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 Jan. 17-23.
For the past three years, the Oscar telecast has proceeded without a host. But this year’s big night, on March 27, will indeed feature a point person, that Hollywood denizen who’s willing to take the thankless job regardless of the fact that his or her performance will likely be panned and perhaps wind up in the annals of Oscar’s worst ever.
At least the celebrity doomed to be a punching bag can take solace in the fact that fewer and fewer people have been watching the once massive TV event each year, with last year’s ratings — 10.4 million — the lowest ever, a 56 percent drop from 2020. So yay, fewer people will actually see him or her bomb.
Who should sacrifice him or herself this year? Rumors have been circulating about MCU star Tom Holland and “Saturday Night Live” star Pete Davidson, but I’m skeptical. Both of them may not be well-known enough to the older folks who are integral to the Oscars’ audience.
Here are some of my suggestions. I hope you’ll add yours in the comments section.
BILLY PORTER: He’s eminently watchable and likable, and his costumes will kill. He’s multi-talented, too, so he can do song and dance as well as deliver some comic lines.
STEVE MARTIN AND MARTIN SHORT: They’re a class act, and, if they have a bum night, they’re so established it won’t hurt their reputations. Also, they have a show — Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building” — to promote. I’ve heard some suggest that costar Selena Gomez join them, which might work, too.
JOHN MULANEY: He’d probably score with the stand-up monologue, and, having already hosted the Independent Spirit Awards, he’d probably know how to be loose and goofbally without losing control of the show.
AMBER RUFFIN: The awards shows often turn to talk show hosts, since they’re familiar with the duties of the job. Ruffin, who has a talk show on Peacock after working at “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” can be both satirical and serious, and she’s adept at swinging between stand-up and singing.
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: It doesn’t hurt that everyone loves this charming man, and that his energy is so stubbornly positive. This year, more than most, we may need an affirmative stage presence. Also, he’s got theatricality in his blood and a couple of movies in theaters.
LESLIE JONES: She’s funny, never boring, and witty enough to wing it when need be. She’s a superfan of Hollywood, and unafraid of making fun of it.
WHAT I’M WATCHING THIS WEEK
1. The last season of “Ozark” was its best, as it focused on Wendy’s brother and the cartel lawyer played by Janet McTeer. So I’m particularly eager to see the new batch of seven episodes, the first half of the fourth and final season. They’re available on Netflix on Friday, with the Byrdes continuing their group descent into very bad behavior. A family that goes mad together breaks bad together.
2. “How I Met Your Father” takes its premise from another show — what was it called? Oh right, “How I Met Your Mother.” This new show gives us Hilary Duff as a woman looking for love, like Josh Radnor in the original, and Kim Cattrall as an older version of her, like Bob Saget in the original. Costarring Chris Lowell, Ashley Reyes, and Josh Peck, it premieres Tuesday on Hulu. Expect a little more language and sex, now that it’s a streaming show.
3. Any series from Jason Katims is going to get a look-see from me. He’s the guy behind “Friday Night Lights,” one of my all-timers. This Friday, his latest, called “As We See It,” is premiering on Amazon. It’s about three roommates in their 20s who are on the autism spectrum, as they negotiate their workplaces and their social lives. Rick Glassman, Albert Rutecki, and Sue Ann Pien star as the roommates. Also in the cast: Sosie Bacon and Joe Mantegna.
4. Freeform delivers a dramedic, “Mom”-like series on Thursday at 10 p.m. called “Single Drunk Female.” Sofia Black-D’Elia stars as an alcoholic who moves in with her overbearing mother — Ally Sheedy — to get into recovery. Back in Greater Boston, where there will be accents, her Samantha gets a job at a grocery store and goes to meetings. The series will debut with back-to-back episodes.
5. In 2014, filmmaker James Rutenbeck set out to make a documentary about the Clemente Course in the Humanities in Dorchester. The organization offers low-income adults across the country an opportunity to learn about literature, art, history, and philosophy. But in the process of filming, he started to feel his distance from the subject matter as a white man from a privileged background. The resulting documentary, “A Reckoning in Boston,” is about the students, but it’s also about his own process of self-awareness. It has its TV premiere Monday at 10 p.m. on GBH 2 as part of the “Independent Lens” series. Former Globe film critic Ty Burr called it “a superb examination of our city’s inbred racial inequities that tackles the subject on both the systemic/structural level and the deeply personal.”
6. This sounds weird and possibly great. The elevator pitch: “Drunk History,” but not drunk, and personal history. “True Story With Ed and Randall,” due Thursday on Peacock, has real people telling true stories about their lives, with a celebrity cast reenacting them. Ed Helms and Randall Park are the hosts, and the guests in the first season of six episodes include Terry Crews, Matt Walsh, Tichina Arnold, Adam Palley, Rob Riggle, Maz Jobrani, Terry Bradshaw, and Tawny Newsome.
“Billions” The money drama returns for its sixth season. Showtime, Sunday, 9 p.m.
“Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock” A reboot of the beloved Jim Henson classic, featuring guest voice appearances from Patti LaBelle, Cynthia Erivo, Daveed Diggs, Ed Helms, Kenan Thompson, and Foo Fighters. Apple TV+, Friday
“Station Eleven” The arts outlast the apocalypse in this strong limited series. HBO Max
“Somebody Somewhere” A luminous character portrait starring Bridget Everett. HBO
“All Creatures Great and Small” A sweet series grounded in a great respect for nature and all living things. GBH 2
“Emily in Paris” The scenery continues to be transporting in season two. Netflix
“With Love” For rom-com lovers only, from the maker of the “One Day at a Time” reboot. Amazon
“And Just Like That” The women of “Sex and the City” confront middle age in a more downbeat new series. HBO Max
“Landscapers” Great performances by Olivia Colman and David Thewlis emerge from a thicket of stylized storytelling in this fact-based miniseries. HBO