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    Your TV GPS

    What to watch: Late-night election laughs, a binge-worthy Brit import, and a Bulger-inspired drama

    "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" will go live on Tuesday night.
    Scott Kowalchyk/CBS
    "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" will go live on Tuesday night.

    Your TV GPS, Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s look at the week ahead in television, appears every Monday morning on

    Did you know there is an election this week?

    We’re not having a presidential election on Tuesday, but it sure feels like it. Everything in the news and on social media about the midterms has been building toward what some are seeing as a referendum on the president.

    The serious midterm coverage will be TV wallpaper on Tuesday night, on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and FBN.

    But there will be laughs, too — angry and ironic laughs, perhaps, but laughs.


    Those late-night comedians accustomed to cracking timely political jokes will try to stay relevant on Tuesday night, as some of them did during the 2016 election and the 2018 State of the Union address. They’re going live. “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central, “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” at 11:35 p.m. on CBS, and Late Night With Seth Meyers” at 12:35 a.m. on NBC will all be ditching tape, so that the hosts can chime in on the fresh election results.

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    It won’t be live, but “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” will air a bonus Election Eve special, Monday at 10:30 p.m. on TBS. Bee, you may already know, created a trivia game app called “This Is Not a Game: The Game” in an effort to prompt people to vote.

    Not surprisingly, given Jimmy Fallon’s tendency to avoid bold political humor, his “Tonight Show” will be preempted on Tuesday night.

    Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes in Netflix’s “Bodyguard.”
    World Productions/Netflix
    Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes in Netflix’s “Bodyguard.”

    What I’m watching this week (besides the election)

    1. I will finish “Bodyguard” ASAP. Last week, Netflix brought us the six-episode first season of the British drama, which set viewing records in the UK. Richard Madden, a.k.a. Robb Stark on “Game of Thrones,” plays a war vet with PTSD protecting an ambitious senior politician played by Keeley Hawes. The frenetic suspense recalls the best of “24” and “Homeland”; it’s addictive.

    2. Sorry, but I’m still watching and enjoying Amazon’s “The Romanoffs,” despite rabid complaints — I get email — that the episodes are too long and pointless. I understand that the international anthology series is uneven, and that it’s not nearly an equal to creator Matthew Weiner’s “Mad Men.” But I’m still fascinated by its idea of entitlement and generational memory, and impressed by the particulars of the stories. I also like not knowing what’s coming next, and slowly adding to the gallery. This Friday’s drop: “Panorama,” set in Mexico City, with Radha Mitchell, Griffin Dunne, and David Sutcliffe.


    3. Autocorrect does not like Liev Schreiber, as it insists on calling him Live. But I do, and I’m looking forward to seeing him host “Saturday Night Live” for the first time, with musical guest Lil Wayne. Just for this week, let’s call the show “Saturday Night Liev.”

    4. I hate the revival of “Murphy Brown”! I really do! Yeah, I don’t miss an episode. This Thursday at 9:30 p.m., the CBS comedy will continue to troll President Trump and bash us over the head with tired political comedy with the help of guest star Katie Couric.

    5. What what? Another British series? HBO is importing the comedy “Sally4Ever,” beginning Sunday at 10:30 p.m. The seven-episode season is about a love affair gone awry as a woman about to marry her longtime boyfriend falls for a woman — who turns out to be a nightmare. The series, reviewed positively in the U.K., is from Julia Davis, who also wrote, directed, and starred in the original “Camping” (not HBO’s unsuccessful remake).

    6. “Patriot,” the audacious Amazon comedy-farce-drama — it puts the high in hybrid — delivers a second season on Friday. I really liked the first round, a weird combo of “Homeland” and “Get Smart.” The title is generic, but the show is anything but, as a pot-smoking CIA operative with PTSD tries to curtail Iran’s nuclear capabilities through a job at a piping company.

    Channel surfing

    “The E! People’s Choice Awards”

    The show moves to E! this year, as you the people pick your favorites. Victoria Beckham will receive the first-ever — and no doubt very, very prestigious — Fashion Icon Award. E!, Sunday, 9 p.m.

    “The Last Ship”


    The fifth season, and the entire series, sails into the distance. TNT, Sunday, 9 p.m.

    Jenna Coleman stars as the mother of an abducted child in “The Cry.”
    Jenna Coleman stars as the mother of an abducted child in “The Cry.”

    “The Cry”

    Alas, this one is only available on the Sundance Now streaming service. It’s a British (yup) drama about a couple in the aftermath of a child abduction tragedy. Jenna Coleman of PBS’s “Victoria” stars. Sundance Now, Thursday

    “Medal of Honor”

    This docuseries looks at eight recipients of the military’s highest award for valor, which has been given to fewer than 3,600 Americans since President Abraham Lincoln signed it into law in 1861. Netflix, Friday

    “Room 104”

    The anthology series from Mark and Jay Duplass about the characters who pass through a hotel room returns for season two. HBO, Friday, 11:30 p.m.


    Yup, more Brits. The six-episode thriller from the team behind the British “Skins” follows a corrupt circle of college friends. The premiere is already up on YouTube. Pop, Wednesday, 10 p.m.

    Jason Isaacs in Showtime’s "Brotherhood."
    Jason Isaacs in Showtime’s "Brotherhood."



    The Bulger story took a dramatic plot turn recently, which made me think about this 2006-09 Showtime drama. It was set and filmed in Providence, but modeled loosely on Boston’s Bulger brothers. Jason Isaacs was the violent, thugish Caffee sibling, Michael; Jason Clarke was the city councilor, Tommy, plagued by his brother’s reputation. The atmosphere, from the State House to the working class neighborhoods, was outstanding, and so was the acting, with Fionnula Flanagan, Brian F. O’Byrne, Kevin Chapman, and Ethan Embry adding depth to the ensemble. The chemistry between the brothers — the hot rage, suppressed until it wasn’t — and the manipulations of their mother made it all dark and twisty. “Brotherhood,” created by Blake Masters, gave us three fine seasons of the political and the criminal playing a dramatic tug of war. The story lines weren’t particularly well-drawn; I didn’t feel that the seasons were sufficiently mapped out. But the acting and the authenticity made it altogether worthwhile. Showtime platforms, Hulu, Amazon

    Reviewed and recommended

    “Homecoming” (Amazon)

    Julia Roberts shines in this visually splendid and sharply written mystery, based on the podcast.

    “Wanderlust” (Netflix)

    Toni Collette is perfectly wry as a therapist who opens up her marriage.

    Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.