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What to Watch on TV This Week

O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark's 'The Fix,' Patricia Arquette's true-crime drama 'The Act' and more

Stars of ABC's The Fix stand for a cast photo

ABC/Ed Herrera

The Fix

(ABC, March 18 premiere, 10 p.m. ET)

This show isn’t the real-life story of its cocreator, O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark, 65, but it isn’t entirely unrelated: Robin Tunney plays an L.A. district attorney who loses a world-famous murder case against an actor (Lost’s Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), flees to the Pacific Northwest, then comes back eight years later when the actor is a suspect in another killing. “My character ran away and didn’t want to be in the spotlight,” Tunney says. “And Marcia didn’t. She just kept fighting.” The Fix, Clark says, “shows how this murder case affects everyone personally, and it affects her relationships. There’s a lot of soap involved.” —Tim Appelo (T.A)

Dee Dee Blanchard (Patricia Arquette), Gypsy Rose Blanchard (Joey King) in a scene from 'The Act.'

Brownie Harris/Hulu

The Act

(Hulu, March 20 premiere, streaming anytime)

Oscar winner Patricia Arquette, 50, fearlessly played an unsympathetic, unglamorous role in the true-crime drama Escape at Dannemora. In The Act, She tops herself as the creepy, overprotective mother Dee Dee, who poisoned her daughter to keep her close, in this factual drama, based on a 2016 Buzzfeed article titled “Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter to Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom to Be Murdered.” It’s as weird as any David Lynch drama, only true, and Arquette disappears into her role with absolute conviction. Her acting style plays well against the reactive acting method of Chloe Sevigny, 44, as  Dee Dee’s tough, suspicious yet sympathetic neighbor. —T.A.

Catch Up With

Martin Clunes in 'Manhunt'

Acorn TV


Manhunt

(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 tightly written 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

Aidy Bryant walks down the street in a scene from 'Shrill'

Hulu

Shrill

(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. Based on the 2016 bestselling memoir Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West, a writer even more talented than her old newspaper boss Dan Savage, 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 despite the awful things people keep saying to her. —T.A READ JULIA SWEENEY INTERVEW

The Bluth family in the poster for Arrested Development

Netflix

Arrested Development

(Netflix, streaming anytime)

Is it another one of its sly in-jokes that Arrested Development keeps rebooting itself? Can you reboot a reboot? AD was a reboot pioneer in 2012, then disappeared, then returned last March, and now it’s back with eight more episodes finishing out last year’s storyline. There’s still juice left in the old banana stand. The bumbling Bluth clan boasts one of the all-time great comedy ensembles, and they’re all back — Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Jessica Walter and Jeffrey Tambor, among others. It’s not as consistent as it was at its peak, but the rapid-fire jokes hit more than they miss. And who would complain about more time with the Bluths? —Austin O'Connor (A.O.)  

Jeffrey DeMunn as Chuck Rhoades, Sr and Paul Giamatti as Chuck Rhoades in 'Billions.'

Showtime

Billions

(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. 

The Case Against Adnan Syed

HBO

The Case Against Adnan Syed

(Stream anytime on HBO)

Even if you heard the entire Serial podcast, whose audience was over a third of a billion, there’s new news in this retelling of the case against Mr. Syed, who has been in prison for a decade for the murder of his high-school girlfriend but is up for a retrial. You learn much more about the victim, Hae Min Lee, whose diary entries are animated by the woman who animated the fictional hit The Diary of a Teenage Girl, as well as about the now-refuted cellphone evidence that clinched his conviction, his alleged co-conspirator and chief accuser’s ever-changing testimony, and much more. And seeing the story unfold is much different than hearing it — a whole new experience not to be missed. —T.A.

