Monday TV: David Spade Tries Late Night

DavidSpadeIt’s one of the toughest time slots on cable — the post “Daily Show” position that laid waist to shows from Larry Wilmore to Jordan Klepper. The latest contender is “Lights Out with David Spade” (Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m.) from the sarcastic former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and star of “Joe Dirt.”

He plans a less political show with a more straightforward late night format, with a pop culture focused topical monologue a desk and guests, which include on its first night Neal Brennan, Erik Griffin, Whitney Cummings.

At a time when the real-life UK has elected a worrisome leader, the family in “Years and Years” (HBO, 9 p.m.) goes up against its fearsome leader played by Emma Thompson in the series finale, set in the 2030s.

A half dozen high school scientists from across the globe attempt to save the environment in Laura Nix’s documentary “Inventing Tomorrow,” making its TV premiere on “POV” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings).

In Greece, Hannah has to whittle down the top three to two on “The Bachelorette” (ABC, 8 p.m.).

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Sunday TV: Now for Alfred’s Backstory

pennyworth-epixEvery aspect of the Batman story by now would seem to have been has been exploited, but here’s the backstory of Alfred, the Wayne Manor butler and secret-keeper, who was also a mentor in addition to being a valet. But from the makers of “Gotham” comes the stylish “Pennyworth” (Epix, 9 p.m.) which looks at the life of the dashing young Alfred Pennyworth in his days after leaving the Special Air Service, starting his own private security company in swinging 60s London (the effective opening strains are the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”). Jack Bannon plays the title character; Ben Aldridge is Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s rich, eventual father.

Shark Week begins tonight with a special that shows its renewed focus in the opening “Expedition Unown: Megalodon” (Discovery, 8 p.m.). Instead of a questionable film about the supposed contemporary existence of the hulking predator, it looks at what caused the extinction of the 60-ton prehistoric shark.

It’s followed by something that sounds thoroughly entertaining, “Shark Trip: Eat Prey Chum” (Discovery, 9 p.m.), in which “Girls Trip” producer Will Packer takes Rob Riggle, Anthony Anderson, Adam DeVine, Joel McHale and Damon Wayans Jr on a trip to the Caribbean in the search for a tiger shark. Then Riggle and others talk about it on “Shark After Dark” (Discovery, 11 p.m.).

Excited that “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HGO, 11 p.m.) returns with a new episode tonight.

More dangerous than shark-infested waters may be the “American Swamp” (MSNBC, 9 p.m.) in which Katy Tur and Jacob Soboroff report on how big money hasn’t been eliminated by an administration elected in part to drain such swamps. It’s opposite the distinctly less newsy (and way more nostalgic) survey “The Movies” (CNN, 9 p.m.), which tonight looks at the 70s.

The Zachary Quinto vampire saga “NOS4A2” (AMC, 9 p.m.) reaches its first season finale with a two part episode.

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Saturday TV: Social Media’s Pain Volumizer

shareA grim tale of a teen’s sexual assault unfolds through a circulated video in the directorial debut of Pippa Bianco in “Share” (HBO, 10 p.m.). Rhianne Barreto and Nichola Galitzine star in the film which sounds like a logical companion piece to the grim “Euphoria” (HBO, 11:30 p.m.), the latest episode of which actually follows it.

Naturalist David Attenborough wanders into the city in the new “Wild City: Singapore” (BBC America, 9 p.m.).

“Dr. Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet” (Animal Planet, 9 p.m.) treats a bloodhound puppy.

Italia Ricci and Peter Porte star in “Rome in Love” (Hallmark, 9 p.m.), an on-location romance about an actress shooting a role in Italy who is paired with an American journalist writing a profile about her.

The V.C. Andrews incest saga that began with “Flowers in the Attic” continues its TV adaptation with “Heaven” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.)

The crime caper “Widows” (HBO, 7:45 p.m.) makes its premium cable debut, starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez Colin Farrell and Liam Neeson.

Also premiering tonight, the 2018 comedy adaptation  “Holmes and Watson” (Starz, 8 p.m.) with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly.

A new episode isn’t on today, but catch up on the first three weeks’ worth of “Love Island” (Pop, 9:30 a.m.), with 14 episodes running in order all day, leading into another three-hour “Big Brother After Dark” (Pop, midnight).

buddy’s son tries to run things on “Cake Boss” (Discovery Family, 6 p.m.).

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Friday TV: The Final Shade of Orange

orangeThe seventh and final season comes for “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix, streaming), the series that helped define what an online series could be, leading the charge for diversified casting and stories.

