Sunday TV: HBO’s New ‘I May Destroy You’

i-may-destr0y-you-2020-home-box-office-inc-all-rights-reserved-hboThe talented Michaela Cole writes and stars in the new “I May Destroy You” (HBO, 10:30 p.m.), a new series about a purple-haired London literary sensation who parties one night instead of finishing a draft and suffers some trauma. It’s a good fit for the times and alongside “Insecure” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

The life and career of Bruce Lee gets the documentary treatment in “Be Water,” on “30 for 30” (ESPN, 9 p.m.).

They couldn’t have the Tonys this year, so it’s replaced by a “Grease” Sing-A-Long (CBS, 8:30 p.m.). Yes, the old John Travolta Olivia Newton John flick, with lyrics.

The second season of “Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted” (National Geographic, 10 p.m.) begins in Tasmania.

Chris D’Elia, Joel McHale, Sasheer Zamata and Niki Glaser are among the players on another “Hollywood Game Night” (NBC, 7 p.m.).

They couldn’t very well have “Love Island” on HGTV so there’s “Renovation Island” (HGTV, 8 p.m.).

Time to put the boats away as another season of “Wicked Tuna” (National Geographic, 8:30 p.m.) ends.

The hot seat on “Quiz” (AMC, 9 p.m.) is no more comfortable for Matthew Macfayden than it was on “Succession.” Tonight is the middle of three parts.

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Saturday TV: Big Bird Explains Racism

sesame-streetHow to explain hate to kids? Sesame Street teams up with CNN for their second joint special “Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism – A Town Hall for Kids & Families” (CNN, 10 a.m.), moderated by Erica Hill, Van Jones and Big Bird.

The weekend of unprecedented protest against police violence across the nation has led its network to pull the planned new episodes of “Live PD.” Further, Paramount Network has delayed the season 33 start of “Cops” that was to have aired Monday. They haven’t announced what will take the place of “Live PD” tonight, but last night is was a replay of “Live Rescue.”

“Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It” (HBO, 10 p.m.) is a standup comedy special from the actress on “Insecure.”

The cops aren’t so good on “Line of Duty” (AMC, 11 p.m.), either.

“Expedition Unknown” (Discovery, 8 p.m.) remembers D-Day.

The Brad Pitt space movie “Ad Astra” (HBO, 8 p.m.) makes its premium cable debut, as does “Official Secrets” (Showtime, 9 p.m.) 4

In the made for TV romance “Country at Heart” (Hallmark, 9 p.m.), Jessy Schram returns to her hometown and meets with a songwriter (Niall Matter).

Ashley Wood plays a woman who meets a “Psycho Yoga Instructor” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.) in the made-for-TV thriller also starring Panos Vlahos.

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Friday: Elisabeth Moss as Shirley Jackson

moss0603_ph2Elisabeth Moss gets another plum role, this time as horror author Shirley Jackson who is trying to write her masterpiece in Vermont when she and her husband (Michael Stuhlbarg) are interrupted by newlyweds. There are apparently some flights of fancy in “Shirley” (Hulu, streaming), written by Sarah Gubbins and directed by Josephine Decker.

Perhaps this isn’t the time for a movie where the government controls the populace with a special signal so they won’t commit crime. But in the new “The Last Days of American Crime” (Netflix, streaming), based on the graphic novel of the same name, a team conspires to pull off the last great heist. Edgar Ramirez (“Carlos”) stars.

Sergio Jade, a Chilean football club chief implicated in the 2015 FIFA corruption case is profiled in the documentary “El Presidente” (Amazon, streaming).

In the new series “Dear…” (Apple TV +, streaming), various celebrities read correspondence that is more than fan mail; they are messages on how their lives were changed by various famous people including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Spike Lee, Oprah Winfrey, Stevie Wonder, Gloria Steinem, Misty Copeland and Big Bird.

The fifth season of “Queer Eye” (Netflix, streaming) arrives, helping people groom in Philadelphia.

A fourth season starts for the teen drama “13 Reasons Why” (Netflix, streaming), as the seniors prepare for graduation.

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Thursday TV: Restaurants’ ‘Summer Rush’

SummerRushWhat would seem another seasonal show about an eatery instead reflects a time that seems so far away, when the worst thing restauranteurs would worry about is competition. “Summer Rush” (Food, 10 p.m.) follows a family that owns three separate restaurants around Lake George, N.Y., who compete for the summer trade. As it begins, it’s (last) Fourth of July.

