(HBO, April 22, 10 p.m. ET)
If you liked The Favourite, you’ll love this fact-based, hard-to-believe story about Anne Lister (Suranne Jones), who shocked neighbors in Halifax, England, with behavior thought unladylike in 1832: dressing like a man and always in black, running the family coal mine, climbing mountains, studying brain surgery with Frenchman Georges Cuvier and marrying a wealthy heiress. Her secret love diaries, written in code, were discovered and decoded in the 1980s. Sally Wainwright directs her eyebrow-raising life story with sass and style. —Tim Appelo (T.A.)
(ABC, April 23 premiere, 10 p.m. ET)
An ambitious six-part docuseries about the pivotal year 1969 starts with the story of the moon landing, highlighting the unsung women who helped make it happen, and moves on to the tragedy of Ted Kennedy’s victim Mary Jo Kopechne, the Manson Family women, John Lennon’s bed-ins for peace, the Black Panthers and the almost-disastrous Woodstock Festival. —T.A.
(Netflix, April 26 premiere)
Uma Thurman, who turns 49 next week, stars as the mother of a teen whose heart gets transplanted into another girl — and starts to take over her life — in a supernatural horror show that’s mostly for teens. But grownups might like watching Thurman as a privileged New Age mom with issues, and Emmy nominee Lili Taylor, 52 (American Crime Story, Six Feet Under, The X-Files) is also worth your time. —T.A.
James Minchin III/AMC
The Son, Season 2
(AMC, April 27 premiere, 9 p.m. ET)
Pierce Brosnan, 65, returns as a ruthless pioneering oil baron in 1917, struggling with his sons, plus a granddaughter who follows more in his footsteps. This season, the story cuts back and forth between his day and the 1980s, when his granddaughter — Lois Smith, 88 (Lady Bird, Five Easy Pieces) — carries on the family tradition. —T.A.
The Red Line
(CBS, April 28 premiere, 8 p.m. ET)
Ava DuVernay (Selma) presents a series about a black doctor shot by a white cop in Chicago and the rippling effects on three families involved in the tragedy. ER’s Noah Wyle stars as the widowed husband of the slain doctor. —T.A. READ NOAH WYLE INTERVIEW
Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration
(CBS, April 21, 8 p.m. ET)
In six decades, there have never been so many Motown projects on TV and onstage at once as there are now, and the biggest is this historic concert shot at L.A.'s Microsoft Theater in February. Hosts Smokey Robinson, 79, and Cedric the Entertainer, 54, bring you Diana Ross, 75, Valerie Simpson, 72, John Legend, Boyz II Men, songwriters Holland, Dozier and Holland, youngsters Chloe x Halle, and more (though you won't hear much about scandal-plagued Michael Jackson). Some concertgoers think the show was stolen by Thelma Houston, 72, singing “Don't Leave Me This Way.” But Motown will never leave us. —Tim Appelo (T.A.)
Catch Up With
Bless This Mess
(ABC, Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m. ET)
Seasoned farm-country folks Pam Grier and Ed Begley Jr., both 69, give a young couple (Parenthood's Dax Shepard and In a World...'s Lake Bell) advice on their move from Manhattan to a run-down farmhouse in Nebraska in this Green Acres- and Northern Exposure-like sitcom. Grier — who plays the town storekeeper, sheriff and theater owner — tells the lovebirds, “The best kind of love ain't happy — the best kind of love is honest.” —T.A.
(CBS, Mondays, 9 p.m. ET)
Will grownups never get tired of NCIS-like military police procedurals? Nope, especially when the casting is as appetizing as Dana Delany, 63, as Col. Glenn Turnbull, top-ranking Marine Corps judge advocate. She's been a stellar performer in military roles ever since China Beach made her famous, and it's hard to imagine The Code won't please its eager audience. —T.A. READ DANA DELANY INTERVIEW
Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
(Stream on PBS)
You thought Finding Your Roots host Henry Louis Gates Jr. was already ubiquitous, but along comes his four-part documentary on the period of 1865 to 1877, when black Americans won amazing freedoms, elected a (white) president, and then were crushed by oppression again. —T.A.
