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What to Watch on TV This Week

AARP Movies for Grownups Awards, 'The Good Doctor,' the Oscars, 'The Big Bang Theory,' and more

Glenn Close, Richard E. Grant, Frances Fisher, Shirley MacLaine

MICHAEL KOVAC/GETTY IMAGES FOR AARP

From left, Glenn Close, Richard E. Grant, Frances Fisher and Shirley MacLaine take a selfie during AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards ceremony.

AARP Movies for Grownups Awards

(PBS, streaming on pbs.org/gperf and PBS apps)

Watch AARP’s 18th annual Movies for Grownups Awards, coproduced with PBS' Great Performances and filmed at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel earlier this month. You’ll see emotional reunions of Fatal Attraction’s Glenn Close and Michael Douglas, Green Book’s Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Spike Lee, and Kathy Bates and Movies for Grownups career achievement award winner Shirley MacLaine, not to mention emcee (and AARP The Magazine cover subject) Martin Short cracking jokes. It is more fun than the Oscars, boasts many of the same famous attendees and celebrates 2018’s standout films that appeal to grownup viewers and the seasoned artists who represent the best of Hollywood. READ ABOUT MOVIES FOR GROWNUPS AWARDS

Richard Schiff and Freddie Highmore

Jeff Weddell/ABC

Richard Schiff (left) plays the mentor to an autistic surgeon played by Freddie Highmore (right) on ABC's The Good Doctor.

The Good Doctor

(ABC, Feb. 18, 10 p.m. ET, streaming on ABC.com and Hulu)

Even though Freddie Highmore, 27, stars as good doctor Shaun Murphy, the viewership of this excellent series has the highest median age (58.6) of the Top 10-rated shows on TV. It’s an intergenerational show that also features Shaun’s adviser, Dr. Aaron Glassman, played by Richard Schiff, 63. “This relationship between Shaun and Dr. Glassman has to do with mentoring and, essentially, parenting,” Schiff tells AARP. Schiff, who portrayed Toby Ziegler on The West Wing, is trying to reboot that classic show with the original cast. READ RICHARD SCHIFF INTERVIEW 

Sam Rockwell, Frances McDormand, Allison Janney, Gary Oldman

Jean Whiteside/Fox

Last year, over-50 actors had a banner year at the Oscars, with winners including (from left) Sam Rockwell (then 49), Frances McDormand, Allison Janney and Gary Oldman.

91st Academy Awards

(ABC, Feb. 24, 8 p.m. ET)

This year, only six of the 20 acting nominees are 50 or older, but don’t despair — some 50-plus talents are front-runners in the best movie kudos contest besides AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards. After consulting top Hollywood pundits, we predict that these are the most likely grownups to win Oscars this year: Roma's Alfonso Cuarón, 57, who’s got a lock on best director, cinematography and foreign film; Movies for Grownups 2019 winners Glenn Close, 71 (The Wife), for best actress, and Richard E. Grant, 61 (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), for supporting actor; Spike Lee, 61, for writing BlacKkKlansman (AARP honored him for directing it, but we think Cuarón will hog that Oscar); Sandy Powell, 58, for The Favourite’s costumes, and Tony McNamara, 52, and Deborah Davis for writing the screenplay; and Greg Cannom, 68, whose makeup transformed Christian Bale into Dick Cheney in Vice.

Kal Penn hosts Amazon's

Amazon Prime Video

Kal Penn hosts the new Amazon series "This Giant Beast That Is the Global Economy"

This Giant Beast That Is the Global Economy

(Amazon, Feb. 22, streaming thereafter)

Will Ferrell, 51, and Adam McKay, 50, try to repeat the trick McKay pulled with his brilliant hit The Big Short: Turn thoughtful analysis of our terrifyingly complex economic problems into exhilarating entertainment, with the help of interviews with serious experts and comic explanatory videos by big stars (including Ted Danson, 71, and Ed O’Neill, 72). In the first fun and informative episode, host Kal Penn, star of House and Harold & Kumar, and Obama’s associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, explains money laundering. Penn interviews convicted former cash laundryman Felix Sater, who says the best place to hide illegal diamonds is in one’s underwear.

William Shatner and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar guest star on CBS' THE BIG BANG THEORY

Michael Yarish/CBS

William Shatner and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar try to infiltrate the guys' Dungeons & Dragons game on CBS' long-running hit The Big Bang Theory.

The Big Bang Theory

(CBS, Feb. 21, 8 p.m. ET)

The writers of The Big Bang Theory are huge Star Trek fans, and Leonard Nimoy, George Takei and Wil Wheaton have appeared or done voice work on the show. Now, at last, William Shatner, 87, does a guest-star appearance, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 71 — they play themselves, desperately attempting to get into Wheaton’s Dungeons & Dragons game. Viewers will be the winners.

