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What to Watch on TV This Week

David Tennant stars in ‘Deadwater Fell,’ plus ‘The Gene’ and Julian Fellowes’ ‘Belgravia’

Frankie Drake Mysteries, Season 3

(Ovation, April 4, 7 p.m. ET)

This addictive show, written and produced mostly by women, is good feminist fun. Private detective Frankie (Lauren Lee Smith) solves crimes in 1920s Toronto that involve church choirs, bathing beauties, pioneer moviemakers and her own best World War I friend — a case on which she consults Agatha Christie (Honeysuckle Weeks).

Carrie Underwood performs at the 54th Academy of Country Music Awards

Sam Morris/CBS

ACM Presents: Our Country

(CBS, April 5, 8 p.m. ET)

The coronavirus forced the Country Music Awards to move to September, so in its place, the stars (including Shania Twain, Sheryl Crow, Blake Shelton, John Legend, Gwen Stefani and Carrie Underwood) will perform acoustic shows from their homes. There’s also a Kenny Rogers tribute and clips of past CMA highlights.

World on Fire

(PBS, April 5, 9 p.m. ET)

In an absorbing epic series set in 1939, war engulfs everyday life in England, Poland, France, Germany and the U.S. The cast is killer: Sean Bean, 60 (Game of Thrones); Phantom Thread Oscar nominee Lesley Manville, 64; and Helen Hunt, 56 (As Good As It Gets, Mad About You) as an American radio journalist working on a Nazi-controlled station. Hunt (whose character is inspired by renowned reporters William Shirer and Claire Hollingwood) explains the events (conquest of Poland and Paris, Dunkirk, etc.), but it’s mostly about personal lives invaded by history.

Deadwater Fell

(Acorn TV, April 6)

Liked Broadchurch? David Tennant stars in another ripping mystery — who set the fatal house fire in a spectacular small Scottish Highlands village? It’s a character-driven show by the creator of Grantchester. Acorn TV has a 30-day free offer at signup.acorn.tv (use promo code FREE30).

Quibi

(April 6)

Actually, the new subscription video service Quibi (pronounced KWIH-bee) doesn’t stream to your TV: You can only watch it on your phone. Each episode is 10 minutes or less — Quibi is short for “quick bites.” Jennifer Lopez gives cash to random people on Thanks a Million, and Reese Witherspoon hosts Fierce Queens, a nature show about female animals. See all the shows with a 90-day free trial offer at quibi.com.

Ken Burns Presents The Gene: An Intimate History

(PBS, April 7 and 14, 8 p.m., check local listings)

Best-selling science writer Siddhartha Mukherjee fascinatingly unravels the history of DNA science from its origin in friar Gregor Mendel’s 19th-century pea garden to the Nazi eugenicist frauds to today’s inspiring yet scary breakthroughs. It pulses with human drama, like Nancy Wexler’s quest for the Huntington’s gene that killed her mother.

The Last OG, Season 3

(TBS, April 7, 10:30 p.m. ET)

Tracy Morgan, 51, plays an ex-con back home in Brooklyn dealing with gentrification and his ex (Tiffany Haddish). Guest stars this season: Mike Tyson, Katt Williams and J.B. Smoove.

Modern Family

(ABC, April 8, 9 p.m. ET)

Say goodbye to America’s favorite family after 11 years and 22 Emmys.

The Good Fight, Season 4

(CBS All Access, April 9)

Lawyer Christine Baranski, 67, deals with tough times and new boss John Larroquette, 72, in the politically charged comic drama for liberals. Michael J. Fox and Rachel Dratch guest star. See the first three seasons with a free 30-day trial at cbs.com/all-access.

The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel

(Lifetime, April 11, 8 p.m. ET)

When They See Us Emmy nominee Aunjanue Ellis, 51, stars as the mother of the greatest sister act you ever heard in a biopic produced by Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott.

Belgravia

(Epix, April 12, 9 p.m. ET)

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, 70, adapts his best-selling novel about the scandals, secrets and rather grand parties of London’s upper crust on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo. It’s a Dickens (or a Thackeray) of a story. (Also, watch Fellowes’ first hit with Maggie Smith, Robert Altman’s 1930s British murder mystery Gosford Park, April 6, 8 p.m. ET, for free at  facebook.com/FocusFeatures/.)