Killing Eve, Season 2
(AMC and BBC America, April 21, 8 p.m.)
British MI6 agent Eve (Grey's Anatomy's Sandra Oh, 47), is chasing and being stalked by the beautiful, brilliant, wildly insane serial killer Villanelle (Jodie Comer), who's in love with Eve and just loves bringing out her dark side. Don't miss the smartest, most tightly written police procedural on TV. —T.A.
(PBS, Episode 2 April 21, 9 p.m. ET, check local listings, or stream via PBS Passport)
Sure, the musical version of Victor Hugo's classic novel of the French Revolution was wonderful, but it didn't give you the full, extremely rich story. Andrew Davies’ six-hour adaptation for PBS Masterpiece gives you far more, with a stellar cast: Dominic West, 49, as convict Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo as his hunter, Inspector Javert, Lily Collins as the doomed Fantine and The Favourite's Oscar winner Olivia Colman as the hissably wicked Madame Thénardier. —T.A. READ DOMINIC WEST INTERVIEW
Game of Thrones, Final Season
(HBO, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)
At long last, winter really is coming on TV's top fantasy blockbuster, including the Battle of Winterfell, which is bad news for White Walkers and Daenerys Targaryen's clan alike. But good news for fans, and excellent prospects to add to the mere 47 Emmy Awards the epochal hit has already won. —T.A.
Barry, Season 2
(HBO, Sundays, 10 p.m. ET)
In the second season of one of TV’s best shows, acting teacher Gene (Henry Winkler, 73) freaks out after someone shoots his detective girlfriend. He doesn’t know that the murderer is his acting student Barry (SNL vet Bill Hader), who wants to quit being a hit man but keeps having to interrupt acting lessons to kill one more person — including Gene's girlfriend, who'd found out about Barry's deadly occupation. Amusing-though-bloodthirsty mobsters from Chechnya are after Barry, too. The first season won Emmys for Winkler and Hader, plus a best comedy nomination, and the second is equally promising. —T.A. READ HENRY WINKLER INTERVIEW
The Last O.G., Season 2
(TBS, April 23, 10:30 p.m. ET)
Last year, Tracy Morgan, 50, came back from a life-threatening accident with a first-rate show about an ex-gangster jailbird coming back to transformatively gentrified Brooklyn and feeling like Rip Van Winkle. His castmates Cedric the Entertainer, 54 (who deserved an Oscar for First Reformed), and Tiffany Haddish did genius work. Morgan told Extra TV the new season is like the second Godfather movie: “The first Godfather , you were on the outside, the second, you were on the inside. Now you gonna learn the inside … meet people's relatives. Still funny.” —T.A. READ TRACY MORGAN INTERVIEW
The Twilight Zone
(CBS All Access, streaming anytime)
The plot and clever social commentary of Jordan Peele's record-breaking hit Us were inspired by a Twilight Zone episode, and now, 60 years after that classic show began, Peele reboots it for our time (and serves as a Rod Serling-like narrator). The huge cast is promising (including Seth Rogen, John Cho, John Larroquette, 71, and Greg Kinnear, 55), and right now Peele is the hottest rising auteur around. And who doesn't want to see Adam Scott in an update of William Shatner's 1963 episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"? —T.A.