Sammy Davis Jr

Courtesy of The Estate of Altovise Davis

Singer and Rat Pack member Sammy Davis Jr. is among those profiled on PBS' American Masters series during Black History Month.

Black History Month

(PBS, Feb. 19 and Feb. 22, 9 p.m. ET)

The most popular Black History Month programming this week is on American Masters, which you can watch on broadcast (check local listings) or stream on pbs.org/americanmasters. Don't miss the documentaries Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me (Feb. 19, 9 p.m. ET) and a tribute to a baseball star turned country music pioneer, Charley Pride: I’m Just Me (Feb. 22, 9 p.m. ET). READ ABOUT MORE BLACK HISTORY MONTH SHOWS.

Catch Up With

Kelsey Grammer standing at a podium

Jean Whiteside/Fox

Proven Innocent

(Fox, Feb. 22, 9 p.m. ET)

Kelsey Grammer, 63, of Frasier fame, has his most promising series role in years as Chicago crimebuster Gore Bellows, who won fame by imprisoning young Madeline Scott (Rachelle Lefevre) for killing her best friend and now hopes to become attorney general. But Madeline was exonerated, and now she’s a lawyer specializing in righting wrongful convictions, battling Bellows in a court case about a minister’s wife accused of arson. The idea for the show, from Empire creator Danny Strong, is to combine the appeal of a police procedural like NCIS (the No. 1 show for viewers over 65), where one case gets satisfyingly solved each week, and an ongoing mystery that unfolds over the entire season — who killed Madeline’s pal? It’s also powered by the intergenerational clash of grownup Grammer and young Lefevre (who was totally intimidated by her legendary costar). READ KELSEY GRAMMER INTERVIEW

Steve Buscemi holding a globe

Curtis Baker/Turner

Miracle Workers

(TBS, Feb. 12, 10:30 p.m. ET)

In an adaptation of former SNL writer Simon Rich’s comic novel What in God’s Name, Steve Buscemi, 61, portrays God as a slacker who sits around in sweatpants watching TV and drinking beer instead of doing His job at Heaven Inc. In his first TV comedy, Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame) is Craig, an angel in the Department of Answered Prayers. God tells Craig he won’t destroy Earth — but only if Craig can answer the prayers of two shy young lovers who want to get together. Since Heaven Inc. is poorly managed (especially the Department of Volcano Safety), do the lovers have a prayer? Though not as clever as NBC’s afterlife comedy The Good PlaceMiracle Workers has an ambling charm and an impressive cast.

Black Monday

(Showtime, Feb. 24, 10 p.m. ET)

The Avengers star Don Cheadle, 54, is on a career roll, hosting Saturday Night Live for the first time on Feb. 16 and headlining Showtime’s new Wall Street comedy Black Monday, about the 1987 stock market crash. He has a blast playing an obnoxious stockbroker with an ingenious plan that you have to watch the whole season to figure out. READ DON CHEADLE INTERVIEW

Ray Romano

Netflix

Ray Romano: Right Here, Around the Corner

(Netflix, streaming now)

Everybody Loves Raymond star Ray Romano, 61, is making a giant comeback you shouldn’t miss. In his first stand-up comedy special in 23 years, he jokes about marriage, kids and sex in one’s 60s — he’s as funny as ever but with new grownup wisdom. He's also starring in Netflix's odd-couple comedy about terminal cancer, Paddleton, premiering Feb. 22 and featuring Romano as the incredibly irritating and devoted pal of Mark Duplass. And the best series on TV you probably don’t know about is last season’s cult hit Get Shorty (now on Epix and Netflix), with Romano as a B-movie director torn between the FBI and his drug-lord girlfriend (breakout star Lidia Porto, 55, in a funny yet emotionally complex role that ups her game as well as Romano’s). 

Eric McCormack, Megan Mullaly, Sean Hayes

Chris Haston/NBC

Eric McCormack, Megan Mullaly and Sean Hayes in Will and Grace.

Will and Grace

(NBC, Feb. 21, 9:30 p.m. ET)

What made the update of this classic 1998-2006 comedy the most successful reboot of 2017-18? It’s faithful to the old show’s core appeal — the squabbling love of gay and straight best friends — while adding a new theme: becoming a grownup, which Grace (Debra Messing, 50) does not do gracefully. “Hey!” she protests, “I am in my mid-late 40s!” Not too old for a new political career and a grumpy suitor called the West Side Curmudgeon (Friends’ David Schwimmer, 52). Will (Eric McCormack, 55) romances a fellow teacher, Karen (Megan Mullally, 60) is suddenly single, and even Peter Pan-like Jack (Sean Hayes, 48) has a steady. “Who cares if we’re getting older,” Karen tells Will. “We’re both filthy rich! I mean … age is just a number.” 

