Your TV GPS, Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s look at the week ahead in television, appears every Monday morning on BostonGlobe.com. Today’s column covers Nov. 23-29.
A TRADITION ALTERED
It’s Thanksgiving in the middle of a pandemic, so the annual parades are going to be somewhat different. Unless you’re on the receiving end of bad information, you probably understand that cramming together in the streets is not a good idea this year. Perhaps next year we’ll be able to breathe all over one another as we watch Broadway promote its shows and giant balloons pass overhead.
There will still be music, floats, balloons, and Santa Claus, but NBC’s “The 94th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” will primarily be a TV-only presentation, without the usual 3 million people in attendance. The march will forgo the usual 2.5-mile route, the balloons will not be pulled by hand but instead by specially designed vehicles, and there will be fewer participants, all of whom will be socially distant and wearing face masks. The activity will be held near Herald Square in Manhattan, home of Macy’s flagship store, and Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Al Roker will co-host.
Broadway has been hit hard by the pandemic, but it will be on display with pre-taped performances from “Hamilton,” “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Mean Girls,” and “Jagged Little Pill.” There also will be musical performances by Dolly Parton, Pentatonix, Dolly Parton, Jordin Sparks, Dolly Parton, Patti LaBelle, and Dolly Parton.
Oh, and Dolly Parton.
The parade presentation airs Thursday morning from 9 to noon.
WHAT I’M WATCHING THIS WEEK
1. If you liked Netflix’s “Dead to Me,” a frenetic mixture of suspense, mystery, murder, and comedy, then you’re a prime candidate for HBO Max’s new limited series, “The Flight Attendant.” Based on the 2008 novel by Chris Bohjalian, it begins with the titular character, a charming single woman with a serious drinking problem, waking up in bed with a dead man, and it spirals out from there. Kaley Cuoco, a bit less ditzy than she was on “The Big Bang Theory,” is the star, with Michael Huisman, Rosie Perez, T.R. Knight, and Zosia Mamet in the supporting cast. It premieres Thursday.
2. Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel “Black Narcissus” gets a sturdy second adaptation, after Deborah Kerr’s 1947 movie. This one is a three-part miniseries that follows Anglican nuns who are starting a convent in the Himalayas and facing down primitive urges. There’s tension in the air, as passions emerge and religious beliefs are challenged. The late Diana Rigg is on board in a small role, and Gemma Arterton stars as Sister Clodagh. All three parts air on FX on Monday at 8 p.m., then become available on Hulu on Tuesday.
3. Acid trips, a possible CIA conspiracy, and a love affair blend together in documentary director Errol Morris’s latest, called “My Psychedelic Love Story.” Morris talks to one of Timothy Leary’s girlfriends, Joanna Harcourt-Smith, whose memoir, “Tripping the Bardo with Timothy Leary: My Psychedelic Love Story,” was published in 2013. (Harcourt-Smith died last month at the age of 74.) Many in the counterculture of the 1960s believed she was sent by the CIA to take down Leary — who was on the run from drug charges in the United States — and turn him into a government informant. Will you turn on your TV, tune in to Showtime on Sunday at 9 p.m., and drop out of your obsessive cell phone viewing for a few hours?
4. As the stomach turns . . . A new episode of PBS’s “Frontline” looks at “Supreme Revenge: Battle for the Court” on Tuesday at 10 p.m. on GBH 2. The hour focuses on the partisan war for the Supreme Court that led to the ascension of “originalist” Amy Coney Barrett, who was confirmed in late October, days before the presidential election.
5. The annual “Soul Train Awards” will air on Sunday at 8 p.m. on BET, VH1, and MTV2, with a preshow starting at 7. Tisha Campbell and Tichina Arnold host for the third time, and the big nominees include H.E.R., Chris Brown, Beyoncé, and Young Thug. Presenters and performers include Babyface, CeeLo Green, Charlie Wilson, Ella Mai, Jazmine Sullivan, Lucky Daye, and Smokey Robinson. The sixth Lady of Soul Award will be presented to Monica.
“The Undoing” The finale, starring Hugh Grant, Nicole Kidman, and Nicole Kidman’s fashions. HBO, Sunday, 9 p.m.
“Women of Worth” Honoring 10 who’ve made a difference in their communities. NBC, Wednesday, 8 p.m.
“Saved by the Bell” The inevitable reboot. Peacock, Wednesday
“Black Narcissus” A three-part miniseries about nuns in the Himalayas, based on the novel by Rumer Godden. FX and Hulu
“Between the World and Me” A star-studded adaptation of the bestseller by Ta-Nehisi Coates. HBO
“The Crown” An eventful and poignant fourth season tracks the punishing Thatcher era and the courtship and marriage of Charles and Diana. Netflix
“Moonbase 8” Fred Armisen, John C. Reilly, and Tim Heidecker have great chemistry in this comedy series, but the scripts mostly fall flat. Showtime
“Roadkill” Hugh Laurie and the rest of the cast save this otherwise formulaic PBS “Masterpiece” miniseries about a corrupt British politician. GBH 2
“The Undoing” A murder-mystery miniseries starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant is entertaining and manipulative. HBO
“David Byrne’s American Utopia” Byrne’s rousing stage musical is adapted for the screen by director Spike Lee. HBO
“The Right Stuff” The series adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s book shows the Mercury astronauts struggling with the happy front NASA needs them to put on. Disney+