‘Tokyo Vice,’ ‘Atlanta’ in the Twilight Zone, MLB Opening Day, ‘Dropout’ Finale
Michael Mann of Miami Vice fame directs the first episode of the atmospheric HBO Max crime drama Tokyo Vice. FX’s Atlanta spins a cautionary fable about the historical costs of slavery. The baseball season officially begins, with World Series champs Atlanta Braves hosting the Cincinnati Reds on ESPN2. Hulu’s gripping The Dropout ends on a sour note for fraudulent entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes.
Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Heat) directs the atmospheric first episode (one of three at launch) of a crime drama filmed on location in Tokyo. At the turn of this century a young, dedicated American reporter (West Side Story’s Ansel Elgort) works his way onto the staff of a Japanese newspaper, breaking rules of protocol to dig into the Yakuza organized crime underworld. Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) is the veteran detective who somewhat grudgingly guides the reporter—based on journalist Jake Adelstein, with playwright J.T. Rogers (Oslo) adapting his memoir.
Once again zagging where you’d never expect, with deeply unsettling results, Donald Glover’s experiment in form (with expert collaboration from director Hiro Murai) abandons the European-tour storyline for a week to spin a Twilight Zone-worthy fable of racial reckoning in modern-day Atlanta. Justin Bartha (The Good Fight) is excellent as a mensch who slowly awakens to a changed society when a new law illuminates the generational burdens of America’s past with slavery. Somewhere, Rod Serling is smiling.
Also from Atlanta, the centerpiece of Major League Baseball’s official opening day is the matchup of World Series champs Atlanta Braves hosting the Cincinnati Reds. A special episode of Baseball Tonight (7:30 pm/ET) features the Braves’ World Series banner-raising ceremony. Play ball! In other sports news, the Masters golf tournament opens its first round (3 pm/ET, ESPN) with all eyes once again on Tiger Woods in what would be a historic comeback.
The best of the current crop of high-profile swindle docudramas ends with the Theranos walls crumbling down around Elizabeth Holmes (Amanda Seyfried) and her mentor/lover Sunny Balwani (Naveen Andrews) after The Wall Street Journal publishes an exposé on their fraudulent practices. “You’re not real!” Sunny screams at Elizabeth as they turn on each other, as amoral criminals tend to do. She’s real, all right, but still an enigma as her team’s attempts to get her to publicly apologize backfire dreadfully.
“I suppose people really do have televisions,” muses Paul Child (David Hyde Pierce) as this delightful series about the rise of French Chef host Julia Child (Sarah Lancashire) depicts her breakthrough with positive newspaper reviews and, eventually, exposure to public-TV markets beyond Boston. While Julia attends a reunion at Smith College and uneasily adjusts to the spotlight, Paul comes to terms with his place in the cultural hierarchy when he opens a gallery exhibit of his own art and photography. “You’re teaching Americans how to taste life—and they’re listening,” Paul tells his gregarious wife. Julia may just be the most romantic show anywhere on TV.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
The focus is on the sex crimes unit’s newest player: Mexican-born Det. Joe Velasco (Octavio Pisano), who turns to Benson (Mariska Hargitay) for help when things get personal. His hometown priest informs Velasco that three local girls have been sex-trafficked to New York City, and the SVU team heads out to find them.
The hospital, and Bailey (Chandra Wilson), come under increased scrutiny when an accreditation council arrives to review the residency program, still rocked by the Webber Method fallout. Speaking of Webber (James Pickens Jr.), he’s assessing his own future. And in the latest sign that maybe Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) won’t be moving to Minneapolis after all—duh—her boyfriend Nick (Scott Speedman) is back in Seattle, prepping to join her for an innovative operation.
Star Trek: Picard
A caper is in full swing, as Picard (Patrick Stewart) and crew crash a party to keep an eye on his astronaut ancestor, Renée Picard (Penelope Mitchell). But the real fun is in watching Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) share her body and psyche with the manipulative Borg Queen (Annie Wersching). How this manifests in public surprises everyone.
Inside Thursday TV:
- Call Me Kat (9/8c, Fox): Call Kat (Mayim Bialik) inexplicably jealous after she and Oscar (Christopher Rivas) set up her BFF Max (Cheyenne Jackson) with a new date (Laura Bell Bundy) and she gets suddenly territorial.
- Bull (10/9c, CBS): The personal and professional collide when Bull’s (Michael Weatherly) TAC team takes on the defense of his ex-girlfriend Diana (Jill Flint) in a murder trial, and Chunk (Christopher Jackson) faces off against his boyfriend prosecutor Robert (Erich Bergen).
- Law & Order: Organized Crime (10/9c, NBC): A blast from the past when Stabler (Christopher Meloni) turns to retired Capt. Cragen (Dann Florek) to learn more about his father, a disgraced cop.
- Cursed Films (streaming on Shudder): A second season of the series that goes behind the scenes of troubled classic-movie sets turns to 1939’s immortal The Wizard of Oz, where fiery mishaps and drunken Munchkins remind us that there’s still no place like home.
- Return to Space (streaming on Netflix): The Oscar-winning directors of Free Solo look to the skies in a documentary tracking the development and success of Elon Musk’s SpaceX in bringing U.S. space travel back to life.