This week’s TV: Late night’s new look, drug lab scandals, and a sprawling WWII drama

(From left) Jimmy Fallon, Trevor Noah, and Stephen Colbert are among the late-night hosts producing their shows remotely as they adapt to the coronavirus crisis.
(From left) Jimmy Fallon, Trevor Noah, and Stephen Colbert are among the late-night hosts producing their shows remotely as they adapt to the coronavirus crisis.Associated Press

Your TV GPS, Globe critic Matthew Gilbert’s guide to what’s on television, appears at the beginning of each week at BostonGlobe.com. Today’s column covers March 30-April 5.


The late-night hosts have been adapting to social distancing in recent weeks, with many of them putting out video shorts on YouTube and social media. Moving forward, this is what the late-night landscape looks like:

“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Kimmel has been releasing clips online from his home. But beginning Monday, the ABC show will return with new remotely produced episodes. It will air beginning at 12:05 a.m., so the coronavirus coverage on “Nightline” can continue in the 11:35 p.m. slot.


“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” Colbert has been releasing clips from home since production was suspended on March 12, but his show will return to its regular CBS 11:35 p.m. slot on Monday with remotely produced episodes.

“The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” With help from his two daughters, Fallon has been releasing homemade content since his show suspended production on March 13. He’ll continue his “At Home Edition” YouTube videos, featuring new remote interviews with guests, paired with best-of moments from earlier shows nightly at 11:35 p.m.

“Conan” The show returns to TBS on Monday, after a previously planned hiatus from March 16-27. The new full-length episodes will be shot on an iPhone with guests interviewed via video chat and without a studio audience.

“Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” After posting a few “Beeing at Home With Samantha Bee” shorts, Bee has begun to host weekly episodes — standing outdoors — in her regular Wednesday 10:30 p.m. slot on TBS.

“The Late Late Show With James Corden” His nightly CBS show isn’t producing episodes or shorts, but Corden has put together a “Late Late Show Special” set to air at 10 p.m. Monday. He’ll host from his garage and feature musical performances by BTS, Billie Eilish, Andrea Bocelli, and John Legend.


“Late Night With Seth Meyers” The NBC show suspended production on March 13, but Meyers has been releasing content from home, including his “Closer Look” segments.

“The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” Last week, Noah returned to Comedy Central with new episodes produced from home. The temporary title: “The Daily Social Distancing Show With Trevor Noah.”

“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” Oliver planned to return to HBO for regular new episodes, without an audience, on March 29.


1. If you’re from this region, odds are you know the story of Sonja Farak, the Amherst drug lab chemist who tampered with evidence and was arrested in 2013. On Wednesday, Netflix is releasing a four-part docuseries called “How to Fix a Drug Scandal” about the case, tracking Farak’s drug addiction — “I was smoking [drugs] at the lab, I was smoking at home, I actually smoked in the evidence room,” we hear her say in the preview clip — and the ripple effect her actions had on the lives of many convicts. Directed by Erin Lee Carr, who also made “I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth V. Michelle Carter,” the series also includes material about another drug lab falsifier, Annie Dookhan, just in case you aren’t scandalized enough.


Helen Hunt as American journalist Nancy Campbell in "World on Fire," a new "Masterpiece" series on PBS.
Helen Hunt as American journalist Nancy Campbell in "World on Fire," a new "Masterpiece" series on PBS.Dusan Martincek/Dusan Martincek / © Mammoth Screen

2. If you’re looking for a soap opera that plays against the intensely dramatic background of World War II, “World on Fire” is going to satisfy. It’s a new “Masterpiece” seven-parter whose interrelated characters are spread across England, France, Germany, Poland, and the United States. Helen Hunt is one of the stars, playing an American journalist whose candid broadcasts from Berlin give viewers a sense of the progress of the conflict. Also in the cast: Sean Bean, Lesley Manville, and Jonah Hauer-King, who looks like a young Billy Campbell. It premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. on WGBH-2.

3. “Frontline” has a new installment called “Plastic Wars,” Tuesday at 10 p.m. on WGBH-2. It looks into the ways that the plastics industry has used recycling to help sell more plastic.