Leonardo DiCaprio is behind the environmentally conscious documentary about a Formula E electric racing car “And We Go Green” (Hulu, streaming).

The French-language Canadian import  “Can You Hear Me?” (Netflix, streaming), about three young women navigating life from the poor side of town, makes its debut.

A psychic connecting to the dead makes house calls in the new series “The Thomas John Experience” (CBS All Access, streaming).

The league is not yet back for its planned limited season, but “Inside the NBA” (TNT, 8 p.m.) returns with a live edition with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal discussing social injustice and the current uprisings.

Public broadcasting is replaying its 2017 “The Talk – Race in America” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) telling the stories of struggle between people of color and law enforcement and what parents tell their children about encountering police.

“Man with a Plan” (CBS, 8:30 p.m.), the Matt LeBlanc domestic comedy that was lucky to have lasted four seasons, reaches its end tonight with a series finale.

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Wednesday TV: Spelling Bee Superstars

Spelling_the_Dream_00_41_14_07.0Among the many storied competitions stilled this year was the Scripps National Spelling Bee. But there is a new documentary “Spelling the Dream” (Netflix, streaming) about the journeys of four Indian American students reaching recent competitions.

Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett, Kelsea Ballerini, Little Big Town and Florida Georgia Line are among the country acts performing at home for a special saluting medical professionals and first responders, “CMT Celebrates Our Heroes: An Artists of the Year Special” (CMT, 8 p.m.).

Candor and Laszio are abducted by some Brooklyn witches on “What We Do in the Shadows” (FX, 10 p.m.).

Raven faces an unexpected threat on “The 100” (CW, 8 p.m.).

“Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations” (Cooking, 10 p.m.) visits Washington D.C. before there was a curfew.

A drifter crashes the Labor Day barbecue on “At Home with Amy Sedaris” (truTV, 10 p.m.).

“Man Fire Food” (Cooking, 9:30 p.m.) checks out BBQ in Miami and Birmingham, Ala.

Couples have to handle their own cameras in the pandemic version of “Married at First Sight” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.). And rather than making new episodes of “House Hunters” (HGTV, 10 p.m.), they hire comedians like Whitney Cummings, Dan Levy and Natasha Leggero to watch an old episode and comment on it.

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Tuesday TV: New Crime for ‘Dirty John’

dirtyjohn2The first “Dirty John” proved that a true crime story with among the wealthy middle aged folks can be engrossing and entertaining, especially if there is a compelling actress at its core. Just as Connie Britton starred in the first season, which ran on Broadway, so does Amanda Peet in the second season, now on a different cable network, “Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story” (USA, 9 p.m.).

As the title indicates, the new season is about a completely different California case (but nobody named John). Instead, it centers around the 1980s case of a San Diego housewife who can’t cope with the dissolution of her marriage, leading to murder. Peet is very good playing opposite a cold Christian Slater, but she has to modulate her madness so it can last over 10 episodes.

One of the many characters who stood out in “Tiger King” was the former “Inside Edition” reporter who helped turn Joe Exotic into a reality TV star — online anyway. All the film he shot got lost in a fire, but he’s now star of his own special “The Truth Behind Joe Exotic: The Rick Kirkham Story” (Investigation Discovery, 9 p.m.). The timely update comes just a day after Carole Baskin won the rights to Joe Exotic’s zoo in Oklahoma.

The dread surrounding the D.C. sniper of 2002 is relived in the documentary series “I, Sniper” (Vice, 10 p.m.) with commentary from the surviving accomplice, who was 17 at the time.

The final nine episodes of “Fuller House” (Netflix, streaming) wraps up the remake, with the central three, played by Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber, all planning for their respective weddings.

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Other Things I’ve Written Lately

muerto_rico (1)Here are some other things I’ve written lately that have appeared elsewhere:

  • An interview with the artist who won the National Portrait Gallery’s people’s choice award in a recent competition, for Smithsonian
  • review of the new two-part documentary series “Laurel Canyon” on Epix TV for The Vinyl District.
  • story on the creation of the HBO series “I Know This Much is True,” my first for The Connecticut Post.
  • piece on Hirshhorn Museum’s online series checking in with artists during the pandemic.
  • story about the 930 Club’s effort to put music online while the venue has been closed during the pandemic.
  • A review of maybe the last theatrical performance to open in Washington, D.C. before the shutdown began.
  • Surveying the many variations of the mother and child image in Smithsonian Museums.
  • preview of a new track packed with talent, from Hawk.
  • Q&A with Roger Manning Jr., the man behind Jellyfish, Moog Cookbook and a new band, The Lickerish Quartet, for Vinyl District.
  • More with Manning, for Songfacts.
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Monday TV: Hollywood’s Best Jazz Scores

