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5 Best Bets on TV This Week: Russian Punks, Miami Gangsters and the Rougher Side of Becoming a Chef

5 Best Bets on TV This Week: Russian Punks, Miami Gangsters and the Rougher Side of Becoming a Chef

Sure, Sunday tends to be overcrowded with high-end TV, including “Mad Men,” “Veep,” “The Borgias,” “Family Tree,” “Nurse Jackie” 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.

“Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer”: Broadcast Premiere
Monday, June 10 at 9pm on HBO

Directors Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin document the case of feminist punk collective Pussy Riot, three members of which were imprisoned last year after a performance at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The film, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year and which kicks off HBO’s summer doc series, presents a look at a complicated act of protest and the media frenzy that followed.

“The Freshman Class”: Series Premiere
Monday, June 10 at 10:30pm on Cooking Channel

Food Network spinoff network Cooking Channel takes a break from the usual instructional series for this unscripted drama about four candidates at the Louisiana Culinary Institute in Baton Rouge who are all hoping that culinary school will be a path to a better life. In this current foodie era, the show offers an interesting counterpoint in looking at the economic and physical challenges posed to anyone hoping for a career as a chef.

“Knuckleball!”: Broadcast Premiere
Wednesday, June 12 at 7:25pm on Showtime

Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg, the filmmaking team behind “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” turn their camera to baseball for a doc that could intrigue non-sports audiences as well as fans with its focus on Tim Wakefield and R. A. Dickey, MLB’s only two knuckleballers in its 2011 season, as it looks at a pitch so unusual that its practitioners form a kind of elite fraternity.

“Magic City”: Season Premiere
Friday, June 14 at 9pm on Starz

While it took a fair chunk of its first season to get its sea legs, Mitch Glazer’s sumptuous period drama “Magic City” has all the right ingredients for a stronger second round, including the addition of James Caan as Chicago gangster Sy Berman, who promises to complicate life for both Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Ben “The Butcher” Diamond (Danny Huston).

“AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Mel Brooks”
Saturday, Jun 15 at 9pm on TNT

Everyone who wasn’t invited to the private gala in Hollywood on June 6th will get a chance to salute the great Mel Brooks alongside Martin Scorsese, who presented the “Blazing Saddles” filmmaker with the American Film Institute’s 41st Life Achievement Award, via this broadcast of the event on TNT.

Also worth a look: TNT adds yet another title to its apparently successful lineup of ampersand series with “King & Maxwell,” starring Jon Tenney and Rebecca Romijn as former Secret Service agents turned PIs, on Monday, June 10 at 10pm; longrunning A&E reality series “Intervention” has been given the ax, but the sometimes deeply uncomfortable addiction show will have a final five-episode run starting on Thursday, June 13 at 9pm; “Vice” closes out its first season with a visit to North Korea to play basketball alongside Dennis Rodman on Friday, June 14 at 11pm.

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