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What to Watch on TV This Week

Maura Tierney's ‘The Affair,’ ‘Power,’ ‘Alternate Endings: Six New Ways to Die in America’

The Affair, Season 5

(Showtime, premieres Aug. 25, 9 p.m. ET)

Soulful, sexy waitress Alison (Ruth Wilson), whose fiery fling with Noah (Dominic West) made him dump his wife, Helen (ER’s Maura Tierney,) in the great first season, died in Season 4, so now Showtime’s soap opera for grownups is a quite different affair. Helen, whose new guy has what looks like terminal cancer, will strike sparks with an even newer guy, a movie star (Claes Bang) who’s interested in a movie of Noah’s novel. (Ironic, since it’s about him dumping Helen for Alison). In a parallel plot set decades later, Alison’s daughter (True Blood’s Anna Paquin) seeks the truth about her mom’s death. Still more mysteriously, Jennifer Jason Leigh, 57 (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Hateful Eight) joins the cast in a top-secret role. The soapy plot is getting ridiculously bubblier — but some of us remain determined to find out what crazy thing happens next, dramatized by some of the best actors on TV.  — Tim Appelo (T.A.)

Power, Season 6

(Starz, premieres Aug. 25)

In the final season of the most popular show in Starz history, Ghost (Omari Hardwick), a drug dealer who wants to go straight, faces his resentful son Tariq (Michael Rainey Jr.), who doesn’t want to, and his former best friend Tommy (Joseph Sikora), who tried to kill him in the Season 5 finale but got Ghost’s lover instead. The brutal betrayals have just begun. This show is worth a look. — T.A.

Catch Up With

Alternate Endings: Six New Ways to Die in America

(HBO, streaming anytime)

Traditional burials are no longer typical in America: since 2018, cremations have outnumbered them. And as this moving and absorbing documentary shows, Americans are changing end-of-life traditions in all kinds of new ways. Two documentarians accompanied six families as they have a living wake; go on a green-burial site-scouting mission; prepare to shoot a beloved father’s ashes into space; dive to place remains in a coral reef; and stage a celebration of life full of bounce houses to honor a 5-year-old cancer patient who did not want his funeral to be “sad.”  — T.A.


The Terror: Infamy

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

In a 10-part, hyper-realistic and supernatural drama, producer and Star Trek veteran George Takei, 82, stars as a retired California immigrant fisherman. Like 120,000 other innocent citizens, he's put behind barbed wire to avenge Pearl Harbor, which wasn't his fault. Takei spent ages 5 through 8 1/2 in a World War II internment camp for Japanese Americans. He made sure the TV camp was authentic, down to the last chipped plate in the mess hall and the stink of the stables they sleep in after the government steals their homes. His character warns the youngsters that a homicidally vengeful spirit from the kaidan (the ancient genre of horror stories, which translates to “folktales of the weirdly mysterious") has followed them from Japan. Takei is better than the younger cast, but the tale's supernatural blend is interestingly evocative. On the day of the premiere, Japan celebrates Obon, the equivalent of Halloween or the Day of the Dead. Spooky! —T.A.

Lodge 49, Season 2

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

You'd think his near-fatal shark attack in the Season 1 finale would faze Dud (Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell's son, Wyatt Russell), the (Big Lebowski) Dude-like surfer hero of this word-of-mouth hit about mystics and losers in run-down Long Beach, California. No way! He's still exploring the uncanny Ancient & Benevolent Order of the Lynx (a secret society partly inspired by Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49). And this season, producer Paul Giamatti, 52, joins the cast as a weird, Clive Cussler-like novelist, and Cheech Marin, 73, plays an artist named El Confidente, whose paintings predict the future. We predict Season 2 will have more viewers than Season 1. —T.A.

Why Women Kill

(CBS All Access, Thursdays, streaming anytime)

Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry offers three parallel storylines about women on the verge of a homicidal breakdown in his new series for the CBS streaming service. Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love) is a contented homemaker in 1963, suddenly unhappy about her husband's fling with a waitress. Lucy Liu, 50, is a 1980s socialite who craves the lifestyles of the rich and famous and thinks it's a bad look when her husband of 10 years comes out as gay. Kirby Howell-Baptiste is a 2019 attorney whose open marriage to a chronically unemployed writer gets complicated when she brings a lover home who strikes her man's fancy. —T.A.


Mindhunter, Season 2

(Netflix, premieres Aug. 16)

Damon Herriman, who plays Charles Manson in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, also plays him in David Fincher's hit adaptation of the true-crime book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit. The show also focuses on the BTK Killer, Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz, and the Atlanta Child Murderer — with a reprise appearance of the most interesting real-life monster from Season 1, the Co-Ed Killer Ed Kemper, whose IQ is 145.


