(Fox, Feb. 15, 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
(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 Place, Miracle Workers has an ambling charm and an impressive cast.
MICHAEL KOVAC/GETTY IMAGES FOR AARP
AARP Movies for Grownups Awards
(PBS, Feb. 15, 9 p.m. ET, streaming thereafter on pbs.org/gperf and PBS apps)
Tune in to 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’s more fun than the Oscars and boasts many of the same famous attendees, and it 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
Catch Up With
(Showtime, Feb. 17, 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
One Day at a Time
(Netflix, streaming anytime)
TV for Grownups Award-winner Norman Lear’s brilliantly rebooted show comes back for Season 3 with a big-news guest star: Gloria Estefan, 61, as Mirta, the kid sister of Lydia (Rita Moreno, 87), together for a family funeral. They’ve feuded for 20 years over their grandma’s mantilla (a lace wedding veil handed down through generations), which Lydia thinks Mirta — whom she calls “la diabla [devil]” — stole. (Sounds unlikely — but in co-showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett’s real family, there were two such lost-mantilla fights.) Estefan and Moreno make beautiful comedy music together and — though Lydia snipes, “She sings like a donkey!” — they harmonize gorgeously on “Ave Maria.” Beneath the jokes, there are serious issues about family dynamics and aging: Lydia keeps her mild stroke a secret, terrified people will think she’s old, but she wants the whole clan to know about Mirta's gray roots. Their rivalrous dance competition proves Moreno is still light on her feet — though Lydia says la diabla Mirta is “light on her hooves.”
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).
Margaret: The Rebel Princess
(PBS, Feb. 17, 10 p.m. ET, check local listings)
While you wait for the upcoming Season 3 of The Crown, starring Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth’s wild-child sister Princess Margaret, meet the genuine article in a two-part PBS documentary with historical footage and insights from her friends, press frenemies and lady-in-waiting. “Margaret was friends with a lot of people the royal family hadn’t been friends with,” says one — like the Rolling Stones, Peter Sellers, Britt Eklund and Margaret’s bisexual genius photographer husband Lord Snowdon, who shot Queen Elizabeth’s portrait and the cover for Queen’s Greatest Hits album in 1981. “Half of Margaret wanted to be a bohemian,” says a friend. “The other half wanted to be royal.” Royally entertaining!
Courtesy of The Estate of Altovise Davis
American Masters Black History Month
(PBS, throughout February, check local listings)
PBS has scads of good Black History Month shows, such as Finding Your Roots with host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET). But some of the best are the documentaries on the terrific American Masters, which you can watch on broadcast (check local listings), streaming on pbs.org/americanmasters, on PBS apps or on DVD. Now available: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise (streaming until Feb. 18); B.B. King: The Life of Riley, and Fats Domino and the Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll. Coming up: 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).
Will and Grace
(NBC, Feb. 14, 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.”
Courtesy Turner/Team Coco
(TBS, weeknights, 11 p.m. ET)
Late night’s longest-reigning star, Conan O’Brien, 55, returns with a new half-hour show. This week’s guests: Nikki Glaser (Feb. 11), Daniel Radcliffe (Feb. 12), Jay Baruchel (Feb. 13), Aubrey Plaza (Feb. 14). READ OUR FULL REVIEW.
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.
(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: 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.”
Courtesy of Bruce Steinberg, courtesy of LinkWray.com
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.
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)
True Detective, Season 3
(HBO, Sundays at 9 p.m. ET, then on demand)
True Detective is on a thrilling creative comeback after last year's disappointing season. Mahershala Ali, 44, plays an Arkansas state policeman over three different time periods. In 1980, he investigates the disappearance of a young brother and sister. In 1990, new evidence suggests a miscarriage of justice. And in 2015, a documentary filmmaker interviews him on the case as he struggles with the onset of dementia. It's a remarkable performance that should earn him an Emmy to go with his Moonlight Oscar. (And he could win another Oscar for Green Book.) Stephen Dorff, 45, does career-best work as his deeply loyal partner. —B.F.
ITV Pic for Masterpiece
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!
(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.
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.
(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.
(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.
Nicole Rivelli/Amazon Prime Video
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.)
(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.
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
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
(Netflix, streaming anytime)
The latest western by the Coen brothers (True Grit, No Country for Old Men) won for best screenplay at the prestigious Venice Film Festival, but it’s actually six independent little movies that add up to two hours and 12 minutes of uneven — but always masterfully perverse — entertainment. The Coens' adaptation of a Jack London story features Tim Blake Nelson, 54 (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), who aces the title episode as a singing gunslinger, and singer-actor Tom Waits, 68, does the same as a grizzled gold miner. In the slightest (but still watchable) of the tall tales, James Franco plays an outlaw who escapes from one noose to another, and Liam Neeson, 66, is a Wild West impresario whose star is a legless, armless guy who recites Shakespeare and Lincoln speeches for a cowpoke audience. The last two episodes are stronger: Zoe Kazan is emotionally affecting (unlike most of the Coens’ jokey characters) as an imperiled covered-wagon pioneer on the Oregon Trail, and Tyne Daly, 72, and Brendan Gleeson, 63, are among the passengers trapped in an existential stagecoach whose occupants are not what they seem. Any full-length Coen brothers' movie beats these six shorts, but they’re all gorgeous, original and often funny.
Sophie Mutevelian/World Productions/Netflix
(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.