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This week’s TV: Norman Lear at 100, a comedy about reboots, and a reboot of ‘Quantum Leap’

Standing, from left: Octavia Spencer, Jimmy Kimmel, Jennifer Aniston, and Amy Poehler will join in the celebration of Norman Lear (seated) in the ABC special "Norman Lear: 100 Years of Music and Laughter."Eric McCandless/ABC

Your TV GPS, Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s look at the week ahead in television, appears every Monday morning on Today’s column covers Sept. 19-25.

Norman Lear is one of TV’s greats, with a legacy that includes some of the most influential and groundbreaking series in television history — “All in the Family,” “Good Times,” “The Jeffersons,” “Maude,” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” to name just a few.

In the 1970s, he turned scripted TV into something that felt more like America than most of the series that came before him. He gave us real families, facing real cultural, social, economic, racial, and political issues in their daily lives — and leavened it all with sharp humor.


On Thursday at 9 p.m., ABC is going to celebrate Lear and his career, on the occasion of his 100th birthday, with “Norman Lear: 100 Years of Music and Laughter.”

Locals will be glad to know that, before he revolutionized primetime, he graduated from Emerson College. Oh, and he also flew 52 combat missions over Europe during World War II.

He’s an activist as well. In 1980, he founded People for the American Way, a progressive advocacy group fighting right-wing extremism and defending constitutional values like free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.

The two-hour show will be star-studded, with speeches, comedy bits, and songs. The long list of participants includes Jennifer Aniston, Jimmy Kimmel, Amy Poehler, Octavia Spencer, Asante Blackk, George Clooney, Laverne Cox, Isabella Gomez, Emily Hampshire, Tom Hanks, Rita Moreno, Jay Pharoah, Rob Reiner, Aida Rodriguez, George Wallace, Anthony Anderson, Kristen Bell, Ledisi, Justina Machado, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Kelly Rowland.

The special will be available to stream on Friday on Hulu.



1. Those of you who didn’t watch Queen Elizabeth’s funeral this morning will have another chance Monday evening. PBS is offering viewers the BBC’s recap, “The State Funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II: Events of the Day,” from 8-9:30 p.m. on GBH 2.

Keegan-Michael Key in Hulu's meta comedy "Reboot," premiering Tuesday.HULU

2. A TV industry satire about the trend of rebooting beloved shows? Yes please. I love the meta concept of “Reboot,” and it’s in good hands. (Here’s the trailer.) Steven Levitan, co-creator of “Modern Family,” is behind this one, which features Keegan-Michael Key, Johnny Knoxville, and Judy Greer as the original cast of a lousy old series — “Step Right Up” — that’s being revived for Hulu by Rachel Bloom’s character. She and the showrunner of the original, played by Paul Reiser, lock horns. It premieres Tuesday on Hulu.

3. Speaking of reboots, here’s the reboot we’ve all been clamoring for. “Quantum Leap,” which originally ran from 1989-93, is back Monday at 10 p.m. on NBC, without Scott Bakula but with a new time traveler played by Raymond Lee (trailer). Same deal: He leaps through time and into people’s lives, backed up by a team of scientists in the present tense.

4. This one, based on reporting in The Atlantic, is important. Filmmaker Joe Berlinger has executive-produced a six-part documentary series about conspiracy theories — the allure and the danger of them — as well as their move into the mainstream in recent years. (Here’s the trailer.) Called “Shadowland” and premiering Wednesday on Peacock, it gives us teams traveling the country to look into people who’ve bought into ideas involving vaccines, the occult, the 2020 election, and more.


From left: Quinta Brunson, Janelle James, Lisa Ann Walter, Tyler James Williams, Chris Perfetti, and Sheryl Lee Ralph return Wednesday for season two of ABC's "Abbott Elementary." Gilles Mingasson/ABC

5. Perhaps you’ve heard of “Abbott Elementary,” the little ABC mockumentary that has gotten all kinds of big kudos? The charming comedy, about the teachers at a Philadelphia public school, returns for a second season on Wednesday at 9 p.m. with three Emmys (remember that acceptance speech?). Maybe the networks do have a future?

6.Andor,” a 12-episode series premiering Wednesday on Disney+, returns to the “Star Wars” galaxy to focus on Cassian Andor and his path to becoming a rebel hero. The cast includes Fiona Shaw, Stellan Skarsgard, and Diego Luna as Andor.


“Celebrity Jeopardy” A primetime spin-off whose contestants will include Aisha Tyler, Ray Romano, Patton Oswalt, Michael Cera, B.J. Novak, and Constance Wu. ABC, Sunday at 8 p.m.

“The Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist” Two of the Los Angeles teens arrested in 2009 for robbing celebrity homes tell their story. Netflix, Wednesday


“The U.S. and the Holocaust” A powerful three-part documentary from Ken Burns and his team. GBH 2

“The Patient” Steve Carell as a therapist kidnapped by a serial killer. Hulu

“Bad Sisters” A winning Irish comedy/whodunit from Sharon Horgan. Apple TV+

“The Serpent Queen” Samantha Morton is outstanding as Catherine de Medici. Starz

“Wedding Season” An entertaining rom-com whodunit comedy. Hulu

“House of the Dragon” A worthy heir to the throne. HBO and HBO Max


“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” Here’s hoping it improves. Amazon

“Never Have I Ever” The coming-of-age comedy is as sweet as ever in season three. Netflix

“Black Bird” Dennis Lehane’s chilling prison drama stars Taron Egerton. Apple TV+

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.