Worth Watching: ‘Gentleman Jack,’ National Geo’s ‘Hot Zone,’ another ‘Harry & Meghan’ Lifetime Movie
A selective critical checklist of notable Monday TV, Memorial Day edition:
Gentleman Jack (10:05/9:05c, HBO): Best news in recent days: HBO has commissioned a second season of Sally Wainwright’s exuberantly entertaining period drama. In this episode, a bloody and bruised Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) nurses her wounds and broken heart as she considers her future with emotionally fragile heiress Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle). On the business front, she goes another round of coal-mine negotiations with the Rawson brothers: ruthless Christopher (Vincent Franklin) and meek Jeremiah (Shawn Dooley), of whom Lister remarks, “I don’t think Jeremiah could knock the skin off a rice pudding if he paid someone to do it.” We can’t get enough of this enterprising, outspoken 19th-century goddess of industry.
The Hot Zone (9/8c, National Geographic Channel): Monkey business has never been scarier than in this tense six-part (over three nights, through Wednesday) docudrama based on Richard Preston’s cautionary non-fiction bestseller. A no-nonsense Julianna Margulies stars as Lt. Col. Nancy Jaax, who puts her reputation on the line in 1989 to convince officials that an outbreak at a monkey quarantine facility near Washington, D.C. is serious. How serious? Think Ebola-virus-with-90-percent-fatality-rate serious. When her team comes face to face with the infected animals on Zone’s climactic night, the terror is all too real. (See full review here.)
Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal (8/7c, Lifetime): Part of the price of living in a media fishbowl means you’re likely to see yourself become the subject of a cheesy Lifetime movie — in this case, two. With new actors taking on the roles of Prince Harry (Charlie Field) and Meghan Markle, aka the Duchess of Sussex (Tiffany Smith), Lifetime’s second dramatization of the royal couple follows them post-betrothal through their newlywed year. How soon before this becomes an “And Baby Archie Makes Three” trilogy?
Inside Monday TV: Celebrity guests Jason Biggs and actress wife Jenny Mollen show up on ABC’s The Bachelorette (8/7c) to take eight of the bachelor suitors for a comical visit to a birthing class. Which sounds an awful lot like jumping the proverbial gun… CNN usually takes politics seriously. But in the new special Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State (9/8c), the former Saturday Night Live comedian adapts his off-Broadway one-man show, taking on the absurd excesses of political rhetoric on both sides of the spectrum… A&E’s Biography examines the too-short life of an outrageous but troubled Saturday Night Live clown in the two-hour Chris Farley — Anything for a Laugh (9/8c). Among the new interviews conducted for the documentary: John Goodman, Al Franken, Kevin Nealon, Tom Arnold, Bobby Moynihan and Joel Murray.