OPENING THE DOORS
Prepare for inundation, at least during the daytime. ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS will be covering the House’s first open impeachment hearings live. Likewise many of the cable channels, including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and CSPAN.
The first hearing is expected to begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, with diplomat William Taylor and then State Department official George Kent. The second hearing, scheduled for Friday at 11 a.m., is expected to include testimony from former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
But are televised daytime hearings “open door” enough? Will only working journalists, politicians, and frustrated soap-opera audiences be able to take in the raw testimony itself, before it has been shaped and altered by the analysts?
Last week, Bill Moyers and Michael Winship took out an ad in the New York Times urging PBS to air the Trump impeachment hearings in primetime. During Watergate, the two argued, public broadcasting stood above other networks, which only aired the hearings live, by rebroadcasting them at night — “when people who had spent all day working could come home, watch the drama play out without intrusive commentary, and become a part of the process of judgment.” Disrupting regular primetime programming for a few weeks, they wrote, “is a small price to pay for helping preserve the republic.”
When PBS responded to the ad by saying it planned to re-air the hearings in primetime on its digital channel, called World, Moyers was not pleased. In a statement, he called World “a place where important programs are sent to die.” “How in the world — no pun intended — does it serve democracy to hide the hearings from people who come home from work to see them but don’t have cable, satellite, and internet access? If PBS were truly an alternative to corporate networks, it would repeat the hearings in prime time for the mass audience. Period.”
WHAT I’M WATCHING THIS WEEK
1. I’ve waited for this for far too long. Netflix’s “The Crown” returns for season 3 with a new lead cast on Sunday, and, since I am a big Olivia Colman fan, I couldn’t be happier. The Oscar-winning actress from “Fleabag,” “Broadchurch,” and “The Favourite” brings a more sour, removed quality to Queen Elizabeth than Claire Foy did, and she’s excellently supported by a grumpy and arch Prince Philip played by Tobias Menzies. Another plus: Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth’s opposite, the expressive and louche Princess Margaret.
2. Here we go again. Apple TV+ launched earlier this month, and, on Tuesday, Disney+ is coming at us. Because we all really, really need more TV. The streaming service will arrive with a few new series, the most notable one being “The Mandalorian,” which is set in the “Star Wars” universe and takes place five years after “Return of the Jedi.” Strangely, Disney+ did not make the biggest series in its launch available for review. The others include:
• “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” – A bit of meta from the Mouse. It’s a half-hour show about the making of a musical of “High School Musical” at the school where the original movie was shot.
• “Marvel’s Hero Project” – Marvel’s first unscripted series is about kids who’ve done extraordinary things.
• “Encore!” – The show reunites former high school classmates to restage a musical from their youth. Kristen Bell hosts.
• “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” – The actor explores simple topics like “Sneakers” and “Ice Cream.”
• “The Imagineering Story” – A look back at the creation of Disneyland.
3. Victim-blaming, among other awful things, takes the spotlight in “The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park,” a five-part, three-night documentary series that will air on both AMC and Sundance beginning Wednesday at 9 p.m. It’s about the 1986 death of 18-year-old Jennifer Levin at the hands of 19-year-old Robert Chambers. The case — about two white kids — became a tabloid sensation, particularly after the strapping Chambers claimed Levin’s death was accidental after she attempted to rape him. Time to revisit this ugliness, just as we’ve recently revisited a number of historical cases including the O.J. Simpson and Exonerated Five trials.
4. OK, so the caves look like they’re from a high-school theater production, and the scenes often seem to be solely about Ross’s black bob and Demelza’s red hair and bright outfits against the bleak but breathtaking Cornwall landscape. Still, I’ve enjoyed every episode of “Poldark,” the “Masterpiece” series about heroism and adventure in the late 1700s. It sure is pretty. The series finale airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on WGBH-2.
5. Perhaps this is Kat Dennings’s effort to detox after “2 Broke Girls”? “Dollface” is a comedy about a woman trying to reconnect with her female friends after her sexist boyfriend dumps her. Sure, women giving up female friends when they get a boyfriend has been a story line on every friends sitcom ever; but I like the idea of honoring and exploring friendship, and I’m curious. It premieres Friday on Hulu.
6. On Wednesday at 8 p.m, ABC will air the Country Music Awards, which will be cohosted by Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, and Dolly Parton. The night before, Parton, the woman who crosses all boundaries and is liked by everyone, will be the subject of a new ABC special. “Dolly Parton: Here She Comes Again” will find Parton and news anchor Robin Roberts looking back through Parton’s life, on Tuesday at 10 p.m.
7. “I’m With the Band: Nasty Cherry,” which arrives on Netflix Friday, is a six-episode docu-series in which British pop star mentor Charli XCX creates an all-girl glam-punk band.
8. Harry Styles is the host and musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” this week.
“Catherine the Great”
The finale on the Helen Mirren vehicle. HBO, Monday, 10 p.m.
“Jeff Garlin: Our Man in Chicago”
A stand-up set from the “Goldbergs” star. Netflix, Tuesday
A documentary portrait of Ralph Lauren and his brand. HBO, Tuesday, 9 p.m.
“The Man in the High Castle”
The fourth and final season of the alternate history. Amazon, Friday
It’s the 350th episode! ABC, Thursday, 8 p.m.
“The 2019 Soul Train Awards”
Performers include Queen Naija, K. Michelle, SiR, Boyz II Men, and Luke James. BET, Sunday, 8 p.m.
The seventh season is here for you. Showtime, Sunday, 8 p.m.
NEXT STOP: THE THEATER
Six episodes of “The Twilight Zone” are coming to a theater near-ish you on Thursday night, as part of a 60th anniversary celebration of the classic and still-influential series. The episodes, listed below, will be digitally restored, and they will screen in some 600 locations across the country.
If you’re interested, go to FathomEvents.com, where the long list of local theaters involved includes Revere Showcase Cinemas, Legacy Place in Dedham, and AMC South Bay Center 12 in Dorchester.
The episodes, all notable, will appear with a new documentary short called “Remembering Rod Serling.” It looks into Serling’s history, including his time as a paratrooper in World War II and his early writing days in live television, and it features interviews with friends, collaborators, and members of the Serling family.
• “Walking Distance” – A Madison Avenue executive (Gig Young) stops his car at a gas station near his hometown, which he left 25 years earlier. He decides to walk there, and meets his 11-year-old self and learns about the dark side of nostalgia. (Original airdate: Oct. 30, 1959)
• “Time Enough at Last” – Harry Bemis (Burgess Meredith) loves to read, but he’s too busy to find time. He sneaks into the bank vault where he works to read, and there’s a nuclear explosion. With the world gone, Harry has nothing but reading time. But, oh, wait. (Original airdate: Nov. 20, 1959)
• “The Invaders” – An elderly woman (Agnes Moorehead; Endora!) who lives alone hears noises on her roof and finds what seems to be an enemy flying saucer. Mmm hmm. The episode is mostly silent. (Original airdate: Jan. 27, 1961)
• “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” – Residents are disturbed by a noise and a tremor, and paranoia descends upon a once-peaceful neighborhood. (Original airdate: March 4, 1960)
• “Eye of the Beholder” – Janet Tyler (Maxine Stewart) has always been troubled by horrible facial disfigurement, and now, on her 11th trip to the hospital, her bandages will soon come off. Twist! (Original airdate: Nov. 11, 1960)
• “To Serve Man” – A man recounts recent events on Earth after the arrival of an alien spacecraft, attempting to decrypt a book the aliens left behind. (Original airdate: March 2, 1962)