The week in TV: ‘Roma’ at home, Springsteen on Broadway, and therapists on screen

Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar contender “Roma” just debuted in theaters but will be available to Netflix subscibers Friday.
Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar contender “Roma” just debuted in theaters but will be available to Netflix subscibers Friday.Carlos Somonte/Courtesy of Netflix

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


There is debate afoot about writer-director Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma.” Not about the film itself, which is an Oscar favorite that our own Ty Burr gave four stars. The argument is about how to watch it.

Currently atop many year-end Top 10 lists, “Roma” is being distributed by Netflix, which just put it in theaters. But the streaming service — the one that regularly chains you to your couch and soothingly whispers “DON’T GO OUT TONIGHT MY DEAR” in your ears — is also quickly making the movie available in Netflix homes — this Friday. The company is giving its high-profile movies — such as “Roma” and the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” — that brief exclusive theatrical release only to qualify for the Oscars and to attract prestige directors.

Many movie critics are begging you to go a theater to see “Roma,” which is in black-and-white, to experience its full power, even while it’s available on your home screens.


But Netflix’s head of content, Ted Sarandos, has different ideas about the streaming option for new movies. He recently said that movie exhibitors’ demand for exclusive theatrical runs has done more harm than good. “They’ve disconnected people from movies in a way,” he said at a conference in New York. “I don’t think it’s very consumer-friendly that consumers who don’t happen to live near a theater are waiting six months, eight months to see a movie.”

At a Variety event in Beverly Hills, he added, “What I want to do is connect people with movies they’re going to love. And they’re going to love ‘Roma’ . . . on their phone, they’re going to love it on a huge big screen.”


They may indeed love “Roma,” but they will love it differently depending on where they see it. The fast accessibility that Netflix offers is great — it’s more democratization of content, in a way — but let’s not pretend watching at home, and especially on your phone, is as powerful as watching in the anonymity of a dark, quiet (please) movie theater. I’m a TV critic, but I certainly recognize the great impact of the big screen, especially when it’s a glorious one, like the screen at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, and not just a shoebox with a projector.

You can read books in hardcover and paperback, and you can read them on your device. You should also be able to choose to watch movies at home or at a theater. As long as both options continue to exist, the choice is the answer.

Netflix's "Springsteen on Broadway" will show the entirety of the singer’s solo acoustic Broadway show.
Netflix's "Springsteen on Broadway" will show the entirety of the singer’s solo acoustic Broadway show.Netflix


1. Do you have a hungry heart for Bruce Springsteen? Were you born to run for tickets to his shows? Are you blinded by the light of his fire, which lit your glory days? Magic is coming for his fans, as “Springsteen on Broadway” comes to Netflix on Sunday. It’s available first thing, at 3 a.m., but you might want to wait — because the night is time for the Boss. Turn on the lights, though, or you’ll just be dancing in the dark OK I’ll stop now sorry.


2. The networks are all about fall finales now, sometimes with mild cliffhangers, to remind people that the shows will indeed be returning after the holiday season. There are a number of them this week, including ABC’s “The Conners” on Tuesday and the CW’s “Riverdale,” ABC’s “Modern Family,” and ABC’s “Single Parents” on Wednesday. I wish could like the latter of those — I’m drawn to the theme and the cast — but good lord it’s awful.

3. There’s quite a roster of interviewees on “Vice Special Report: The Panic Artists.” Former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, plus Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emanuel, Josh Bolten, Jamie Dimon, and others talk about the 2008 financial crisis 10 years later. HBO, Monday, 10 p.m.

4. I am fully transported by the HBO adaptation of the first of Elena Ferrante’s four Neapolitan novels, “My Brilliant Friend,” which finishes up on Monday night. It’s like getting one of them fancy-like art movies delivered right to yer house. It’s about youth, it’s about how friends define themselves against each other, it’s about the cultural limits forced onto smart ambitious girls. HBO has renewed the show.

5. I enjoy the rapport between Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Colbert (like that time she was carried in by four topless men wearing Lincoln hats and beards). On Monday, she’ll be his guest once again on CBS’s “The Late Show,” along with Bryan Cranston, which ought to be noteworthy. She wrote about LBJ, he played him.


6. I go from adoring “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” to cringing at its excesses. Sequences in the second season, such as the highly choreographed piece when the Weissman household wakes up, make me smile. And then the overdone scenes — when Rose sees a naked man posing for her art class and makes a big deal — irritate me. Anyhow, I’m going to finish up season two, which travels to Paris and the Catskills, on Amazon this week.


“CMA Country Christmas”

Reba McEntire hosts the annual special, with performances by Tony Bennett, Dan + Shay, Brett Eldredge, Amy Grant, Diana Krall, Dustin Lynch, Martina McBride, Old Dominion, and Brad Paisley. ABC, Monday, 8 p.m.

The documentary series "The Innocent Man" is adapted from a book by John Grisham.
The documentary series "The Innocent Man" is adapted from a book by John Grisham.Netflix

“The Innocent Man”

John Grisham’s nonfiction book about murder in 1980s Oklahoma becomes a six-part documentary series. Netflix, Friday

“Jeff Beck: Still on the Run”

A documentary about the life and times of the British guitarist, featuring interviews with Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, Slash, Joe Perry, David Gilmour, Ronnie Wood, Beth Hart, and Jan Hammer. Showtime, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

“The Fix”

In this new 10-episode series, comedians Jimmy Carr, D.L. Hughley, and Katherine Ryan take on world issues with help from guest comics and experts. Friday, Netflix

“The 87th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade”

Hope it doesn’t snow on Grand Marshal Nancy O’Dell and hosts Erik Estrada, Laura McKenzie, Dean Cain, and Montel Williams. The CW, Friday, 8 p.m.


Lorraine Bracco as psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi and James Gandolfini as mob boss Tony Soprano in “The Sopranos.”
Lorraine Bracco as psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi and James Gandolfini as mob boss Tony Soprano in “The Sopranos.”AP


Does the season drive you crazy? Perhaps you need a spot of therapy, TV-style. Watching healing as a form of healing? Here’s a list of my favorite TV shrinks, including a pair (see numbers 7 and 8) intended solely for laugh therapy.

1. HUMAN: Gabriel Byrne as Dr. Paul Weston, “In Treatment

2. SUBDUED: Bob Newhart as Dr. Bob Hartley, “The Bob Newhart Show”

3. CONFLICTED Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Jennifer Melfi, “The Sopranos”:

4. SAINTLY: Rita Moreno as Sister Peter Marie Reimondo,“Oz”

5. DRY: Jonathan Katz voicing Dr. Katz, “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist

6. COMPASSIONATE: Allan Arbus as Dr. Sidney Freedman, “M*A*S*H”

7. ABSURD: David Cross as Dr. Tobias Fünke, “Arrested Development”

8. FLIP: Lisa Kudrow as Dr. Fiona Wallice, “Web Therapy”


If you want to take a gander at my 2018 Top 10 list, it’s here. Tell me what you think.

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