Like he would later do for Hollywood with “State and Main” (2000), writer David Mamet lovingly pokes fun at the art of the stage in “A Life in the Theatre,” a 1993 TNT movie based on his 1977 play. Jack Lemmon is magnetic as Robert, an aging community theater thespian, and Matthew Broderick is mostly a sounding board as the up-and-coming John, who is starting to get calls to work in film.
TNT found a nice way to ride the success of a series without forcing it beyond the natural end of its storyline. “The Alienist” – my No. 4 show of 2018 — became a critical and popular success a year ago, but it told a complete serial-murder mystery. That series is over, but TNT is continuing its Suspense Collection with “I Am the Night” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays).
These are the movies and TV shows I’m looking forward to in the new year:
It’s never before been so hard to pick the 10 best shows of the year, as streaming services deliver strong short series on a regular basis, and cable and network TV have mostly kept pace with the quality. Some staple entries have dropped out of my top 10 not because they got worse but simply because they were supplanted. Here are 10 shows worthy of special mention even in this age of Peak TV.
Television dropped two new murder mysteries this week, and both are worthy additions to the decade’s most popular genre worldwide. They’re quite different from each other, with “The Alienist” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays, TNT) set in 1890s New York City and “Bellevue” (10 p.m. Eastern Tuesdays, WGN) set in present-day rural Ontario, although both have the hook of transgendered people being the victims, and both explore links between old and new cases. Both premiere episodes stand out from their brethren in different ways while conforming to the grim mood we’ve come to expect ever since “The Killing” premiered.
Watching “Falling Skies” (8 p.m. Central Sundays on TNT) is like buying a greatest hits album where you already own all the songs. The opening scenes of the resistance fighters hiding in abandoned tunnels and buildings from the aliens and their mechanized drones is straight out of “Terminator.” And the “harnesses” the aliens put on the backs of children to turn them into slaves cribs from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”