, “The Other Side of the Wind” (Netflix, streaming) which he began working on in 1970 and spent the last 15 years of his life trying to complete. Ironically, it stars John Huston as a legendary director who tries to leaves behind his own final movie. It also features Peter Bogdonovich and Susan Strasberg. In addition to getting a final edit, it gets a new score from Michel Legrand. And there are extras: It is also accompanied by a new documentary from “20 Feet from Stardom” director Morgan Neville about how it was all accomplished, “They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead” (Netflix, streaming).

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Thursday: Female Directors 100 Years Ago

aliceA two week salute to pioneering first females in film — who all worked more than a century ago — begins on Turner Classic Movies with three films by French-born director Alice Guy-Blaché, above. They are the 1913  “A House Divided” (8 p.m.), the 1916 “The Ocean Waif” (8:25 p.m.) and the 1912 “Falling Leaves” (8:50 p.m.).

They are followed by the 1916 feature “Where Are My Children?” (9:15 p.m.), a drama about abortion written by Lucy Payton and co-directed by Lois Weber, who also directed and wrote and stars in the 1913 short “Suspense” (10:30 p.m.). The 1914 comedy short “Mabel’s Blunder” (10:45 p.m.) was written and directed by its star, Mabel Norman, who did the same for the 1914 Charlie Chaplin “Caught in a Cabaret” (11 p.m.).

The night ends up with the 1915 “The Call of the Cumberlands” (11:45 p.m.), directed by Julia Crawford Ivers; the 1917 “’49-’17” (1 a.m.), directed by Ruth Ann Baldwin; the 1916 “Her Defiance” (2:15 a.m.), directed by Cleo Madison; and “The Curse of Quan Gwon” (2:45 a.m.) from 1917, directed by Marion Wong. The series ends next Monday.

Thursday Night Football has Oakland at San Francisco (NFL, 8:20 p.m.).

“Murphy Brown” (CBS, 9:30 p.m.) gears up for midterm election coverage.

On “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, 8 p.m.), Meredith’s patient celebrates the Day of the Dead.

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Wednesday TV: Scary Times in New York

TellMeAStoryHalloween is prime time for introducing scary new series, such as the new “Tell Me a Story” (CBS AllAccess, streaming), an anthology series base on a Mexican show that takes off fairy tales and remakes them into twisted psychological thrillers. Set in contemporary New York, it’s from Kevin Williamson, who was behind the “Scream” movies. After tonight, new episodes will be released weekly on Thursdays.

A more plausible threat to New York are the rising seas from climate change, according to the new four-part series “Sinking Cities” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings), each focusing on a different city.

A Halloween TV tradition is the four-hour “Ghost Adventures Live” (Travel, 8 p.m.) in which a team roots around a supposedly haunted place for real time integration. This year, it’s Zak Bagans’ Las Vegas Haunted Museum, which has haunted in its title.

Good time for a third season start for “Stan Against Evil” (IFC, 10 p.m.).

The imported Spanish film “Gun City” (Netflix, streaming) is set in 1921 Barcelona, amid the battles between anarchists and police.

“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.) may well have some voting advice.

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Tuesday TV: More Scary Facebook News

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg testifies before a U.S. Senate joint hearing on Capitol Hill in WashingtonIf part one of “The Facebook Dilemma,” the excellent report on “Frontline” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) didn’t make you cancel your account Monday, tonight’s concluding part two will appall you in how the site has allowed itself to be used to alter the political scene in Ukraine years before it influenced the 2016 U.S. elections. And what might be worse was to fuel a genocide in Myanmar. The company has been slow to react to how it’s been used, all seem to agree.

Six rising comics, including Liza Treyger, Big Jay Oakerson and Brad Williams, show their stuff in half hour sets in the new series “The Degenerates” (Netflix, streaming).

Lost cities in Mexico are recalled on the second episode of “Native America” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) as well as a temple in Peru.

