Wednesday TV: ‘Underground’ For Good?

underground“Underground” (WGN America, 10 p.m.) ends its second season and with it, perhaps the entire series about the Underground Railroad. That’s due to the purchase of Tribune stations last week by Sinclair Broadcasting, whose officials have said they have no interest in continuing to produce high end original series. There is hope, however, it might jump to another network.

Shemar Moore returns to “Criminal Minds” (CBS, 9 p.m.) on the occasion of its season 12 finale. Also, there’s apparently a big crash.

Also, “Blackish” (ABC, 9:30 p.m.) ends its third season with a big baby shower.

More is learned about V.M. Varga when he comes over to dinner uninvited on “Fargo” (FX, 10 p.m.).

“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.) returns with a new episode that focuses on religious freedom and health care reform.

Loved ones come to visit on “Survivor” (CBS, 8 p.m.).

“Brockmire” (IFC, 10 p.m.) is invited to an annual sports dinner, among colleagues like Joe Buck.

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Tuesday TV: Crisis in Affordable Housing


Just one in four households eligible for Section 8 housing assistance is getting it and more working Americans are struggling to make rent than at any time since the Great Depression, a new report says on  “Frontline” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings). And corruption is part of the reason that affordable housing projects are costing more and producing fewer units, the nine month investigation finds.

NPR reporter Laura Sullivan visits families struggling for affordable housing in Dallas and Miami and finds that some of the tax credits meant to build more units have been funneled to mansions in Costa Rica. Discrimination also plays a large role in the search for housing, says the report titled “Poverty, Politics and Profit.”

On late night, rather than calling in the FCC, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (NBC, 11:35 p.m.) brings in his former colleagues on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” — none of whom are still on it — including Stewart, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Ed Helms and Rob Corddry. What, no Steve Carrell?

Former “Saturday Night Live” stars also get a bit of a reunion on a new episode of “Great News” (NBC, 9 p.m.), which is co-produced by Tina Fey, when Ana Gasteyer and Rachel Dratch star as a pair of Hoda and Kathie Lee morning lushes. Then Dratch provides the voice of the weird creature on “Imaginary Mary” (ABC, 9:30 p..).

Yet another “SNL” mainstay stars in his own stand-up comedy special “Norm MacDonald: Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery” (Netflix, streaming).

And here’s one more: Andy Samberg in a double episode of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox, 8 p.m.).

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On Stage: ‘Laura Bush Killed a Guy’

Laura_Bush_Killed_Starring_Lisa_HodsollLisa Hodsoll emerges as fully First Lady in The Klunch world premiere “Laura Bush Killed a Guy.”

She’s got that soft West Texas accent, the omnipresent smile as shiny as her pearls, a cream colored ensemble, and poise to burn.

How much poise? Well, during a matinee press performance Sunday at the aptly named Caos on F, when she went to sit on the set’s only piece of furniture, an armchair on a platform beneath a picture of her beloved George W., during one of director John Vreeke’s many blackouts, she and the chair fell back in disarray. Lights came on and she was on the floor.

Scarcely breaking character, she apologized, still in her accent, righted the chair and began her tale.

After all, the one-woman work by The Klunch artistic director Ian Allen is about regaining poise after a stumble. In her case, it was a teenage automobile accident that resulted in the death of a classmate. She gets to retell the tale a few different ways in the course of the play.

In the first, it’s vengeance for a family squabble; in another, jealous rage over his impregnating a friend; in a third, she’s just blind drunk. Finally there is the version she sticks to, a childhood incident she’s not proud of, but certainly regretted. That’s the version she told Oprah, years after she was in the White House, shortly after she explained in her 2010 memoir.

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Monday TV: Prison’s Reverberating Effect

prison-landscapes-5Brett Story’s documentary “The Prison in Twelve Landscapes,” premiering tonight on “Independent Lens” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) looks at how mass incarceration has colored aspects of the country from a dozen angles, from the industrialization of prisons, to its suppliers, to the overnight buses carrying visitors to faraway prisons.

On the new “The Therapist” (Viceland, 10:30 p.m.), Siri Sat Nam Singh counsels recording artists. Doctor-client confidentiality seems imperiled.

