"Smash" - "Publicity"
NBC, Monday, April 23rd at 10pm
Even if you gave up on this mesmerizing wreck of a show about the creation of a Marilyn Monroe-themed Broadway musical, it's worth checking in to catch Uma Thurman's guest arc as movie star Rebecca Duvall, brought in to give "Bombshell" some Hollywood juice. Thurman's been a lot of fun as Rebecca, who's famous and fabulous but also a little too old and a lot lacking as a singer to own the role she's supposed to be playing on stage. This week's episode looks to find Rebecca showing off her conniving side by befriending the dazzled Karen (Katharine McPhee) while, if the previews are any indication, working to get her kicked off the show behind her back.
"30 Rock" goes live again this Thursday, and like 2010's "Live Show," the cast will be doing East and West Coast performances of "Live From Studio 6H." The episode will be about how Kabletown no longer wants to pay for TGS to be broadcast live, with Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) and Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) realizing that going taped could save them a lot of hassle. Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) tries to convince them otherwise by taking them through the magical TV history of Studio 6H (named for SNL's Studio 8H). Beth McCarthy-Miller, who directed the first live episode, returns -- and like the first live episode, this one will likely be filled with surprise cameos.
"Parks and Recreation" - "The Debate"
NBC, Thursday, April 26th at 9:30pm
Amy Poehler takes the director's chair for the first time in "The Debate," which she also wrote. The episode finds her character, Leslie Knope, finally getting a televised debate with Bobby Newport (returning guest Paul Rudd), her wealthy doofus of an opponent in the city council election. Having battled her way through drunken interview gaffes, duels with Newport's expert campaign manager Jennifer Barkley (Kathryn Hahn) and work overload, this should (theoretically) be Leslie's time to shine.
"With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story"
Epix, Friday, April 27th at 8pm
Movie channel Epix acquired this feature-length doc about the comic book legend from directors Terry Dougas, Nikki Frakes and Will Hess to kick off a weekend of recent Marvel movies -- "Thor" on the 27th, "Iron Man 2" on the 28th and the broadcast premiere of "Captain America" on the 29th, a convenient run-up to "The Avengers" reaching theaters the week after. An adoring, formally standard biopic -- it premiered at the 2010 Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival -- "With Great Power" takes trouble to always relate Lee's work back to what was going on in the world at the time. It does also contain a lot of interesting tidbits about its subject's origin story, including the fact that he split his first name in two to use as his pen name, as his full name, Stanley Martin Lieber, he "was saving that for the great American novel," which, he observes, he "never wrote."
Alex Winter collaborated with his old NYU film school classmate Tom Stern and Tim Burns to create this sui generis comedy about corporate greed, Hollywood redemption and a freak show in the fictional South American country of Santa Flan. 20th Century Fox invested $12 million in the first-time filmmakers, though by the time "Freaked" was finished Rupert Murdoch had ushered in a new studio head who wasn't pleased with the weirdness of the final product. The film was given a nominal release and then dumped on VHS and cable, where it gathered a cult following amongst those who could appreciate its unique sense of humor and the fact that it features villainous Rastafarian eyeballs, Mr. T in a dress and Keanu Reeves in perpetual dog boy makeup.