There’s a Halloween crime scene on “NCIS” (CBS, 8 p.m.).

The scariest thing on “The Conners” (ABC, 8 p.m.) trick or treat party will be a Roseanne mask.

On “Blackish” (ABC, 9 p.m.), the twins opt out of the family Halloween costume.

Kate struggles with Toby’s depression on “This is Us” (NBC, 9 p.m.).

The latest villain on “The Flash” (CW, 8 p.m.) is a millennial techie named Spin.

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Monday TV: Travel Outside the Bubble

OutsideBubbleWhile her mother remains a boogiewoman in Republican midterm ads, the filmmaker Aleandra Pelosi goes cross country to talk with voters in particularly conservative sectors about gun rights, jobs, immigration, climate change, abortion and race in places. For her latest documentary “Outside the Bubble: On the Road with Alexandra Pelosi” (HBO, 8 p.m.), she travels to visit survivors in last year’s mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas; talks with coal miners in western Pennsylvania, and people in Charlottesville, Va.

Political scandal from 20 years ago is explored on “The Lost Tapes: Clinton Impeachment” (Smithsonian, 9 p.m.). though the lost tapes in question consist of historian Taylor Branch’s reflections after interviewing the president at the time.

There are enough issues surrounding the use of Facebook to require a two-part “Frontline” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) on “The Facebook Dilemma” starting tonight, focusing on how it’s been hijacked for political use and the service was too slow to recognize it. Then there are the privacy issues.

Fire season is chronicled in the documentary “Independent Lens” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings), “Wildland,” that follows the work of a single firefighting crew.

The popular musical “Wicked” marks its 15th anniversary on Broadway with the TV special, “A Very Wicked Halloween: Celebrating 15 Years on Broadway” (NBC, 10 p.m.) that features the two original witches from Oz, played by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, with additional performances by Ariana Grande, Pentatonix, Adam Lambert and Ledisi.

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Sunday TV: Ray’s Return and More Talk

Ray Donovan“Ray Donovan” (Showtime, 9 p.m.) begins its sixth season in a new locale: New York, where there’s a lot of work for a fixer. But first Liev Schreiber’s character has to be pulled out of the East River and established in Staten Island. Soon enough, though, his past seeps through even as Micky plots against him in prison.

Comic actress and professional best friend Busy Philipps gets a new gig tonight: Host of a new talk show, “Busy Tonight” (E!, 9 p.m.) that will get a Wednesday through Wednesday schedule. Her first guest is Mindy Kaling.

It’s followed by a trio of women who will jabber about pop culture, “LadyGang” (E!, 10:30 p.m.) with Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin and Jac Vanek, from the podcast of the same name.

A more topical approach is expected from “Patriot Act with Hasan Minah” (Netflix, streaming), a new Sunday night offering from the former “Daily Show” correspondent. He’ll be in competition with that other topical Sunday night comedy show from a former “Daily Show” correspondent, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO, 11 p.m.).

Hope the new shows do better than “The Alec Baldwin Show” (ABC, 10 p.m.) which has suffered low ratings since it began this month. His guests tonight: Ricky Gervais and Jeff Bridges.

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Saturday TV: A Tom Hanksgiving

HanksPostHanksPumpkinsIt might as well be its own holiday.

First, Tom Hanks stars in “The Post” (HBO, 8 p.m.), making its premium cable debut, in which he gave his Oscar-nominated performance as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, alongside the similarly nominated Meryl Streep and a packed cast that includes Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford and Matthew Rhys.

Then, most likely, you’ll see Hanks relive his role as David S. Pumpkins in a compendium among the Halloween sketches that will serve as tonight’s “Saturday Night Live” (NBC, 11:30 p.m.).

Yes, it’s five days until Halloween, but Hallmark jumps two holiday seasons by starting its own Yuletide onslaught with “Christmas at Pemberly Manor” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.), an attempt to turn Jane Austen into one of its romance yarns.This one stars Jessica Lowndes and Michael Rady and is set in the modern era (too expensive to do a period movie?).

