Wednesday TV: ‘Hap and Leonard’ Return

HapAndLeonard“Greenleaf” (OWN, 10 p.m.), the Oprah Winfrey produced soap about a big church family in Memphis,   in which she sometimes appears as a  bartender, returns for a second season. But when it comes to sophomore seasons, I’m much more interested in the return of the bayou bedlam on “Hap and Leonard” (Sundance, 10 p.m.), the underrated series that’s fueled by the personality of its stars James Purefoy and Michael K. Williams. Based on characters from Joe R. Lansdale’s books, season two takes up (and is subtitled after) his second novel Mucho Mojo. Brian Dennehy is part of the case, as are Irma P. Hall, Dohn Norwood, Tiffany Mack and Cranston Johnson. Sadly gone, though: Christina Hendricks’ Trudy.

Another milestone tonight is the last episode ever of “Workaholics” (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.). The longest running live action scripted series for the network wraps up after seven seasons and making stars out of Adam Devine if not his compatriots Anders Holm and Blake Anderson. Accordingly, for their final episode, they become party legends when an energy drink company hires them to throw big ragers.

Ending its first season with no where near the success of “Empire,” is “Star” (Fox, 9 p.m.).

But the TV adaptation of “Lethal Weapon” (Fox, 8 p.m.) ends its first season as one of the network’s few success stories.

David goes back to where it all started on “Legion” (FX, 10 p.m.).

“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.) looks deeply into the deep state.

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Tuesday TV: Amusing ‘Trial & Error’

Trial_and_ErrorOverdue satire of the overpopulate true crime saga comes courtesy “Trial & Error” (NBC, 10 and 10:30 p.m.), which recalls the mockumentary heyday of “The Office” with the small town sweetness of “Parks & Recreation.”

John Lithgow is swell as the defendant in the murder of his wife, piling up suspicion as he maintains his clueless innocence. But it’s the ensemble that brings life to the show, from the dim assistants played by Steven Boyer and Sherri Shepherd, who has an abundance of maladies that impair her job., to the tough prosecutor, played by Jayma Mays.

The straight man is Nicholas D’Agosto, a New Yorker who is sent down to defend Lithgow’s character and must find his way through these very eccentric characters. It’s light, and silly, and strikes just the right tone.

You might need the chuckle after the first season finale of “This Is Us” (NBC, 9 p.m.), the family drama that many have found engrossing (while others of us have found just manipulative). Tonight, Jack goes to Cleveland to make up with Rebecca on the night of her first big gig with the band. Then Kate, Randall and Kevin make big decisions about their futures — and season two!3

It’s the season, finale, too, for “The Real O’Neals” (ABC, 9:30 p.m.), where Shannon and Jimmy find a pregnancy test.

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Monday TV: ‘Cries from Syria’ on HBO

cries-from-syria-heroThe tragedy of Syria is laid out in Evgeny Afineevsky’s hour-long documentary “Cries from Syria” (HBO, 10 p.m.), that traces from the beginnings of its conflict to its current refugee crisis. Helen Mirren narrates.

Good riddance to the worst bachelor yet Nick Viall, who chooses between two finalists Raven Gates and Vanessa Grimaldi and makes the obvious choice on the finale of “The Bachelor” (ABC, 8 p.m.), which stretches into the inevitable “After the Final Rose” (ABC, 10 p.m.).

Ice Cube is producer of the new game show “Hip Hop Squares” (VH1, 9 p.m.) which takes the old “Hollywood Squares” format and fits it with hip-hop stars, among them Fat Joe, Remy Ma, T Pain, Faizon Love, Bobby Brown, Amber Rose and Cube himself. No Charlie Weaver in sight. DeRay Davis, a comedian who appeared with Cube in “Barbershop and “21 Jump Street” is the host.

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Sunday TV: ‘American Crime’ in Carolina

AmericanCrimeJohn Ridley’s “American Crime” (ABC, 10 p.m.) is something of a miracle for broadcast TV: a nuanced, multi-layered drama about serious issues, compellingly directed with a top-notch repertoire cast returning for a new story each season.

For season three, it turns to rural America, focusing on all kinds of economic slavery — from migrant workers to sex trafficking, with the opioid drug problem filtering down through all of it. Race and class are also part of stories.