Anthony Anderson and LaLa Anthony host “Dear Mama: An Event to Honor Moms” (VH1, 10 p.m.), which serves as the six-day warning for Mother’s Day. Mary J. Blige, Ludacris, Halle Berry and Robin Thicke take part.

I think what you where thinking was: Why isn’t Chris Hardwick on another show? Well, he is, as the game show “The Wall” (NBC, 10 p.m.) returns. Wonder if if Mexico is paying for it.

Jimmy’s big showdown with his brother in court occurs on “Better Call Saul” (AMC, 10 p.m.).

Both the Bachelor and Nancy Kerrigan got canned last week on “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC, 8 p.m.) and you wouldn’t be able to pick the remaining five out of a police lineup, except for Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, who isn’t even the top scorer. Anyway, tonight is quarterfinals and there’s a trio dance involved.

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Tommy Keene, Ivan Julian at Black Cat


A couple of D.C.-bred rockers returned to town Thursday for a show at the Black Cat’s  backstage, the culmination of a short duo tour in which they both traveled light — with only their own guitars.

It helped that they brought with them careers’ worth of pedigree and songs that still worked quite well.

Headliner Tommy Keene’s energetic rock rang true with just a voice and chords bristling from a 12-string acoustic and, later, an electric guitar. It was same for the opener Ivan Julian, back on the road for the first time since cancer layed him low last year.

Julian, in his wild Afro not looking that much different than when he was founding guitarist in Richard Hell and the Voidoids, began the show, sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar. Even though they’d played nine previous dates, he seemed to be still working things out on stage, ignoring a set list and traveling through his career and his songs he liked.

To show the fingers still worked, he picked out Peter Green’s “Oh Well” to start, and moved right to “Walking on the Water,” the John Fogerty song that appeared on the first Voidoids album.

He included a few tunes from his last solo album from 2011, The Latest Flame, including “Hardwired” and “You Is Dead,” and a couple basic rockers from the band he had with Alejandro Escovedo in 2014, The Fauntleroys, “(This Can’t Be) Julie’s Song” and “Suck My Heart Out with a Straw.”

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On Sunday: MTV Movie Awards Adds TV

2017_movie_awards_1x1Like the network itself, the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards (MTV, 8 p.m.) seem devalued as well, even though it’s added TV to its mix.

Adam Devine hosts the event at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, where popular titles always win out over good ones. The “Fast & Furious” franchise, for example, will be honored with the Generation Award; “Pretty Little Liars” is up for best show.

Performers include Big Sean, Noah Cyrus, Pitbull, J. Calvin and Camila Cabello. A pre-show, the 2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards Festival (MTV, 5 p.m.), features performances by All Time Low, Zara Larsson and Bea Miller.

“Billions” (Showtime, 10 p.m.) reaches its second season finale; “The Arrangement” (E!, 10 p.m.) ends its first.

The former President is honored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in The Profile in Courage Award: Barack Obama (MSNBC, 8 p.m.), hosted by Chris Matthews.


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Saturday TV: Chris Gethard Confesses

chris-gethard-career-suicide-1920The inventive comic Chris Gerhard may be best on his own talk show, which began on public access, went online and will now be going to truTV. In the meantime, its easy to get a full dose of his mind and his vulnerabilities in a taped version of his one man show “Chris Gerhard: Career Suicide” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

He’s frank about his frequent depression and occasional thoughts of suicide despite career spikes that include stints at the Upright Citizens Brigade and as a writer on “Saturday Night Live.” It comes off as a kind of humane, empathetic TED talk of perseverance and his relationship with an inept therapist (that works anyway). But it’s full of laughs and also involves a Morrissey impersonation.

Sports dominate prime time broadcast TV with Yankees at Cubs (Fox, 7 p.m.) in baseball, Golden State at Utah (ABC, 8:30 p.m.) in Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference semifinal and  Pittsburgh at Washington (NBC, 7 p.m.) in Game 5 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Earlier, Stanley Cup action has Rangers at Ottawa (NBC Sports, 3 p.m.).

