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 March 29-April 4.
REVIVAL VICTORY, REVIVAL FAIL
I spent last week waiting eagerly for Thursday, for the return of “Shtisel.” The two-season Israeli drama, about an ultra-Orthodox family in Jerusalem, originally wrapped up in 2015. But it became so popular when it finally came to Netflix in 2018 that the streaming company got the extremely talented gang back together for a new, third season.
I have two points to make about the new episodes:
First, and most importantly, they are excellent. It’s always worrisome when a favorite gets revived; “Arrested Development” has become a model of how things can go very wrong, after Netflix brought it back for a pair of seasons that aren’t nearly as tight and witty as the first three. “Murphy Brown,” “Gilmore Girls,” “The X-Files,” they just didn’t shine upon their returns. It’s often the case that you can’t reboot magic.
But “Shtisel,” which picks up a few years after the events of season two, manages to maintain the quality of the original production. The writers drop us back into a world that doesn’t seem to have stopped, with each main character, played with remarkable consistency by the cast, now coping with different challenges. I won’t spoil anything here. If you’re a fan, you’ll want to discover it all for yourself. The revelations in the first episode are best experienced without knowing anything ahead of time.
As I wrote when I watched the series, at readers’ urgings, in early 2020, “Shtisel” makes me feel much the way I feel reading Victorian novels. Both the show and those books give us characters who are constrained by their culture, who can’t always act on their individuality and their romantic feelings due to community expectations — their chosen lover must be devout enough, or, in the case of the upper–class Brits, well-positioned and wealthy enough. You conform, or you become Lydia Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice,” running off with a man and creating scandal. In both Orthodox and Victorian worlds, sexuality and touching are rare. The smallest signs of attraction — a soft look, or an “accidental” touch — are hugely meaningful.
My second point? It’s hard to know what is going on with some of the streaming interfaces. I watched the first two seasons of “Shtisel,” but my Netflix screen didn’t see fit to tell me, in any of the many queues I see when I call it up, that the show was back for another round. So Netflix brought “Shtisel” back for those who loved it, but then failed to tell us.
Tired of looking in vain, I pressed the “speak” button on my remote and said “Shtisel,” and then “SHTISEL” and then “SH-TISSSS-ELLLL,” but the screen kept telling me it knew nothing about “Stosel.” And that was that. Obviously I ultimately found the episodes, but still: Isn’t it supposed to be a lot easier?
WHAT I’M WATCHING THIS WEEK
1. The “Law & Order”-verse is expanding again. The sometimes unstable Elliot Stabler, formerly of “Law & Order: SVU,” is returning with his own piece of the franchise: “Law & Order: Organized Crime.” Played by Christopher Meloni, Stabler will be part of a new task force created to disassemble the city’s criminal syndicates. Meloni’s costars include Dylan McDermott and Tamara Taylor. NBC is staging a crossover event on Thursday, so that “L&O: OC” will be introduced on “L&O: SUV” at 9 p.m., then continue in its regular time slot, at 10 p.m.
2. Cristin Milioti, who was the mother on “How I Met Your Mother,” and who was irresistible in Hulu’s excellent movie “Palm Springs,” and who stood out in anthology series “Black Mirror” and “Fargo,” has her own HBO Max show, “Made for Love.” She stars with Billy Magnussen and Ray Romano in an eight-episode adaptation of Alissa Nutting’s 2017 novel about a woman who has a high-tech surveillance chip implanted in her brain by her billionaire ex-husband. Three episodes stream on Thursday and next Thursday, followed by the final two on April 15.
3. The relationship between a Norwegian princess and the president of the United States is at the center of a new eight-part “Masterpiece” series called “Atlantic Crossing.” It’s set during World War II, as Crown Princess Martha (Sofia Helin) and her family flee the Nazis and live under the protection of Franklin Roosevelt (Kyle MacLachlan). The story moves back and forth across the pond, with Harriet Sansom Harris as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. It premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. on GBH 2.
4. Lifetime is taking on the life and times of Mahalia Jackson, with Danielle Brooks in the starring role (she was X on “Orange Is the New Black). Due Saturday at 8 p.m., “Mahalia,” produced by Robin Roberts, follows Jackson from her New Orleans youth to her transformation into a revered gospel singer and civil rights icon. The cast includes Jason Dirden, Joaquina Kalukango, Olivia Washington, and Rob Demery as Martin Luther King, Jr.
5. We all remember the Poop Cruise, and now we have its counterpart, “The Last Cruise.” The HBO documentary, Tuesday at 9 p.m., is about the Diamond Princess cruise ship that set sail from Yokohama, Japan, on Jan. 20, 2020. By Feb. 26, it accounted for more than half of all the documented COVID-19 cases outside of China with over 700 infected people on board. The movie, using footage recorded by passengers and crew, looks at what went down on board, as passengers dealt with the then-mysterious illness.
6. Netflix’s “The Serpent” is a scripted miniseries about serial killer Charles Sobhraj, who preyed on Western tourists in Southeast Asia in the 1970s. The eight-parter features Tahar Rahim, from “The Mauritanian” and “The Looming Tower,” as the murderer, with Jenna Coleman, Billy Howle, and Ellie Bamber. It’s available on Friday.
“Worn Stories” People talk about their most meaningful pieces of clothing. Netflix, Thursday
“The Moodys” Denis Leary’s sitcom returns for a second round. Fox, Thursday, 9 p.m.
“The 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards” More awards leading up to the Oscars. TBS and TNT, Sunday, 9 p.m.
“The United States of Al” Chuck Lorre’s latest. CBS, Thursday, 8:30 p.m.
“Call My Agent!” A French series about the star-making machinery, with real-life stars playing comic versions of themselves. Netflix
“Q: Into the Storm” A six-part docu-series that takes a deep dive into conspiracy culture. HBO
“The One” An eight-episode British show about a woman who heads up a dating company that searches DNA samples to create perfect romantic matches. Netflix
“Generation” Questions of gender, sexuality, and sex are in the foreground of the new teen dramedy. HBO Max
“Beartown” A wrenching but rewarding five-parter from Sweden. HBO and HBO Max
“Behind Her Eyes” A suspenseful six-parter about a love triangle that ends with a cop-out twist. Netflix