John Malkovich, ABC Murders

Nick Wall/HBO

John Malkovich takes on the iconic role of Inspector Poirot in the new production of Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders.

The ABC Murders

(Amazon, streaming anytime)

Can anyone but David Suchet play Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot? Yes! Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 Murder on the Orient Express made $353 million, and now John Malkovich, 65, also aces the role of Poirot, as an older man making a comeback. A young detective (Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint) mocks him for dying his goatee black, but soon Poirot lets his gray flag fly, and out-sleuths the whippersnapper in the case of a ladykiller (Eamon Farren) with an even nastier landlady (Harry Potter’s Shirley Henderson, 53). Malkovich’s odd accent sounds like he’s from Malkovichville, Belgium, but he invests the part with more poignant vulnerability than Suchet ever dreamed of. A ripping yarn about a ripper with an alphabet fetish. 

Benedict Cumberbatch,

Nick Wall/HBO

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Dominic Cummings in Brexit.

Brexit

(HBO, streaming anytime)

If you like Benedict Cumberbatch, 42, in Sherlock, check out his performance as a somewhat similarly eccentric Dominic Cummings, in Brexit, the fact-based movie about Britain’s earthshaking vote to leave the European Union. “It puts you in the room where it happens so you understand how it happened,” Cumberbatch told the Los Angeles Times. It’s a ripping true story that could threaten America’s economy, inspired by the irreverent style of Aaron Sorkin’s Moneyball

Conversations with a Killer, Ted Bundy

Courtesy Netflix

Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

(Netflix, streaming anytime)

On the 30th anniversary of the execution of Ted Bundy, who killed at least 30 (and possibly over 100) women, double Emmy winner and Oscar nominee Joe Berlinger unveils the four-part Bundy documentary Conversations With a Killer on Netflix as well as the theatrical film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron as Bundy, premiering Jan. 26 at the Sundance Film Festival. Bundy sparked America’s obsession with serial killers because none better impersonated a normal person: handsome, smart, well-spoken, head of opposition research for Washington Gov. Dan Evans, who wrote letters of recommendation for him for law school. He dated eminent women in Seattle and fooled its elite establishment. It’s horribly fascinating to see and hear him “speculate” on the motives behind “the killer” he won’t admit was him: “Murder leaving a person of this type hungry, unfulfilled, would also leave him with the obviously irrational belief that, the next time he did it, he would be fulfilled.” 

Link Wray

Courtesy of Bruce Steinberg, courtesy of LinkWray.com

Guitarist Link Wray

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World

(PBS, streaming anytime)

Not just another rock-history rehash, this documentary opens ears and minds to a fresh topic: the Native American impact on popular music. Take Jimi Hendrix, who raided the vaudeville performer’s trunk of his part-Cherokee grandma for feathered hats and fringed coats. Or guitarist Link Wray, the inventor of the power chord in the instrumental “Rumble” — which Steven Van Zandt calls “the theme song of juvenile delinquency” — the only song without words ever banned for inciting teen gang violence, and the one that inspired the Who’s existence, and Eric Clapton. A must-see for any grownup who calls himself or herself a rock fan. 

richard dreyfuss, andie macdowell, chevy chase

Patti Perret/Netflix

RIchard Dreyfuss, Andie MacDowell and Chevy Chase hit the road together in The Last Laugh.

The Last Laugh

(Netflix, streaming anytime)

If you couldn’t get enough of The Kominsky Method, has Netflix got a movie for you. Like the streaming service’s Golden Globe-winning sitcom, The Last Laugh concerns a show-biz veteran and his handler — only instead of Kominsky’s Michael Douglas, 74, and Alan Arkin, 84, as an acting teacher and his agent, it’s Richard Dreyfuss, 71, and Chevy Chase, 75, as a former comedian and his manager.

When they meet up again in a senior-living community, the duo decide they’re not ready for retirement and hit the road. The script, by director Greg Pritikin (Dummy), can be as hackneyed as some of Dreyfuss’ stand-up material, but the movie coasts along, fueled by the Grumpy Old Men-style friction between its two leads.

Halfway through the 97-minute running time, Andie MacDowell, 60, turns up as a hippie love interest for Chase. She proves as well-suited to him as she was to his Saturday Night Live successor, Bill Murray, 68, in 1993’s Groundhog Day.

