Sure, with “Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men,” “Girls,” “Nurse Jackie” and more, Sunday’s overcrowded with great TV, but what to watch the rest of the time? Each Monday, we bring you this guide to five noteworthy highlights from the other six days of the week.
America’s most famous feud (aside, of course, from the one between Jon Hamm and Kim Kardashian) gets the mini-series treatment from the History Channel in a three-day event produced by and starring Kevin Costner as “Devil Anse” Hatfield — he also worked on the soundtrack with his band Modern West. Bill Paxton plays Randall McCoy, who leads his family in an escalating battle with the Hatfield clan after returning home to the West Virginia/Kentucky border after the Civil War. Expect hats, gun fights, accents and some fierce acting from a more than respectable cast that includes Powers Boothe, Boyd Holbrook, Jena Malone, Tom Berenger and Mare Winningham. Parts two and three of the series air Tuesday and Wednesday.
Clive Owen plays a growly Ernest Hemingway to Nicole Kidman’s fiery Martha Gellhorn in this HBO original film, the first feature from Philip Kaufman since 2004 (check out our interview with the director). Arriving fresh from an out-of-competition screening at Cannes, the film tracks the turbulent romance between the famous novelist and the fearless war correspondent, who fall in love when covering the Spanish Civil War but who clash over roles in marriage. Kaufman weaves archival footage into this sprawling drama to place his cast in wartorn landscapes, but it’s the larger-than-life movie stardom of his two leads that really gives the film an old-fashioned sensibility.
War photographer-turned-filmmaker Danfung Dennis offers some of the most stunning combat cinematography around in his Oscar-nominated doc “Hell and Back Again,” screening as part of PBS’ Independent Lens on a special night in honor of Memorial Day. The film follows 25-year-old Marine Sgt. Nathan Harris as he returns home to North Carolina to recover from a bullet wound, cutting between his painful recovery and struggle to adjust to civilian life and footage of his time in Afghanistan as he and his unit battle an enemy in scenes of chaotic violence and unsettling beauty — at times, “Hell and Back Again” resembles a nightmarish Terrence Malick movie. Reviewing the film in 2011, Indiewire’s own Eric Kohn called it “the best war movie of the year”; check out our interview with Dennis here.
“Cougar Town”: Season Finale
ABC, Tuesday, May 29th at 9:35pm
“Cougar Town” wraps up its run on ABC with an hour-long finale before heading to TBS for its fourth season, welcome news for fans of a show that (despite a wince-worthy initial premise) has settled into a solid ensemble comedy. The finale will find Jules (Courteney Cox) having a “Groundhog Day”-themed bacholerette party and finally preparing to marry Grayson (Josh Hopkins), with Cox’s real-life husband (from whom she’s separated) David Arquette playing a hotel concierge willing to do anything to help the wedding go as planned.
“Magic City”: Season Finale
Starz, Friday, June 1st at 10pm
Mitch Glazer’s 1950s Miami drama wraps up its first season at the Miramar Playa Hotel with Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) struggling to get out from under his dangerous gangster business partner Ben Diamond (Danny Huston), a relationship complicated by the fact that Ike’s son Stevie (Steven Strait) has been carrying on an ill-advised affair with Ben’s wife Lily (Jessica Marais). “Magic City” got off to a bumpy start and at first seemed like an uneven mix of “Mad Men” and “The Sopranos,” but the series has gotten into a groove in more recent installments, which bodes well for the ten-episode second season it’s already been renewed for.
Also worth a look: Get your royal on with Katie Couric, who interviews Prince William, Prince Harry and others in anticipation of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on Tuesday, May 29th at 9pm on ABC; Comedy Central’s “Workaholics” returns Tuesday, May 29th at 10:30pm for a third season; the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee finals air on ESPN on Thurday, May 31st at 8pm ET — logorrhea, “L-O-G-O-R-R-H-E-A.”