Garry Shandling's HBO Documentary, 'The Terror,' Hollywood Week on 'Idol,' 'Good Doctor' Finale
A selective critical checklist of notable Monday TV:
The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling (8/7c, HBO): Writing in his extensive journals, the great stand-up comedian-turned-TV star Garry Shandling once revealed: “As with all the other comedians, insecurity is a prime factor.” Even so, he would create and star in two of TV’s most influential and groundbreaking comedies: It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and HBO’s unequaled fictional late-night exposé The Larry Sanders Show. When he died in 2016 at 66, shocking fans and friends alike, this meditative and self-deprecating comic remained a mystery even to those who knew him best, including filmmaker Judd Apatow, who got his start writing jokes for Shandling and considers him his mentor. As a tribute, Apatow has assembled a two-night, four-and-a-half-hour, exhaustively personal documentary incorporation home movies, excerpts from personal journals and private letters, vintage clips and insightful interviews with colleagues, loved ones and famous friends including Jim Carrey, Jay Leno, Kevin Nealon, Conan O’Brien, Bob Saget, Sarah Silverman and Jerry Seinfeld. This is biography on an epic yet granular scale: funny, moving, illuminating, inspiring for anyone who seeks to pursue a dream yet remain true to oneself.
The Terror (9/8c, AMC): Imagine Masterpiece producing a monster movie to get an idea of the brainy, brawny impact of this literally chilling 10-part series, which manages to be both philosophical yet terrifically scary in its two-hour opener. This hybrid of historical epic and horror saga is based on Dan Simmons’ blockbuster novel, starring Ciaran Hinds (Game of Thrones) and Jared Harris (The Crown) as captains of Royal Navy exploration vessels stranded in the Arctic ice in the 1840s. Adding to the jeopardy: supernatural forces alerting them to the fact that they’re not welcome in this strange, frigid land.
American Idol (8/7c, Fox): Idol hasn’t fared so well in head-to-head competition with NBC’s The Voice, but with the auditions over, things tend to heat up when the process turns to Hollywood Week. This is when all those hopeful singers hoisting their Golden Tickets get their first reality check that competing on Idol takes more than just a memorable voice. As they compete in the cavernous Dolby Theatre in solo and group performances, judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie will begin to thin the herd.
The Good Doctor (10/9c, ABC): The season’s biggest new hit leaves fans wanting “More”—which happens to be the episode title for the first-season finale of this emotionally charged medical drama. Promos depict a traumatic showdown between Dr. Shaun Murphy (the ethereal Freddie Highmore) and his mentor, Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff), who is dealing with a health crisis we can only hope the crack team at St. Bonaventure is prepared to handle. Fragile Dr. Shaun needs all the friends he can get, and losing this one could be devastating.
One Strange Rock (10/9c, National Geographic Channel): That “rock” is our home planet Earth, celebrated in all of its variety in a 10-part “cinematic event” series hosted by Will Smith, directed by filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) and featuring the perspectives of astronauts who may best be able to appreciate why life as we know it thrives here. The opener, titled “Gasp,” explores and explains how our oxygen-rich atmosphere sustains life. Takes a deep breath and enjoy.
Inside Monday TV: Celebrating 45 years of glossy soap opera sturm und drang, CBS daytime staple The Young and the Restless (check local listings) promises a week’s worth of game changers and the return of some longtime favorites, including Jaime Lyn Bauer and Janice Lynde as Lorie and Leslie Brooks. … PBS’s Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org) is filmmaker Helen Whitney’s (Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero) latest documentary spiritual journey, a meditation on mortality told through nine personal stories of people facing death, either their own or of those they love. Sharon Stone narrates. … TNT’s handsomely produced but dramatically challenged period mystery The Mentalist (9/8c) comes to an end, with time of the essence as Kreizler (Daniel Brühl) and his team zero in on the killer.