With two buzzed-about awards shows coming
up this week — Sunday’s VMAs and the Emmys on Monday — this space would
typically be dedicated to one of those. In a selfish but necessary
decision, I must instead turn to True Blood, which ends its seventh and final season this week.
Chris Lilley is a master of disguise. The
Aussie multi-hyphenate creates, writes, directs and stars in
mockumentary-style comedies in which he plays a collection of diverse
characters — sometimes all at once.
While The Knick is a drama, written by Jack Amiel and
Michael Begler, its basis is in true medical history with the earliest
surgeons at the start of the 20th century. Director Steven Soderbergh paints a
beautifully grotesque picture of New York’s Knickerbocker Hospital, with
imagery that leaves viewers covering their eyes … only to peek through
Sometimes a true story is far more fascinating than
anything Hollywood could dream up. If you’re a fan of interesting
documentaries and you’ve already conquered Netflix’s detailed doc genre
list, tune into HBO on Monday nights. The network has expanded its
popular summer documentary series to a year-round schedule of
entertaining, thought-provoking programming.
For the past four years, comedians Jonah
Ray and Kumail Nanjiani have hosted a weekly show from NerdMelt, a small
space in the back of Los Angeles comic book shop Meltdown. Launched by
Chris Hardwick (creator of blog/podcast-turned-digital entertainment
network The Nerdist; Talking Dead host) — NerdMelt may not be
your typical L.A. comedy club.
Sex may still be considered a taboo topic
in America today, but 60 years ago many were completely in the dark
about what was going on “down there.” Researchers Bill Masters and
Virginia Johnson pushed to relate activity between the legs to activity
between the ears with the science of sex.
Prank shows are nothing new. Candid Camera spanned seven decades, Punk’d targeted celebs and now even Betty White has a prank show for old people called Off Their Rockers. Nathan For You (10:30
p.m. Tuesdays, Comedy Central) is pegged as a prank show or parody of
the dime-a-dozen business-rescue programs on today, but it’s actually
The haunting trailer for The Leftovers
(Series Premiere, 10 p.m. Sunday, HBO) sets the scene perfectly: A busy
mom, on the phone, secures her fussy infant son in his car seat before
buckling up and heading home. As she details the day’s schedule on the
phone, the baby cries in the background.
What started as a fun, hot addition to
the YA vampire lit craze with a killer concept — the invention of
synthetic blood sparks a population of vampires “coming out of the
coffin” to mix with the humans they no longer have to feed on to survive
— has become quite the crazy train of otherworldly drama.
Jenji Kohan’s dark comedic take on the
true story of Piper Kerman’s stint in a federal women’s prison was a
runaway hit on Netflix in its 2013 debut. Now Orange Is the New Black is back (full season on Netflix Friday) with another 13 funny, disturbing and thought-provoking episodes.
This Sunday, HBO offers another look at the early AIDS crisis, also based on true events. The Normal Heart, adapted from Larry Kramer’s semi-autobiographical
Tony Award-winning play, explores the social, medical and political
responses to an unknown disease attacking the gay population in
early-’80s New York City.