Critic's Pick

TV Picks: 'Nightly Show,' 'Half Like Me,' 'Nova,' 'The Fall,' more

'Daily Show' senior correspondents Larry Wilmore and Al Madrigal go solo this week with a series & a special

"The Nightly Show" (Comedy Central, weeknights beginning Monday); "Al Madrigal: Half Like Me" (Hulu now; Fusion, Thursday). This week Larry Wilmore, former Senior Black Correspondent for "The Daily Show," which is a fake news title -- moves into the spot formerly occupied by "The Colbert Report," between "The Daily Show" and "@midnight." Wilmore's manner is more avuncular than Colbert's or Jon Stewart's, but softness also has its sly, ironic uses. The word from Comedy Central is that the show, which like its predecessor and its lead-in will be tied to political current events, will include a panel segment and represent "underrepresented" voices -- that Wilmore (who created "The Bernie Mac Show" and co-created Eddie Murphy's too-little-known "The PJs") is African American in the white fields of late-night is itself newsworthy. Byron Allen notwithstanding.

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" (PBS, Wednesday). A science-y documentary on the righting, raising and removal of the grounded, listing, half-submerged, stupidly huge super-cruise ship the Costa Concordia from the Mediterranean shelf on which it ran aground after its feckless captain got a hole torn down its side on an unscheduled sail-by of Isola del Giglio. Coming just a week after the third anniversary of that event, and six months after it was successfully towed away to a Genoa scrapyard, the film details the conception and execution of the salvage, an enormous work delicately done to minimize damage to the marine environment. That the endeavor to raise the ship finally cost more than it did to build the thing in the first place (and added the life of a diver to the 32 passengers who perished in the accident) makes both a nice little metaphor for the capital-spending stress our lust for leisure puts upon the world, and a reminder at the same time of the lengths we'll go, in certain circumstances, to save a coral reef or an endangered giant mussel. (We are complicated creatures, we people.)

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. Mark Duplass -- brother Jay stays behind the camera -- and Melanie Lynskey are married with children, in a routine verging on a rut; Amanda Peet plays Lynskey's sister, visiting from Houston, waking up to the desperation of single middle age; and Steve Zissis, who co-wrote the story, is Duplass' best friend, an actor tired of his less-than-middling career and also evicted from his apartment. Domestic close quarters pushes each out into the world, where things happen. It feels like life, when life feels bigger than life. (But is still life.) A full review is here.

Robert Lloyd holds forth in 140 characters or less @LATimesTVLloyd.

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