Sure, Sunday tends to be overcrowded with high-end TV, including “Breaking Bad,” “Boardwalk Empire,” the returning “Homeland” and “Eastbound and Down” and more, but what to watch the rest of the time? Every Monday, we bring you five noteworthy highlights from the other six days of the week.
Documentarian Alan Berliner (“Wide Awake,” “The Sweetest Sound”) turns his camera to his cousin Edwin Honig, an acclaimed poet and professor, in his latest film, which premiered at the New York Film Festival last year. Honig had begun experiencing signs of Alzheimer’s when Berliner started shooting the film, and “First Cousin Once Removed” chronicles his decline due to the disease, becoming a tribute to a writer and intellectual as well as a film about memory and loss. In his review of the film from NYFF, Eric Kohn called it Berliner’s “crowning achievement.”
Enjoyably over-the-top and anchored by a outsized performance from James Spader, “The Blacklist” is a drama about a former government agent turned FBI’s Most Wanted supercriminal named “Red” Reddington (Spader) who turns himself in and promises to turn over the baddies he’s worked with, but only in partnership with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a new profiler who doesn’t know why Red wants a connection with her. Diego Klattenhoff, Harry Lennix and Ryan Eggold co-star in the fun pilot, which is directed by Joe Carnahan (“The Grey”) and leaves plenty of mysteries to be entangled.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”: Series Premiere
Tuesday, September 24th at 8pm on ABC
It may have been a record-breaking blockbuster taking place on a giant scale, but many of the best parts of “The Avengers” were the situational ones between characters, the bickering, teasing and quiet moments between the outsized superheroes and secret agents. So Joss Whedon’s small screen adaptation of a slice of the Marvel universe based around the resurrected Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) may be an easier process than the epic supergrouping dominating the summer move schedule. While the films worry about setting up franchises and then fitting them together, the ABC series will take a more procedural approach. Coulson leads a group of agents, played by Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, who deal with new super-powered types emerging around the world. Whedon’s directing the pilot, while Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen and Jeffrey Bell are the showrunners on what’s indisputably the most buzzed-about new series in the networks’ fall season.
“The Michael J. Fox Show” is one of the stronger comedies of the new fall network season, not because it does anything groundbreaking — it resembles, in its tone and interviews to the camera, “Modern Family” — but because it’s warm but endearingly unsentimental about having a main character who, like the man playing him, is living with Parkinson’s and decides to return to work. Fox is not afraid to incorporate his disorder into the show’s comedy, and remains an immensely likable screen presence, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s joined by “Breaking Bad” alum Betsy Brandt as his wife and Wendell Pierce as his boss and good friend.
Marina Zenovich’s 2008 documentary “Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired” caused the famed director’s case to be reopened, but also possibly led to his arrest en route to the Zurich Film Festival. In her follow-up film, which premiered at Toronto last year, Zenovich follows Polanski’s fight not to be extradited to the U.S. and in doing so, examinesher own place in the ongoing legal battle.
Also worth a look: “How I Met Your Mother” kicks off its experimentalish final season, all taking place at a wedding, on Monday, September 23rd at 8pm on CBS; “Best Kept Secret,” Samantha Buck’s doc about a Newark high school for kids with special education needs, airs on PBS series “POV” on Monday, September 23rd at 10pm; BBC America’s small town murder drama “Broadchurch” brings its first season to a devastating end on Wednesday, September 25th at 10pm; “Nashville” picks up the pieces after last season’s cliffhanger finale on ABC on Wednesday, September 25th at 10pm; “Parks and Recreation” returns with a two-part episode set in London on Thursday, September 26th at 8pm on NBC; Tina Fey and Arcade Fire help kick off the new season of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” on Saturday, September 28th at 11:29pm.