Regina King stars as a social worker with her own issues, Felicity Huffman as the wife in a family farming business that benefits from ill-treatment of seasonal workers; Benito Martinez as a father crossing the border to look for a son. Timothy Hutton and Lili Taylor don’t show up until episode four, as a furniture company president and his wife. Sandra Oh, Cherry Jones and Janel Moloney are also part of the drama, definitely worth a spot on your Sunday night.

It’s pledge time on public broadcasting, so who knows exactly when you’ll get to see this “American Masters” (PBS, 7:30 p.m., check local listings) on Patsy Cline, which benefits from a wealth of performance video, a feminist point of view and the involvement of a lot of country stars from Reba McEntire to Kacey Musgraves. It’s narrated by Roseanne Cash.

On “Feud: Bette and Joan” (FX, 10 p.m.), production is already starting on “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”

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Saturday TV: Cena Hosts Kids’ Choice

john-cena1Let the slime fall: The 2017 Kids’ Choice Awards (Nickelodeon, 8 p.m.) will hand out awards to favorites in movies, TV and music. Chris Pratt, Kevin Hart, Demi Lovato and the Chainsmokers are scheduled to appear. Performers include Machine Gun Kelly, Camila Capello and Little Mix. John Cena hosts.

The comic and standup comic has his second standup special, “Jerrod Carmichael: 8” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

Last year’s “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” (HBO, 8:25 p.m.), with Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne and Zac Efron, has its premium cable debut, as does “Blood Father” (Starz, 9 p.m.) with Mel Gibson, Diego Luna and William H. Macy.

On the made for TV “The Wrong Student” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.), Jessica Morris plays a woman who moves to California with gets involved with her niece’s soccer coach (Jason-Shane Scott), who is already the object of obsession of a player (Evanne Friedmann).

“Planet Earth II” (BBC America, 9 p.m.) goes to the desert.

Valuable paintings and a gallery staff members are nabbed on a new “Ransom” (CBS, 8 p.m.).

Primetime reruns abound of “The Voice” (NBC, 8 p.m.), “24: Legacy” (Fox, 8 p.m.), “Taken” (NBC, 9 p.m.) and “APB” (Fox, 9 p.m.).

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Stage Review: ‘Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing’

17008-058Bad singers make interesting stories. After Meryl Streep got an Oscar nomination for her role as the classical world’s “Florence Foster Jenkins,” last year, here comes Broadway’s Debra Monk, warbling the pop repertoire of a mid-1960s musical misfit in a new musical full of Great White Way pedigree.

No less than Pulitzer Prize winner James Lapine, who wrote and directed “Sunday in the Park with George” and “Into the Woods,” came up with “Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing” getting its world premiere at Arlington’s Signature Theatre.

He’s calling it a “a play with music.” But there are some who may question what Mrs. Miller did was actually music.

Those of us old enough to remember the brief career of the real Mrs. Miller know that she was a 50-something housewife who was encouraged to use her brash, vibrato-heavy opera-leaning voice on the hits of the day.

It was a kick, in part because the songs themselves where so beloved that they could withstand this playful weirdness. Petula’s Clark’s “Downtown” was her big hit, with her coming in way too late and muffing the chorus. She tried on Beatles songs, too, since she was on Capitol Records, and “A Lover’s Concerto” as well.

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Friday TV: ‘Love’ – Not in Air, Streaming

loveThere are a lot of series to binge in a day or two on the streaming services, but “Love” (Netflix, streaming) is just about the only one I have so far. Season one of the Judd Apatow-co-produced comedy moved just as amiably as one of his movies. It stars co-creator Paul Rust as a geeky Hollywood screenwriting hopeful who runs into a beautiful and deeply troubled Gillian Jacobs and they try to make a relationship work. Can’t wait for season two, which drops today, as they say.

Also back online (with all of its episodes) is the second and final season of  “Hand of God” (Amazon Prime, streaming) the drama starring Ron Perlman as a judge who thinks God is talking to him. With Dana Delany, Andre Royo and Garret Dillahunt.

