Friday TV: About Robert Downey the Elder

Robert Downey Jr. helped produce the stylish new film biography about his father, the actor and experimental filmmaker Robert Downey Sr., who made films like “Putney Swope” before he died in July 2021 at 85.  Chris Smith directed the film, titled “Sr.” (Netflix, streaming). 

The soapy new international series set in London, “Riches” (Amazon Prime, streaming) could be considered a Black “Succession.” as family members fight for a successful Black cosmetics company. But it plays like a classic Shondaland drama since it’s written by one of their own, the Nigerian-born Abby Ajayi. Deborah Ayorinde leads the large cast that includes Brendan Coyle (Mr. Bates from “Downton Abbey”) and as the presumed heavy, Sarah Niles (the team shrink from “Ted Lasso”). 

Alfred Molina stars as Chief Inspector Armand Ganache in the new detective series set in Quebec, “Three Pines” (Amazon Prime, streaming), based on Louise Penny’s mystery novels. 

Emma Corrin and Matthew Duckett star in a new film adaptation of the D.H. Lawrence novel “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (Netflix, streaming). Jack O’Connell also stars in the steamy costume drama.

The animated feature “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules” (Disney+, streaming) follows the second book in Jeff Kinney’s series about an inept middle schooler. Brady Noon, Hunter Dillon and Ed Asner, in one of his final roles, lend their voices. 

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Remembering Christine McVie, 1943-2022

When I interviewed her in 1984, an astounding 38 years ago, she was just on tour on the heels of her solo hit “Got a Hold on Me.” 

She had established herself as a solid component to what had become a wildly successful band, Fleetwood Mac. Behind Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham, the shiny American couple at the forefront of the reconstituted old British band — she was the longstanding melodic keyboardist, songwriter and soulful vocalist who would provide some of the band’s best loved songs.  

At the time, however, she made clear that a career in music was something she stumbled into, though she grew up in a musical family in Birmingham, England. Her grandfather had played organ at Westminster Abbey. Her father spent years attaining a degree to teach music and played violin in a local ensemble. 

As a girl she got piano lessons. “I absolutely hated it,” she told me. “And my parents let me stop.”

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Thursday TV: Dolly’s Movie About a Special

“Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas” (NBC, 8 pm.) may sound like a nolliday variety special, but it’s actually a movie musical about the making of such a special. Along the way, its stars will sing “9 to 5” and “I Will Always Love You” and introduce songs from friends Willie Nelson, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmie Allen, Billy Ray Cyrus and his daughter Miley Cyrus.

A completely different singer gets a bio documentary, metal singer Ronnie James Did in “DIO: Dreamers Never Die” (Showtime, 8 p.m.). 

The new film “Troll” (Netflix, streaming) isn’t animated; it’s a live action adventure film about a creature that awakens in the fjords and is threatening Oslo. 

The new film “The Territory” (National Geographic, 10 p.m.) looks at the efforts of indigenous people in Brazil against the encroachment of deforestation by farmers and illegal settlers. 

Not about the entertainment city in Missouri, the four-part “Branson” (HBO, 10 p.m.) is actually a documentary series about the entrepreneur and adventurer Richard Branson. 

The second season of the rebooted “Gossip Girl” (HBO Max, streaming) begins. 

“Wicked City” (ALLBLK, streaming) is a new series about five witches in Atlanta. It premieres alongside the new “Hush” (ALLBLK, streaming), a celebrity relationship fixer (Joyful Drake), who is threatened when a dead body is found. 

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Wednesday TV: ‘Willow’ Becomes a Series

Warwick Davis and Joanne Whalley reprise their roles from the 1988 fantasy flick for the new series that shares the same name, “Willow” (Disney+, streaming) that others introduces a whole new cast for the fantasy world.

Colin Donnell plays an American who, in fleeing the mob in the U.S., travels to Australia and takes on the guise of a pastor in the new series “Irreverent” (Peacock, streaming), co-produced with Netflix Australia.

Twelve chefs are charged with recreating the world’s best-known snacks in the new competition series “Snack vs. Chef” (Netflix, streaming). Megan Stalter and Hart Kondabolu host. 

“Take Your Pills: Xanax” (Netflix, streaming) is a documentary about the widely-prescribed 

An other international dating experiment with strangers begins on the new “Love Without Borders” (Bravo, 9 p.m.), on which five American singles fly to a surprise location to meet possible mates.