BH90210

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

The old Beverly Hills, 90210 gang is back (sadly without the late Luke Perry, whose last performance is in Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood). The six-episode BH90210 isn't simply a reboot reunion like The Conners — it's more meta and ambitious. Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green (who's appeared on the Magnum P.I. reboot) and Tori Spelling play fictionalized versions of their real selves. Spelling — who really did lose most of her fortune and has serious money troubles — plays herself as a dead-broke mother of six who rallies her old cast members to put the show back on. So you get the show within a show — plus the backstage dramas. Two soap operas in one! —T.A.

GLOW

Netflix

GLOW, Season 3

(Netflix, streaming anytime)

In the third season of the superb, funny, emotionally absorbing show about the 1980s Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, the grapplers have lost their TV show, so they're doing a live show in Las Vegas, ruled by a new character: Geena Davis, 63, as Sandy Devereaux St. Clair, a showgirl turned entertainment director of the Fan-Tan Hotel and Casino. Davis brings a new jolt of star power, and there are dramatic developments — from the space shuttle Challenger explosion's impact on their act to the upcoming episode when the wrestlers swap their stage personas. The story is less focused on the frenemy rivalry of the all-American beauty (Betty Gilpin) and the fake Russian blowhard (Alison Brie), so the plot wanders a bit. Stick with it. In some ways, it's a better show than ever. —T.A.


Lights Out With David Spade

(Comedy Central, Mondays through Thursdays, 11:30 p.m. ET)

Sick of bitter comedy about politics? Saturday Night Live veteran snipe-meister David Spade plans to focus instead on mocking pop culture and “weird stories about the news” along with a panel of his celebrity pals, plus some pieces shot out in the field. He told Variety he intends to be less mean than usual: “I still like to make fun of everyone and what they are doing, but it's more good-natured.” —T.A.


Four Weddings and a Funeral

(Hulu, Wednesdays)

It's not a remake of the classic Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell film, even though MacDowell is in a couple episodes. It's more like the superb TV versions of Fargo or Get Shorty, a new story with different characters and the same setup. You get a funeral, four weddings, 10 episodes, about a dozen f-words in the opening, and in the Grant part, there's Game of Thrones’ extremely appealing Nathalie Emmanuel as an American speechwriter who's having an affair with her married boss, a senator, and landing in London for the wedding of her best friend (Rebecca Rittenhouse). And who does she meet-cute at Heathrow? The cute groom (Nikesh Patel)! Let's hope those wedding gifts are returnable. It's not quite as brilliant as the original, but it's witty and good. Creator Mindy Kaling knows what made that rom-com (as well as Love Actually and Bridget Jones’ Diary) work, and Hulu likely has a hit on its hands. —T.A.

Sherman's Showcase

(IFC, Wednesdays, 10 p.m. ET)

Gifted comics Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin, Jimmy Fallon's Emmy-nominated writers (and consulting producers of Tracy Morgan's The Last O.G.), created this inspired spoof documentary about the 40-year history of an imaginary show much like Soul Train and Solid Gold, only it looks even sillier now. The host is John Legend — “I'm John Legend, Sidney to my friends, Lord EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony-winner) to my enemies!” — though there's also a dueling host who interrupts Legend: Sherman McDaniel, played by Salahuddin. “American culture peaked in 1973,” he says. “Anything after that is a (expletive) lie!” Everything on the show is a fondly satirical lie, and most of the skits will make a grownup smile. —T.A.


Suits, Season 9

(USA Network, Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET)

Who needs Meghan Markle? Prince Harry may have stolen her from this sharp, quippy soap opera about ethical conflicts in a high-pressure law firm — only her voice saying goodbye on the phone is heard in the show's ninth and final season — but even without her, it's royally entertaining. Haughty Katherine Heigl sizzles as Samantha, a ruthless attorney enraged that the firm just threw her mentor (Wendell Pierce) under the bus to protect its chief operating officer Donna (Sarah Rafferty) and top litigator Harvey (Gabriel Macht). So when she finds out Donna and Harvey have finally hooked up after all these seasons, things get downright interesting. This is the law show where the cases take a back seat to the over-the-top human drama. — T.A.


Pearson, Season 1

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

Suits veteran Gina Torres, 50 (the talented real-life ex of her The Matrix franchise costar Laurence Fishburne), produces and stars in a spin-off series — the first-ever network series built around an Afro-Latina woman. Her character, Jessica Pearson, got disbarred on Suits — a big occupational hazard at that law firm — so now she's reinventing herself as the fixer for the mayor of Chicago (Morgan Spector). Her character is partly inspired by Kellyanne Conway, but mainly she's a new, deeper Jessica Pearson. We discover her backstory, her motives and her relatives in the projects, who are menaced by a developer whose big bucks back Jessica's boss. It's a fresh take on a popular character, worth checking out for any Suits fan. Plus, her outfit almost upstaged the bride at Meghan Markle's wedding, and her wardrobe on this show doesn't disappoint either. — T.A.