A new online series “The Boys” (Amazon, streaming), adapted from the comic book series of the same name, is a violent series about a vigilante group going after corrupt superheroes. Karl Urban stars in the series from Eric Kripke (“Supernatural”).

“Light as a Feature” (Hulu, streaming), the supernatural thriller based on Zoe Aarsen’s book, returns for a second season.

Second seasons also start for the baking competition “Sugar Rush” (Netflix, streaming) and the imported South Korean romantic series  “My First Love” (Netflix, streaming).

Every Disney comedy eventually ages out. It happens tonight for “Andi Mack” (Disney Channel, 8 p.m.) in a series finale built around a going away party for Lauren Tom’s Celia.

Producer Rick Rubin channels the art of wrestling on the third episode of “Shangri-La” (Showtime, 9 p.m.).

A champion is named in the season finale of “BattleBots” (Discovery, 8 p.m.).

The snarky commentary by offscreen narrator Matthew Hoffman is what helps make “Love Island” (CBS, 8 p.m.) a little more bearable.

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Thursday TV: Sackhoff’s Back in Space

AnotherLifeSci-fi favorite Katee Sackhoff returns as an astronaut leading a team looking for the source of a mysterious alien artifact that is found on Earth in “Another Life” (Netflix, streaming), a new 10-episode series. Selma Blair and Jake Abel also star

Martha’s dad falls off the roof while fixing the TV antenna on “Baskets” (FX, 10 p.m.). Hope he heals faster than Martha, who has had a cast on her arm for four seasons.

Teresa is threatened by an FBI informant on “Queen of the South” (USA, 10 p.m.).

“Angel Brinks: The Real Bling” (WeTV, 10 p.m.) follows the fashion designer preparing for LA Fashion Week.

On “Bunk’d” (Disney, 8 p.m.), Destiny organizes a square dance to raise money to clean up the lake.

Robb offers Gwynn a powerful army on “The Outpost” (CW, 9 p.m.).

Tech billionaire Odin Reichenbach invites Holmes and Watson to test his new crime prevention system on “Elementary” (CBS, 10 p.m.).

They’re still playing miniature golf on “Holey Moley” (ABC, 8 p.m.).

There seems to have been an overhaul of the cast of “Love Island” (CBS, 8 p.m.).

“MasterChef” (Fox, 8 p.m.) has another mystery box challenge.

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Female Superheroes on TCA Day One

harley-quinn-animated-series-dc-universe-trailer-1179625-1280x0-696x390BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — She spent 12 seasons in a show about comic book-crazy nerds, so maybe it’s no surprise that the first project for Kaley Cuoco after “The Big Bang Theory” is an adult animated show about Joker henchwoman.

Cuoco produces and provides the voice for “Harley Quinn,” coming this fall for DC Universe, and maybe it was emblematic of a superhero-obsessed entertainment industry that it was the first session of the 17-day TV Critics Association summer press tour on Tuesday.

As the nation burned with the summer’s excess heat, the temperature in the Beverly Hilton ballroom plummeted as the semi-annual confab of networks and TV writers began. And over the course of the first day, with presentations also from A&E, Lifetime, Viceland, ATT’s Audience network and National Geographic, there were two different panels with distracting dogs, announcements of ambitious programming and two performances of country classics.

The day ended with an anticipated screening Damon Lindelof’s upcoming adaptation of “Watchmen” starring Don Johnson, Regina King, Jeremy Irons and Tim Blake Nelson which HBO expressly asked writers not to write about (it was only prep for their Wednesday afternoon session).

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Wednesday TV: Mueller Finally Testifies

MuellerIt’s not often that testimony before Congress commands live coverage from the broadcast networks as well as the cable news outlets, but today’s Testimony by Robert Mueller (CSPAN, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, 8:30 a.m. and noon) before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees will give the widest coverage yet to the troubling findings of the Mueller Report and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Among its many analysts will likely be “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.).

That election is also at the centerpiece of timely new documentary “The Great Hack” (Netflix, streaming). The film by Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer shows how people willingly give away private information and privacy through social media participation, focusing particularly on the activities of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

The concluding half of “Who Killed Garrett Phillips?” (HBO, 8 p.m.) leads to the trial and uneasy aftermath.

“Nova” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) looks at origins of the planets in a report narrated by Zachary Quinto. It follows another early look at the skies in “Ancient Skies” (PBS, 8 p.m.) and a later look on the red planet on a second episode of “Nova” (PBS, 10 p.m.).