anatomy-of-a-murder-duke-ellington-1108x0-c-defaultA new month brings a new showcase for Turner Classic Movies, and a tuneful one: Jazz in Film, a 40 movie focus on Mondays and Thursdays all months. It begins tonight with the classic jazz scores on “A Streetcar Named Desire” (8 p.m.), by Alex North; “The Man with the Golden Arm” (10:15 p.m.), by Elmer Bernstein; “Anatomy of a Murder” (12:30 a.m.) whose score is by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhdorn (pictured above with director Otto Preminger); and “Bullitt” (3L30 a.m.), scored by Lalo Schifrin.

“Below Deck Mediterranean” (Bravo, 9 p.m.) begins a new season in Mallorca, Spain with the usual demanding guests and staff misbehavior.

“The Baker and the Beauty” (ABC, 9 p.m.) ends its first season with a pair of episodes.

Jordan Sparks hosts “Iconic: TLC” (CW 8 p.m.), a special about the 90s singing trio who did “Creep” — not the network who gives you “90 Day Fiance: Self-Quarantined” (TLC, 9 p.m.).

“Songland” (NBC, 10 p.m.) has Bebe Rexha pick a new tune to record in tonight’s episode.

Alex Walker’s crooked ex-partner arrives in the Philippines with evil intent on the season finale of “Almost Paradise” (WGN America, 10 p.m.).

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Sunday: Who Wants to Be a ‘Quiz’ Cheat?

QUizAt a time when “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” has been revived, here’s a look at the British mania over the game show that led to a huge cheating scandal in the entertaining three-part limited series “Quiz” (AMC, 10 p.m.). Embodying this captivating episode that isn’t well remembered in the U.S. (since it happened right around 9/11) are two favorites from cable hits — Matthew Macfayden of “Succession” and Sian Clifford of “Fleabag.” And playing the host of the game show is a a barely recognizable Michael Sheen.

The new two part documentary “Laurel Canyon” (Epix, 9 p.m.) further excavates the musical history of the Los Angeles enclave that produced a lot of great music in the late 60s. Like Jakob Dylan’s film last year, this one begins with the Byrds, but makes room for women like Joni Mitchell and groups like Love and the Monkees. There’s still not much about Zappa, though, except that he signed Alice Cooper. The length (the two hour conclusion is next Sunday) means some extended music from Buffalo Springfield and others.

The series comes on a night when new seasons start for some other game shows, “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC, 8 p.m.), hosted by Steve Harvey; “Press Your Luck” (ABC, 9 p.m.) hosted by Elizabeth Banks, and “Match Game” (ABC, 10 p.m.), hosted by Alec Baldwin.

“Killing Eve” (BBC America, AMC, 9 p.m.) reaches its third season finale, with Konstantin making a break for it.

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Saturday TV: Space Flight, Take Two

SpaceLaunchWeather willing, there will be a countdown and launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, 3 p.m.). The Demo-2 test flight was to have launched Wednesday but was delayed due to lightning near the Kennedy Space Center. It was rescheduled for today, when there ought to be an even bigger audience (on TV only; it’s not open for a public launch viewing). Even the ,broadcast networks will probably run it, since they have no live sports to show anyway. The actual launch, the first for a U.S. spacecraft in nearly nine years, since the final flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2011,  is scheduled for about 3:22 p.m. And if it has to be postponed again, they’ll try once more Sunday at 3 p.m..

“Lucy in the Sky” (HBO, 8 p.m.), the Noah Hawley sci-fi film with Natalie Portman, Zadie Beetz and Jon Hamm,  makes its premium cable debut.

The 30th anniversary of the Lifetime Original Movie is marked with a handful of oldies starting with the 1984 “Death of a Cheerleader” (Lifetime, 11 a.m.) and followed by “No One Would Tell” (Lifetime, 12:30 p.m.), “Stolen By My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story” (Lifetime, 2 p.m.), “Flowers in the Attic” (4 p.m.) and “The Secret Lives of Cheerleaders” (6 p.m.).  It culminates in a new film, “The Captive Nanny” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.), staring Karynn Moore who gets a job with an odd family.

A new season starts for the married Nebraska veterinarians of “Heartland Docs, DVM” (Nat Geo Wild, 8 p.m.), who seek a canine blood donor.

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