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This week’s TV: ‘This Is Us’ gets ready to go, Claire Danes returns, and the Kids in the Hall reunite

Sterling K. Brown (left) as Randall and Justin Hartley as Kevin in "This Is Us."Ron Batzdorff/NBC

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 May 9-15.

We’re approaching the series finale of NBC’s “This Is Us.” There are only three episodes left in this current sixth season, with the last of them airing on May 24. Most likely, since we live in a time when nothing in entertainment is ever truly over, and since “This Is Us” has a vibrant younger-generation cast, there will be some kind of reboot at some point; but in the meantime let’s pretend the end is the end.


I’ll have more to say closer to the finale, but I will say now that I am enjoying the closing hours of the series, the last network drama that has drawn me in. I’ve complained about “This Is Us” — particularly the writers’ obsession with schmaltziness as they try to create a healing family environment — and I’ve gotten increasingly annoyed by a number of the characters, resulting in some ruthless hate-watching. Let’s just say I was a fan of Mean Toby.

But I remain impressed by the structure of the show. Too many series jump back and forth in time these days, and often it distracts and undermines the drama. But “This Is Us” has done non-linear storytelling beautifully through the years. When it’s over, the series will have provided one of TV’s broadest, yet most detailed portraits of an extended family, spanning at least four generations.

This Tuesday’s episode is called “Family Meeting,” and it zeroes in on something that has been brewing for a while: Kevin, Kate, and Randall need to come up with a plan for their mother, as she continues to weaken.



1. Claire Danes returns to TV in “The Essex Serpent,” a limited series based on the Sarah Perry novel. She plays a London widow who, after her abusive husband dies, moves to Essex to look into reports of a mysterious and murderous sea serpent. She’s a woman of science, and she forms a bond with a man of faith played by Tom Hiddleston. The six-episode gothic tale premieres Friday on Apple TV+. Here’s the fog-filled trailer.

2. It’s redrum time, again, as TV’s current affection for more real-life crime adaptations continues. There are two scripted series on the way about Candy Montgomery, the Texas wife and mother accused of murdering her friend with an ax in 1980. The first to arrive is Hulu’s “Candy,” a five-parter starring Jessica Biel (as the titular character), Melanie Lynskey, Timothy Simons, Pablo Schreiber, and Raúl Esparza. It premieres Monday, with one new episode released each day this week (here’s the trailer). The other version, by the way, is coming from HBO Max and will star Elizabeth Olsen.

Alison Oliver (left) and Sasha Lane in Hulu's "Conversations with Friends."Enda Bowe/HULU

3. The creative team behind the excellent “Normal People” takes on an earlier Sally Rooney novel, “Conversations With Friends.” This one, which premieres Sunday on Hulu, is about college ex-girlfriends who are poets in Dublin and who get entangled with an older married couple (the trailer is here). Alison Oliver stars, with Sasha Lane, Joe Alwyn, and Jemima Kirke. Like “Normal People,” it’s 12 half-hour episodes.

4. Rose Leslie and Theo James costar as a married couple who have a problem in “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” since he has a genetic disorder that causes him to time-travel to different periods in their lives. He just drops out of the sky naked and without money or shelter in all kinds of situations. Premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO, “The Time Traveler’s Wife” is adapted by Steven Moffat (“Sherlock,” “Doctor Who”) based on Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 novel. Desmin Borges and Natasha Lopez also star (here’s the trailer).


The Kids in the Hall return with a new series on Amazon.Jackie Brown

5. Maybe this time is the charm, as the Kids in the Hall reunite once again for an eight-episode Amazon sketch series. Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson are back with a season of new characters and old favorites, premiering Friday. Guest stars on “The Kids in the Hall” will include Catherine O’Hara, Fred Armisen, Pete Davidson, Kenan Thompson, Will Forte, Tracee Ellis Ross, Jay Baruchel, Samantha Bee, and Eddie Izzard. Here’s a flashback to season one, episode one, of the original series, which ran from 1989-1995.

6. Another month, another series from David E. Kelley, the guy behind “Anatomy of a Scandal,” “Big Sky,” “Big Shot,” “Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.,” “Goliath,” “Nine Perfect Strangers,” “The Undoing,” “Mr. Mercedes,” and “Big Little Lies.” This one, “The Lincoln Lawyer,” is an adaptation of one of the Mickey Haller novels by Michael Connelly, which revolve around a guy who practices law out of his Lincoln Town Car. Haller, played by Matthew McConaughey in the 2011 movie, is played this time by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, with a supporting cast including Neve Campbell, Becki Newton, Jazz Raycole, Angus Sampson, and Christopher Gorham. It premieres Friday on Netflix.



“Hacks” The second season of Jean Smart’s comedy premieres. HBO Max, Thursday


The best of the year so far.

“The Staircase” Colin Firth stars in a stellar adaptation of the Michael Peterson case. HBO Max

“Gentleman Jack” Suranne Jones continues to shine in season two. HBO

“Ozark” The drama ended with some bad choices. Netflix

“We Own This City” A potent miniseries about crooked cops in Baltimore. HBO

“A Very British Scandal” Claire Foy and Paul Bettany in a portrait of an ugly divorce. Amazon

“Ridley Road” A PBS “Masterpiece” drama set among neo-Nazis in 1960s London. GBH 2

“The First Lady” A look at Michelle Obama, Betty Ford, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Showtime

“Law & Order” The series returns with lazy writing. NBC

“Julia” Sarah Lancashire is just right in this comedy about Julia Child. HBO Max

“Slow Horses” A taut, entertaining spy drama starring Gary Oldman. Apple TV+

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