Willie Nelson: American Outlaw

(A&E, April 12, 10 p.m. ET)

A concert honoring Willie Nelson, 86, with performances by him, George Strait, Jimmy Buffett, Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill and more. (It airs right after the 8 p.m. Dolly Parton documentary, Biography: Dolly.)  

Killing Eve, Season 3

(AMC and BBC America, April 12, 9 p.m. ET)

Sandra Oh, 48, returns as a woman locked in an unhealthy relationship with a gleeful serial killer.

Brian Cox as Logan Roy and Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy raise their hand in the courtroom in the H B O show Succession

Zach Dilgard/HBO

Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong star in "Succession."

9 Free HBO Shows

HBO’s #StayHomeBoxOffice offers nine popular shows without a subscription: current hits Barry and Succession, plus classics The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, True Blood, Veep, Ballers and Silicon Valley. (You can also get a seven-day free trial HBO subscription.) Check it out at hbonow.com.


Catch Up With

Man With a Plan, Season 4

(CBS, Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. ET)

It’s not remotely as smart and funny as Friends, but Matt LeBlanc, 52, is winsome as ever playing a contractor whose wife (Liza Snyder) goes back to work, leaving him with the kids. And Kevin Nealon, 66 (Saturday Night Live, Weeds) is gifted at playing his dim, oddball brother.

Broke

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

What perfect timing for a show about a family going broke and suddenly forced to live together and driving each other crazy! Pauley Perrette (NCIS), no longer pigtailed, is a cash-strapped single mom whose home is invaded by her snooty sister (Natasha Leggero) — a character inspired by Dorit on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills who says “vahz” for “vase” — and her Mexican American husband (Jane the Virgin’s Jaime Camil), because his rich dad cut them off penniless. A so-so show with an irresistible star, by the creators of Will & Grace and Jane the Virgin.

Home Before Dark

(Apple TV+)

This bingeable series is inspired by the incredibly inspiring Hilde Lysiak, who cracked a cold-case murder in a small Pennsylvania town at age 9 and covered it in the newspaper she published. It stars the extraordinarily talented Brooklynn Prince, 9, who lit up the Oscar nominee The Florida Project.

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History

(PBS.org)

Even by Ken Burns’ sky-high standards, this seven-part documentary about America’s most influential family — Teddy Roosevelt, his niece Eleanor Roosevelt, and her husband, FDR, who was Teddy’s fifth cousin — is riveting. It’s free on pbs.org.

Making the Cut

(Amazon)

Tim Gunn, 66, and Heidi Klum (who calls him her “TV husband”), 46, didn’t get to do much together on Project Runway. But they sure do on their new show, on which a dozen designers vie for $1 million and their own Amazon fashion line. READ TIM GUNN’S FASHION TIPS FOR AARP GROWNUPS

Ozark, Season 3

(Netflix)

Jason Bateman and Laura Linney play riverboat casino owners with a violent disagreement: She says they should keep laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel. He’s too scared — and thinks the casino has an FBI mole. Plus, there’s a second cartel attacking their boss. Can this marriage be saved before somebody gets killed?

One Day at a Time

(Pop TV, Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m. ET)

Want a soothing escape from bad news? Try Norman Lear’s rebooted classic sitcom, canceled by Netflix but now reborn after an outcry by fans and TV critics, on Pop TV. Justina Machado is great as a single mom and Army vet in L.A. who’s contending with her kids and her Cuban mother (the legendary Rita Moreno, 88).

The Plot Against America

(HBO, Mondays, 9 p.m. ET)

In a Philip Roth alternative-history story that’s a bit like Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, only smarter and subtler, a Jewish American family in 1940 Newark (Roth’s hometown) witnesses the rise of an anti-Semitic, dictatorial president: heroic aviator Charles Lindbergh (Ben Cole). Winona Ryder plays the girlfriend of a rabbi (John Turturro) who’s Lindy’s adviser. He woos her to the dark side, as her family watches in growing fear. It’s a superb cast, and if you liked showrunner David Simon’s The Wire and Treme, you’ll find this fantasy world is catnip.

