Lauren Bacall Day on TCM, King’s Things with ‘Castle Rock’ and ‘Mercedes,’ ‘Masterchef’ Serves First Responders

Lauren In Wool
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A critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:

Summer Under the Stars: Lauren Bacall (starts at 6 am/5c, TCM): The August festival of stars is in its final days on Turner Classic Movies, and the sultry Bacall’s 24 hours in the spotlight is highlighted by her torrid partnership, on and off camera, with Humphrey Bogart. Tune in early for their notorious first pairing in 1944’s To Have and Have Not (9:30 am/8:30c) — the one where she teaches him to whistle — and come back in prime time for the twisty The Big Sleep (8/7c) and a personal favorite, Key Largo (10/9c), with an Oscar-winning supporting performance by Claire Trevor. Bacall passed away four years ago this month, but her work lives on.

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The (Stephen) King Corner: The pace is finally picking up for things to get truly freaky on Castle Rock (streaming on Hulu). Following last week’s sensational outing for Sissy Spacek as poor befuddled Ruth, the focus now turns back on the strange relationship bonding her adopted son Henry (André Holland) and the mysterious “Kid” (Bill Skarsgård). As usual, answers only lead to more questions. And in what amounts to a macabre short story within the larger series arc, woe to the new tenants (Preacher‘s Mark Harelik and True Blood‘s Lauren Bowles) who’ve decided to turn the late warden’s home into a B&B celebrating Castle Rock’s bloody history.

In the second episode of AT&T Audience Network’s Mr. Mercedes (10/9c), based on King’s End of Watch, the comatose psychopath Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) starts flexing his psychic muscles in increasingly insidious ways. “There’s nothing wrong with a little darkness,” Ida (Holland Taylor) assures Holly (Justine Lupe), who’s more worried than usual about curmudgeonly Bill (Brendan Gleeson). In the world of Stephen King, of course, darkness rarely stops at “a little.”

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Plus, did you catch those Leonardo DiCaprio movie references?

MasterChef (8/7c, Fox): In a challenge to warm the heart, Gordon Ramsay tasks the eight remaining contestants to divide into two teams to prepare fine-dining dishes for the heroic first responders who battled last December’s devastating Thomas Fire in Southern California. Could be a step up from firehouse grub, you never know. As the two-hour episode continues, the home cooks then face a Mystery Box round where they must prepare a dish from food scraps. As the episode title says, “Waste Not Want Not.”

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The Sinner (10/9c, USA): It’s one thing for Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) to face resistance from shady characters like Mosswood cult leader Vera (Carrie Coon), whose mind games from last week continue to bedevil the visiting detective. But now even the local law, including Heather (Natalie Paul) and Harry’s host Jack (Tracy Letts), is urging him to leave before he makes things worse for poor confused little Julian (Elisha Henig). In parallel flashbacks, we begin to learn how and why Julian was accepted inside the compound, despite its “no children” policy. This kid never stood a chance.

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The 'Fargo' and 'Leftovers' alum plays a mysterious woman named Vera.

Inside Wednesday TV: Freeform’s funky buddy sitcom Alone Together (8/7c) wraps its second season with back-to-back episodes, featuring guest stars Carmen Electra (as Benji’s unlikely seducer) and Danny Pudi and Abby Elliott as a boring married couple — until they meet Benji and Esther… NBC’s World of Dance (9/8c) brings on two reality-competition veterans, Mel B and Paula Abdul, as mentors for the second round of “The Cut.” … MTV’s season finale of Catfish (9/8c) also marks co-host Max Joseph’s farewell episode… HGTV’s Property Brothers (9/8c) are back with new episodes, and a challenge for twins Drew and Jonathan Scott when the house they’re renovating turns out to hide a toxic secret… Investigation Discovery’s #1 series, Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda (10/9c) launches an eighth season with the retired Colorado detective revisiting the second case in his then-rookie career, involving a woman’s body found along a highway.