(Netflix, streaming anytime)
In a straight-shooting chase drama, Kevin Costner, 64, and Woody Harrelson, 57, play the real-life Texas Rangers who, despite carrying a few extra pounds that make it hard to vault fences in pursuit of criminals, managed to track down Bonnie and Clyde. The aging buddies have star power and excellent chemistry, and Kathy Bates, 70, is good as Texas Gov. Miriam “Ma” Ferguson. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.) FULL REVIEW | READ KEVIN COSTNER INTERVIEW
Lacey Terrell/Courtesy HBO
Veep, Season 7
(HBO, Sundays, 10:30 p.m. ET)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 58, won six times as many Emmys for this foulmouthed political satire as she did for Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine. And she plans to end the final season with a dramatic bang: a new presidential campaign for her character Selina as well as countless insults ("You brainless taint-stain!") for her cringing staffers. New cast members include Better Call Saul's Michael McKean, 71, as Iowa's influential governor, and Rhea Seehorn, 46, as a rival candidate's chief of staff; and Keegan-Michael Key, 48, as a Carolina reverend that Selina needs to nab black voters. —T.A.
(Acorn TV, streaming anytime)
When this smart true-crime mystery starring Doc Martin's Martin Clunes aired in England in January, it got over twice the percentage of U.K. viewers that The Big Bang Theory got in the U.S. Based on a book by the London detective who caught Levi Bellfield, killer of two women and a 13-year-old girl, it's as good as Helen Mirren's Prime Suspect — and the crime is solved in three episodes, faster than Yank killer thrillers usually manage. Clunes proves as good at drama as he is at comedy. — T.A. READ MARTIN CLUNES INTERVIEW
(Hulu, streaming anytime)
Saturday Night Live's Aidy Bryant helped write herself a major career-boosting show that will put fat-shaming people to shame and win everyone's hearts. It stars Bryant as a young journalist, John Cameron Mitchell as her sarcastically perfectionist boss and SNL's Julia Sweeney, 59 — who's just returned to Hollywood after 10 years as a full-time mom — as her diet-obsessed mother. As delightful as Girls, only about a totally nice person. —T.A READ JULIA SWEENEY INTERVEW
(Showtime, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)
The new season of Billions makes for strange bedfellows, as the Showtime hedge-fund drama pivots away from the cat-and-mouse chase between now-former U.S. Attorney General Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti, 51) and billionaire financier Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Damian Lewis, 48) that deliciously defined its first three seasons. Rhoades, relieved of his duties by a Trump-appointed attorney general, and Axe, outmaneuvered by his protégé-turned-rival Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon), whose new hedge fund quickly emerges as a daunting rival, need each other now. Rhoades spends the breakneck premiere furiously trading favors to re-establish his Manhattan influence, with Axe emerging as one of his main wheel-greasers. Hard to see where it's going, but that's half the fun of a show that still moves and shakes like a jittery stock market graph.—A.O.
For the People, Season 2
(ABC, Thursdays, 10 p.m. ET)
A sharp, fast, shiny, smart procedural show about opposing New York prosecution and defense teams battling over a case each week — which involves an issue ripped from the headlines — it's also a soapy drama about bedroom politics. Of course, the public defender (the brilliant Hope Davis, 54) and the ruthless prosecutor (Ben Shenkman, 50) have pillow talk about his attempt to get a life sentence for her client, who sent a SWAT team to a rival computer-game player's house and got a U.S. senator killed. If you like other Shonda Rhimes shows like Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, bet you'll like this. But you'll wish there were more scenes with the clerk of the court (Anna Deveare Smith, 68), a grownup who won't tolerate nonsense. —T.A.
(FX, Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET, streaming on FXNetworks.com and Hulu)
One of the great contradictions of the #MeToo era is that Better Things, the acclaimed comedy of feminism and single mom-dom returning for its third season, was cocreated by disgraced comic Louis C.K. Now he's bowed out, and the show is fully in the very capable hands of Pamela Adlon, 52, its cocreator and star. Adlon plays Sam Fox, an L.A. actress juggling her career with raising three daughters on her own. The season premiere is a bittersweet, characteristically caustic take on the parental rite of passage of dropping an oldest child off at the first year of college. Adlon, a two-time Emmy nominee for this role who directed all 12 episodes of the coming season, gives the comedic trope rough edges to match her signature gravelly voice. With its star fully taking the creative reins, Better Things is even better. —Austin O'Connor (A.O.)
The Good Doctor
(ABC, Mondays at 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
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 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)