My Brilliant Friend: The Story of a New Name

(HBO, Mondays, 10 p.m. ET)

The second season of HBO’s titanic adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s international best seller, about two rivalrous, gifted teens growing up in impoverished southern Italy, is as emotionally compelling as the first. It’s about young love, sexual initiation, family traumas and the stubborn hope for a better life. Now it’s the 1960s, and the girls are 16, one unhappily married, the other a student in Pisa. A chance meeting with a childhood friend changes the course of their lives forever. And if you watch this, you’ll be compelled to catch up on Season 1.

Little Fires Everywhere

(Hulu, Wednesdays)

In Hulu’s rival series to HBO’s Big Little Lies, Reese Witherspoon again plays a white woman so privileged that she seems like she was born wearing pearls. But she’s a believer in giving less fortunate folks a chance, so she rents a home to a penniless artist (Kerry Washington in an unusually good TV role) and her daughter (Lexi Underwood). Mysteriously, in the opening scenes, a house burns down. You’ll want to find out why.

Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker

(Netflix)

Oscar winner Octavia Spencer is magnetic as America’s richest African American businesswoman (and richest self-made woman) — hair-product entrepreneur Sarah Breedlove (aka C.J. Walker). The child of slaves, she was worth $8.8 million in modern dollars when she died in 1919. Carmen Ejogo is great as her frenemy entrepreneur, as is Tiffany Haddish as her wilder daughter, who became a big deal in the Harlem Renaissance.

Cosmos: Possible Worlds

(National Geographic, Mondays, 8 p.m. ET)

In the third season of the wildly popular science series created by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, host Neil deGrasse Tyson, 61, makes 14 billion years of evolution fly by like an amusement-park ride for your mind. Did one cosmic ray zap 13 atoms in our ancestors’ DNA, helping transform us from creatures the size of a paper clip to makers of art and cities (and perhaps our own destruction)? Looks like it. Tyson is the most fun science teacher ever, with help from Sir Patrick Stewart as astronomer William Herschel, Viggo Mortensen as geneticist Nikolai Vavilov, and Judd Hirsch as Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb.

The Pale Horse

(Amazon)

In a gleamingly stylish BBC adaptation of Agatha Christie’s mystery, Rufus Sewell, 52, is a sleek antiques dealer in 1960s London who sleeps with lots of women — who mysteriously turn up dead, and it looks like he’s on the killer’s list, too. It is Christie’s most supernaturally tinged thriller. Our posh urban antihero must visit the village of Much Deeping to find out who or what the killer is — while getting goose bumps from the stares of the town’s three resident witches (including Rita Tushingham, the ultimate ’60s star of The Knack and A Taste of Honey). The zigzag plot is tricky to follow, but it’s rich in period flavor, and Sewell has a Mad Men coolness.

Black Monday, Season 2

(Showtime, Sundays, 10 p.m. ET)

What could be more timely than a crime comedy-drama about the 1987 stock market crash? It stars Oscar nominee Don Cheadle, 55, as gonzo Wall Street wild man Mo Monroe, now on the run now after he destroyed our financial system. And then there’s the business about the two people who were murdered last season. Understandably so, his financier rivals are sweating his return. This retro show has the unhinged brio of Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, with a touch of Boogie Nights.

Empire, Season 6

(Fox, Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET)

Now is the time to discover the cantankerous Lyon clan, as the final season of the melodrama about this family and their hip-hop record label kicks off. The show is a magnet for TV’s top black talent, but the reason to see it is Taraji P. Henson, 49, as the family’s leopard-print-clad boss mama, Cookie Lyon — a role that won her the Golden Globe and two Emmy nominations. As cast member Jussie Smollett (who’s leaving the show after his real-life scandal) put it, “If Samuel L. Jackson had a baby with Bette Davis, it would be Taraji.”

ZeroZeroZero

(Amazon)

In Amazon’s gripping, complex eight-part miniseries, Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects), 69, plays a shipping magnate in cahoots with an international cocaine cartel. It’s a violent, sprawling epic, shot in New Orleans, Mexico, Italy, Senegal and Morocco. The plot is rooted in showrunner Roberto Saviano’s factual research — actual gangsters hate him, so he travels in bulletproof cars with bodyguards.