A big death is promised on the series finale of “The Vampire Diaries” (The CW, 9 p.m.), which also sees the return of onetime star Nina Dobrev, who left the show two years ago. The biggest death, of course, is the show itself, which lasted eight seasons – pretty long time for a young person’s vampire show. They give it a proper sendoff with the one-hour special “The Vampire Diaries: Forever Yours” (The CW, 9 p.m.).

Bobby Knight’s best season at Indiana is recalled in the sports documentary “Perfect in ’76” (Showtime, 9 p.m.).

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Thursday TV: Fox is ‘Kicking & Screaming’

kicking-and-screamingA mainstay in some corners of cable, the paired survivor gambit moves to broadcast networks. In “Kicking & Screaming” (Fox, 9 p.m.) seasoned survivalists are paired with pampered counterparts and put into extreme wilderness areas full of dangerous animals and bad weather. To compete! The host is Hannah Simone — Cece from “New Girl.”

A second season starts for “The Catch” (ABC, 10 p.m.), with Ben behind bars.

“Portlandia” (IFC, 10 p.m.) reaches its seventh season finale with a few dud sketches as well.

A revelation about the assassination comes to light on “Scandal” (ABC, 9 p.m.).

Christy gets a concussion on “Mom” (CBS, 9 p.m.).

Juliette helps Maddie with her newfound fame on “Nashville” (CMT, 9 p.m.) and Trevor Noah makes a cameo.

A trauma case on “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, 8 p.m.) is complicated by hospital politics

Christina Milian lends her voice to the competition “Karaoke Showdown” (Spike, 7:30 p.m.).

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Wednesday TV: Familiar ‘Survivor’ Faces

SurvivorSurvives_FTRThe 34th season of “Survivor” (CBS, 8 p.m.) debuts with its 500th episode. With all this history, they’re bringing back “favorite” old players who supposedly changed the game during their session. This includes at least one two-time winners and faces by now so familiar you’re beginning to be sick of them (Ozzie?). And that goofy policeman with his spy shack. What made the reality competition one of the best was its reliance on ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and how they interacted. Increasingly, it’s full of people who have become professionals at playing this, and personalities you get the feeling Jeff Probst wish had gone further in their earlier attempts, but never did. All reality shows now rely on past players to bump it along — every subject on “Bachelor” is a past season loser now — but to fill a whole season with them is more exhausting to consider. I want a season of fresh faces.

Proving the administration’s Black History Month assertion that he’s “done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice,” Frederick Douglass makes an appearance on the new season of “Underground” (WGN America, 10 p.m.) played by series producer and recent “La La Land” star John Legend. Aisha Hinds continues to play Harriet Tubman.

The new Katherine Heigl drama “Doubt” lasted exactly two episodes before cancellation. To replace it, the network has brought back early the spin-off “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” (CBS, 10 p.m.) for its second season.

Also back tonight is the fifth and final season of “Ripper Street” (BBC America, 11 p.m.).

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Tuesday TV: ‘The Americans’ Returns

the-americans-season-4-episode-12-paige-elizabeth-lassa-virus-fxI’ve been in a minority by being underwhelmed by “The Americans” (FX, 10 p.m.) all these years. The slow moving costume drama of spies in our midst during the Reagan years was undermined by memories of Boris and Natasha. By now, the daughter is wise to her parents jobs and things move just as slowly in the fourth season premiere that literally ends by digging itself in a hole for 10 minutes.

What’s worse though, is that current events have far bypassed the piddly intrigue here and the show’s makers seem more peeved than inspired. “To see things have spiraled so out of control, frankly, just doesn’t feel so good,” co-creator Joe Weinberg told writers at the TV Critics Association winter press tour.

With only one season left in the show after this one, they’ll never reach the era of actual drama in our midst (unless: time jump!).

Her latest stand-up comedy special, taped in Denver, “Amy Schumer: The Leather Special” (Netflix, streaming).

One thing we need less of on TV is infotainment. But here is “People Icons” (ABC, 10 p.m.) which profiles celebrities, starting with couples.

Before it just died, “The Apprentice” had its start like this: someone looking for an employee. In “The Partner” (CNBC, 10 p.m.), it’s Marcus Lemons, star of the network’s “The Profit.” It will take him five episodes to hire someone.

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