On the bill this week: “Merry Wives” and George Carlin
Between network, cable and streaming, the modern television landscape is vast. Here are some of the shows, specials and movies coming to television this week, May 16-22. Details and times are subject to change.
THE NIGHT HOUSE (2021) 7:08 p.m. on HBO. Rebecca Hall stars as a grieving New York schoolteacher who must deal with profound loss in this David Bruckner horror film. After her husband of 14 years, Owen (Evan Jonigkeit), commits suicide, Beth (Hall) hides away in her lakeside home. She begins to experience ominous, seemingly supernatural phenomena, which call into question whether she is haunted by grief or something else. The result is a “hyper-focused, bewilderingly certain thriller,” wrote Jeannette Catsoulis in her review for The New York Times. “Bruckner maintains a deadly grip on the film’s mood,” she said, “as its cinematographer, Elisha Christian, transforms the house’s reflective surfaces into shape-shifting puzzle pieces.” Hall, Catsoulis added, is “dramatic, flinty and frayed.”
LIONEL RICHIE: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GERSHWIN AWARD FOR POPULAR SONG 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). Since its inception in 2007, the Library of Congress Gershwin Award has been credited to Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Smokey Robinson and two Pauls – McCartney and Simon – among other important pop musicians. In March, Lionel Richie became the latest recipient, at a ceremony at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, where he was honored by fellow artists including Gloria Estefan (who received the award in 2019), Yolanda Adams, Luke Bryan and Boyz II Men. A recording of the event debuts on PBS Tuesday night.
KINGDOM AFFAIRS 10:30 p.m. on BET. Two sides of gospel singer Yolanda Adams are on display this week: See her in a tribute to Lionel Richie (above) and in this new BET drama, in which Adams plays Denita Jordan, a fictional gospel star who leads a record company. Jordan’s popularity is threatened by a young singer, Rbel (played by Seraya), whose rise is complicated by a turbulent past.
SILVER BALL (2011) 5 p.m. on AMC. The Oakland Athletics get a boost thanks to bean counting and a man named Beane in this biographical drama. Adapted from a nonfiction book by Michael Lewis, “Moneyball” revisits a time around the early 2000s in which then-A’s general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) leads a team transformation – and, ultimately, baseball strategy itself – using statistics. In her review for The Times, Manohla Dargis called it “an all-too-rare kind of enjoyable Hollywood entertainment that gives you high touch”.
THE AMERICAN DREAM OF GEORGE CARLIN 8 p.m. on HBO. It makes sense that this new documentary about comic George Carlin is split into two parts: There really was more than one Carlin. There was the 1960s pug costume-wearing. Carlin’s shaggy “seven big words” from the early ’70s. The old firebrand Carlin from the 2000s. “The moment he seemed to run out of gas, he would suddenly recharge and reinvent himself,” said the comedian and filmmaker Judd Apatow, who directed “American Dream” with Michael Bonfiglio, in a recent interview with The Times. The new documentary, which will air over two consecutive nights on Friday and Saturday, explores the many ups and downs of Carlin’s career and includes interviews with fellow comedians including Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Patton Oswalt, Stephen Colbert, Bill Burr, Bette Midler, W. Kamau Bell and Jon Stewart. It takes its name from a line Carlin said in one of his last specials, “Life Is Worth Losing,” recorded in 2005. “It’s the American dream,” he said, “because that you have to be asleep to believe it”.
GREAT PERFORMANCES: MERRY WIVES 9 p.m. on PBS. After a pandemic hiatus, The Public Theatre’s annual Shakespeare in the Park series returned last summer with this revamp of Shakespeare’s comedy “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Adapted by playwright Jocelyn Bioh, a child of Ghanaian immigrants, and directed by Kenyan-born Saheem Ali, this version of the play is set in an African diaspora community in contemporary Harlem. Its cast is led by Jacob Ming-Trent (“Watchmen,” “The Forty-Year-Old Version”) who, as Falstaff, “combines into one larger-than-life portrait your drunken uncle, a horndog Redd Foxx, and some would like to be Barry White,” Jesse Green wrote in his review for The Times. This PBS show is a recording of the 2021 show filmed at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.
THE NEW YORK TIMES PRESENTS: ELON MUSK’S Crash Course 10 p.m. on FX. Late last year, The Times published an in-depth article about Elon Musk’s persistence in pushing self-driving technology with Tesla in ways that former employees said compromised safety. The work of the journalists behind this story – technology correspondent Cade Metz and automotive industry journalist Neal E. Boudette – is at the heart of this new feature documentary from director Emma Schwartz, which goes even further. in how Musk’s enthusiasm for self-driving cars may be inconsistent with the business and technology situation.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE 11:30 p.m. on NBC. Natasha Lyonne will host SNL’s 47th season finale, fresh off the Season 2 debut of Leone’s own show, “Russian Doll,” on Netflix. Japanese breakfast should be the musical guest.
BOB’S BURGERS 9 p.m. on Fox. Loren Bouchard’s animated sitcom about the Belcher family and their meaty restaurant ends Sunday night with an episode whose plot hinges on the writing of erotic fiction. The show has been renewed for a 13th season on Fox, but it will be back on bigger screens much sooner: “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” is set to hit theaters on May 27.