"The Nightly Show" (Comedy Central, weeknights beginning Monday); "
In his sweet special "Half Like Me," "Daily Show" Senior Latino Correspondent Al Madrigal (equally a fake title), tries to get closer to his Mexican roots in preparation for a family reunion in Baja California. He's half Sicilian, thus the title, but also, as he points out, culturally colorless -- "I drive a Prius, I live on a cul de sac, my kids go to private school." He's a pocho, "brown on the outside, white on the inside, a coconut," and the hour is structured (loosely) as an educational journey to mitigate his pocho-ness. In the course of it Madrigal will be gently mocked not only by his more Latino Latino friends ("When I first met you I thought you were Jewish," cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz tells him), but also by Spanish-speaking white kids amused by his inability even to properly pronounce his own name. He will play football (that is, soccer); get his glasses broken at an East L.A. punk show; be further mocked by Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos; speak with historian Vicki Ruiz, author of "a dozen books about the Latino experience, none of which I have read"; and conduct a "Daily Show"-style interview with Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minutemen Project, "the guys who volunteer to work at the border, armed to protect us from the kids who are destitute that come here as their last resort." Finally, he will head to Mexico, and a date with identity.
"Nova: Sunken Ship Rescue" (
Given that the operation, which involved the creation of giant metal water wings and an enormous neck pillow, took years while this documentary lasts only an hour, you get a highlights reel, obviously, with time-lapse photography to make visible processes otherwise barely perceptible. With its international cast of engineer-heroes, the film works hard to keep up the suspense in a story whose successful end we know, foregrounding the race against time, the many things that could possibly go wrong, the unexpected new challenges. "But have they thought of everything? Are all their calculations correct?" It's exciting, anyway.
"The Fall" (Netflix). Gillian Anderson is back as a London police detective helping to solve a string of Belfast murders in the second season of this dark, tense thriller. (The first season ended in a cliffhanger, shades of "The Killing.") As before, we move between the killer (played by Jamie Dornan, whose identity the viewer has known almost from the beginning) and the police, as they enact their game of cat-and-mouse or, perhaps more to the point, cat and cat. While I do hope, as I quixotically ever do, that this will be the last serial killer story in history -- for all its intelligence it sadly offers up yet another platterful of imperiled beautiful women -- I can still easily recommend "The Fall." It resists the temptation, so often succumbed to, to romanticize the villain, to make him a genius. (The script leaves that delusion to the villain himself.) There is Anderson, in an original, low-boil performance: confident, in command, calm in the face of danger -- the toughest, surest, most self-aware person in any room she's in or any street she's on, unconventional and unapologetic. That sounds superheroic, I suppose, but Anderson keeps the character grounded. (Still, you know she could take you.) And the series, though it can be difficult to watch -- any time anyone makes an appointment you fear something will stop them from keeping it -- is quite beautiful to look at.
"Togetherness" (HBO, Sundays). Les frères Duplass, makers of fine independent films and the midwives in the office upstairs on "The Mindy Project," are behind this melancholic comedy -- this melanchomedy -- about four grown people who find themselves living under the same roof.