The 2013-14 TV season officially ends Wednesday night, and the summer season gets underway in earnest next week. This week’s suggestions are a mix of a premiere, a season finale, a variety special, a couple of old movies, and an HBO original movie based on a 1980s play.
Monday, May 19
The Maya Rudolph Show (10-11 pm, NBC)
SNL alumna and multitalented performer Rudolph seems like an ideal choice to revive the variety show format that was popular in the 1970s, and NBC is probably viewing this special as a tryout for a possible series. Maya’s guests will include Fred Armisen, Kristen Bell, Sean Hayes, Chris Parnell, Craig Robinson, Andy Samberg, and musical guest Janelle Monae.
Tuesday, May 20
The Elephant Man (8-10:15 pm, Turner Classic Movies)
The second full-length film directed by David Lynch (after Eraserhead, before Dune) eloquently relates the life of Joseph Merrick, a physically deformed man who suffered abuse and ridicule in Victorian England and was aided by a caring doctor, starring Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft, and John Gielgud.
Wednesday, May 21
Modern Family (9-9:31 pm, ABC)
As the fifth season concludes, a forest fire and other forms of chaos threaten Cameron and Mitchell’s wedding. Unfortunately the show no longer offers me anything resembling entertainment, and after tonight I’ll be deleting the season pass from my DVR, but I think it’s appropriate that a popular mainstream show is treating a gay wedding as an ordinary occurrence, even if it’s surrounded by slapstick and silly situations.
Thursday, May 22
Gang Related (9-10 pm, Fox)
New summer drama about the LAPD’s Gang Task Force and its members, one of whom has a secret connection to one of the gangs the unit is pursuing.
Also tonight: the season eight premiere of Last Comic Standing (9-11 pm, NBC).
Friday, May 23
The Year of Living Dangerously (8-10 pm, Turner Classic Movies)
A love story with political drama as backdrop, set in the tumult of 1965 Indonesia, this 1982 film directed by Peter Weir stars a young Mel Gibson, before action stardom and public meltdowns overshadowed his talent, along with Sigourney Weaver, Michael Murphy, and Linda Hunt (who won an Oscar for best supporting actress, though her character in the movie is male).
Saturday, May 24
Not the movie—I’m referring to tonight’s options. I’d say you should be out seeing the new X-Men movie tonight, but if you find yourself at home I guess you could do worse than to watch Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic (9 pm-12:15 am, Sundance).
Sunday, May 25
The Normal Heart (9-11 pm, HBO)
Ryan Murphy directed this film version of Larry Kramer’s 1985 play about the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis in New York’s gay community. The cast includes Matt Bomer, Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Jim Parsons, and Taylor Kitsch.
Joss Whedon’s return to series TV after Firefly was a probing show about the nature of humanity and memory, done up in the trappings of a sci-fi thriller about a mysterious corporation that had the ability to “imprint” people with memories and personalities. Fox’s meddling muddled the story at first, but it survived that and lasted two seasons, a surprising gift to people who enjoy serious, thoughtful stories. (27 episodes total; Netflix is missing one on its streaming list.)
(Note: this information is accurate as of publication time, but programming is subject to change at the discretion of channels and networks. All times listed are Eastern time.)