Another SNL alum, Chris Parnell, 51, contributes a surprisingly strong dramatic turn as Dreyfuss’ befuddled son. The plot takes a maudlin twist in the final half-hour, but then the movie rallies to the finish line thanks to the sardonic addition of The Daily Show’s curmudgeon Lewis Black, 70, as a stand-up guy who gives Dreyfuss a really big break.

In the end, despite the film’s flaws, you can’t help rooting for Dreyfuss and Chase. Guess they really do get the last laugh. —Bruce Fretts (B.F)

Jenna Coleman,

ITV Pic for Masterpiece

Jenna Colemand returns as the title character in the PBS Masterpiece series Victoria.

Victoria, Season 3

(PBS, Sundays at 9 p.m. ET)

In the third season of this PBS breakout hit, riots and a forbidden upstairs-downstairs royal romance break out, Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) is about to get fed up with pregnancies, and Victoria gets a surprise houseguest: her impoverished, long-lost half-sister (Kate Fleetwood), who’s fled the continent along with lots of royals — because it’s 1848, and mobs are bellowing revolution. “My people love me,” Victoria says, and it’s true. But even her loyal seamstress is a Chartist who's demanding democracy. Haughty Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox) says to crush the upstarts; Prince Albert (Tom Hughes), shocked by slum conditions, says save them or they’ll crush the crown. And get out of town before they behead us! 

Sandra Bullock walking through woods with two children

Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Sandra Bullock finds herself playing a mother and going on an unthinkable journey in "Bird Box."

Bird Box

(Netflix, streaming anytime)

In Netflix's biggest hit flick (also showing at some theaters), Sandra Bullock, 54, strives to save her kids from monsters so scary, if you look at them, you kill yourself — except for a few zombie types who try to convince others to look at the monsters and die. So normal people wear blindfolds outdoors and hide inside with random survivors, arguing about whether to open the door to the screaming people outside. A jerk (John Malkovich, 65) wants to keep them out — selfish but wise. Bullock makes a super-tense supply run in a car with blacked-out windows, using GPS and motion sensors to avoid flaming cars and corpses, and returns with groceries and caged birds, who chirp alarms when monsters approach.

Bruce Springsteen

Kevin Mazur/Netflix

Springsteen on Broadway

(Netflix, streaming anytime)

People who wangled tickets to Bruce Springsteen’s live show — the most popular one-man show in Broadway history (though his wife Patti joins in on two numbers) — put them on sale for as much as $40,000 apiece, but you get the best seat in the house if you watch it on Netflix. In fact, the closeups make it more intimate than it could be in the 947-seat Walter Kerr Theatre. It’s not just a filmed concert. He frames his immortal tunes with stories about his life, and the lives he celebrates in the songs — such as the friends killed in Vietnam who inspired “Born in the USA.” Face it: this show is born to run (at least on TV) forever.

Joaquín Cosío, Diego Luna, Horacio Garcia Rojas

Carlos Somonte/Netflix

Narcos: Mexico

(Netflix, streaming anytime, 10 episodes)

The fact-based and wildly dramatic hit series about the evolution of the Mexican drug trade in the 1980s features two parallel characters: Kiki Camarena (Michael Pena), an ambitious agent with the brand-new, underfunded, outgunned DEA, and his cold-eyed quarry, Felix Gallardo (Diego Luna), the innovative ex-cop who united Mexico’s quarrelsome regional drug smugglers and corrupt police, planted a marijuana field in the desert big enough to spot from outer space, and expanded into the cocaine business. The supporting players are terrific: Kiki’s jaded DEA colleague (Mad Men’s eye-patch guy Aaron Staton), the Eliot Ness of Mexico (Julio Cesar Cedillo), Felix’s wise older adviser Don Neto (Joaquin Cosio), and his hothead associate (Tenoch Huerto) who abducts a spoiled rich girl who decides to stay abducted. It’s fresh and original, not just another gangster show.

Julia Roberts, Stephan James in

Jessica Brooks/Amazon

Homecoming

(Amazon Prime, streaming anytime, 8 episodes)

Julia Roberts, 51, plays Heidi Bergman, who works for the ghostly Geist Group counseling returning veterans from Middle East wars. Bobby Cannavale is great as her slick MBA-like supervisor, and Boardwalk Empire’s Shea Whigham is indefatigable as a Defense Department investigator trying to figure out what Geist was up to. But a mystery crops up when the sleuth tries to find the answer — Heidi quits her job, becomes a waitress, and seems to have no memory of her dark past. This mystery will grab you and not let go.