Harlots, Season 3

(Hulu, Wednesdays, streaming anytime)

There's new blood this season in Hulu's feisty feminist costume drama set in London's brothels of the 1750s. Last year, enemies got madam Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville, 63) locked up in the Bedlam insane asylum. So it's new brothel boss Charlotte (Jessica Brown Findlay, Downton Abbey's Lady Sybil Crawley) who faces a showdown with the scary new pimp in town, Isaac Pincher (Alfie Allen, the late Theon Greyjoy on Game of Thrones). She gets help from her close friend Lady Fitz (Liv Tyler), who's rich yet still oppressed by men — and her own scandalous secret. But don't count Lydia out: Even from inside Bedlam, she may be a threat. Harlots’ second season was better than the first, and this one could make you flip your powered wig. — T.A.


Hollywood Game Night, Season 6

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

Sure, Jane Lynch, 58, won an Emmy for Glee, and she'll probably win this year for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. But she won two Emmys for Hollywood Game Night, the show where she invites celebrities to a beach-house backyard and coaches them in contests like building ice-cream cones until they fall, or diving into her backyard pool full of rubber balls, or identifying a pop song played backward. First contestants this season: castmembers of SuperstoreThe Good Place and American Ninja Warrior. Coming up: actors from Veep and Orange Is the New Black— T.A.

Grantchester, Season 4

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

The bad news is that beloved hunk James Norton is quitting the role of Sidney Chambers, the two-fisted vicar who fights crime and his own romantic yearnings in a picturesque 1950s village near Cambridge on the Masterpiece Mystery hit that's like Father Brown with sex appeal. The good news is that Norton's still there for part of Season 4, and his coming departure is good for fiddling heartstrings. Can his old-school police detective partner (Robson Green, 54) ever find a platonic bromance so great with another vicar? Say, with Grantchester's new hot priest Will Davenport (Tom Brittney, OutlanderUnReal)? Brittney does well as the new holy gumshoe, roaring in on a motorbike with James Dean attitude. Unlike Norton's and Green's characters, Will didn't fight in World War II: He embodies the first stirrings of the British counterculture, so in some ways he's a better foil for Green's Elvis Presley-loathing, anti-counterculture veteran detective. — T.A.


Divorce Season 3

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

The oddly age-proof Sarah Jessica Parker, 54, brings back her star-studded show about middle-aged divorce with a new producer (from her old show Sex and the City), and the third season is better than the second — which got 34 percent higher ratings from critics than the way-too-bitter Season 1. She's got a new beau; her ex (Sideways Oscar nominee Thomas Haden Church, 59), has even bigger news; and she's losing her beautiful house and art gallery in lovely Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. But she's got friends (SNL's Molly Shannon, 54, and Talia Balsam, 60) as tight as her Sex and the City crew. Showtime's The Affair lost its mojo after a strong start; Divorce faltered at first, then became first-rate grownup drama. —T.A.

 


The Simple Heist, Season 2

(Acorn TV, streaming anytime)

The excellent British TV streaming service presents the hit Swedish comedy-drama about two best friends, a math teacher (Lotta Tejle, 59) and a doctor (Sissela Kyle, 62), who became bank robbers after getting sick of being condescended to and ignored by society after turning 60 and losing their fortunes. In Season 2, they switch to art theft. If Thelma and Louise were Swedes and 60, they might be this much fun. — T.A.


Stranger Things, Season 3

(Netflix, streaming anytime)

In the pop-culture-soaked sci-fi series with DNA from Stephen King, Steven Spielberg and John Hughes, it's the Fourth of July 1985 in Hawkins, Ind., an all-American town with a bizarre, body snatching Mind Flayer monster who erupted from beneath it last season to terrify the coming-of-age teens and scared parents, especially Winona Ryder, 47, as stressed as you've ever seen her. In Season 2 the kids fought the Flayer to a draw, so all is calm and bright in Hawkins. Kidding! You don't have to know all the backstory to get with the new season's scares and retro references — might as well jump right in for a retro-'80s thrill ride. — T.A.


Years and Years

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

Emma Thompson, 60, who's on a 10-year, $2.8 billion-grossing winning streak that dwarfs her Oscar-winning 30s, is peaking right now with her comedy Late Night and this smash hit series about a futuristic apocalypse that begins in 2019 and gets worse in 2031. Thompson plays a quirky tyrant in heels instead of jackboots, the rising demagogue Viv Rook — though since she's named after the second-most powerful piece in chess, her power is not secure. As the world floods with rising seas and refugees, dirty bombs detonate, left- and right-wing maniacs destroy democracy, teens literally become their smartphones, and people start to need eight jobs at once to survive, Rook rises (and so do her opponents). A fascinating fantasy by Russell T. Davies, 56, the writer of Doctor Who and Hugh Grant's also-must-see A Very English Scandal—T.A.


