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This week’s TV: The Oscars at long last, Earth Day shows, and a new Ed Helms comedy

Ed Helms as Nathan Rutherford in Peacock's "Rutherford Falls."
Ed Helms as Nathan Rutherford in Peacock's "Rutherford Falls."Colleen Hayes/Peacock

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 April 19-25.


After a two-month delay, the Oscars will finally air this coming Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC. The awards season is FINALLY coming to an end. Will people watch? The ratings for other awards shows have plummeted during the pandemic, with the Golden Globes down a whopping 60 percent. That doesn’t bode well for the Oscars telecast, especially when you consider that its viewership already was falling fast, dropping 44 percent between 2014 and 2020.


What will the annual movie ceremony, the 93rd, look like? “It’s not going to be like anything that’s been done before, so we’re leaning into that,” Steven Soderbergh, one of the three producers of the 93rd Oscars telecast, said in a recent press conference. The idea is to keep the night largely Zoom-free, unlike most of the other awards shows that have aired during the pandemic, and to safely feature as many live nominees and presenters as possible.

Soderbergh also said of the hostless event, “You’ll feel like you’re watching a movie,” whatever that means. The night’s “performers” will include Renee Zellweger, Joaquin Phoenix, Laura Dern, and Brad Pitt — last year’s winners — as well as Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Bong Joon Ho, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Harrison Ford, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Reese Witherspoon, and Zendaya.

The Oscars, which will also include pre-taped material, will take place in multiple spots around the globe. In Los Angeles, the ceremony will be split between the Dolby Theater (where the Oscars are normally held) and Union Station. Outside the United States, the Oscars will have a number of live outposts in London, Paris, and elsewhere.


Before the main ceremony, ABC will broadcast a pre-show at 6:30 p.m. hosted by Ariana DeBose and Lil Rel Howery called “Oscars: Into the Spotlight.” It will look at the nominees in depth and feature performances of the nominated songs. And then after the ceremony, at around 11:30 p.m., ABC will air an after-show called “Oscars: After Dark,” hosted by Colman Domingo and Andrew Rannells. Because when the Oscars are over, we always want more . . .

Usually, the Independent Spirit Awards ceremony takes place the day before the Oscars, but this year will be different. The largely virtual event will air Thursday at 10 p.m. on IFC (and AMC+), with “Saturday Night Live” cast member Melissa Villaseñor as host. Beginning this year, the Spirit Awards will honor TV, with five categories focusing on new series.


1. A new comedy series from Mike Schur of “Parks and Recreation” and “The Good Place,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” writer Sierra Teller Ornelas, and Ed Helms, who also stars? Yeah, I want to go to there. “Rutherford Falls,” which premieres Thursday on Peacock, features Helms as Nathan Rutherford, who is fighting to keep up a statue of his ancestor. That puts him at odds with the leaders of a neighboring Native American reservation as well as his best friend, played by the endearing Jana Schmieding. The series reportedly has a large Native American writing staff, by the way. Dustin Milligan from “Schitt’s Creek” is also in the cast.


Greta Thunberg shown in Poland in "Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World."
Greta Thunberg shown in Poland in "Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World."Courtesy of Jon Sayers and BBC STUDIOS

2. A new PBS three-part docu-series follows young environmental activist Greta Thunberg on her impassioned mission to call attention to climate change. “I don’t want you to listen to me,” she says in the preview. “I want you to listen to the science.” She meets leading climate scientists and visits global locations to view the impact of the crisis, including melting glaciers, dying trees in Canada, and fire devastation in California. “Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World” will air in its entirety on Thursday — Earth Day — at 8 p.m. on GBH 2.

3. The Earth Day theme continues with “Cher & the Loneliest Elephant” Thursday on Paramount+. Our Lady of Cher works with animal welfare organization Four Paws to relocate Kaavan, a 36-year-old elephant who lives alone in a zoo in Pakistan, to a Cambodian sanctuary with other rescue elephants.

4. Thursday also marks the release of “Secrets of the Whales” on Disney+. No, that’s not me getting all mushy after watching a clip of a mother orca pushing a dead calf through the water as narrator Sigourney Weaver tells us that she “may stay with her dead infant for days, even weeks.” The four-part docu-series looks into the communication skills and social structures of five different whale species: orcas, humpbacks, belugas, narwhals, and sperm whales. It was filmed over three years in 24 locations.

5. Are you ready to look back at the 2020 Trump rallies? Comedy Central wants to trigger you, with a special revolving around “Daily Show” contributor Jordan Klepper’s coverage of the MAGA-verse, including some of his favorite moments and all-new interviews with some of the people he met along the way. “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Presents: Jordan Klepper Fingers The Pulse — Into The MAGAverse” airs Monday at 11 p.m. (and will be available Tuesday on Paramount+). Also in the mix: a survey of pending sedition trials.


6. This anthology show, made during the production-challenged height of the pandemic, sounds very post-modern and potentially entertaining. Created by Jeff Baena and produced by the Duplass Brothers, “Cinema Toast” reinvents older movies to tell brand-new stories. Directors include Jay Duplass and Aubrey Plaza, and the cast of voice actors includes Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Fred Armisen, John Early, Christina Ricci, Megan Mullally, Chloe Fineman, and Chris Meloni. The series will be available on Tuesday on all Showtime streaming platforms.

From left: Kit Young As Jesper Fahey, Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker, and Amita Suman as Inej Ghafa in Netflix's "Shadow and Bone."
From left: Kit Young As Jesper Fahey, Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker, and Amita Suman as Inej Ghafa in Netflix's "Shadow and Bone."Attila Szvacsek/Netflix


“Great Performances: Romeo and Juliet” Josh O’Connor of “The Crown” and Jessie Buckley of “Fargo” are the star-crossed lovers in a modern-dress staging of Shakespeare. GBH 2, Friday, 9 p.m.

“Shadow and Bone” A series adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s “Grishaverse” YA fantasy novels. Netflix, Friday

“Generation Hustle” A 10-episode docu-series about “brilliant and brazen” young entrepreneurs. HBO Max, Thursday

“Philly D.A.” A docu-series about District Attorney Larry Krasner and his efforts to reform a system with one of the highest incarceration rates in the country. GBH 2, Tuesday, 9 p.m.



“Mare of Easttown” Kate Winslet stars as a weary survivor in a compelling seven-part murder mystery. HBO

“The Nevers” The supernatural drama relies on special effects and whiz-bam audio stylings for narrative sustenance. HBO

“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

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