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What to Watch on TV and Streaming This Week

Dig into PBS Masterpiece and celebrate Betty White’s 99th birthday

En español | Cue the Happy Birthday song, friends! The remarkable Betty White turns 99 this week, PBS Masterpiece also has a birthday (a mere 50th), and there’s lots of good TV watching to help us feel good about those celebrations. Light the candles on the cake … and pass the remote!

Happy 50th birthday, PBS Masterpiece! Let’s all tune in to celebrate together

TV’s prestige series, now old enough to be an AARP member, celebrates by giving you some delightful presents. Here’s what you can watch now:

Miss Scarlett & the Duke (PBS, Jan. 17, 8 p.m. ET, check local listings)

If you liked Remington Steele (and dig period British drama), try this new show about Victorian England’s first female detective (Kate Phillips), who breaks the glass ceiling by hiring her womanizing childhood friend Detective Inspector William Wellington (Stuart Martin) as her front man. Sparks fly as crooks get caught.

Watch it: PBS

All Creatures Great and Small (PBS, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)

Want to escape America in 2021? Flee to comforting 1930s Yorkshire, as a newcomer veterinarian (Nicholas Ralph) copes with small-village folkways, lovable dogs, difficult cow pregnancies, an irritable boss (Mr. Selfridge’s Samuel West) and eccentric animal owners like Mrs. Pumphrey (the late Diana Rigg in her last role), who just might pamper her Pekingese puppy Tricki Woo to death. It’s an all-new version of the classic book, just republished in a 50th-anniversary edition.

Watch it: PBS

Elizabeth Is Missing (Streaming on pbs.org)

Glenda Jackson returns to TV after 27 years in a whodunit about a woman with early-stage Alzheimer’s searching for her lost friend before she loses her ability to solve the mystery.

Watch it: PBS


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Let’s all celebrate the fabulous Betty White on her 99th birthday this week

Actress Betty White

Vincent Sandoval/WireImage

The immortal, ever sprightly comic actress is nearing her first century. Her comment: “What am I doing for my birthday? Running a mile each morning has been curtailed by COVID, so I am working on getting The Pet Set re-released.” That’s the 1971 show where she interviewed celebs like Doris Day, Vincent Price and Della Reese, with pets in tow. It arrives on DVD and streaming Feb. 23. In the meantime, watch the entertaining 2018 Netflix special Betty White: First Lady of Television.

Watch it: Betty White: First Lady of Television, on Netflix


Even the Godfather would kiss the ring of this Sicilian mob boss

Gomorrah, Season 3 (HBO Max, Jan. 21)

This fresh, character-rich hit series from Italy is based on a 2009 nonfiction book about the Sicilian Mafia that sold 4 million copies, and it’s got authentic chops. It’s also a family dynasty drama very much on a par with the Godfather movies. The third season, about the gang’s expansion from Naples to Rome, makes sense on its own, but you’ll want to binge all three seasons.

Watch it: HBO Max


Here’s the best thing to watch on Netflix this week

Sarah Lancashire, Anne Reid, Derek Jacobi and Nicola Walker in the TV show Last Tango in Halifax

Matt Squire/PBS

Last Tango in Halifax, Season 4

In the new episodes of the wonderful show about teenage sweethearts (I, Claudius’ Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid of Sanditon) who reunite 50 years later, the couple discover love’s still complicated the second time around.

Watch it: Netflix

RELATED: The 12 Best Things Coming to Netflix in January


Four terrific movies streaming this week you won’t want to miss

MLK/FBI, Unrated

As we approach Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, there could be few better ways to recognize the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s enduring legacy than to watch Sam Pollard’s devastating documentary on the FBI’s surveillance of, and obsession with, the civil rights leader, from 1963 to his 1968 assassination. Prolific Emmy winner Pollard (who has chronicled Zora Neale Hurston, Sammy Davis Jr. and August Wilson) weaves rich black-and-white archival footage with the shrewd insights of political experts and historians.

Watch it: iTunesAmazonGoogle PlayYouTubeVudu, PlayStation, Xbox

One Night in Miami, R

Oscar- and Emmy-winning powerhouse actress Regina King, 49, directs a talky screen adaptation of Kemp Powers’ 2013 play, which imagines a fictional February 1964 night in Miami. Boxer Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), activist Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), athlete Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and crooner Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) gather, party and discuss what it meant, and what the obligations were, to be a successful Black man in ’60s America.

Watch it: Amazon Prime

Some Kind of Heaven, Unrated

Why did 130,000 people flock to live out their golden years in The Villages, the biggest retirement community in America, near Orlando, Florida? Because the developers built it to be a child-free, crime-free paradise for grownups. This absorbing doc takes us inside a fascinating parallel universe, as elders golf, dance, swim, flirt, cheerlead, do karate, play tennis and binge movies in the place envisioned as the Disneyland of retirees.