But the biggest sports event today may also be the shortest: the Kentucky Derby (NBC, 6:30 p.m.), but the coverage begins as early as 2:30 p.m.

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Brian Wilson Keeps ‘Pet Sounds’ Going

IMG_3821What began last year as the 50th Anniversary World Tour of a masterpiece that never had a tour in its time is still on the road, out so long it’s now called “Pet Sounds: The Final Performances.”

It circled back to the D.C. area Wednesday for the first of two nights at the Lincoln Theatre and fans couldn’t have been happier. The glummest man there, in fact, may have been the man led out to the white baby grand piano he mostly did not play.

Brian Wilson, who turns 75 next month, has been through a lot in his life and, as depicted in books and the movie “Love and Mercy,” alternately under the control of people who didn’t have his best interests at heart (Murray Wilson, Dr. Eugene Landy) and has found people now who do (his wife and a devoted band). Luckily for fans who love his classic work, he’s fallen in with musicians who love his work just as much and things no fan could have dreamed  — touring at all, let alone playing the whole of Smile or Pet Sounds — have happened.

Wilson still looks glum doing it, but maybe that’s all the ravages of time and medication. The music itself soars.

Not only Pet Sounds, which top to bottom is a classic, replicated lovingly down to bicycle bell, French horn, bass harmonica and theremin, but a full concert’s worth of extras that might otherwise have filled a nostalgic night.

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Friday TV: ‘Sense8,’ ‘Last Kingdom’ Return

the-sense8-cast-including-nomi-lito-kala-will-wolfgang-riley-sun-and-capheusThe mind-blowing sc-fi of “Sense8” (Netflix, streaming) returns for a second season, now that the worldwide collection of psychically linked people with special powers — who can freely inhabit eachother’s bodies — have all met. Its cast includes Jamie Clayton, Doona Bae, Tina Desai, Brian J. Smith, Toby Onwumere, Max Riemelt, Tuppence Middleton, Miguel Angel Silvestre, and Daryl Hannah. Its makers are Lana and Lilly Wachowski of “The Matrix” trilogy and “Babylon 5” writer Michael Straczyski.

The Saxon Stories saga of historical fiction “The Last Kingdom” (Netflix, streaming) starts its second season as well. And whole seasons of both, of course, are ready for binging.

The 20th anniversary isn’t until late August, but here’s the first of what’s expected to be the first big investigation into the death of Princess Diana on “Dateline” (NBC, 9 p.m.), including interviews with her former bodyguard.

“20/20” (ABC, 10 p.m.), meanwhile, looks at something much more recent, the case of the Tennessee teacher charged with kidnapping a 15 year old student last month.

The new standup comedy special “Al Madrigal: Shrimpin’ Ain’t Easy” (Showtime, 9 p.m.) features the former “Daily Show” correspondent, who is one of the few good things about Showtime’s upcoming series about stand-up, “I’m Dying Up Here.”

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‘Macbeth’ With Machine Guns

Macbeth, STCAs investigations into Russian influence on U.S. elections continue, here’s a development that has so far eluded Rachel Maddow: They may have also been behind the witches in “Macbeth.”

So says a modern day version of Bard’s classic at the Shakespeare Theatre Company from inventive director Liesl Tommy.

Tommy was the first woman of color to get a Tony Nomination for best director for “Eclipsed” with Lupita Wyong’o and she’s been tapped to stage Disney’s huge Broadway version of its hit “Frozen.”

And in a “Macbeth” that she says she’s tailored particularly for D.C. at this moment, one of the first things heard is one of the “weird sisters” inquiring on a cell phone, “When again shall we three meet again?” as if arranging a clandestine gathering.

Other times, this same witch is on the side of the stage in headphones and computer equipment, monitoring the going’s on behind the murderous reign of the leader they helped install — in much the way current leaders baselessly imagines his predecessor wiretapped him.

The whole “eye of newt” speech comes as if a twisted TED talk, where the “toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog’ may be deep cover nicknames of operatives shown. These witches have the swagger (and insignia) of a black ops CIA, with cases of money, drugs and gold to manipulate results. They take their orders from a Hectate with a definite Russian accent.

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