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5 Best Bets on TV This Week: ‘The Waiting Room,’ a Hockey Fraud and a Reinvention of ‘Dracula’

5 Best Bets on TV This Week: 'The Waiting Room,' a Hockey Fraud and a Reinvention of 'Dracula'

Sure, Sunday tends to be overcrowded with high-end TV, including “Boardwalk Empire,” “Eastbound and Down,” “Homeland,” “Masters of Sex,” “The Walking Dead” 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.

“Independent Lens”: “The Waiting Room”
Monday, October 21st at 10pm on PBS

Peter Nicks’ award-winning documentary following several patients who pass through the emergency room of an Oakland hospital could not be more timely. The film offers a gripping look into our health care crisis and the people who are left at the fringes of the system. “The Waiting Room,” which will air alongside an excerpt from Anna Deavere Smith’s “Let Me Down Easy,” also has an online transmedia component you can find here.

30 for 30”: “Big Shot”
Tuesday, October 22nd at 8pm on ESPN

“Entourage” star Kevin Connolly, who’s directed a feature (“Gardener of Eden”) and several episodes of television, makes his doc debut with this installment of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series about John Spano, the man who briefly conned his way into taking control of the New York Islanders in 1996 before it was revealed that he didn’t have anywhere near the $165 million required to buy the struggling team.

“The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross”
Tuesday, October 22nd at 8pm on PBS

Scholar and critic Henry Louis Gates returns to PBS with a new six-part series (airing on consecutive Tuesdays) that recounts the full trajectory of African-American history over 500 years. The series will have Gates traveling the U.S. to visit historical sites and interview living eyewitnesses to major events, from former Black Panther Kathleen Neal Cleaver to former Secretary of State Colin Powell. The first installment, “The Black Atlantic (1500 – 1800),” examines the earliest Africans to come to the country and the rise of the transatlantic slave trade.

Scandal”: “Say Hello to My Little Friend”
Thursday, October 24th at 10pm on ABC

Mellie (Bellamy Young), the aggrieved, calculating wife of philandering President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn), gets a scandal of her own in this week’s installment of Shonda Rhimes’ soapy hit, courtesy of guest star Lisa Kudrow, who plays Democratic Congresswoman Josephine Marcus. As one of the most prickly of a sharp-edge cast of characters, a Mellie spotlight episode promises to be fun, especially with Kudrow reportedly in for a multi-episode arc. Series cinematographer Oliver Bokelberg directed the episode, which was written by Mark Fish.

“Dracula”: Series Premiere
Friday, October 25th at 10pm on NBC

NBC’s take on the iconic vampire comes from the executive producers of “Downton Abbey,” and it does seem to put as much emphasis on its Victorian London setting as on its horror aspects — an interesting change. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who’s not new to playing ominous period characters, stars as Dracula, who arrives in England posing as an American entrepreneur, in search of revenge and on furthering the prospects of some vamp-friendly new electric lights.

Also worth a look: “Drumline” director Charles Stone III helms VH1’s “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story,” written by Kate Lanier (“What’s Love Got To Do With It”), on Monday, October 21st at 9pm; “Life According to Sam,” a new film about progeria from Oscar-winning (for “Inocente”) documentarians Sean Fine and Andrea Nix, airs on HBO on Monday, October 21st at 9pm; the continually solid “The Middle” hits its 100th episode milestone on ABC on Wednesday, October 23rd at 8pm; supernatural procedural “Grimm” returns for a third season on NBC on Friday, October 25th at 9pm with a zombie episode; Showtime will premiere Baillie Walsh’s rock doc “Springsteen & I” on Friday, October 25th at 9pm; John Gulager, whose directorial debut “Feast” was the topic of season three of “Project Greenlight,” heads back to the small screen via Syfy channel original movie “Zombie Night,” starring Daryl Hannah and Anthony Michael Hall, on Saturday, October 26th at 9pm.

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