British Mysteries on Acorn, Explosive ’9-1-1,’ Documentaries on Photography and Small-Town Newspapers
Acorn TV presents its last Dalgliesh movie, based on P.D. James’ mystery classics, while launching the cozier The Madame Blanc Mysteries, about a resourceful widow snooping around a French village. A 9-1-1 emergency has personal impact when an explosion rocks a hospital. HBO profiles legendary photographer/activist Gordon Parks in a new documentary. PBS’ Independent Lens looks at the struggles of small-town local newspapers.
The Madame Blanc Mysteries
Popular UK actress Sally Lindsay (Coronation Street) created and stars in a light mystery as Jean White (“Blanc” in French), a newly widowed antiques dealer who heads to the village of Sainte Victoire in the picturesque South of France to learn what happened to her business-partner husband—and to search for a valuable ring that went missing from the scene of his fatal car accident. (Or was it?) Left penniless by her mate except for their French cottage, Jean doesn’t speak the language but acclimates to her new surroundings with the help of a friendly ex-pat taxi driver (Steve Edge), who joins her as she snoops around other intrigues where her knowledge of priceless objects comes in handy. Also on Acorn: the third and final (for now) two-part Dalgliesh mystery: “A Taste for Death,” based on the P.D. James novel that opens with grisly murders in a London church.
Fans of first-responder series have barely recovered from last week’s tragedy on ABC’s Station 19 in the wake of an explosion, and now a hospital goes boom on 9-1-1, with the emotionally complicating factor that Michael’s (Rockmond Dunbar) neurosurgeon husband David (La Monde Byrd) is performing surgery at the time. The crisis inspires Michael to make a major decision.
A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks
The legacy of photographer-activist-filmmaker Gordon Parks (1912-2006) lives on in the work of contemporary photographers focusing on social progress and justice, as this inspirational documentary reveals. Parks became famous as Life magazine’s first Black photographer in a pioneering career from 1948 to 1972, using his camera as a “weapon” of change during a tumultuous period for civil rights. Director/producer John Maggio’s film pays tribute to Parks’ portfolio while spotlighting several current photojournalists influenced by his work: Devin Allen, whose “Baltimore Uprising” photograph of the Freddie Gray protests made the cover of Time; LaToya Ruby Frazier, who documented the Flint, Michigan water crisis for years and photographed Breonna Taylor’s family for Vanity Fair; and Jamel Shabazz, whose visual history of the hip-hop era on the streets of New York reflects Parks’ affirming work.
Having started my career at a local newspaper, I can empathize with this Independent Lens documentary, which chronicles the struggle for survival of small-town local papers suffering circulation and advertising losses, with nearly 2,000 papers having gone dark over the last 20 years. This case study profiles Iowa’s biweekly Storm Lake Times and its 63-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Art Cullen, whose family comprises half of the staff, servicing an agricultural community hit hard by the pandemic in 2020.
Inside Monday TV:
- A Great North Christmas (streaming on Crackle): The weekend holiday-movie deluge not enough for you? The free streamer presents an original Christmas movie, in which a workaholic lawyer (Laura Mitchell) finds love on a surprise ski vacation.
- Hallie Jackson NOW (5 pm/ET, NBC News NOW): The NBC News Senior Washington Correspondent, who earned raves moderating a presidential candidate debate in February 2020, anchors a daily (Monday-Friday) streaming news roundup that is also available on Peacock and NBC News apps. During her first week, Jackson reports a story on mental health, visiting a North Carolina “burnout camp,” and studies the trend of online influencers who aren’t even human.
- Dancing with the Stars (8/7c, ABC): Two rounds of dances and a double elimination in the semifinals will decide who makes it to next week’s season finale.
- The Newlywed Game (9:30/8:30c, BUZZR): The cable network revives episodes from the 1990s version of the campy game show, not seen in nearly 20 years. (Starting Tuesday, they’re shown at 11 am/ET and Sundays at 4 pm/ET).
- The Good Doctor (10/9c, ABC): In an episode titled “One Heart,” doctors Shaun (Freddie Highmore) and Park (Will Yun Lee) must decide which of two patients they can save. And it will surprise absolutely no one that Dr. Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann), often seen as heartless, goes overboard trying to impress Salen (Rachel Bay Jones), the hospital’s mercurial new owner.