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What to Watch on TV This Week

Sally Field’s weird ‘Dispatches from Elsewhere’ and documentaries on Ted Bundy and David Crosby

David Crosby: Remember My Name

(Starz, Feb. 24, 9 p.m. ET)

In a remarkably penetrating documentary, singer-songwriter David Crosby, 78, tells Cameron Crowe all about his sometimes triumphant, often tumultuous life. “We wanted to go deep,” Crosby told AARP. “Cameron asked me the hardest things I’ve been asked in my life.” A must-see film. READ DAVID CROSBY INTERVIEW

SEAL Team

(CBS, Feb. 26, 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. This week, he’s off to rescue a CIA agent kidnapped by Venezuela’s secret police.

Promotional image for P B S science series Nova NOVA Mysteries of Sleep

Tiffany Bryant/Shutterstock/PBS

Nova: Mysteries of Sleep

(PBS, Feb. 26, 9 p.m. ET, check local listings)

A fascinating look at the new science of why we (and virtually all creatures) sleep, and what happens to our brains if we don’t get enough. READ AARP’s GUIDE TO THE SCIENCE OF SOUNDER SLEEP

Dispatches from Elsewhere

(AMC, March 1, 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). Created by Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, How I Met Your Mother), who costars as a glum tech worker sharing her scary adventure, it’s modeled on the head-trippy films of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich), only it’s even weirder. Field is the reason to watch the show, and the third episode, the one most focused on her, is the best. Regarding her TV comeback in a meaty role, Field says, “Do I wish there were more really big and complicated roles for myself and other women, older women? Sure. Yeah. But then I wish a lot of things. I wish we weren’t in this horrible climate change ... I wish a whole lot of things. But you do as much as you can when you can.” This role proves she can dominate a highbrow sci-fi show as well as a mainstream sitcom.

A scene from Season 3 of Babylon Berlin

Frédéric Batier/X Filme Creative Pool

Babylon Berlin, Season 3

(Netflix, March 1)

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.


Catch Up With

Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer

(Amazon)

This is the only fascinating documentary about serial killer Ted Bundy, because instead of focusing on his madness or violence, it’s the first to feature how he appeared to the women he killed — who died because they kindly tried to help him — and to the girlfriend he lived with and her young daughter. They tell their terrifying story for the first time.

Hunters

(Amazon)

Why did Al Pacino, 79, take another rare TV role right after Netflix’s The Irishman? “There’s an originality in this show and it’s somewhat eccentric,” says Pacino. “Things are not what they seem.” He plays Meyer Offerman, a secretive, schmaltzy, grandfatherly guy who recruits a Jewish genius kid (Logan Lerman) into a group of Holocaust survivors in 1977 as they hunt Nazis who plan to make the U.S. a Fourth Reich. Posing as locals like the Soviet agents in The Americans, the Nazis have infiltrated America all the way up to the White House. “It holds your interest because you never know when a joke is going to come,” adds Pacino. Even though there are murders and flashbacks to human chess games in concentration camps, Meyer cracks jokes as well as skulls, and amusingly mauls English: Explaining why he likes Kojak, he says, “I am a potato of the couch.” It’s a comic-book-like show with often dumb dialogue, and it’s too slow. But with Pacino aboard, it’s worth checking out.

Better Call Saul, Season 5

(AMC, Feb. 23, 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. If you’re a fan, you’re going to love this season — Saul’s season of change.

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.

They’ve Gotta Have Us

(Netflix)

Harry Belafonte, Diahann Carroll, John Singleton, David Oyelowo, Kasi Lemmons, Barry Jenkins and other luminaries tell the story of black cinema and its impact in an excellent landmark docuseries produced by Ava DuVernay. FULL REVIEW

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

Briarpatch

(USA Network, Thursdays, 10 p.m. ET)

In a show with some of the oddball DNA of Twin Peaks, adapted from an Edgar Award-winning mystery novel, Rosario Dawson is a Bogart-esque investigator hunting the killer of her policewoman sister in the small Texas town San Bonifacio, which locals call “Saint Disgrace.” Alan Cumming, 55, plays a corrupt local, and irascible Ed Asner, 90, runs the town newspaper, but the main draw is Mad Men standout actor Jay R. Ferguson, 45, as a bigger-than life guy with a 10-gallon hat and a shady reputation.

Indebted

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

Twenty years after The Nanny, Fran Drescher, 62, is back in an intergenerational sitcom about a couple who blow their life savings and — in a reversal of the situation many grownup parents face nowadays — must move in with their son (Adam Pally of Happy Endings) and daughter-in-law (Abby Elliott of SNL). It’s not highbrow comedy, but Drescher remains a vital actor who might catch lightning twice.

