‘La Brea,’ A Mostly Silent ‘Building,’ ‘Britney vs. Spears’ on Netflix, ‘Attack of the Hollywood Clichés!’
NBC takes a big swing with its sci-fi thriller La Brea, about a sinkhole that sends unfortunate Los Angelenos into a prehistoric parallel Earth. Hulu’s comic mystery Only Murders in the Building goes mostly silent as we see events from a different perspective. Netflix is the latest to weigh in on the controversy surrounding Britney Spears’ conservatorship. The streamer also presents a cheeky special sending up Hollywood clichés.
Just because I’ve been referring to this show as “Lost for dummies” doesn’t mean I don’t admire its moxie, and NBC’s for taking such a big swing at sci-fi in this wild thriller about a sinkhole that opens up near L.A.’s La Brea Tar Pits, plunging people through a magical portal that lands them in a parallel and prehistoric Earth. Or that’s how it appears anyway, as the survivors desperately seek a way back home while their loved ones above ponder their unimaginable fate. I could have done without a character quipping, “Maybe we’re just in an episode of Lost,” because La Brea shows little signs of that iconic series’ sophistication. This is more like Land of the Lost, as those Down Below—led by the always welcome Natalie Zea as a mama bear protecting her injured son (Jack Martin)—grapple with the idea of being more prey than predator.
Only Murders in the Building
Silent episodes can often make a big noise. (Remember Buffy’s “Hush?”) The Paramount+ thriller Evil also scored this season with a largely wordless episode set in a monastery, and now the comedy-mystery Murders gives it a shot by shifting the focus from its amateur sleuths to a neighbor who has been keeping a watchful eye on them all along. That would be Theo (James Caverly), the deaf son of wealthy deli-chain owner and podcast investor Teddy Dimas (Nathan Lane). As we watch events, past and present, play out from Theo’s POV, we realize that more than just murder has been brewing at the Arconia.
Britney vs. Spears
Everyone has always wanted a piece of Britney Spears, which has long been one of the pop star’s problems. Same goes for the sensational headline-grabbing story involving the conservatorship that she has been battling against so publicly of late. A new documentary from director Erin Lee Carr (Dirty Money) promises a new look at this prisoner of fame “without utilizing the traumatic images that have previously defined her.”
Attack of the Hollywood Clichés
On a lighter note, walking pretty-boy cliché Rob Lowe cheekily hosts a humorous survey of the many Hollywood tropes we’ve come to expect, with actors, critics, TV and screen writers and assorted other creative types weighing in on those stock moments that have us rolling our eyes. (My favorite/least favorite cliché is the bit where someone sweeps everything off their desk in a fit of pique. Who does that?) One segment dissects the overused “Wilhelm Scream”—which brings to mind Brian DePalma’s 1981 classic Blow Out, in which sound engineer John Travolta goes in search of the perfect scream. (And that wasn’t a cliché.)
In Their Own Words
His time in the White House may have been troubled, but there are few ex-presidents as revered and respected as Jimmy Carter, whose political and personal history is examined in the series’ latest installment. Featuring Carter’s own words in archival footage, the special features new interviews with journalists and family members sharing their observations, and musicians Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, who got to know the Carters while volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, one of Carter’s pet causes.
Inside Tuesday TV:
- Pardon the Interruption (7/6c and 9/8c, ESPN): Time flies when you’re jousting verbally about sports, and PTI marks its 20th anniversary with an hourlong special reliving the highlights of Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon’s scrappy partnership.
- Bachelor in Paradise (8/7c, ABC): Gluttons for pandering can feast on three hours of the guilty-pleasure reality show, featuring an ’80s-themed prom in the penultimate episode.
- FBI: International (9/8c, CBS): Moving into its regular time period nestled between FBI (8/7c) and FBI: Most Wanted (10/9c), the latest spinoff finds the team dealing with the fallout from a bitter custody battle involving a mom who brought her son from the U.S. to Hungary.
- Our Kind of People (9/8c, Fox): Another week, another gala event, and more scandalous secrets to be exposed in the soapy melodrama as the posh enclave of Oak Bluffs prepares for the Black Diamond Ball.
- Speak Sis (9/8c, OWN): Oprah Winfrey leads a two-hour discussion to destigmatize mental health issues stemming from childhood trauma in the Black community.
- Vanderpump Rules (9/8c, Bravo): With restaurants having reopened after the pandemic shutdown, Lisa Vanderpump welcomes reality-TV cameras back to follow her eatery’s past and present employees for a ninth season.
- Wild Crime (streaming on Hulu): Think of this docuseries as a true-crime version of Big Sky (returning Thursday), each season following special agents of the National Park Service as they look into crimes committed on these sprawling public lands. The first installment, with episodes dropping each day through Friday, covers the suspicious 2012 death of Toni Henthorn, who fell from a cliff in Rocky Mountain National Park while celebrating her anniversary with husband Harold—whose first wife had died under mysterious and violent circumstances 17 years earlier.