Unfortunately it is not an adaptation of the popular play by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon with a similar name “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.” (Actually it just seems like they’re using the names from Austen).

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A New Orleans ‘Take Me to the River’

IMG_6296It’s less than a half a year to Fat Tuesday, but the heart of Mardi Gras is on the road, in the form of the “Take Me to the River” tour.

The caravan, headlined by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and featuring such figures as Ivan Neville and George Porter Jr., is built around the upcoming documentary ”Take Me to the River: New Orleans” — a sequel to the 2014 original that concentrated on Memphis soul stars working with young hopefuls.

Both were directed and produced by Martin Shore, who introduced and played some congas in the background during the stop Wednesday at the Hamilton in D.C. By now the whole “Take Me to the River” operation is meant to bolster music education, both financially and in giving talented young people a chance to get on stage to share their skills amid some legends.

In the upcoming film, it’s Irma Thomas who shows the younger singer Ledisi around one of her classics in a clip that preceded the live music. Live, it meant young performers like singer Joelle Dyson and bassist Dillon Caillouette are on board with New Orleans legends. But they could hold their own.

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Friday TV: A Darker Witch Sabrina

chilling-adventures-of-sabrinaIt’s been fun to watch Kieran Shipka grow up on TV, first on “Mad Men” and then on oddball things like “Flowers in the Attic.” Now she stars in her own series “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” (Netflix, streaming), another adaptation of the Archie character that is a departure from the 90s sitcom version with a talking cat starring Melissa Joan Hart.

Based on the darker graphic novel, itsmore along the lines of the current “Riverdale” series, which makes sense since it’s from the same producers. More of an origin story, it concentrates on Sabrina choosing between witches and the human world on the occasion of her 16th birthday. Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis, Jaz Sinclair and Bronson Pinchot are part of the cast.

Elsewhere online, the documentary “Shirkers” (Netflix, streaming) is about a cult movie made by a couple of teens in Singapore 25 years ago that was never completed because an American collaborator stole the footage. Director Sandi Tan picks up the case of the film that would have been years later.

Amanda Peet, John Slattery, Diane Lane and Mary Ky Place star in the fourth installment of Matthew Weiner’s “The Romanoffs” (Amazon, streaming).

A hit at the Berlin film festival, Aleksei German’s bio film “Dovlatov” (Netflix, streaming) is a Russian import about the 1970s Russian writer starring Milan Marić.

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Thursday TV: ‘Heathers’ for Halloween

heathers-trailer-editedMeant to be a sassy series based on the 80s cult movie, “Heathers” (Paramount, 10 p.m.) was all set to go last spring until Parkland shootings made a jokey series about school violence suddenly seem inappropriate. It’s no more appropriate now, but the network hopes to burn off its episodes in the name of Halloween or something. So it airs nightly for five days until its own death.

A sequel to the first German import to U.S. TV, “Deutschland 83,” which ran in 2015, updates the Cold War adventure to three years later, hence the slightly retooled title “Deutschland 86” (Sundance, midnight) in which Jonas Nay plays a spy going on another international mission along with his aunt, portrayed by Maria Schrader.

The last vestige of “The Vampire Diaries,” which ended nearly two years ago, the new “Legacies” (CW, 9 p.m.) sets the action two years after events in the initial spinoff “The Originals,” which expired in August. Danielle Rose Russell stars as the latest descendent with some vampire, witch and bloodlines, enrolling in the Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted. Julie Plec is still the writer and Matt Davis reprises the “Vampire Diaries” role of Alaric Salesman.

“Murphy Brown” (CBS, 9:30 p.m.) has a big scoop she fears of losing as it’s being vetted by the legal department.

Jason visits with people from his past on “The Good Place” (NBC, 8:30 p.m.).

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