Watch it: Streaming on demand

Promising Young Woman, R

The dazzling Carey Mulligan plays Cassie, a once-stellar med student, in this smart, stylish revenge flick for the #MeToo era. Cassie spends nights at bars pretending to be blotto to lure men to assault her so she can avenge her childhood friend and med school classmate Nina, whose life was ruined by a sex scandal. Alison Brie (Mad Men), Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) and Alfred Molina (Spider-Man) are terrific, with Molina in an uncredited role as one of Nina’s victimized victimizers. The script wobbles at times, but the performances are must-see.

Watch it: In theaters and on Amazon Prime, iTunes/Apple TV+, Google Play, Vudu, Fandango Now


Who’s a Wheel watcher?

Pat Sajak interacts with the contestants on Wheel of Fortune

Carol Kaelson/ViacomCBS

If you’re anything like us, you cut your Q&A teeth on America’s great quiz and game shows, all the way from To Tell the Truth and What’s My Line? to The $10,000 Pyramid and the newly rebooted Supermarket Sweep. Our critics risk Double Jeopardy by not only naming the best game shows in TV history but ranking them all the way to No. 1. Do our answers match yours? Survey says!: The Best Game Shows in TV History, Ranked


Speaking of Hulu, here are the 10 shows you can stream and be as hip as your grandkids

Pedro Pascal in the Disney Plus series The Mandalorian and Jane Levy in the NBC show Zoeys Extraordinary Playlist

Lucasfilm Ltd.; Sergei Bachlakov/NBC

We might be the land of TV for grownups here, but that doesn’t mean we don’t keep our eye on what younger viewers are loving — especially when those shows are worth the time and attention of the AARP crew. In fact, our critics rounded up 10 terrific series that millennials and younger are watching, which means you’ll have a whole new bunch of stuff to talk about with your young coworkers or grandkids. Check out the whole list (and take 20 years off your TV-watching age), here: 10 TV Shows You Should Watch So You Can Talk About Them With Your Grandkids


Calling All Friends Fans ...

Could we be any happier that HBO Max is running all 10 seasons of Friends? And can you believe that the entire cast is now age 50-plus? In honor of one of TV’s best ensemble casts ever joining the AARP cohort, we’ve gone down the trivia rabbit hole and emerged with a brand-new TV for Grownups quiz: How Well Do You Know These “Friends”? We’ve got trivia about the real cast members as well as their characters. Have fun testing your recall, and challenge your fellow fans.

Take the quiz here: How Well Do You Really Know These “Friends”?


AARP Talks With …

Get behind the scenes of the biggest shows on TV right now with our brand-new interview with ABC reporter Bob Woodruff, 58, who joins up with his son for a new travel show on Disney+; plus Killing Eve’s Sandra Oh, Mrs. America’s Margo Martindale, Making the Cut’s Tim Gunn, and Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi.


Also Catch Up With ...

Mr. Mayor

(NBC, Thursdays, 8 p.m. ET)

Ted Danson is great in Tina Fey’s new sitcom about a businessman, Neil Bremer, who comes out of retirement to find himself the mayor of Los Angeles, with an irritable liberal, Arpi Meskimen (Holly Hunter), as his deputy mayor. “I am 10 years younger than you, but I’m perceived as a kooky old woman and you’re still a sexually viable man,” Meskimen complains to Bremer. “Thank you!” he says. “Like underwear bought in a drugstore, you’re not going to last two months,” she predicts. Though it’s not quite as good as 30 Rock, the stars’ repartee has a familiar ring, and their show will likely last longer.

Watch it here: NBC


Call Your Mother

(ABC, Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m. ET)

In her new sitcom showing off her comedy chops, The Closer star Kyra Sedgwick plays an empty-nester mom who moves thousands of miles to get back into her kids’ lives. (The premiere airs right after an episode of The Conners, 9 p.m. ET, in which another mom with emotional baggage returns to her kids: Candice Bergen as the tart-tongued, booze-loving mother of Jay R. Ferguson’s Ben, boyfriend of Sara Gilbert’s Darlene. Might be worth watching both shows.)

Watch it here: ABC

RELATED: Kyra Sedgwick tells AARP how she dealt with her own empty nest, shares the quarantine baking project she’s obsessed with and explains how Call Your Mother can help us all get through pandemic times: Read more here.