Ricky Gervais stars in the Netflix original series

Netflix

After Life

(Netflix, streaming anytime)

Cruel comic and Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais, 57 (The OfficeExtras) is famous for being mean and funny, but in this show he gets serious, playing a widower so bitter he decides to say the rudest, nastiest things he can think of to everyone he meets for the rest of his life. He’s like the opposite of Alan Arkin in The Kominsky Method, whose memories of his late wife make him nicer. Harsh and clever, this one’s not for everyone. But it’s an important development in a great performer’s persona. —T.A.

1140-for-the-people

ABC

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.

Oprah Winfrey

Discovery Communications, Inc.


Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland

(Stream anytime on HBO and OWN)

After you watch the disturbing, controversial HBO documentary about Michael Jackson’s accusers, the Sundance Film Festival smash Leaving Neverland, you’ll want to see what they say to nonpareil interviewer Oprah Winfrey, 65. —Tim Appelo (T.A.)

Whiskey Cavalier

Larry D. Horricks/ABC

Whiskey Cavalier

(ABC, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET, streaming on ABC.com and Hulu)

Jimmy Kimmel made fun of the show before it aired, saying, “Whiskey Cavalier is described as a ‘high-octane hour-long action dramedy that follows the adventures of tough-but-tender FBI agent Will Chase, whose code name is ‘Whiskey Cavalier.’ Should we cancel it now?” Amusing line, but it turns out Kimmel may be wrong. Yes, it's an outrageously silly take on the spy genre, but it’s very self-aware, absolutely entertaining and funny. Scott Foley stars as the titular FBI agent, who gets paired with CIA agent Frankie Trowbridge (Lauren Cohan) and a band of oddball apprentices on a super-secret team sent on dangerous missions around the world. The show has the globe-hopping, chyron-heavy antics of Alias, but with a better sense of humor. And it’s bonkers: Our hero gets run down by a car driven by one of the baddies while holding a semiautomatic in one hand and a vial of the Ebola virus in the other. Not a drop is spilled, and Kimmel may regret his cancellation prediction. —A.O.  

Pamela Adlon in FX's

Pamela Littky/FX

Pamela Adlon stars in the FX comedy Better Things.

Better Things

(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. —A.O.

London Kills

Colin Hutton/Acorn TV

London Kills

(Acorn TV, streaming anytime)

This veddy British murder mystery series with a bit of American procedural DNA kicks off with the suicide of a member of Parliament's son — which turns out to be staged, suggesting a dark conspiracy. Hugo Speer (The Full Monty, Father Brown) is good as a detective inspector just back from grief leave — his wife is missing, he won't believe she's dead — and he contends with an ambitious, rule-bending (OK, rule-breaking) detective sergeant (the wonderful Sharon Small of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries) and a newbie trainee detective (Tori Allen-Martin of Unforgotten). Five episodes, five murders, rather addictive. —T.A.

The Voice

MICHAEL KOVAC/GETTY IMAGES FOR AARP

Celebrity judges for the new season of The Voice on NBC include, from left, Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, newcomer John Legend and Adam Levine.

The Voice

(NBC,  March 18, 20, 25 at 8 p.m. ET, Streaming on NBC.com and Hulu)

Sure, John Legend has a Grammy, Emmy, Oscar and Tony, but can he hold his own as a judge on the talent competition show alongside Kelly Clarkson, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton? Probably — but it will be fun to see his own talent face a trial by television.  —T.A.

Padldeton, Mark Duplass, Ray Romano

Patrick Wymore/Netflix

Mark Duplass and Ray Romano star in Paddleton on Netflix.

Paddleton

(Netflix, streaming anytime)

In a surprisingly gentle, bittersweet, improv-heavy comedy-drama, Ray Romano, 61, takes his best — and only — pal (Mark Duplass, 42) on a California road trip to get medication for the younger guy's assisted suicide, because he has terminal cancer. Romano, who proved himself a serious actor in the movie The Big Sick, does it again here. A poignant buddy-bonding drama. —T.A. READ RAY ROMANO INTERVIEW

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. —T.A. 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, 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

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. —T.A.

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—T.A.

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)

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. —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. —T.A.

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