This TV broadcast with an ungainly name will allegedly be Swift’s only show of the year. Last fall, she released Lover, her most mature album to date, with melodic, openhearted songs that represented a bounce-back from 2017’s Reputation. The limited tour dates that were announced on a Lover Fest tour have been canceled, so this show, filmed in Paris last year, will have to tide fans over until 2021. Sunday at 10 p.m. on ABC.
— Dan DeLuca
Prince’s 1985 Purple Rain tour date at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., was filmed for European television and released on home video back in the day. The performance, which includes the unreleased song “Possessed,” will be streamed for the first time this weekend, on back-to-back nights. Proceeds from all donations go to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, with Google matching the first $5 million raised. Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. on YouTube.
The new Scooby-Doo-over is a reboot of the venerable animated TV show, with vocal work from Will Forte, Amanda Seyfried, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Gina Rodriguez, and Zac Efron. We learn how Shaggy and Scooby became friends, and follow the duo, along with Fred, Velma, and Daphne on a mission to stop a ghost dog from creating a catastrophe. Available to rent ($19.99) or buy ($24.99) on most streaming services starting Friday. (PG)
— Gary Thompson
Tom Hardy plays the notorious Prohibition-era Chicago crime boss, living out his final days in Florida, suffering from disease and dementia, lashing out at those around him (Linda Cardellini, of Green Book, is his wife). Also featuring Matt Dillon and Kyle MacLachlan. Directed by Josh Trank (Fantastic Four). Available now to rent ($9.99) or buy ($9.99-$14.99) on most streaming services. (R)
From Italian director Marco Bellocchio comes the fact-based story of Tommaso Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino), a mobster who turns against the organization as war between rival heroin distribution networks threatens to destroy the country. Available now to rent ($4.99/$5.99 HD) or buy ($14.99) on most streaming services. (R)
This 2019 WXPN-FM (88.5) project explores the connection between spiritual music of the American South and secular R&B and soul music. The show, hosted by Cece Winans and produced by Alex Lewis, has now been named a finalist for a Peabody award and a winner of a regional Edward R. Murrow award for excellence in broadcast journalism. It features music by the Dixie Hummingbirds, Fairfield Four, Aretha Franklin, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Kanye West. Hear it in its entirety at xpngospelroots.org, or enjoy samples in a six-part podcast.
Many music documentaries cease to be interesting after their subject rises from rags to riches. Sam Dunn’s portrait of dirty roadhouse blues players Dusty Hill, Billy Gibbons, and Frank Beard (the clean-shaven one) avoids that pitfall by not going into any detail at all about ZZ Top’s existence after its 1983 blockbuster album Eliminator. Instead it focuses on the rise of a band that’s maintained a cartoon mystique so expertly that Billy Bob Thornton says getting to meet them was “like seeing Bugs Bunny in person.” Streaming on Netflix.
In 2018, Philly author, educator, and playwright Lorene Cary teamed up with a group of University of Pennsylvania students to register 7,000 young people to vote in the #VOTETHATJAWN initiative. The group is back with a bigger goal this year: registering 10,000 voters. On Saturday, #VOTETHATJAWN will host an online youth voter registration “house party,” featuring the best in ’90s music with live sets from local DJs including Jazzy Jeff and Diamond Kuts, and freestyle from local rappers. The virtual party takes place on the Safe Kids Stories’ Facebook Live from 5 to 8 p.m.
— Brandon T. Harden
Adorable and funny aren’t words generally applied to costume dramas (or to Catherine the Great), but this new streaming series starring Elle Fanning as the empress of Russia and Nicholas Hoult as the spoiled blockhead of an emperor she marries — and (spoiler alert) eventually aims to replace — is often both, while also being very much meant for adults. From Tony McNamara (The Favourite), this look at the Russian imperial court tells an “occasionally true story” that’s hard to resist. Friday, Hulu.
Philly’s Kevin Hart will be a special guest on this week’s episode of a new Prime Video streaming series that highlights the efforts of those helping their communities through the pandemic. The episode features a deli owner in New York City, a science teacher in Washington, D.C., and a zookeeper in New Jersey. Friday, Amazon.
John O’Hurley and David Frei host a broadcast of the show, taped earlier this year, which includes dogs mingling with celebrities before judging. 8 p.m. Sunday, NBC.
New Cape Cod-set drama explores the seamy underside of a vacation paradise. Monica Raymund (Chicago Fire) plays Jackie Quinones, a marine fisheries officer whose off-hours life lands her in trouble after she discovers a dead body on a beach. 8 p.m. Sunday, Starz.
If you followed the behind-the-scenes drama generated by this series’ adaptation of the 2013 film from Bong Joon Ho (Parasite), you might expect this to be unwatchable. It’s not, and its brutal exploration of class divisions, however obvious, feels timelier than ever. Coming to it fresh? In the wake of a human-caused ice age, a luxury train circles the globe endlessly. It carries what’s left of the population, in distinct classes of service. Jennifer Connelly stars as Melanie Cavill, the woman in charge, and Daveed Diggs as Andre Layton, a former homicide detective-turned-rebel leader. 9 p.m. Sunday, TNT.
