The TV universe takes a breather from the onslaught of new series (well, there is one new show this week, and a show that returns with a new host), but there are several worthy documentaries you can devote your time to.
Monday, March 23
Independent Lens (10-11 pm, PBS)
In “Little White Lie” filmmaker Lacey Schwartz is her own subject, telling the story of how her parents kept her true identity hidden from her until she was 18.
Also tonight: another documentary, this one produced by Lena Dunham, about the illustrator of the Eloise children’s books, It’s Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise (9-9:45 pm, HBO).
Tuesday, March 24
The Late Late Show with James Corden (12:37-1:37 am, CBS)
The TV business has a somewhat fungible definition of “night” (this is considered a Monday night show) but so do I, especially when I need a suggestion for a given day, and in sidereal terms (one rotation of the earth) this is technically Tuesday. British actor/comedian Corden slides behind the desk as host of Late Late starting tonight; his first guests are Tom Hanks and Mila Kunis.
Wednesday, March 25
Big Time in Hollywood, FL (10:30-11 pm, Comedy Central)
Paired with Workaholics, Big Time is another slacker comedy about a pair of aspiring filmmaker brothers who concoct a scheme to finance their movie project that (naturally) gets out of control. Ben Stiller guest stars.
Thursday, March 26
Morgan Spurlock: Inside Man (9-10 pm, CNN)
Spurlock was lured to CNN around the same time as Anthony Bourdain, and both were asked to continue making shows just like the ones they’d been making for other networks. Tonight our man gets an inside look at the medical marijuana business.
Friday, March 27
Dreamcatcher (9-10:45 pm, Showtime)
Winner of an award at this year’s Sundance Festival, this documentary chronicles former prostitute Brenda Myers-Powell and her foundation’s efforts to help other women escape exploitation and abuse.
Saturday, March 28
Lifetime vs. Syfy (Again)
Once again these two channels go head-to-head with their special brands of sensationalized, poorly made original movies. (Perhaps they should just merge and create an unstoppable force?) On Lifetime: Bad Blood (8-10:02 pm), about a bone marrow donor who is accused of murder because the recipient now has the donor’s DNA. Syfy counters with the one-two punch of Age of Tomorrow (7-9 pm), about an alien spaceship buried beneath one of the Pyramids; followed by Apocalypse Pompeii (9-11 pm), in which Mount Vesuvius erupts and a military commando must rescue his family. (Side note: why would Syfy show both of these on the same night? Surely each one has at least nominal promotional value on its own.)
Sunday, March 29
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (8-10 pm, HBO)
Alex Gibney’s sensational documentary about the Church of Scientology, based on the 2013 book by Lawrence Wright, got a limited theatrical release last month that did not include Boston. Tonight it premieres on HBO (which I think financed the production) and I think it will be interesting, after people have had a chance to see it, what the response is from the entertainment community, which is heavily represented in the church.
In keeping with the week’s (accidental) theme, I’m suggesting a documentary currently streaming on Netflix that is at least tangentially related to the subject matter of Dreamcatcher. Tricked examines sex trafficking in the United States, how victims become ensnared, and where the profits go.
(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.)