The Loudest Voice

(Showtime, streaming anytime)

Spotlight writer-director Tom McCarthy's seven-part adaptation of Gabriel Sherman's book about Roger Ailes, the brilliantly successful creator of Fox News who lost his job because of sexual harassment charges, will likely only please people who loathe Fox News and peeve everyone else. But you have to admit that Russell Crowe, 55, looks impressively more like bald, plump Ailes than his usual self. Sienna Miller plays his news-exec wife Elizabeth Ailes, and Naomi Watts, 50, plays Gretchen Carlson, the Fox News host whose lawsuit sparked his fall. —T.A.

Always Be My Maybe

(Netflix, stream anytime)

Even better than Crazy Rich Asians (and more highly rated by audiences as well as critics), this delightful Asian American rom-com is more like real life: Randall Park plays a self-doubting, self-sabotaging underachiever courting his childhood sweetheart (Ali Wong), who's now a madly successful chef — with competition from the hottest star of the moment, Asian Canadian Keanu Reeves, 54, in an utterly hilarious role as the most pretentious, obnoxious possible version of himself. He's the kind of star who picks up the restaurant check, saying: “Six thousand four hundred dollars, less than the residuals from my movie Speed!” —T.A.

Frankie Drake Mysteries

(Ovation, Saturdays, 9 p.m. ET)

Do you enjoy Murdoch Mysteries ? Right after its Season 12 finale, tune into another show by its creators. Set in 1920s Toronto, it's about the town's first female detective agency, led by Frankie Drake (Lauren Lee Smith), who takes on cases the cops ignore — and clients who don't dare talk to the police. —T.A.

The Handmaid’s Tale, Season 3

(Hulu, Wednesdays)

With her daughter safely off in free Canada, June (Elisabeth Moss) schemes to resist tyranny in woman-hating Gilead. But who can she trust? Her commander (The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford, 59), who helped June’s child escape but still seems slippery and sinister? The new commander in town (Law & Order: SVU’s Christopher Meloni, 58)? The sometimes nice, sometimes monstrous Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd, 63)? Our advice: Trust nobody. And wait until you discover what Lydia’s backstory is. — T.A. READ ANN DOWD INTERVIEW


Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City

(Netflix, streaming anytime)

Laura Linney, 55, reboots the show that made her famous. Linney’s Mary Ann Singleton returns to boho San Francisco and her wacky landlady Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis, 87), 20 years after abandoning her daughter (Ellen Page) there. After all this time, the locals are still, as Anna puts it, “flawed, narcissistic and doin’ our best.”  —T.A.

Big Little Lies

HBO

Big Little Lies, Season 2

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

Now that the tormented women of beautiful Monterey (Nicole Kidman, 51, Laura Dern, 52, Zoe Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley) have successfully hushed up their ugly secret — the murder of an abusive husband was not, as they claim, an accident — what could go wrong? The dead man’s smart, relentless mother Mary Louise (Meryl Streep, 69, whose actual name is Mary Louise Streep) shows up asking nosy questions. The cast was tops to begin with, but Streep raises everyone’s game. Big Little Lies is a must-see — again.  —T.A. READ LAURA DERN INTERVIEW

Good Omens

(Amazon, streaming anytime)

The last request of iconic fantasy author Terry Pratchett, who died in 2015 at 66 of Alzheimer's disease, was that Neil Gaiman, 58, should finish their puckish collaboration Good Omens. Inspired by their odd-couple friendship, the miniseries stars Michael Sheen, 50 (The Good Fight), and David Tennant, 48 (Doctor Who), as an angel and a demon joining forces to save the world. Jon Hamm, 48, soars as the angel Gabriel (a total jerk). —T.A.

Ask Dr. Ruth

(Hulu, streaming anytime)

America's favorite nonagenarian sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, entertains and educates America in this delightful documentary.—T.A. READ RUTH WESTHEIMER INTERVIEW

What's My Name: Muhammad Ali

(HBO, streaming anytime)

Boxer Muhammad Ali, one of the top-three titans of American pop culture, gets a documentary equal to the great man's ambition and complexity. It's directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training DayThe Equalizer). —Ken Tucker FULL REVIEW

The Code featuring Dana Delany

CBS

Dana Delany in 'The Code.'

The Code

(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

Kevin Costner (Right) and Woody Harrelson star in 'The Highwaymen' on Netflix.

Merrick Morton/Netflix

The Highwaymen

(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 

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 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. 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

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