A couple of new shows arrive, most notably John Oliver’s weekly news dissection on HBO, but otherwise this week’s highlights are documentaries and older movies.
Monday, April 21
Independent Lens (9-11 pm, PBS)
“Muscle Shoals” visits the town in northwest Alabama that has spawned decades of memorable music spanning rock, soul, blues, country, and R&B.
Tuesday, April 22
Late Show with David Letterman (11:35 pm-12:37 am, CBS)
Stephen Colbert visits his future home. Do you think Dave will let him sit behind the desk and see how the chair feels?
Wednesday, April 23
The Man Who Wasn’t There (10:05 pm-12:05 am, Flix)
This 2001 Coen brothers neo-noir, filmed in black and white, tells the story of a meek barber in 1949 who sees blackmail as his route to a better future. It features a marvelously nuanced performance by Billy Bob Thornton alongside Frances McDormand, James Gandolfini, Jon Polito, Scarlett Johansson, and others.
Thursday, April 24
Black Box (10-11 pm, ABC)
Yay, another doctor show! But this one has a twist: Dr. Catherine Black is a brilliant neuroscientist who also happens to be bipolar, a fact she struggles to conceal from her colleagues.
Also tonight: the one-hour sixth-season finale of Parks and Recreation (8-9 pm, NBC).
Friday, April 25
Iceberg Slim: Portrait of A Pimp (8-9:30 pm, Showtime)
The life of the Chicago pimp turned street-fiction pioneer and influence on countless hip-hop artists is examined, and features commentary from Ice-T (also a producer of the film), Snoop Dogg, Henry Rollins, Chris Rock, and many others.
Saturday, April 26
Clockers (8-10:10 pm, Flix)
Not just another movie about drug dealers and cops, Clockers is based on a novel by Richard Price and was co-written by Price and director Spike Lee. Starring Harvey Keitel, John Turturro, Mekhi Phifer, and Delroy Lindo, it’s one of Lee’s best films.
Sunday, April 27
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (11-11:30 pm, HBO)
John Oliver’s stint last summer filling in for Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show led directly to his new HBO gig. Because this show airs weekly it will of necessity be taking a different approach to covering the week’s news, with more emphasis on stories that are not getting the media attention they merit. Oliver has also said that he intends to have guests who are newsmakers rather than celebrities.
Also tonight: Jim Gaffigan’s new standup special Obsessed, which was recorded at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre (10-11 pm, Comedy Central).
Trailer Park Boys (2001-07)
Oh, Canada: your sense of humor is sometimes inscrutable, but you have given us plenty of good comedy. And how many shows are set in Nova Scotia? A trio of dim-witted petty criminals keeps trying for a big score while living in a… you guessed it. Netflix recently announced they will be reviving the show, so now is a fine time to dive in. (55 episodes total; in this instance, whether or not there is any sort of “ending” is irrelevant, regardless of the news of its return.)