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What to Watch on TV Now

Robbie Robertson teaches in 'Native America,' plus 'Ray Donovan' and 'The Woman in White'

Zuni story keeper Octavius Seowtewa returns to the Grand Canyon, place of his people's emergence from the earth.

Courtesy of Providence Pictures

Zuni story keeper Octavius Seowtewa returns to the Grand Canyon, place of his people's emergence from the earth, on the new PBS documentary "Native America."

What's New

Native America

(PBS, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 9 p.m. ET, Oct. 30, Nov. 13, check local listings, stream anytime on pbs.org/nativeamerica or pbs apps)

Martin Scorsese’s best pal Robbie Robertson, 75, isn’t just the Band’s frontman, he’s a filmmaker, author of a book on the real Hiawatha, and narrator of this smart four-part documentary on the first Americans, including Robertson’s own tribes (Mohawk and Cayuga, whose Iroquois Confederation was a model for the U.S. Constitution). He takes you into a recently discovered cave directly beneath the center of a ruined temple, with a ceiling whose glowing minerals symbolize the night sky, and shows how it linked ancient cities bigger than 19th-century New York in a geographic and astronomical grid system. It’s a fun, fascinating history lesson. Watch the exclusive clip below. INTERVIEW WITH ROBBIE ROBERTSON

Returning

Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan

Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME

Liev Schreiber plays the title character on Showtime's "Ray Donovan," which shifts from Los Angeles to New York for its sixth season.

Ray Donovan

(Showtime, Sunday, Oct. 28 at 9 p.m. ET, streaming thereafter)

After show creator Ann Biderman, 67, left her macho-yet-sensitive show about two-fisted L.A. fixer Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber, 51) and his convict dad (Jon Voight, 79) in 2014, it was time for some fresh energy. It gets some as Season 6 begins, and Ray has moved to New York, where a cop rescues him from his suicidal dive into the East River. But he’s still carrying a baseball bat and working for homicidal media mogul Samantha Winslow (Susan Sarandon, 72). The show remains proof of what Hollywood Reporter critic Tim Goodman said when the show premiered: “Ann Biderman (Southland, Primal Fear) has absolutely obliterated the ridiculous industry standard that you have to be some young talented thing to make an impact. She’s created the most testosterone-fueled, rough and intelligent drama in ages.”

Catch Up With

Art Malik, Doug Ray Scott

Courtesy of The Woman in White Productions Ltd. / Steffan Hill / Origin Pictures

Art Malik (left) and Dougray Scott star in the new PBS production of "The Woman in White."

The Woman in White

(PBS, Oct. 21- Nov. 18, check local listings, stream anytime on pbs.org/americanmasters)

Wilkie Collins wrote this, considered the first mystery ever written, in 1859, and PBS's new five-part series makes it gripping still. Who is the woman escaped from the mental asylum who encounters a young painting teacher (Ben Hardy, Bohemian Rhapsody) one night? Can wicked Sir Percival Glyde (Dougray Scott, Mission: Impossible 2) thwart the painter's love for a young student? And what will the difficult uncle of his students (Charles Dance, 72, Game of Thrones) do to improve the situation — or worsen it? 

John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and cast of

Robert Trachtenberg/ABC

John Goodman, center, and the revamped cast of Roseanne spinoff The Conners.

The Conners

(ABC, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 8 p.m. ET)

Roseanne is gone from the show about the Conner family. So? AARP Movies for Grownups award winner Laurie Metcalf, 63, is apt to throw off livelier sparks with her new high-IQ boyfriend (Treme’s Steve Zahn, 50) than she was trading stale anti-Trump jibes with Roseanne. Darlene (Sara Gilbert), whose ex (Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki) has a new squeeze (Juliette Lewis), gets her groove back with a new guy (Justin Long of Dodgeball). Give the greatest show about blue-collar Americans a second chance. FULL REVIEW

Michael Cudlitz and Mary McCormack (far right) in ABC's

Tony Rivetti/ABC

Michael Cudlitz and Mary McCormack are raising 8 boys in the '70s-era sitcom The Kids Are Alright.

The Kids Are Alright

(ABC, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Roseanne and Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing producer Tim Doyle, 59, narrates his show inspired by his childhood in 1972 as “an awesome time to be a kid: Bike helmets hadn’t been invented yet ... or seatbelts, or nutrition, or even normal adult supervision." Dad (The Walking Dead’s Michael Cudlitz, 53), "was busy with his defense job, keeping our neighborhood safe from North Vietnamese invasion.” And Mom (The West Wing’s Mary McCormack, 49) had eight sons to deal with. A show for grownups seeking a childhood flashback.

Nathan Fillion as cop John Nolan on an LA street.

Eric McCandless/ABC

Nathan Fillion plays the LAPD's oldest-ever first-year cop in The Rookie.

