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Matthew Gilbert | Your TV GPS

The week in watching: HBO hearts Mondays, Tom Perrotta adapts, and Eddie Murphy returns

Helen Mirren in “Catherine the Great,” the latest high-profile HBO series to premiere on a Monday.Hal Shinnie/HBO/HBO

Your TV GPS, Globe critic Matthew Gilbert’s guide to what’s on television, appears at the beginning of each week at Today’s column covers Oct. 21-27.


HBO has owned Sunday nights, quality-wise, for a couple of decades now, beginning with “The Sopranos” and continuing through “Game of Thrones.” But a number of big HBO shows are getting scheduled for Monday nights. To wit, Helen Mirren’s four-part “Catherine the Great” premieres this Monday at 10 p.m.

Why the step into Mondays? The pay cabler is expanding, with more and more series on the way, as it competes with the likes of Netflix, which seems to deliver about 10 new shows (many of them produced in other countries) every single week. HBO needs to have shows running year-round to hold on to subscribers in an aggressive market, and, possibly, to feed the WarnerMedia streaming service due next year called HBO Max.

Sundays have gotten crowded, and so HBO is now running new series on Monday nights as well.


Monday certainly isn’t HBO’s stagnant backwater. Other recent Monday night goodies include “Chernobyl,” “Gentleman Jack,” “The Deuce,” and the forthcoming (on Nov. 4) adaptation of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials.”

Of course it doesn’t really matter which night most HBO shows air, now that “Game of Thrones” and its appointment-TV fan base are gone. Most HBO subscribers watch their shows on demand, whenever they want to.

When it comes to scripted TV, timing isn’t everything.

I do hope the channel doesn’t grow too fast, though. Right now, HBO may be the most carefully curated TV outlet available to viewers.

Kathryn Hahn in the HBO series “Mrs. Fletcher,” adapted by Tom Perrotta from his novel. Sarah Shatz/HBO/HBO


1. Of all the fall premieres, this is the one I’ve been most eager to see. Tom Perrotta adapts his own novel “Mrs. Fletcher” into an HBO limited series, beginning Sunday night at 10:30 p.m., following the sixth (and final) season premiere of “Silicon Valley” at 10. “Mrs. Fletcher” is about a mother (played by the emotionally charged Kathryn Hahn) and son (Jackson White) who both have some adjusting to do after he goes to college. There hasn’t been a bad adaptation of Perrotta’s fiction yet, with big- and small-screen versions of “Election,” “Little Children,” and “The Leftovers,” so I’m very optimistic. Also in the cast of the seven half-hour episodes: Casey Wilson, Owen Teague, and Jen Richards.


2. NBC’s poorly rated “Sunnyside” has been sidelined; the remaining episodes of the new Kal Penn sitcom will only be available on NBC’s digital platforms. Beginning this Thursday, that 9:30 p.m. slot will belong to the 11th and final (so they say) season of “Will & Grace.” The preview for the new season includes one big spoiler: Grace is pregnant. Jack’s response to Grace’s news: “You’re trying to cook a baby in an old 1970s Easy-Bake, lady.”

3. “The Kominsky Method,” which is like a guy version of “Grace and Frankie” starring Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas, and which manages more prostate jokes per half-hour than your wannabe standup-comic uncle, returns Friday on Netflix for a second season. Guests this season include Jane Seymour, Jacqueline Bisset, and Paul Reiser.

Eddie Murphy in Netflix’s “Dolemite Is My Name.”FranŤois Duhamel/NETFLIX/NETFLIX

4. Eddie Murphy stars in “Dolemite Is My Name,” which, after its short theatrical run in select theaters, is premiering on Netflix Friday. The movie is a biopic of stand-up comedian Rudy Ray Moore, who breaks through with a persona named Dolemite, a pimp with a cane, and becomes a blaxploitation leading man. So far, the reviews have been mostly positive; it currently has a 78 on Metacritic.


5. No, “Look Who’s Driving” is not another sequel to “Look Who’s Talking,” so no need to cringe. It’s a documentary on PBS’s “NOVA” about autonomous vehicles. How do they work? How close are we to seeing them used regularly? Locally produced at WGBH, “Look Who’s Driving,” which features two MIT-related academics (Daniela Rus and Bryan Reimer), airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. on WGBH-2.

6. Chance the Rapper will perform double duty as the host and the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend.

7. Find PBS’s World Channel, and you can see the documentary “Intelligent Lives” on Tuesday at 8 p.m. The film, directed by Dan Habib, advocates for integrating intellectually disabled people into a world that has stigmatized and isolated them. It’s narrated by Oscar-winning (and local) actor Chris Cooper, whose son, Jesse, with Marianne Leone, was born with cerebral palsy and had to face such discrimination; he became an honors student, poet, and activist before he died at 17. Leone writes movingly about their son in the memoir “Knowing Jesse: A Mother’s Story of Grief, Grace, and Everyday Bliss.”


“Castle Rock”

The second season of the Stephen King-verse drama premieres, with Lizzy Caplan and Tim Robbins. Hulu, Wednesday


“BoJack Horseman”

The first half of the sixth and final season arrives. Netflix, Friday

“The Oval”

A White House-set soap opera from Tyler Perry. BET, Wednesday, 9 p.m.


Another Tyler Perry drama, this one with single black women navigating their love lives. BET, Wednesday, 10 p.m.


Bryan Cranston tells Entertainment Weekly that he thinks Vince Gilligan is finished with the “Breaking Bad”-verse.

From Cranston’s mouth to the TV God’s ear, I say. Sure, “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” was OK as an unnecessary epilogue to the story; still, let’s leave it be. Let’s let this ending be the ending for real.

In the interview, Cranston says, about Gilligan, “The good thing about it is that he’s explored everything around it, but he hasn’t touched the actual ‘Breaking Bad’ canon. He’s gone before and explored this crazy lawyer that we have in ‘Better Call Saul’ and me and now he’s gone after it in exploring what happened to Jesse Pinkman.

“I think he’s going to leave it there. He’s touched upon two areas that did bring curiosity and fan interest, but I think as a proud storyteller, he’ll leave well enough alone [emphasis mine].”

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