'Adventure Time' (
'The Writer's Room' (SundanceTV, Fridays); 'On Story' (KLCS, Sundays). Although the public has long possessed a double consciousness when it comes to movies and TV shows, taking simultaneous interest and pleasure in the performance and the performer, real glimpses into the process of creation were for years rare; looks behind the scenes were largely stage-managed, or soundstage-managed, to reinforce the twin myths of Hollywood glamour and just-folksiness. But as the business of show business has increasingly become part of the show, with opening weekends and weekly ratings the stuff of general interest, so have the nuts and bolts of production, and a great flowering of panels and podcasts now afford endless opportunities for creative types to talk about how and why they do what they do.
Now in its fourth season, "On Story" is a
'Muscle Shoals' (PBS, Monday). Like "Twenty Feet From Stardom," that movie about backup singers you have told your friends about or they have told you about and you really mean to see soon, "Muscle Shoals" -- theatrically released last year and coming to PBS this week via "Independent Lens" -- tells the story of the artists behind the artists whose names went on the label. (Musicians like David Hood, Roger Hawkins, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Beckett and Spooner Oldham, little known to most, but already legend to readers of album credits.) Set among the studios and players that turned an "undescript little town" (as local and love-hated Grateful Dead backup singer Donna Jean Godchaux calls it) into a recording capital, it begins, unfortunately, with a voice-over from Bono ("It's about alchemy, it's about turning metal, the iron in the ground, the rust, into gold"), who has surely exceeded the statutory limit on documentary appearances and is about the thousandth person you'd think of in connection with Alabama-made soul music. But Wilson Pickett's "Land of 1000 Dances" promptly arrives to clear the palate.
Again like "Twenty Feet." it tells a story of white and black musicians working together, though here -- in the early days,at least, when Rick Hall, the man behind the men behind the music, was cutting Arthur Alexander and Percy Sledge and Aretha Franklin, before the town became a recording destination for the likes of
First-time director Greg "Freddy" Camalier wanders a bit and goes on a little long, and he gets a mite fancy with the slo-mo now and again; and, like many show business stories, his film is less interesting once everyone grows settled and successful. But he has a great central figure in Hall, whose life was marked by deprivation and death: "We grew up like animals," he says of his childhood, and he wound up "bitter, somewhat driven -- I wanted to be special. I wanted to be somebody."
'Les Petits Meurtres d'
[For the record, 4:45 p.m. April 18: A previous version of this post incorrectly referred to the "Adventure Time" characters Finn the human and Jake the dog as Finn the dog and Jake the human.]