What’s on TV This Week: ‘Merry Wives’ and George Carlin

Between network, cable and streaming, the modern television landscape is a vast one. Here are some of the shows, specials and movies coming to TV this week, May 16 – 22. Details and times are subject to change.

THE NIGHT HOUSE (2021) 7:08 pm on HBO. Rebecca Hall plays a grieving New York schoolteacher reckoning with a profound loss in this horror movie from David Bruckner. After her husband of 14 years, Owen (Evan Jonigkeit), takes his own life, Beth (Hall) holes up at her lake house. She begins experiencing sinister, apparently supernatural phenomena that call into question whether she’s haunted by grief or something else. The result is a “hyper-focused, unnervingly sure” thriller, Jeannette Catsoulis wrote in her review for The New York Times. “Bruckner maintains a death grip on the film’s mood,” she said, “while his cinematographer, Elisha Christian, turns the home’s reflective surfaces into shape-shifting puzzle pieces.” Hall, Catsoulis added, is “spectacular, flinty and fraying.”

LIONEL RICHIE: THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GERSHWIN PRIZE FOR POPULAR SONG 9 pm on PBS (check local listings). Since its inception in 2007, the Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize has been given to Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Smokey Robinson and two Pauls – McCartney and Simon – among other important pop musicians. In March, Lionel Richie became the latest recipient, in a ceremony at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, where he was honored by other performers including Gloria Estefan (who was a recipient of the prize in 2019), Yolanda Adams, Luke Bryan and Boyz II Men. A recording of the event debuts on PBS on Tuesday night.

KINGDOM BUSINESS 10:30 pm on BET. Two sides of the gospel singer Yolanda Adams are on display this week: See her in a tribute to Lionel Richie (above) and in this new BET drama, in which Adams plays Denita Jordan, a fictional gospel star who runs a record label. Jordan’s popularity is threatened by a younger singer, Rbel (played by Serayah), whose rise is made complicated by a checkered past.

MONEYBALL (2011) 5 pm on AMC. The Oakland Athletics get a boost from bean counting and a man named Beane in this biographical drama. Adapted from a nonfiction book by Michael Lewis, “Moneyball” revisits a period around the beginning of the 2000s in which Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), then the general manager of the A’s, leads a transformation of the team – and, eventually , of baseball strategy itself – using statistics. In her review for The Times, Manohla Dargis called it “the kind of all-too-rare pleasurable Hollywood diversion that gives you a contact high.”

GEORGE CARLIN’S AMERICAN DREAM 8 pm on HBO. It makes sense that this new documentary about the comic George Carlin is split into two parts: There was really more than one Carlin. There was the suit-wearing Carlin of the 1960s. The shaggy “seven dirty words” Carlin of the early ’70s. The aged firebrand Carlin of the 2000s. “At the moment when it seemed like he was out of gas, he would suddenly recharge and reinvent himself,” the comedian and filmmaker Judd Apatow, who directed “American Dream” with Michael Bonfiglio, said in a recent interview with The Times. The new documentary, which will be shown over two consecutive nights on Friday and Saturday, explores the many ups and downs of Carlin’s career, and includes interviews with other comic performers including Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Patton Oswalt, Stephen Colbert, Bill Burr, Bette Midler, W. Kamau Bell and Jon Stewart. It takes its name from a line Carlin delivered in one of its final specials, “Life Is Worth Losing,” recorded in 2005. “It’s the American dream,” he said, “because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

GREAT PERFORMANCES: MERRY WIVES 9 pm on PBS. After a pandemic pause, the Public Theater’s annual Shakespeare in the Park series returned last summer with this rethink of the Shakespeare comedy “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Adapted by the playwright Jocelyn Bioh, who is a child of Ghanaian immigrants, and directed by Saheem Ali, who was born in Kenya, this version of the play is set in an African diasporic community in contemporary Harlem. Its cast is led by Jacob Ming-Trent (“Watchmen,” “The Forty-Year-Old Version”) who, as Falstaff, “combines into one bigger-than-life portrait your drunk uncle, a horndog Redd Foxx and some would -be Barry White, ”Jesse Green wrote in his review for The Times. This PBS broadcast is a recording of the 2021 show shot at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

THE NEW YORK TIMES PRESENTS: ELON MUSK’S CRASH COURSE 10 pm on FX. Late last year, The Times published a deep-dive story on Elon Musk’s persistence in pushing autonomous-driving technology with Tesla in ways that former employees said undermined safety. The work of the journalists behind that story – the technology correspondent Cade Metz and the auto-industry reporter Neal E. Boudette – is at the heart of this new, feature-length documentary from the director Emma Schwartz, which goes even further into how Musk’s enthusiasm for self-driving cars may be inconsistent with where both the business and the technology is.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE 11:30 pm on NBC. Natasha Lyonne will host the finale of SNL’s 47th season, fresh off the Season 2 debut of Leone’s own show, “Russian Doll,” on Netflix. Japanese Breakfast is set to be the musical guest.

BOB’S BURGERS 9 pm on Fox. Loren Bouchard’s animated sitcom about the Belcher family and its meaty restaurant ends on Sunday night with an episode whose plot hinges on erotic fiction writing. The show was renewed for a 13th season on Fox, but it will be back much sooner on bigger screens: The Bob’s Burgers Movie is slated to hit theaters on May 27.

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