“The Masked Singer” (Fox, 8 p.m.) crowns a winner to its eighth season (and unmasks them) in a two hour finale that will include other performers this season.

Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Jimmie Allen, Andrea Bocelli and Alicia Keys are all slated t perform at The 90th Annual Christmas in Rockefeller Center (NBC, 8 p.m.), where the Rockets and the Muppets will also appear. Hosting will be Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Craig Melvin and Mario Lopez. 

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Tuesday TV: ‘Meet Me in the Bathroom’

The documentary “Meet Me in the Bathroom” (Showtime, 10 p.m.) chronicles the New York rock scene of about 20 years ago, when reigning bands included the Strokes, pictured above, as well as LCD Soundsystem, Interpol and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. 

A model seeks answers about sexuality — her own and that of society — in the new six-part series “Planet Sex with Cara Delevingne” (Hulu, streaming). 

My So-Called High School Rank” (HBO, 9 p.m.) documents one high school’s effort to put the pressure of having a perfect academic record into a musical they’re producing. 

One of the biggest early matches in the World Cup, awash in political import as well, is U.S. vs. Iran (Fox, 2 p.m.). The winner advances. Earlier games include Ecuador vs. Senegal (Fox Sports 1, 10 a.m.), Netherlands vs. Qatar (Fox, 10 p.m.) and Wales vs. England (Fox Sports 1, 2 p.m.). 

The true crime “Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields” (Netflix, streaming) looks at a series of killings and disappearances in the oil fields between Houston and Galveston. 

Pianist Arthur Hanlon, whose first concert special was a hit, returns with “Piano y Mujer II” (HBO Max, streaming), featuring a line of Latin singers, including Ivy Queen, Catalina Garcia, Debi Nova and Lupita Infante. 

“Behind the Music” (Paramount+, streaming) is revived with new subjects, including Jennifer Lopez, Boy George, Remy Ma and Jason Aldean. 

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Capital Radio, 11-28: Good Night, Irene

We recall the music of Irene Cara, Louise Tobin and Wilko Johnson after reports of their deaths last week.  But we also celebrate the birthdays of Bruce Channel (82), Berry Gordy Jr. (93) and especially Randy Newman (79), from whom we hear a handful of his recordings as well as a generous selection of his early songs as recorded by artists as diverse as Gene Pitney, Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, Eric Burdon and the Tokens.

Today is also the anniversary of the first transmission of what would become the Grand Ole Opry, so we hear from some of their earliest featured acts — DeFord Bailey, Uncle Dave Macon, Bill Monroe and Hank Williams — some of them in recordings from the Grand Ole Opry stage. 

Marked Cyber Monday with some electronica and some songs of late November, though eventually closed with some swinging Nutcracker. Before then, some new things from Morrissey, Elvis Costello and more from Bruce Springsteen’s soul turn and The Beatles’ “Revolver” reissue. 

Here’s a link to the whole show; the playlist follows: 

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Monday TV: Electric Bills Go Way, Way Up

The holidays are here, so let’s start the fighting. “The Great Christmas Light Fight” (ABC, 9 p.m.) returns for its 10th season with a pair of episodes touring the most overdone holiday lighting displays in America. Carter Oosterhouse and Taniya Nayak are judges. 

The new series “Southern Hospitality” (Bravo, 8 p.m.), a spinoff of “Southern Charm,” follows Leva Bonaparte as she runs a joint in Charleston. 

Another woman running a seaside town restaurant is a private investigator on the side in the crime drama “Whitstable Pearl” (Acorn TV, streaming). Howard Charles also stars.

“Basketball Wives” star Shaunie O’Neal marries her Houston-based pastor fiancé in an Anguilla ceremony the new series “Shaunie & Keion’s Destination ‘I Do’” (VH1, 9 p.m.). 

“The Voice” (NBC, 8 p.m.) has the Top 10 perform songs selected by fans. 

A second season finale comes for the raucous space comedy “Avenue 5” (HBO, 10 p.m.). 

“The Good Doctor” (ABC, 10 p.m.) helps deliver sextuplets. 

The recently-premiered Peacock comedy “Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin” (NBC, 10 p.m.) gets a broadcast showcase.