In the new comedy “South Side” (Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m.), creators Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin play a pair of community college graduates and would-be entrepreneurs in Chicago. It’s shot on location in the Englewood neighborhood there.

Among all the reality show competitions, there hasn’t been one for horseback riding until now, on “The Last Cowboy” (Paramount, 10 p.m.).

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Tuesday TV: Prosecuting with Prejudice

WhoKilledDocumentarian Liz Garbus’ contribution to HBO’s month of gripping, two part documentaries follows a case in Potsdam, N.Y., involving the strangulation murder of a 12-year-old boy in 2011. The one suspect the local police focused on, according to “Who Killed Garrett Phillips?” (HBO, 8 p.m.) was just about the only African-American in town, a respected soccer coach at Clarkson University who was an ex of the boy’s mother. Despite the utter lack of evidence. Unlike most such true crime documentaries, this one unfolds not after the fact, but as they attempt to make a case.

More cheerful is an overview of recent winners, “USA Champions: The Story of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

“Real Story of Lone Survivor” (Reelz, 9 p.m.) examines the case of Marcus Luttrel who escaped the Taliban when a Navy Seal mission went wrong.

“Cajun Navy” (Discovery, 10 p.m.) follows a volunteer organization that pitches in after big storms in the bayou.

“Alternating with Arturo Castro” (Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m.) goes behind the scenes on the Carmen Miranda show.

n all woman air force regiment fights Nazis on “Drunk History” (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.)

On “Pose” (FX, 10 p.m.), PrayTell falls ill while organizing the AIDS cabaret.

Performances continue on “Bring the Funny” (NBC, 10 p.m.).

Jay Leno is guest judge on “America’s Got Talent” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

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Other Things I’ve Written Lately

RollingThunderHere are some other things I’ve written elsewhere lately:

  • A preview for TV Guide magazine of “Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese” that Netflix wouldn’t let me see first.
  • A story for The Washington Post on a guy who runs a one man circus.
  • An interview with two members of the Rubinoos along with the producer and co-writer of their new record, Chuck Prophet, for The Vinyl District.
  • A survey of a new show of contemporary art by women at the Museum of African Art for Smithsonian Magazine.com.
  • A review of a one-woman play about former Texas Gov. Ann Richards playing at Arena Stage.
  • A story about a new show at the Freer/Sackler of the Whistler watercolors and a new presentation of his Peacock Room as it looked a century ago, from SmithsonianMagazine.com.
  • Premiering an innovative new video from Lonesome Shack for The Vinyl District.
  • A piece about a contemporary art shout the Hirshhorn Museum that comes with lunch.
  •  A review of David Lindsay-Abaire’s play “Ripcord” at Keegan Theatre.
  •  A story about the influential murals at the Dinosaur Hall of the National Museum of Natural History and some new additions, for SmithsonianMagazine.com.
  •  A review of a rarely-performed Handel opera given a Persian twist in “The Tale of Serse.”
  •  My review of the Minus 5 show previously appeared here, but not with these great series of photographs.
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Monday TV: Two Women Take the Lead

Nora-nicaTwo documentaries tonight profile admirable women.

A trusted Miami activist who was given power of attorney to more than 1,000 children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants, Nora Sandigo, pictured above, is profiled in the documentary “The Great Mother” (Starz, 9 p.m.).

And the White House may be advised to tune into “POV” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) to learn more about Nadia Murad, the young Nobel Prize winning Yazidi, who survived genocide and sexual slavery by ISIS. When the subject of “On Her Shoulders” told her story to a clueless oval office about her murdered family last week, Trump asked her “Where are they now?”

The film is followed by a feature about a Florida man who runs a marathon in memory of a man lynched 80 years earlier on “POV Shorts” (PBS, 10:30 p.m., check local listings).

Speaking of worrisome leaders, Emma Thompson’s Viv Rook becomes prime minister on “Years and Years” (HBO, 9 p.m.).

Success on “90 Day Fiance” (TLC, 9 p.m.) is not only a successful marriage, but a TV spin-off: “The Family Chantel” (TLC, 10 p.m.) makes its bow.

Goofball Luke refuses to leave after being cut from “The Bachelorette” (ABC, 8 p.m.) before the show turns to the annual Men Tell All episode.

A prosecutor is court-marshaled for mutiny in connection with a 2010 mission in Afghanistan on the first season finale of “The Code” (CBS, 9 p.m.).

The exes have an awkward dinner together with their new partners on “Divorce” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

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