What’s on TV This Week: ‘Resistance’ and ‘Finding Your Roots’
Between network, cable and streaming, the modern television landscape is huge. Here are some of the shows, specials, and movies that will air on TV this week January 11-11. 17. Details and times are subject to change.
ALL AMERICAN STORIES 8 p.m. in the CW. The life of soccer linebacker Spencer Paysinger was the inspiration for the CW sports drama series “All American”. Paysinger is co-hosting this documentary special, which introduces eight athletes who have overcome extraordinary circumstances in their own lives – including Paralympic sprinter and long jumper Scout Bassett, Olympic champion Michelle Carter and Paralympic sprinter David Brown. The special is divided into two one-hour parts (the second airs on February 1st).
FIND YOUR ROOTS 8 p.m. on PBS (see local listings). The roots of the ancestors of broadcast journalist Norah O’Donnell, fashion designer Zac Posen, and House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi are unearthed in the sixth season finale of Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s longtime family story show. Highlights include a sequence in which Pelosi flips through the passenger manifest for a ship that arrived in New York in 1912 with her grandfather, grandmother, and children, including Pelosi’s mother. “I am very proud of the courage to come to America,” says Pelosi, “and to take a chance on America.”
CALL YOUR MOTHER 9:30 p.m. on ABC. Kyra Sedgwick plays a mother who makes her way into the lives of her young adult children in this new sitcom from Kari Lizer (“Old Christine’s New Adventures”). The series has been described by ABC as “Coming of Middle Age Comedy”.
FIRST REFORMED (2017) 7:00 pm on Showtime 2. Paul Schrader’s talent for constant building, which was once used as the script for his screenplay “Taxi Driver”, is shown to its best advantage in the much more recent “First Reformed”, which Schrader both wrote and staged brought. Ethan Hawke plays Rev. Ernst Toller, a worn-out Protestant pastor in a small old church in upstate New York. The film follows Toller as he torments himself increasingly – through poor health, a modern mega-church nearby, and finally through tragedy. He also develops a closeness to a younger local, Mary (Amanda Seyfried), who becomes perhaps the least desolate presence of his life (though the bar is low). “It is the portrait of a soul in agony,” wrote AO Scott in his review for the New York Times, “all the more powerful when they are so strictly conceived and meticulously executed.”
GREAT PERFORMANCE: THE MAGIC OF CALLAS 10pm on PBS (check local listings). The classic 1953 recording of Puccini’s “Tosca” with Maria Callas was a hit when it was released and has often been cited as one of the greatest operatic performances ever recorded on tape. (The Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini wrote in 2017, “It’s hard to imagine a recording of an opera that nailed a work so amazingly that it seemed so definitive.”) So when, a little over a decade after the recording was released, Callas returned to the title role of this opera, she had big shoes to fill: her own. Her career also needed a comeback. That period is the focus of this latest entry in PBS’s “Great Performances” series, which focuses on Callas’ late career performances of “Tosca” in 1964 at the Royal Opera House in London while re-evaluating her life as a whole.
BEAUTIFUL COLLECTIVES 10 p.m. on OWN. A group of five black women entrepreneurs in Jackson, Miss., Is the subject of this new reality show from the production company behind Love & Marriage: Huntsville. Women’s stores include a radio show, as well as hair care and dental practices. Part of the action revolves around the revitalization of Jackson’s historic Farish Street district, which was a center for black-owned businesses for much of the 20th century.
RESISTANCE (2020) 8 p.m. on Showtime. In this biographical drama set in Nazi-occupied France, Jesse Eisenberg encounters Nazi repression with wit. “Resistance” casts Eisenberg as the French actor and pantomime Marcel Marceau. It follows Marceau’s efforts to help Jewish orphans survive Nazi-occupied France and his work for the French resistance. (The story is based on the real life of a young Marceau.) Juggling the work of a fool and a rebel is a challenge for Marceau and for the film itself. This is a film that “alternately dips its audience in treacle and ice water”, wrote Jeannette Catsoulis in her review for The Times. “The problem,” she added, “is that Marceau’s whimsical attempts to entertain the children dilute the growing atmosphere of threat upon which the story depends.”
WIDOWS (2018) 10:30 p.m. on FX. Director Steve McQueen and actress Viola Davis both released celebrated projects at the end of 2020: McQueen with his film anthology “Small Ax” and Davis with her appearance as blues singer Ma Rainey in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”. A few years earlier they were working together on Widows, a seedy McQueen robbery film. Davis plays Veronica, a woman who works for the Chicago Teachers Union. She is also the wife of a bank robber (Liam Neeson) who dies in a botched theft. Veronica picks up the coat from him with the help of three other women (Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo). The resulting film, AO Scott wrote in his review for The Times, “is a fascinating and sometimes frustrating hybrid, a film that seeks to transcend and exploit its genre.”
MASTERPIECE: MISS SCARLET & THE DUKE 8 p.m. on PBS (see local listings). Kate Phillips and Stuart Martin play as private investigators in this mystery series, which aired on UK broadcaster Alibi in 2020 and will make its US debut on PBS on Sunday night. Set in Victorian London (no security footage or DNA samples to catch criminals here), the series follows Eliza Scarlet (Phillips), a woman determined to prove herself a detective. This mission requires her to solve puzzles and convince a sexist society that she is up to the job. She teams up with William Wellington (Martin), who is both a sniffer dog and a Lothario.