Dispatches from Elsewhere

(AMC, Mondays, 10 p.m. ET)

Sally Field, 73, in her first big TV series role since Brothers and Sisters 14 years ago, plays an optimistic yet tormented widow trying to get her new life in order — only to be swept up in a bizarre, mysterious conspiracy world orchestrated by a sinister entrepreneur (Richard E. Grant, 62). It’s modeled on the head-trippy films of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich), only it’s even weirder.

Babylon Berlin, Season 3

(Netflix)

The most elaborate and expensive foreign TV series in history is back, catapulting you into the scary, thrilling, decadent world of Berlin in 1930, as Communists and Nazis battle for Germany’s future. It’s also a gripping mystery, as a police commissioner investigates the violent death of an actress in the growing film industry, just switching from silent to sound — and sometimes the sound is a scream.

SEAL Team

(CBS, Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET)

David Boreanaz, 50 (Bones, Angel), who won fame as Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s fanged friend, returns after his new show’s two-month hiatus in his grownup action-hero role as the leader of the elite Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, and Land) Bravo Team.

Better Call Saul, Season 5

(AMC, Mondays, 10 p.m. ET)

At last! After four seasons, Jimmy McGill, the lawyer with a weakness for breaking laws with good-ish intentions, has changed his name to Saul Goodman, the shamelessly amoral shyster we loved from his original show, Breaking Bad, and he’s handing out half-off coupons to every lowlife crook he can find. It’s a more fascinating transformation than Breaking Bad’s science teacher turned meth gangster, and star Bob Odenkirk, 57, has a wonderful sidekick, girlfriend Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn, 47, the most underrated actor on TV), an honest lawyer who loves slippery Jimmy/Saul and cuts moral corners of her own. If you’ve never watched the show, now is a perfect entrance point.

Narcos: Mexico, Season 2

(Netflix)

The greatest gangster show on TV is the truest: the bloody war among the Mexican drug cartels and the American avengers of their murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena. You don’t have to have seen the previous Narcos shows to understand this one — it’s a self-contained drama including a narco who kidnaps a girl who becomes his partner in crime; a DEA guerrilla (12 Years a Slave’s Scoot McNairy) whose rage takes him into moral horrors; and the most interesting drug lord of all, Felix Gallardo (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Diego Luna), the cop-turned-narco who killed Kiki. This show is more addictive than Felix’s product.

Homeland, Season 8

(Showtime, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)

In the final season of the spy drama, Carrie (Claire Danes) is sprung from a Russian prison and under suspicion as a double agent — just like Brody (Damian Lewis) in the first season. “Perfect symmetry,” says Danes. Also, her relationship with her boss Saul (Mandy Patinkin, 67) gets resolved. “Who is the parent? Who is the child? Who is the mentor? Who is the mentee?” says Patinkin. Tune in and see.

Tommy

(CBS, Thursdays, 10 p.m. ET)

Edie Falco, 56 (The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie), the queen of high-IQ TV for grownups about the criminally inclined, plays cop Tommy Thomas in a smart new show. Tommy’s NYPD career tanked when she broke her sex-assailant boss’s nose — but now that the LAPD’s chief (L.A. Law’s Corbin Bernsen, 65) is mired in his own sex scandal, Tommy becomes L.A.’s first female (and gay) police chief. Grownups should watch, since it’s from ex-Washington Post critic Paul Attanasio, 60, who created Bull and Homicide and knows how to craft artful drama about hot-button social issues. READ EDIE FALCO INTERVIEW

Grace and Frankie, Season 6

(Netflix)

In the new season of Grace and Frankie, Jane Fonda’s Grace and Lily Tomlin’s Frankie have a new business venture: the Rise Up, a toilet seat that helps mature folks get to their feet and on their way. The entrepreneurs even land a slot on Shark Tank. Fonda, 82, has said she knows why even non-grownups love the hit show: “Young people get a kick out of seeing people their grandmother’s age behaving in unexpected ways.”

FBI: Most Wanted

(CBS, Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET)

Producer Dick Wolf's Law & Order spin-off Law & Order: SVU spawned the spin-off FBI — and now that's got a new spin-off, about a grownup investigator (FBI's Julian McMahon, 51) whose Fugitive Task Force hunts the worst bad guys on the FBI's top 10 criminals list. It's got a better cast than some Dick Wolf shows, whose spin-offs tend to become hits.


