This week in watching: Gillian Anderson’s ‘seX-Files,’ a Trump ‘halftime’ show, ‘Rent’ countdown

Asa Butterfield (left) and Gillian Anderson in "Sex Education.”
Asa Butterfield (left) and Gillian Anderson in "Sex Education.”(SAM TAYLOR/Netflix)

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

All about Gillian

Watching Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully on “The X-Files” during its original run, I was always a fan of her cool acting style. But I never thought of her as more than a weekly network TV performer who’d maybe move on to play another strong, independent cop on a “CSI” franchise or something.

I was so wrong, and I’m so happy to say that. Since her early years on “The X-Files” (can we pretend the revival never happened?), Anderson has put in a decade and a half of extraordinary work. I’m thinking about her because right now:


1. She is starring in Netflix’s “Sex Education,” a teen sex comedy in which she offers precision wit as a sex therapist blind to her own emotional needs. It’s a must-watch show, the best of the new year, if you like your sex comedies wise and witty.

2. She has just been cast in “The Crown” for season four (season three hasn’t premiered yet) as — and this will be perfect, with all due respect to Meryl — Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher.

3. Next month, she will star as Margo Channing — across from Lily James as Eve — in a Wes End stage production of “All About Eve.”

When Terence Davies cast the star of “The X-Files” as Lily Bart in his 2000 adaptation of Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth,” some rolled their eyes. But she was a revelation — watch it, if you haven’t seen it. Her face, with its built-in sadness, was at the center of the devastating tragedy.

In 2005, she was indelible as Lady Dedlock in the top-notch PBS-BBC adaptation of Dickens’s “Bleak House.” Looking world-weary, speaking and sighing at the same time, she cast regret over the entire six-parter. Then came turns in a few other excellent TV adaptations, including “Any Human Heart” and “The Crimson Petal and the White,” as well as her striking work in three seasons of “The Fall” as the confident DSU Stella Gibson.


Yup, I’m a fan.

Vanessa Hudgens (left) and Kiersey Clemons from the cast of “Rent: Live,” on Fox Jan. 27.
Vanessa Hudgens (left) and Kiersey Clemons from the cast of “Rent: Live,” on Fox Jan. 27.(PAMELA LITTKY/Fox)

What I’m watching this week

1. The live TV musical trend started with “Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan,” but it quickly moved on to the more colorful stuff, the most recent being NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert.” On Sunday at 8 p.m., Fox is airing “Rent: Live,” with Vanessa Hudgens and Brandon Victor Dixon. Start counting the minutes.

2. It has been two years. In some ways it feels like two decades, in others it feels like two minutes. On Monday at 11:35 p.m., “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” is marking the occasion with a special episode called “Intermission Accomplished: A Halftime Tribute to Trump.” Cook up the “hamberders,” sit back, and enjoy. Guests will include Will Arnett, Alyssa Milano, Fred Willard, Jake Johnson, Fred Armisen, and Trump impersonator Anthony Atamanuik.

3. Sigh. “Broad City” is back — for the last time. The Comedy Central series begins its final lap on Thursday at 10 p.m. The premiere chronicles Abbi’s 30th birthday entirely through social media.

4. True-crime lovers alert: It’s the 30th anniversary of Ted Bundy’s execution, and Netflix is on it. On Thursday, the streamer is dropping a four-part documentary called “Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” that features taped interviews with Bundy as-yet unheard by the public. By the way, the director of the series, Joe Berlinger, has also directed a forthcoming scripted feature about Bundy called “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” starring Zac Efron.


5. “The Other Two” is a new Comedy Central series, Thursday at 10:30 p.m., that has potential. Co-created by former “Saturday Night Live” head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, it’s not about the massive overnight fame of 13-year-old Chase. It’s about the misery of his two older siblings, whose dreams continue to evade them. Molly Shannon alert: She plays their mother.

6. We’re definitely entering the bad place. Because the third season of NBC’s “The Good Place” ends on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. Don’t be sad, though: It has already been renewed for a fourth round.

7. It feels as though we’ve already been through this, but nope. The 2019 Oscar nominations will be revealed live on Tuesday at 8:20 a.m. Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross will do the announcing, and you can stream it live at www.Oscar.com, www.Oscars.org, or on the Oscars’ social media accounts.

Channel surfing

“The 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards”

More awards. TBS and TNT, Sunday, 8 p.m.

“The Dictator’s Playbook”

Ladies and gentlemen, Benito Mussolini. WGBH-2, Wednesday, 10 p.m.


Jane Hart, diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, will have her life chronicled on A&E's "Many Sides of Jane."
Jane Hart, diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, will have her life chronicled on A&E's "Many Sides of Jane." (A&E Network)

“Many Sides of Jane”

This six-part original docu-series follows a woman living with Dissociative Identity Disorder. A&E, Tuesday, 10 p.m.

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

The second half of the final season. Netflix, Friday

“Black Earth Rising”

An eight-episode limited series about a Rwandan orphaned by the genocide, raised in London by an adoptive mother, and trying to discover the truth of her past with the help of a lawyer played by John Goodman. Netflix, Friday

“Dating #NoFilter”

An unscripted comedy about blind-dating, with comedians delivering play-by-plays as they watch real singles on first dates. E!, Monday, 10:30



If you’re in England and looking for easy TV, you can usually find an episode of “Hustle” on. It’s like “Law & Order” to them.

I’ve been a huge fan of the giddy British series, which ran from 2004 to 2012, since AMC began importing it in 2006. “Hustle” is about a group of classy grifters in London who con bad people and make loads of money. The group is a surrogate family, with Robert Vaughn — yes, Napoleon Solo — as the elder and Adrian Lester, for the first four seasons, as the leader. The tone is light and fizzy; the plots are clever and acrobatic; and the characters are amusing, especially Marc Warren’s Danny Blue, a rough kid the group has taken under its wing.

It’s a bit like a series version of “Ocean’s Eleven,” with none of the psychodrama of “The Grifters” or David Mamet’s double-cross movies, and it feels frivolous beside formidable cable dramas. But when people ask me to name low-profile shows they should be seeing, I always mention “Hustle.”


How can you find it here? Not easily. You can buy the DVDs, of course, but you can also scout it out on YouTube — here, for example.

Reviewed and recommended

“True Detective”

It’s a fancy “Law & Order” broken into three time frames, and Mahershala Ali is brilliant as the detective.


A brisk look at the man, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who used data science to help the Vote Leave campaign win.

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