The week in watching: Mueller speaks, goodbye to ‘Orange,’ and a backlash to the ‘Thrones’ backlash
Your TV GPS, Globe critic Matthew Gilbert’s guide to what’s on television, appears at the beginning of each week at BostonGlobe.com. Today’s column covers July 22-28.
DEFENDING THE ENDING
So often there is controversy over the finales of beloved series. Sure, most viewers liked the last episodes of “Six Feet Under,” “Newhart,” “Mad Men,” and “Breaking Bad,” among others.
But fans are still divided over the final outings of “How I Met Your Mother,” “Lost,” “The Sopranos,” “Dexter,” “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” and “St. Elsewhere.”
Oh yeah, and “Game of Thrones.”
When the subject of the HBO epic drama comes up, which is still surprisingly regularly, fans generally talk about the last season and the last episode, the one where Bran, a somewhat secondary character, shruggingly accepted the throne after we’d waited all those years to find out who’d win it.
I was not a big fan of the finale, although it wasn’t a disaster like the end of “Lost,” a puzzle show whose excellence depended largely on a clear denouement. I would not steer a viewer to “Lost” because it fell apart; I would definitely still recommend “Game of Thrones,” even though the end was rushed and sloppy.
But I really don’t see the rampant criticism of the end of “GoT” as some kind of media conspiracy against the show. Last Friday, a few “Game of Thrones” cast members appeared at Comic-Con, including Conleth Hill, the actor who played Varys. Hill’s opinion of the backlash is way off the mark and suggests that the show’s fans aren’t very independent-minded.
“You look at the amount of people that are here, and we’re here to thank you for watching us all these years,” he said to the crowd. “We’re very grateful for your fandom over the years, and I think this is the reality, rather than a media-led hate campaign.”
WHAT I’M WATCHING THIS WEEK
1. I know you read and processed all 448 pages of the Mueller report long ago. Nonetheless, on Wednesday, Robert Mueller will testify to two congressional committees — reluctantly — about the findings of his investigation, perhaps correcting some of the mischaracterizations made by Attorney General William Barr in March. We’ll hear the facts about Russia’s attack on our democracy and how the Trump campaign handled that assistance — if you still care about facts. Look for coverage “all over the dial,” as we used to say.
2. This one hasn’t premiered yet, but Amazon just renewed it for a second season. It’s called “The Boys,” it’s based on a comic of the same name, it’s produced by, among others, Seth Rogen, and it’s a twist-up of the superhero phenomenon. On the show, available Friday, superheroes are revered celebrities who abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. Jack Quaid, so endearing in the movie “Plus One” with Maya Erskine, stars as one of the vigilante boys trying to bring down the crooked conglomerate that manages the superheroes. Also in the cast: Chace Crawford, Elisabeth Shue, Laz Alonso, Antony Starr.
3. “Orange Is the New Black” helped usher in the Netflix revolution when it premiered back in 2013, and it helped usher in a new era in narrative structure on TV, as each episode delivered a powerful back story. On Friday, the seventh and final season is available, for those still watching. I gave up after the filler-tastic fifth season, the riot season. I’ll always be grateful to the series for bringing so many actresses – including Samira Wiley, Laverne Cox, Uzo Aduba, and Dascha Polanco — into the mainstream.
4. This HBO movie tells a too-familiar story of a high school girl who wakes up on her front lawn after blacking out and a cellphone video that murkily proves she was sexually assaulted. “Share,” which premiered at Sundance earlier this year and now has a 73 rating on Metacritic, focuses on her parents’ drive to punish the boys and her own wish to ignore it all. It airs Saturday at 10 p.m.
5. I was going to announce that the revival season of “Veronica Mars” — after the original run from 2004-07 and the Kickstarter-funded 2014 film — will appear on Hulu on Friday, as scheduled. But then Hulu pulled a fast one and unexpectedly released all eight episodes last Friday after creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell appeared at Comic-Con. So the new season is there waiting for you. It’s set in the present day, with Veronica in a new murder mystery during spring break. Joining the original cast: Patton Oswalt, J.K. Simmons, and Mary McDonnell.
6. I’ve begun to look forward to Comedy Central’s scripted releases, since the channel’s “The Other Two” and “Corporate” have stolen my heart. The new one, premiering on Wednesday at 10:30 p.m., is called “South Side.” Set in Chicago, it’s about two entrepreneurial friends, played by Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle, who work at a rent-to-own shop.
7. HBO has been upping its already strong documentary programming this year, and the latest is “Who Killed Garrett Phillips?” Airing Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m., the two-parter revisits the 2011 murder of 12-year-old Garrett Phillips in his upstate New York home. Police quickly focused their attention on Oral “Nick” Hillary, a black man in the mostly white community, a college soccer coach and the ex-boyfriend of Garrett’s mother. The miniseries, from two-time Academy Award-nominee and Emmy-winner Liz Garbus, looks into questions of racial bias and the criminal justice system.
8. “The Great Hack” is a Netflix documentary, due Wednesday, about the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook story and how data can be exploited to wage cultural and political wars.
The origin story of Batman’s butler premieres. Epix, Sunday, 9 p.m.
A documentary miniseries looking at 34 canine species. Smithsonian, Sunday, 8 p.m.
Katee Sackhoff stars in a new sci-fi series as an astronaut in search of alien intelligence. Netflix, Thursday
Time to get to work. The second season of “Succession” premieres on Aug. 11 on HBO, so you need to catch up on the first season if you missed it. It’s perfect summer viewing — soapy, well-acted, and at times quite funny. I won’t say it’s one of those major dramas that will go on all-time lists, like “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad.” It’s more along the lines of “Billions,” as it features a lot of bad people doing bad things for money.
The Roys are a media family like the Murdochs, and the children are struggling to be dad Logan Roy’s favorite — and the inheritor of his massive empire. The four kids are creeps, just like everyone on this show about greed — but their amorality is tons o’ fun. It’s the Murdochs, yes, but it’s also the Carringtons. These people can’t even enjoy their power because they’re so insecure about losing it. They’re the worst of the one percent, and the best at making us laugh and cringe.