The Rookie

(ABC, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 10 p.m. ET)

Charming as Remington Steele, Nathan Fillion, 47, was better than his old show Castle, and he’s a wish-fulfillment dream in this loosely fact-inspired show about LAPD’s oldest newbie cop, whose boss calls him “a walking midlife crisis,” a middle-aged loser “looking for some kinda Eat, Pray, Love path to reinvention.” But in exciting cop-action scenes, he proves him wrong. This show is a win for grownups, and Fillion’s charm only grows. READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH NATHAN FILLION

Tim Allen, Nancy Travis, Christoph Sanders

FOX

Tim Allen, Nancy Travis and Christoph Sanders in "Last Man Standing."

Last Man Standing

(Fox, Fridays at 8 p.m. ET)

Tim Allen, 65, comes back big-time with his show, booted from ABC but entirely intact. The jokes land, and Allen has something to say about everybody’s politically squabbling clans — from his right-wing perspective, a trifle obnoxiously, but his smugness is why it’s funny, and lots of left-ier comedy fans will laugh, too. It’s mostly just about a family, like the 2018 Roseanne reboot, and it’s every giggle as good. 

Joe Regalbuto, Grant Shaud, Candice Bergen, and Faith Ford

Jojo Whilden/CBS

Joe Regalbuto, Grant Shaud, Candice Bergen, and Faith Ford return in the reboot of "Murphy Brown" on CBS.

Murphy Brown

(CBS, Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. ET)

Assiduously political, left-leaning TV newswoman Murphy (Candice Bergen, 72) is back, with the original producer and core cast of her 1988-1998 smash. And her child (Jake McDorman) is now her rival on a Fox-like network. Bergen is a bit political, but here are five reasons she’s not like Murphy Brown.

(l-r) Eric McCormack as Will Truman, Debra Messing as Grace Adler, Sean Hayes as Jack McFarland, Alec Baldwin as Malcolm Widmark, Megan Mullally as Karen Walker

Chris Haston/NBC

Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes, Alec Baldwin and Megan Mullally in "Will & Grace."

Will & Grace

(NBC, Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET)

One of the better TV reboots is back, and talk about awkward! Now Will (Eric McCormack, 55) and Grace (Debra Messing, 50) are step-siblings, thanks to the marriage of their widowed parents (Blythe Danner, 75, and Robert Klein, 76). Alec Baldwin, 60, plays the swain of Karen (Megan Mullally, 59), and Friends' David Schwimmer, 51, is courting Grace. 

Ted Danson, D'Arcy Carden

Justin Lubin/NBC

Ted Danson and D'Arcy Carden in "The Good Place."

The Good Place

(NBC, Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET)

Ted Danson, 70, is bound to get his 16th Emmy nomination as the supernatural being in charge of four humans in the afterlife in TV’s smartest, least predictable hit. In the third season, he beams back to Earth, prevents their deaths and tries to see if he can manipulate them into becoming good people. Odd? Yes, but if you watch this, you’ll be a better person — and laugh more.

Vicki Lawrence, Martin Mull, David Alan Grier, and Leslie Jordan

Patrick McElhenney/FOX

Vicki Lawrence, Martin Mull, David Alan Grier, and Leslie Jordan in "The Cool Kids."

The Cool Kids

(Fox, Fridays at 8:30 p.m. ET)

Roseanne’s Martin Mull, 75, David Alan Grier, 62, Leslie Jordan, 63, and Carol Burnett Show veteran Vicki Lawrence, 69, vie for social supremacy at the Shady Meadows retirement home, which is as unruly as any high school. “History is the best thing about getting old. You know stuff that young people don’t know,” Lawrence told the TV Critics Association. These four know as much about classic comedy as anyone alive.

James Franco in HBO's

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

James Franco does double duty as the twin Martino brothers on HBO's "The Deuce."

The Deuce

(HBO, streaming anytime)

At the moment, the best show on TV is this epic about New York’s 1977 porn biz, with Maggie Gyllenhaal as a hooker-turned-filmmaker (the greatest performance of her illustrious career) and James Franco playing two brothers in the vice trade, one responsible, the other entertainingly shiftless and stealing from the first. The whole cast gets remarkably deep character arcs, and it brings 1977 back alive. This show is totally addictive.

Wendell Pierce and John Krasinsi in

Jan Thijs/Amazon/Paramount

Wendell Pierce (left) plays James Greer, the boss and mentor of Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) in Amazon's new "Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan."

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

(Amazon, streaming anytime)

Understandably, everybody’s been raving about John Krasinski’s transformation from nice guy on The Office to CIA analyst turned field officer Jack Ryan. But as his partner/mentor, Wendell Pierce, 54, may be the more impressive terrorist hunter. You’ve seen Pierce as Baltimore Detective Bunk Moreland on The Wire, as trombonist Antoine Batiste on Treme and as powerhouse attorney Robert Zane on Suits, but you’ve never seen him this tough and subtle. He makes being grownup look cool. FULL REVIEW

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