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Sunday TV: When Bruce Visited Howard

The Halloween session went so well on SiriusXM, with the host curbing his bluster enough to allow the subject to be more expansive than usual that the two hour filmed exchange, “The Howard Stern Interview: Bruce Springsteen” (HBO, 10 p.m.) is now a Sunday night showcase on premium cable, right after the latest episode of “The White Lotus” (HBO, 9 p.m.). The Boss talks about his new album of soul covers but also takes up an acoustic guitar and sits behind a piano to break down some of his best known anthems, from “Thunder Road” to “Born to Run.” 

The smart series “This is Life with Lisa Ling” (CNN, 10 p.m.) returns for its ninth and final season. First up is the use of technology in human intimacy.

“Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts” (TBS, 8 p.m.) is a two hour special marking what exactly? 2002 was the date of the second Potter movie. 

As a concept, it’s about as dumb as anything else in reality dating shows. The new “Written in the Stars” (Discovery+, streaming) uses astrologers to help couples find love. 

Sunday Night Football has Green Bay at Philadelphia (NBC, 8:20 p.m.). Earlier games include Atlanta at Washington (Fox, 1 p.m.), Baltimore at Jacksonville (CBS, 1 p.m.) and Rams at Kansas City (Fox, 4:15 p.m.).

The sheer volume of Christmas movies — which will number in the hundreds this year — warrants a documentary overlook of the phenomenon. Tom Hanks’ production company puts one together, “’Tis the Season: The Holidays on Screen” (CNN, 8 p.m.) that will concentrate on analyzing the classics (will he include his own starring role in “The Polar Express”?).

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The Kansas City Ballet’s Own Nutcracker

Like the growing Christmas tree, the grand Tchaikovsky score and the sparkle on the snow queens, there are certain things audiences expect from their annual viewing of “The Nutcracker,” and the Kansas City Ballet production of it currently at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, provides most of them.

If the sight of small children tumbling from the petticoats of Mother Ginger is delightful, why not add the impossibly cute children in as many scenes as possible – as lambs among the Marzipan, substitute soldiers in the battle against the rodents; why not the mice themselves?

The company production choreographed by artistic director Devon Carney does all that and more, even briefly presenting child versions of the costumed dancers from Spain, Arabia and China in act one, shortly after seeing a puppet theater that had all the same anticipated costumed dancers represented as well. It’s a nifty foreshadowing of what everyone knows will be coming, one of a few variations in the production.

Chief of them, possibly, is beginning the production not in the decked-out halls of the family parlor Christmas party, but in the well-appointed workshop of the ever-mysterious Dr. Drosselmeier. There, with his eyepatch and ponytail, the doctor devises the various dolls that will enchant the young partygoers – the pair of mechanical dancers (Sidney Heafs and Joshua Kiesel), the stiff Nutcracker prince (Joshua Bodden) and — why not? — a big floppy Dancing Bear (Ben Zusi).

With a flourish of magic (and hiding behind the book cases), he turns the lifesize dancers into doll-sizes for easier transport and packaging before his arrival at the party.

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Saturday TV: The Soul Train Music Awards

It’s Beyonce vs. Mary J. Blige at the Soul Train Music Awards 2022 (BET, MTV, VHI, Logo, 8 p.m.) where the two are tied for most nominations with seven each. Deon Cole, above, hosts; performers include Ari Lennox, Chanté Moore, J. Valentine, Muni Long, SiR, Tank, Coco Jones and Q. A pre-show runs at 7.

Also tonight is Byron Allen presents theGrio Awards (CBS, 8 p.m.) co-hosted by Sheryl Underwood and Taye Diggs. Honorees include Dave Chappelle, Ben Crump, Allyson Felix, Jennifer Hudson, Patti LaBelle, Queen Latifah, Tyler Perry, Norman Lear and Kenan Thompson. Performers include Yolanda Adams, Tyrese, Fantasia and Patti Labelle. Greg Phillinganes is musical director. 

Prime time college football has Notre Dame at Southern California (ABC, 730 p.m.) and Kansas at Kansas State (Fox, 8 p.m.). Earlier games are listed below.

The most successful new network sitcom is discussed on the special “Oprah and Quinta Brunson: Abbott Elementary“ (OWN, 9 p.m.). 

“Life in Color with David Attenborough” (BBC America, 8 p.m.) continues its survey.

The Holts go to the beach on “Love & Marriage Huntsville” (OWN, 8 p.m.). 

Two recent films making their premium cable premiere are Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling” (HBO, 8 p.m.) with Harry Styles and Florence Pugh; and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (Showtime, 9 p.m.) with Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis.  

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