Bridgerton

(Netflix)

Wouldn’t it be great if Downton Abbey had the wickedness of Gossip Girl? That’s what you get from this escapist romantic period fantasy, the first Netflix series from Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal), the super-producer who shocked Hollywood by defecting from ABC to the streaming service in a historic $100 million deal. It’s like Jane Austen with a feminist spin and a multiracial cast like Hamilton — and like Hamilton, Bridgerton’s Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) may have had Black ancestry. The queen likes to meddle in the social season and loathes her rival: viper-tongued gossip columnist Lady Whistledown (Julie Andrews, who advises ambitious girls to learn “the art of the swoon, managing to faint with nary a petticoat out of place”). It’s all sumptuous, very 1811 and 2021, and altogether swoonworthy.

Watch it here: Netflix


Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

(Netflix)

Viola Davis and, in his last role, the late Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) star in Pulitzer Prize-winner August Wilson’s illustrious tale of Ma Rainey, the 1920s Mother of the Blues. It’s hard to say which actor scores the more towering performance. It’s like a duet between geniuses — or, since they’re fighting bitterly over how Ma should record her music, old-dirty-blues-tent-show style or hepcat modern jazz style — an acting duel. Both win, as do all of us.

Watch it here: In theaters and on Netflix

RELATED: Viola Davis tells AARP about Ma Rainey, August Wilson, aging, her big break, and what happens when you get everything you always wanted. Read it here: Viola Davis Finds a Powerful Voice


The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

(HBO)

Falsetto virtuoso Barry Gibb, the last Bee Gee who’s stayin’ alive, tells the spectacular, melancholy story of the brothers who harmonized gorgeously and squabbled nastily as they sold more records than anyone but the Beatles and the Supremes. Eric Clapton, Mark Ronson and Justin Timberlake weigh in, and Noel Gallagher notes it ain’t easy singing with your brother. Barry says, “I’d rather have them all back here and no hits at all.”

Watch it here: HBO


Your Honor

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

Bryan Cranston, who played a good-hearted teacher forced to go criminal to save his family on Breaking Bad, plays a New Orleans judge scheming to help his son escape a hit-and-run accident charge in a high-stakes cat-and-mouse game with the law.

Watch it here: Showtime

RELATED: Cranston talks with AARP about his two good bad-guy roles and his real-life near-recovery from COVID-19: Bryan Cranston Is Back to Challenge Our Loyalties in Your Honor


The Life Ahead, PG-13

(Netflix)

At 86, Sophia Loren is back! In her terrific new tearjerker, directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, she heartwarmingly plays a former prostitute, Holocaust survivor and caretaker for streetwalkers’ children. She looks after an orphaned African street kid (Ibrahima Gueye), grudgingly at first, and develops a deep bond with him.

Watch it here: Netflix

RELATED: Sophia Loren tells AARP about her comeback and her six life lessons


The Crown, Season 4

(Netflix)

The real-life melodrama about Great Britain’s royal family was already the most addictive show on TV ... but now it’s way better, with the best actress yet (Olivia Colman) playing Queen Elizabeth II, in 1982; Emma Corrin as the much-cheated-on Princess Diana; and The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson as the triumphant and vanquished Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Bet you can’t watch just one episode.

Watch it here: Netflix

RELATED: 7 Other Shows About British Royals for Fans of The Crown


Roadkill

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

Wouldn’t it be great if there were another show as worthy of the gifts of Hugh Laurie, 61, as his hit series House? Now there is! Theater great and Oscar nominee David Hare (The Reader, The Hours) presents this cleverly plotted, utterly cynical four-part miniseries about a British politician (Laurie) promoted by a hard-as-nails prime minister (Helen McCrory). He has just won a libel lawsuit against a disgraced young alcoholic reporter (Sarah Greene), but what about his mistress, or the unknown illegitimate prison-convict daughter he just discovered (awkward, since he supervises prisons)? Or the car mishap that inspired the series’ title? Or the new story that the disgraced journalist is onto that may torpedo him?  

Watch it here: PBS


The Trial of the Chicago 7, R

(Netflix)

An utterly wonderful, vivid dramatization of the trial of Chicago’s 1968 demonstrators, with bravura performances by Frank Langella as Judge Julius Hoffman, Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, Michael Keaton as Ramsey Clark and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Seale.

Watch it here: Netflix

RELATED: Frank Langella tells AARP about The Trial of the Chicago 7, his string of history-based hits and the best time of his life — his 80s — here: All Rise for Frank Langella


Netflix’s Black Lives Matter Collection

Netflix unveils a useful, intelligently curated menu of 48 or so top titles including When They See Us, Moonlight, Malcolm X and the current must-see, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods (which could win star Delroy Lindo the Oscar he’s deserved for some time, and maybe the Emmy, too).

Watch it here: Netflix


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