What's Worth Watching: Bolshoi Babylon on HBO, A Place to Call Home on Acorn TV, and more for Monday, December 21
Bolshoi Babylon (Monday, Dec. 21, 9/8c, HBO)
"We're very strange people," says a principal dancer at Russia's fabled Bolshoi Ballet in voice-over as we watch from the wings in rapt fascination as poetry in motion is being made onstage. "Much of what happens on stage we drag into our lives. It often turns into tragedy." Such was the case in January 2013 when the company's artistic director Sergei Finn, a dashing former dancer, was attacked by a hooded man who threw acid into his face, damaging his skin and eyes. This shocking scandal rocked the Bolshoi to its core, and in the fascinating Bolshoi Babylon, filmmaker Nick Read lays out the private rivalries and passions within the company that, once exposed like a real-life Black Swan, battered the reputation of an institution that has for decades represented Russian culture and pride. "The world of the theater is cruel," a ballet master says. "Underneath, everything is boiling."
HOME FIRES: While much of the traditional TV world takes a breather till year's end, that doesn't mean there isn't always something new to watch, especially in the streaming world. Fans of the Australian soap A Place to Call Home, which has been favorably compared to Downton Abbey in its rich romanticism as it recreates life among the gentry Down Under post-World War II, can dig into the first episodes of the third season on Acorn TV starting Monday. (Three episodes are available this week, with three more Dec. 28, two on Jan. 4 and the final three on Jan. 11). Acorn is also making available the original cliffhanger ending to Season 2, never seen in the U.S. The backstory: Home was canceled by its original broadcaster after two seasons, but was picked up by another company which commissioned two more seasons. Season 3 picks up in the 1950s, and if you haven't stayed current, the previous two seasons are available for binge-watching anytime on Acorn TV. (The first season has been syndicated to public TV stations, which may be how many have become acquainted with it.)
INSIDE MONDAY TV: TNT's just-renewed Major Crimes is offering what sounds like a very grim "fall finale" (9/8c), with Sharon and the team on the trail of a sick killer who's making a movie of his deadly work, using his victims as the unfortunate featured players. (The fourth season will resume Feb. 15.) … ABC wraps another season of The Great Christmas Light Fight with back-to-back episodes (8/7c) of ostentatious displays that always make me glad I don't like on their block. What is L.A. Lakers shooting guard Super Into (truTV, 10:30/9:30c)? Sneakers, naturally, enough so that that he has devoted his guest house to his collection of kicks.