Rachel Brosnahan

Nicole Rivelli/Amazon Prime Video

Rachel Brosnahan as the sassy title character in season 2 of Amazon's Emmy-winning The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

(Amazon, Season 2, streaming anytime, 10 episodes)

Amazon’s critical darling — Mrs. Maisel took home awards for best comedy series at the Golden Globes and the Emmys this past year — returns for its 10-episode sophomore season with its candy color palette and winningly profane humor intact and actually improving. The new season revolves around its title character (Rachel Brosnahan, reigning Emmy winner for best actress in a comedy) as she tries to climb up the New York standup-comedy-circuit ladder while still juggling her duties as a 1950s not-quite-housewife and mom. Creator and writer Amy Sherman-Palladino (also an Emmy winner for Season 1 — are you sensing a pattern here?) has a gift for rat-a-tat dialogue and dry humor, and it’s still shining through. With a stellar ensemble that includes Alex Borstein, 47, and Tony Shalhoub, 65, Mrs. Maisel remains a marvel. — Austin O'Connor (A.O.)

James Cromwell, J.K. Simmons

Michael Moriatis/Starz

James Cromwell (left) joins the cast alongside J.K. Simmons (right) in Starz' sci-fi thriller Counterpart.

Counterpart

(Starz, Season 2, Sundays at 9 p.m., Season 1 streaming anytime)

If you’re trying to convince someone to take a chance on this spiffy, underseen sci-fi spy series, you can whittle your argument down to one person: J.K. Simmons. It’s no secret he’s gifted: Simmons, 63, won an Oscar in 2015 for his flashy turn as a borderline berserk music teacher in Whiplash. But in Counterpart, he may have his most interesting role ever — actually, make that roles. He plays Howard Silk, a docile, long-serving, anonymous United Nations worker stationed in Berlin. He also plays Howard Silk, a snarling field agent for the murky Office of Interchange, also in Berlin. The two Silks exist in parallel universes, separated by a portal created by East German scientists during the Cold War. It’s as trippy and twisty as it sounds, but watching Simmons move seamlessly between two versions of a character with diametrically different personality types is a wonder. James Cromwell, 78, comes aboard in a guest role for Season 2 — newcomers should binge-watch the first season to get up to its sometimes-dizzying speed. — A.O.

Alan Arkin, Michael Douglas

Mike Yarish/Netflix

Alan Arkin (left) and Michael Douglas star in the new Netflix series The Kominsky Method.

The Kominsky Method

(Netflix, streaming anytime, 8 episodes)

TV’s best grownup comedy in years — a creative breakthrough for super-showrunner Chuck Lorre, 66 (The Big Bang Theory) — stars Michael Douglas, 74, as an actor whose career isn’t going as well as his former acting students' (Diane Keaton, 72, and Jessica Lange, 69) or his doctor's (Danny De Vito, 73), who says, “It’s a great time to be a urologist!” But he has a wonderfully sardonic agent and best friend (Alan Arkin, 84), and they make a team more delightful than Grumpy Old Men’s Lemmon and Matthau or Grace and Frankie’s Fonda and Tomlin. It captures the sardonic humor with which most people regard aging, and the laughs are rooted in poignant loss and grief, too. It’s terrific, Arkin’s best work since Little Miss Sunshine and as good as anything Douglas has done this century. READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL DOUGLAS

Richard Madden, Keeley Hawes

Sophie Mutevelian/World Productions/Netflix

Game of Thrones vet Richard Madden (left) plays the title character of the Netflix drama Bodyguard, assigned to protect the British Home Secretary played by Keeley Hawes.

Bodyguard

(Netflix, streaming anytime, six episodes)

The best show on TV this week is Britain’s most popular show since Downton Abbey and its best crime-thriller export since Killing Eve. Brooding hunk Richard Madden (Robb Stark on Game of Thrones) plays a PTSD-afflicted Afghanistan vet guarding (and bedding) the Homeland Secretary, the top U.K. security official (Keeley Hawes, Line of Duty). She’s an utterly scary person who’s terrified as mysterious people try to assassinate her. But in a paranoid plot a bit like The Wrong Man, it’s not clear whom the bodyguard should fear most, her, the assassins, terrorists who put bomb vests on innocent citizens, or the various police and secret service officials maneuvering to outwit each other and set him up as the fall guy. This show will kill off anybody, and keeps you guessing as the tension inexorably ratchets up and the bodyguard gets more and more traumatized. The first and last episodes boast suicide-bomber scenes as nail-bitingly riveting as The Hurt Locker. It’s as gripping and gratifyingly twisty as Homeland was at its peak, and unlike way too many streaming shows, the six-hour drama is tightly plotted, as if viewers’ time were valuable.

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