Sure, Sunday is overcrowded with high-end TV like "True Blood," "The Newsroom," the just-returned "Weeds" and the can't-get-here-soon-enough "Breaking Bad," 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.
"Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present" (Broadcast Premiere)
Monday, July 2 at 9pm on HBO
Matthew Akers' documentary follows the Serbian performance artist as she prepares for a retrospective of her work at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, one that became a sensation thanks to the title work, in which Abramović sat silent and immobile in the atrium of the museum as visitors lined up to sit with her. (Check out the Marina Abramović Made Me Cry Tumblr for a look at people so moved by the experience they were brought to tears.) But tread carefully — Indiewire's Eric Kohn, reviewing the film last month when it had its theatrical release, found that "the experience of explaining her procedure in clinical terms has the sterile effect of reading a spoiler." Take a look at our Sundance interview with Abramović and Akers.
What began for Lisa Kudrow as a web series on the Lexus-owned Lstudio.com has grown into a full half-hour cable series on Showtime now in its second season. "Web Therapy" finds the "Friends" star playing Fiona Wallice, who's come up with an amusingly impersonal brief, web-cam form of treatment for her patients. The improvised series brings on a slew of celebrity guests to play Fiona's patients, with this season's including David Schwimmer, Meryl Streep, Conan O’Brien, Rosie O’Donnell, Molly Shannon, Minnie Driver, and Selma Blair. Interestingly, the 11-episode season was made available online before hitting the air — you can watch it here.
Turner Classic Movies turns its programming for the day over to Spike Lee, whose new film "Red Hook Summer" opens August 10th. Lee has picked an interestingly prickly line-up that includes Billy Wilder's "Ace in the Hole," Charles Laughton's brilliant "The Night of the Hunter," and Elia Kazan's "On the Waterfront" and "A Face in the Crowd."
"The City Dark" (Broadcast Premiere)
Thursday, July 5 at 10pm on PBS
Filmmaker Ian Cheney explores the physical and spiritual consequences of light pollution in this documentary (airing as part of POV) that marries poetic visuals of the night sky to a moving score that won a prize at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival. In his Indiewire profile from the time of the film's premiere, Cheney shared that he approached his topic hoping to find out whether "with so few of us growing up with a connection to the stars, might we be losing something rather fundamental?"
Melissa Leo is an acclaimed, accomplished and, after "The Fighter," Oscar-winning actress, but she's not a talent you typically associate with comedy. But in her guest spot on the second episode of this third season of Louis C.K.'s "Louie," she's hilarious and raunchy as a woman with whom Louie's unwilling set up with on a date, one who's no more pleased to find herself in the situation than the show's protagonist.
Also worth a look: If you're staying comfortably inside this Independence Day, there are a myriad of marathons planned. Syfy's running "The Twilight Zone" starting at 8am; the Science Channel has got the full run of "Firefly" kicking off at 8am; USA is running "NCIS" starting at 10am; TNT's airing the first four episodes of its relaunched "Dallas" at 5pm and capping things off with a new one at 9pm; and IFC's running all seven episodes of the first season of its competitive bearding series "Whisker Wars" beginning at 2:30pm.