4. Apple TV+’s “Home Before Dark” is based on the true story of kid journalist Hilde Lysiak. Brooklynn Prince from “The Florida Project” plays the girl who uncovers a cold case that her town — including her father — tried to cover up. Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”) directed the drama, three episodes of which will be available on Friday (the remaining seven will arrive weekly). The series has already been renewed for a second season.

5. I like the cast of the new Netflix movie “Coffee & Kareem,” which is available on Friday, but the story line isn’t promising. Ed Helms is a cop who is dating Taraji P. Henson, but her 12-year-old son tries to break them up. The plan backfires, and the boy and the cop must team up to stop the damage. Also in the cast: Betty Gilpin, RonReaco Lee, and David Alan Grier.


6. Did you submit to the flatness that is “Spenser Confidential”? If you did, you may remember the actress who played Spenser’s girlfriend, the one who yelled “Go Sox” while having sex with him in a restaurant bathroom. She was the lone bright spot in the movie. Her name is Iliza Shlesinger, she’s a comic, and she has a new sketch show that premieres Wednesday on Netflix. It’s called “The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show,” and I’ll definitely check it out.

7. On Friday, Amazon is releasing an eight-episode sci-fi series that’s inspired by the futuristic artwork of Swedish painter Simon Stålenhag. It’s about the people who live in the rural Swedish town above “The Loop,” a “machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe.” The cast of “Tales From the Loop” includes Jonathan Pryce, Paul Schneider, and Rebecca Hall.


“The Scheme” A documentary about the FBI undercover investigation into the college basketball recruiting scandal of 2017. HBO, Tuesday, 9 p.m.

“David Blaine: The Magic Way” The magician performs with guest appearances from Jamie Foxx, Bryan Cranston, Michael Jordan, Dave Chappelle, John Krasinski, and, oh yeah, Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen. ABC, Wednesday, 10 p.m.

(From left) Natasha Leggero, Pauley Perrette, Antonio Corbo, and Jaime Camil in the CBS sitcom "Broke."
(From left) Natasha Leggero, Pauley Perrette, Antonio Corbo, and Jaime Camil in the CBS sitcom "Broke."Sonja Flemming/CBS

“Broke” A new sitcom about a woman whose estranged sister and her family move in after a financial crisis, starring Pauley Perrette and Natasha Leggero. CBS, Thursday, 9:30 p.m.


“Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children” A five-part documentary about the abduction and murder of at least 30 Black kids in Atlanta between 1979-81. HBO, Sunday, 8 p.m.

“The Ten Commandments” Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner star in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 biblical epic. ABC, Saturday, 7 p.m.


Here are some of the lists I’ve composed in recent years, in case you’re looking for suggestions:

• “17 shows to binge-watch while hiding out from coronavirus”

• "11 great television escapes (plus a few extras), because reality is a bit much right now“

• Best new shows of 2020, so far”

• “The most underappreciated TV shows of the decade”

• “I know what you should binge during this storm”

• “Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s top 10 shows of 2019”

Mae Martin (left) and Charlotte Ritchie in "Feel Good."
Mae Martin (left) and Charlotte Ritchie in "Feel Good."Netflix


“Feel Good” Comic Mae Martin’s six-episode charmer about her relationship with a British woman who, until their romance, considered herself straight. Netflix

“My Brilliant Friend: The Story of a New Name” The gorgeously filmed Italian adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels returns with a compelling second season. HBO

“The Plot Against America” A powerful miniseries adaptation of Philip Roth’s alternate history in which the 1940 election of Charles Lindbergh as president ushers in fascism and anti-Semitism. HBO

“The Stranger” A bingeable mystery series based on the Harlan Coben novel about a man whose life is upended when a stranger tells him secrets about his wife. Netflix

“Year of the Rabbit” A kooky comedy about cops in Victorian England — think “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” with Charles Dickens as the showrunner. IFC

“Breeders” An intimate, honest, darkly comic look at the strains of parenting, with Martin Freeman and Daisy Haggard. FX

“Devs” A brainy drama series from Alex Garland (“Ex Machina”) about a woman searching for her boyfriend, who works at a top-secret tech project. FX on Hulu

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.