If a dog — or the thought of dogs — is brightening your life, then this five-day marathon of canine-focused programming should be a treat. The Dog Whisperer himself, Cesar Millan, will host. Begins at 7 a.m. Monday, Nat Geo Wild.
As the third season begins, this domestic-goddess parody may be ready for its closeup. Comedian Amy Sedaris plays a variety of characters, and there will be cooking, crafting, and homemaking. So just like your house, but maybe funnier, and with guest stars. 10 p.m. truTV.
Comcast’s Xfinity Watchathon runs through Sunday, so if you’re a customer and there’s a shortish series you’ve heard about on a premium channel you don’t subscribe to, time to get clicking. For the first time this year, Hulu’s included. Available on X1, Flex, or Xfinity Stream.
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes based this six-episode series on his own 2016 novel about two families, one aristocratic, one merely rich, who are joined by a secret only one of them knows. Harriet Walter and Tamsin Greig play the formidable women who face off in this costume drama, set in the decades after the Battle of Waterloo. The final episode premieres Sunday. Epix
Alabama Shakes singer Brittany Howard — who released Jaime, her stunning first solo album in 2019 — now has her own 24-hour Sonos radio station. (Thom Yorke of Radiohead has one, too.) Encyclopedia of Brittany “weaves in and out of my personal collection of music” with “beloved songs from my earliest memories of childhood to things I’ve just recently discovered.” That means she plays everything from Dr. Buzzard’s Savannah Band to Screaming Jay Hawkins, Esther Phillips, Curtis Mayfield, Joni Mitchell, The Crystals, Roberta Flack, Brazilian guitarist Paulinho Nogueira, and Argentine tango master Astor Piazzolla. A great singer, with excellent taste. Free to all Sonos Radio users.
Here’s your opportunity to listen to great plays performed by big names as you’re wiping down doorknobs and doing other chores. Audio theater company L.A. Theatre Works offers free access to performances of The Graduate (Matthew Rhys, Kathleen Turner), Six Degrees of Separation (Alan Alda, Swoosie Kurtz), and many more. Stream them from the latw.org website, where a new play is featured weekly and where recent recordings are archived. The troupe’s free podcast subscription service (via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and NPR One) has more, including a production this month of the comedy Mizlansky/Zilinsky, starring Nathan Lane, Richard Masur, Rob Morrow, and Harry Shearer.
— Howard Gensler
PBS’ Great Performances presents the Tony-winning baritone Paulo Szot (South Pacific) as the Celebrant in a performance preceded by a brief history of the musical theater piece, which was commissioned by Jacqueline Onassis to open the Kennedy Center in 1971 and memorably revived in 2015 by the Philadelphia Orchestra. This broadcast is a recording of the 2019 Ravinia Festival production with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (9 p.m. Friday, WHYY12)
Lauded by both the New York Times and The New Yorker, this one-man show by Simon McBurney is loosely about a photojournalist who gets lost in the Brazilian rain forest, but it’s really about so much more. It was a hit for Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse, and it’s now being presented as a weeklong, free streaming event (donations requested) starting 2 p.m. Friday (through 5 p.m. May 22). Find it at stannswarehouse.org. McBurney will host a discussion of the play live at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Pianist Jonathan Biss performs a free online recital 7 p.m. Wednesday to benefit Artist Relief Tree, an organization that aims to raise a total of $1 million to support 3,500 artists suffering financially from the COVID-19 crisis. (Donations accepted.) From his home in Philadelphia, Biss plays Schumann’s Kreisleriana, selections from Janacek’s On an Overgrown Path, and Mozart’s Piano Sonata in F major, K. 533/494 and Rondo in A minor, K 511. Find it on facebook.com/JonathanBiss.
— Peter Dobrin
— Jane M. Von Bergen
Justine is spending her COVID quarantine with not one, but two, ex and estranged husbands. True story. And Justine tells it in Alone Together, part of the COVID Stories series produced by First Person Arts. Each week or so, First Person Arts posts a prompt. The stories follow — some funny, some quirky, some plain-old weird. If you can’t stay in touch with the living during the quarantine, how about a Ouija session with the dead? Find the stories on the organization’s web page, firstpersonarts.org, and its social platforms.
Distance learning. Sigh. So not funny anymore. But in the hands of the Study Hall crew of improv performers, this long-running show keeps the laughs coming. The concept started as part of the 2011 Philadelphia Science Festival when the Philly Improv Theater’s house crew disrupted Drexel University Professor Michael Yudell’s public health lectures. That remains Study Hall’s funny formula — one lecture informing improv. Tickets are $5 for Study Hall: Distance Learning Edition! Live via Zoom on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Details at studyhallshow.com.