Star Trek: Picard

(CBS All Access, new episodes on Thursdays)

Sir Patrick Stewart, 79, who hasn’t played Capt. Jean-Luc Picard since 2002, comes back big time in a hotly awaited new show executive produced by Michael Chabon, 56, the only top blockbuster auteur (Spider-Man 2, Unbelievable) who’s also a Pulitzer-winning author. READ PATRICK STEWART INTERVIEW

AARP Movies for Grownups Awards

(PBS)

AARP’s 19th annual movie awards show is our answer to the Oscars — in fact, it helps predict and influence who will win Oscars, and drives Hollywood to make more movies by and for grownups. You can stream it on pbs.org/moviesforgrownups and the PBS Video app. And the scene of Conan O’Brien mercilessly teasing his pal Adam Sandler, best actor winner for Uncut Gems, is the most entertaining thing you’ll see this week. SEE THE TOP 10 MOMENTS FROM THE AARP MOVIES FOR GROWNUPS AWARDS

Sanditon

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

Miss Downton Abbey? Try PBS Masterpiece’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s unfinished last novel, Sanditon. “It will become the next Downton Abbey, maybe,” says creator Andrew Davies, 83, who wrote the best and most popular Pride and Prejudice miniseries (with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy). Set in the Downton-like Sanditon House, it features a rich, tart-tongued dowager (Anne Reid, 84) who steals scenes like Maggie Smith and a Mr. Darcy-like young hunk (Theo James, who played the lover who dies in Lady Mary’s Downton Abbey bed) for heroine Charlotte (Rose Williams) to quarrel with and then fancy, against her better judgment.

The New Pope

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

Not to be confused with the smart, fact-based film The Two Popes, this totally wacky series stars John Malkovich, 66, as a punk rocker who finds himself pontiff, while the previous pope, Jude Law, is in a coma in the first episodes. Guest stars include Marilyn Manson, 51, and Sharon Stone, 61, who when she gets an audience with the pope is ordered not to uncross her legs. A punk turned pope has to guard against basic instincts.

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. Mary Steenburgen, 66, will guest star, and maybe even Dolly Parton (though that’s not confirmed). 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.”

9-1-1: Lone Star

(Fox, Mondays, 8 p.m. ET)  

Rob Lowe, 55, who in real life has a men’s skin-care line, plays a skin-care-obsessed Manhattan firefighter, the sole survivor of his firehouse after 9/11, who gets sent to hipster capital Austin, Texas, to help rebuild a firefighter team after a tragedy — with help from Liv Tyler, 42, as a chief paramedic. The show breaks out with a special two-night premiere.

Avenue 5

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

Veep creator Armando Iannucci, 56, presents another subversive comedy, starring House’s Hugh Laurie, 60, as the hilariously incompetent captain of a luxury spaceship, struggling to get his tourists back to Earth without too many of them dying on the way.

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.

The Crown, Season 3

(Netflix)

Yes, the first two seasons of the smash hit about Queen Elizabeth were great, but the third is better still. Olivia Colman (taking over for young Claire Foy) won an Oscar as England’s queen in The Favourite, and she’s likely to win an Emmy for this bravura performance as the grownup Elizabeth from 1964 to 1977. Game of Thrones’ Tobias Menzies plays Prince Philip, and Helena Bonham Carter, 53, gives Princess Margaret just the right insecurely arrogant, reckless swagger. When she charms LBJ and the world with a vulgar liveliness that reminds LBJ of himself, it’s Elizabeth who feels insecure. We meet young Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) and his new girlfriend — Camilla (Emerald Fennell). Sorry, Diana won’t arrive until Season 4.

The Morning Show

(Apple TV+)

Apple launches its huge new streaming service with the first show since Friends to star Jennifer Aniston, 50 — and it's must-viewing, by turns dark and comic, definitely compelling. She and Reese Witherspoon play TV news hosts, and Steve Carell, 57, the anchor who gets sacked for alleged sexual misconduct. Martin Short, 69, plays a predatory director; Billy Crudup, 51, is a nasty exec; and Grace Under Fire's Brett Butler, 61, portrays Witherspoon's mom. Plus, you get to see Apple open a new chapter in TV history. FULL REVIEW

The Kominsky Method, Season 2

(Netflix)

How could this killer comedy-drama about two old friends — an actor and teacher (Michael Douglas, 75) and his agent (Alan Arkin, 85) who quarrel incessantly in youth-obsessed Hollywood — get any better? By bringing in A-list guest stars: Paul Reiser, 63, as Douglas’ daughter's lover; Jane Seymour, 68, as Arkin's rekindled old flame; and Kathleen Turner, 65, as the ex-wife of her War of the Roses and Romancing the Stone costar Douglas. This is must-see grownup TV.

NCIS

(CBS, Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET)

If a show can still shock you after 16 seasons, it came last spring when — to the delight of longtime fans — Cote de Pablo's character Ziva David had suddenly reappeared. De Pablo had left the show in 2013 and her character seemed to have killed in an explosion in 2016. But she's back — and apparently, understandably, determined to go after the responsible parties in the new season's first two episodes. Mark Harmon's Agent Gibbs is happy to help.


Movies Now Streaming on TV

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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