Time to take a look at what’s notable on TV this week.
On Monday at 9pm, HBO airs its latest music documentary, as Mavis! examines the career of R&B-gospel legend Mavis Staples, whose long career spanned eras and a variety of collaborators, including Jeff Tweedy, Bob Dylan and rapper Chuck D.
Also on Monday, Fox’s Gotham kicks off a new story arc at 8pm with “Wrath of the Villains,” which includes out actor B.D. Wong as recurring bad guy Hugo Strange, one of Batman’s most terrifying and brilliant villains.
After a lethargic first season, Gotham has found its voice by embracing its ridiculousness and mixing it with crazy, over-the-top violence. Adding Wong to Gotham’s scenery-chewing villains should be pretty delicious.
Wednesday at 8:30pm, it’s the debut of ABC’s latest family comedy, The Real O’Neals, based on Dan Savage’s Catholic childhood.
When we meet the O’Neal clan, parents Pat (Mad Men’s Jay R. Ferguson) and Eileen (Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope) announce their plans to divorce. Their children respond by revealing secrets of their own—including son Kenny (Noah Galvin) dramatic coming out.
ABC has had a winning formula for family comedies, with the success of shows like Black-ish, The Goldbergs and Modern Family. Judging by the trailer, The Real O’Neals has the potential to follow the same path to success. And if having Martha Plimpton back as a TV mom isn’t enough to excite you, Kenny’s little sister is played by Bebe Wood, the best thing about The New Normal.
After tonight’s debut, The Real O’Neals moves to its regular time slot, Tuesdays at 8:30pm, next week.
Wednesday at 10pm, the new Viceland channel debuts a line-up that includes Gaycation, Ellen Page’s new docuseries exploring LGBT communities around the world. The Oscar nominee and her best friend, Ian Daniel, begin their global tour this week in Japan, though Page’s trip to the Iowa State Fair—and her confrontation with presidential candidate Ted Cruz—will air later in the season.
Wednesday at 10pm, the Sundance Channel debuts a new mini-series, Hap & Leonard, based on a series of novels by writer Joe R. Lansdale. This quirky noir comedy follows two pals (James Purefoy and Michael Kenneth Williams) who are drawn into a get-rich-quick scheme by Hap’s ex-wife (Christina Hendricks).
Williams’ character, Leonard, is a gay veteran with anger-management issues, which may be the only thing that strains his close friendship with the more mellow Hap.
On Thursday, Logo gets ready for the new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race with an epic “Runway to 100” marathon featuring all 99 episodes of Drag Race and All Stars. Relive every Snatch Game, every life-saving lip sync and ALL the shade. The countdown begins at 7pm and doesn’t stop until Monday night.
On Thursday at 9pm, ABC previews its latest drama-mystery, The Family. Joan Allen plays Claire Warren, an ambitious woman who launched her political career ten years ago after her son Adam went missing. Now, as Clair announces her bid for governor, a grown man claiming to be Adam suddenly surfaces and everyone in town must reexamine the past.
The Family’s cast includes Rupert Graves as Allen’s husband and Andrew McCarthy as the man wrongly imprisoned for Adam’s murder. Can the show deliver the kind of wild ride that make How To Get Away With Murder and Quantico so addictive?
Netflix streams the fourth season of House of Cards starting Friday—adding Ellen Burstyn joins the cast as Claire Underwood’s mother, along with Cicely Tyson and Neve Campbell in other roles. None of that should get in the way of Frank and Claire’s schemes, of course.
Sunday brings I Am Cait’s second season on E!, starting at 9pm. The first season followed Caitlyn Jenner’s very public journey, but this season gets more personal, as she deals with blowback from the LGBT community for her conservative views and other issues.
And on PBS, it’s time to say goodbye to the Crawley clan with the final episode of Downton Abbey. There’s a wedding, some staff changes and (we presume) some well-chosen biting words from the Dowager Countess. Check your local listings to find out when the Downton Abbey finale airs.
That’s this week’s highlights. What are you eager to watch in the upcoming week?