What’s On: A ‘Star-Crossed’ Sequel to Romeo & Juliet on ABC, and Lifetime Remembers Michael Jackson
Still Star-Crossed (10/9c, ABC): Welcome to the summer TV follies, when the networks take big swings with offbeat shows deemed too out-there for the regular season. Sometimes there’s a delightful payoff (see ABC’s Downward Dog), and sometimes you end up with a hot mess like this costume-drama sequel from Shonda Rhimes’ TV factory that presents the sudsy unhappily-after-aftermath of the fabled Romeo and Juliet tragedy. Actually, the pilot episode (all that was available for screening) spends half of its time playing out the young lovers’ ill-fated story—it plays like 13 Reasons Wherefore—and then spins a new web of romantic intrigue and family-feud skullduggery around the Capulet-Montague conflict in a Verona notable for its progressively color-blind casting. Fans of bodice rippers might enjoy cheering on the Cinderella heroine of this story, Juliet’s cousin Rosaline Capulet (Lashana Lynch), but even the most revisionist Shakespeare fan might feel like fortune’s fool, cringing at the risible plotting and lack of poetry.
Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland (8/7c, Lifetime): The final years of the self-proclaimed King of Pop are seen through the eyes of his devoted bodyguard and security chief (The Walking Dead’s Chad Coleman) in this peculiar and maudlin docudrama. Throughout, Michael Jackson (portrayed by tribute artist Navi in an uncanny impersonation) is seen as an isolated man-child, huddling with his children against the forces of unstable fandom. Followed at 10:30/9:30 by an original documentary presenting Jackson as The Ultimate Icon.
America: Promised Land (9/8c, History): In four hours over two nights (concluding Tuesday), History lives up to its mission (a relative rarity) with a sweeping survey of immigration in America. This special looks past the hot-button debates of the moment to explore how subsequent migration patterns among the melting pot of cultures help explain the demographics of this diverse nation.
Inside Monday TV: Not a lot of original network programming on this holiday, but with one week to go before the two-hour season finale, Fox’s Gotham (8/7c) welcomes back Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney, and Lucifer (9/8c) wraps its second season with the devilish hero (Tom Ellis) putting out yet another fire where his mother Charlotte (Tricia Helfer) is concerned. … NBC begins its coverage of the Stanley Cup finals (8/7c), with the Nashville Predators facing the Penguins in Pittsburgh. … Leah Remini continues her crusade against Scientology with a two-hour special edition of her recently renewed series Scientology and the Aftermath. In “Merchants of Fear” (9/8c), she invites special guests to tell their stories about Scientology and how it answers to its critics.