Movies Now Streaming on TV

The Call of the Wild

(Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, Fangango Now)

Harrison Ford, 77, plays Jack London’s Alaska Gold Rush hero facing nature and himself with the help of computer-generated dog Buck. The CGI is a little odd, but Ford is wonderful and the action is good. READ HARRISON FORD INTERVIEW

Emma

(Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Fandango Now, Xfinity on Demand)

Doe-eyed Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) spins an enchanting web as Emma Woodhouse, the rich, spoiled and beautiful 21-year-old queen bee of her sleepy village, who lives with her hypochondriac father (Love Actually’s Bill Nighy, 70). Emma believes she can find the perfect husband for sweet, naïve Harriet Smith (a refreshing Mia Goth). Though it’s a fresh take with gorgeous costumes, lush cinematography, colorful production design and a luminous score, first-time feature director Autumn de Wilde and writer Eleanor Catton — the youngest-ever winner of the prestigious Booker Prize — don’t really reinvent the wheel with this version. But it’s akin to a delicious crumpet smothered in lemon curd with the perfect cup of Earl Grey tea.

The Invisible Man

(Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Fandango Now, Xfinity on Demand)

In a No. 1 box office hit, Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) flees her controlling lover (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), an inventor. When he slits his wrists and leaves her $5 million, she fears he’s found a way to get invisible and hunt her. OK, it’s predictable, but the director is good at staging the cat-and-mouse tricks an invisible aggressor can play. An empathetic, Edvard Munch-faced Moss rocks the role, delivering screams and sudden jumps, then turning the tables on the bad guy, aided by stilettos, juicy red lipstick and an excellent cosmetic concealer. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)

Spenser Confidential

(Netflix)

This loose adaptation of the best-selling mystery novel Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland is created by and stars Mark Wahlberg, 48, who has an Oscar- and Emmy-honored green thumb as a producer (The Fighter, Boardwalk Empire). His previous collaboration with coproducer Peter Berg, the Boston Marathon drama Patriots Day, was a solid thriller. Wahlberg is the perfect Bostonian to play boxer turned cop Spenser, now sprung from prison himself and sleuthing his colleagues’ killers. The Kominsky Method’s Alan Arkin, 85, plays his sardonic mentor, and Marc Maron, 56, has a mysterious untitled role.

The Report

(Amazon)

Annette Bening, 61, AARP The Magazine's latest cover subject and the latest Movies for Grownups Career Achievement Award winner, brings her new film about the Senate's investigation of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program to the tube. As Bening told AARP, “When you make movies, you want to make an impact on people, not just entertain them.” The Report is entertaining as well as thought-provoking.

The Irishman

(Netflix)

Netflix’s biggest-ever theatrical release, Martin Scorsese’s career-capstone Mafia drama about a hitman who kills Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa, is now also on TV, and it’s just as good on the small screen. It’s like a grownup, 3-hour, more reflective Goodfellas, with Robert De Niro, 76, Al Pacino, 79, Joe Pesci, 76, and Ray Romano, 61, in peak form.

The Two Popes

(Netflix)

The wittiest fact-based movie of the year is a world-class acting duel between Jonathan Pryce, 72, as an Argentine cardinal who asks Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins, 81) to bless his retirement — only to be ordered to become the next pope, Francis. In a fascinating debate that affected the fate of a billion Catholics, traditionalist Benedict and his toughest, most liberal critic face off. In these bitterly divided times, this sweet tale of reconciliation through respectful intellectual combat feels downright redemptive.

Marriage Story

(Netflix)

At 50, director Noah Baumbach has made his grownup masterpiece, loosely based on his divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh. Scarlett Johansson has seldom been better as the loving but thwarted ex-bride. Hollywood skyrocket Adam Driver is her arguably self-absorbed director ex-groom. But they're no better than Alan Alda, 83, Ray Liotta, 65, and Laura Dern, 52, as their lawyers — most pundits predict Dern will win an Oscar for her sympathetic yet cynical role. Better than Kramer vs. Kramer.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

(Amazon, Apple TV, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Fandango)

As the underpaid stuntman and best friend to washed-up TV star Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, 55, steals Quentin Tarantino's sweetly nostalgic love letter to 1969 Hollywood. Though it's an alternative history fable about the Manson murders, it's nowhere near as upsetting as you'd think. It could win the Oscar for best picture.

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