Foy vs. Bettany in a ‘British Scandal,’ Earth Day Programming, Billie Eilish Meets ‘The Simpsons,’ Magic Johnson Profiled, Earthshaking ‘Pachinko’
As the ill-fated Duke and Duchess of Argyll, Paul Bettany and Claire Foy go to matrimonial war in the 1960s in Prime Video’s A Very British Scandal. Disney+ and National Geographic are among those offering Earth Day programming. Billie Eilish crosses paths with Lisa Simpsons in a Simpsons short. Magic Johnson reflects on his life and career in an Apple TV+ docuseries. The penultimate episode of Apple’s epic Pachinko provides a character’s origin story amid a historic earthquake in Yokohama.
A Very British Scandal
Their ugly divorce was a tabloid sensation in the 1960s, opening the floodgates for gossipy coverage of Britain’s elites. As the ill-fated Duke and Duchess of Argyll, a reptilian Paul Bettany and a frosty Claire Foy clash memorably in a taut, tawdry three-part drama. (See the full review.)
When Billie Met Lisa
The fourth of a series of exclusive The Simpsons shorts features Lisa Simpson, who enjoys a chance meeting with Billie Eilish and FINNEAS while looking for a place to practice her sax playing. They invite her to their studio for a memorable jam session.
They Call Me Magic
While HBO’s Winning Time continues its fanciful hagiography of the 1980s’ Lakers dynasty, a four-part docuseries gives NBA legend Magic Johnson a chance to tell his own story. With new interviews and rare footage, Johnson and those who know him best reveal how he pivoted from sports to activism and business, in the process changing the way many thought about HIV.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Find out who will sashay away or stay as the remaining Season 14 queens bring their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent to Sin City for a final lip-sync challenge at the Flamingo Hotel. Last year’s winner, Symone, will crown America’s Next Drag Superstar.
The Asian epic drama, based on Min Jin Lee’s acclaimed novel, goes off book for Season 1’s penultimate episode, providing a stunning and thrilling back story for one of its key characters, a subplot that didn’t appear in the original story. This tells how Hansu (Lee Min-ho) came of age in Yokohoma and how his world changed in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in 1923.
To mark Earth Day, Disney’s streamer goes all out with new nature programming, including a film from Disneynature, narrated by Catherine Keener, following the travails of a polar bear mother facing the challenges of raising her young in a changing environment. Also new to Disney, two from National Geographic: Explorer: The Last Tepui showcases celebrated Free Solo climber Alex Honnold as he and a team accompany Explorer Bruce Means into the Amazon to attempt a 1,000-foot climb to a massive tepui (“island in the sky”) to search the cliff wall for undiscovered species. The Biggest Little Farm: The Return revisits John and Molly Chester, subjects of a 2018 feature documentary, with an update on their decade-long journey as farmers in California’s Ventura Country, living and working in harmony with nature.
More Earth Day programming:
- Wild Coasts (6/5c, Nat Geo WILD): A special journeys along the world’s coastlines to explore nature’s bounty including marine iguanas, sea turtles, penguins and bottlenose dolphins.
- Secrets of the Whales (7/6c, National Geographic and Nat Geo WILD): James Cameron’s Emmy-winning four-part docuseries from 2021 (which premiered on Disney+) receives an evening-long simulcast, immersing the viewer in the world of whale culture.
- Gorongosa: Paradise Reborn (11/10c, National Geographic): A documentary tracks the turbulent history of Mozambique’s great national park, where much of the wildlife was destroyed during years of war but is now being restored to its former glory. We witness this from the POV of Mwana Nzo, a female elephant who’s seen it all.
- The Trick (10/9c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): An Earth Day-themed drama special depicts the Climategate scandal of 2090, when renowned British scientist Phil Jones (Jason Watkins) comes under fire after e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit of his East Anglia university are hacked, launching a “fake news” attack challenging his science and data.
Inside Friday TV:
- Paper Moon (8/7c, Turner Classic Movies): A memorial tribute to late director Peter Bogdanovich opens with 1973’s Depression-era comedy starring Ryan O’Neal and daughter Tatum, who won an Oscar at 10. Followed by his 1971 critical breakthrough The Last Picture Show (10/9c), which won Oscars for Cloris Leachman and Ben Johnson, and 1972’s screwball romp What’s Up, Doc? pairing Barbra Streisand with Ryan O’Neal.
- Now Hear This (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Host Scott Yoo explores the distinctive American sound of composer Aaron Copland, working with students at a Colorado music festival and consulting Copland experts in New York.
- Real Time with Bill Maher (10/9c, HBO): Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk drops by for a one-on-one interview.
- On Assignment with Richard Engel—Ukraine: Freedom or Death (10/9c, MSNBC): NBC’s chief foreign correspondent presents an hourlong report on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, interviewing survivors, soldiers and refugees for first-hand accounts of the atrocities.
- True Crime Watch: A new Dateline NBC (9/8c) digs into “The Curious Case of Sherri Papini,” the California mom who claimed she’d been kidnapped in 2016 but now admits it was all a hoax. Based on the podcast, the two-hour special Unraveled: Once a Killer (streaming on discovery+) explores two murder cases where the “one and done” culprits defy the typical rules of criminal profiling.
On the Stream:
- The Long Game: Bigger Than Basketball (streaming on Apple TV+): A five-part docuseries from Seth Gordon (Undefeated) profiles Makur Maker, an NBA hopeful from South Sudan who made headlines when he decided to put off going pro to play for Howard University, committing to an HBCU.
- Oprah + Viola (streaming on Netflix): Oprah Winfrey sits with Oscar-Emmy-Tony winner Viola Davis, currently starring as Michelle Obama in Showtime’s The First Lady, to discuss the actress’s revealing memoir, Finding Me.
- Heartstopper (streaming on Netflix): An uplifting British coming-of-age drama, based on a graphic novel, follows the relationship of openly gay teen Charlie (Joe Locke) and rugby player Nick (Kit Connor).
- Pretty Hard Cases (streaming on IMDb TV): A second season of the Canadian buddy-cop drama revisits detectives Samantha (Baroness Von Sketch Show’s Meredith MacNeill) and Kelly (Orange Is the New Black’s Adrienne C. Moore) of the Guns & Gangs Unit as they try to balance their professional and personal lives.