Photo: CR: Netflix. Steve Carell stars in a comedy "Space Force"
Photo: CR: Netflix. Steve Carell stars in a comedy "Space Force"

TV best bets with HBO Max launch, Steve Carell, Anna Kendrick, Jeffrey Epstein, Lorena Bobbitt, Ulysses S. Grant

While we enter month three of the pandemic production shutdown, you wouldn’t know it yet based on this week’s bevy of new series and documentaries.

HBO Max is the latest streaming service to debut on May 27, a greatly expanded version of the current HBO streaming offerings. It now includes shows from what was previously known as the Turner networks such as TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network, “The Big Bang Theory,” “South Park” and “Friends.” With 10,000 hours of content, it’s robust but also pricier ($14.99 a month) than other streaming service options.

WarnerMedia, which operates HBO Max, had to postpone a “Friends” reunion special because of the pandemic, but a handful of new programs will debut with HBO Max. Notable among them are a rom-com anthology starring Anna Kendrick (which is getting middling reviews), a dark documentary about Russell Simmons and his alleged sexual exploitation, and a talk show hosted by Elmo of “Sesame Street” fame. 

Netflix’s biggest scripted series of the week stars Steve Carell in a comedy debuting Friday inspired by Pres. Donald Trump’s creation of “Space Force.” The force behind the series? Greg Daniels, creator of “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.”

On the documentary side, Netflix debuts “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich,” a four-part series that will reinforce how sickening this man’s  horrid actions were and the deep impact they had on so many women. It’s available Wednesday. 

History goes back further in time to take a look at the man who became president after Abe Lincoln: Ulysses S. Grant. The docuseries runs three days starting Monday.

Lifetime on Monday brings the story of Lorena Bobbitt — the abused woman who cut off her husband’s unit in 1993 — to life via a scripted movie. 

On Friday, Apple TV+ introduces its first original adult-oriented animated series with “Central Park,” which is also a musical and set in the famous New York City park. And Hulu brings back its award-winning series “Ramy” for a second season. 

Hulu’s “Mrs. America” wraps Wednesday, as does the third season of “Killing Eve” on AMC and BBCA Sunday. 

On the broadcast side, it’s mostly reality programming, including the returns of “America’s Got Talent” and “World of Dance” on NBC Tuesday, and the slate of celebrity game shows on ABC Sunday night, including “Match Game” and “Celebrity Family Feud.”

Two series shot in metro Atlanta — NBC’s “Titan Games” Monday and BET’s “American Soul” Thursday — also return. 

This covers Monday, May 25 through Sunday, May 31, 2020.

MONDAY

“I Was Lorena Bobbitt” 8 p.m. Lifetime  In this Lifetime Original movie, Lorena tells her story, and we follow her journey from a wide-eyed, immigrant bride to a battered wife, and an unlikely media sensation, with her ultimately emerging as a strong, thoughtful woman who has devoted her life to advocating for other abused women.

“The Titan Games” 8 p.m. NBC (second season debut) – Host and executive producer Dwayne Johnson reveals the competition's new format with regional brackets and the addition of professional athlete titans representing each region.

“Grant” 9 p.m. History (new series)  In an unlikely American history story, Ulysses S. Grant rises from his humble beginnings to become the winning general in one of the Civil War's bloodiest battles.

“The Baker and the Beauty” 10 p.m. ABC  An unlikely opponent tries to take control of Noa's company, blindsiding her. An old friend comes to rescue Daniel.

“Songland” 10:01 p.m. NBC – Undiscovered songwriters pitch songs to Boyz II Men. 

TUESDAY

“Hannah Gatsby: Douglas” 3:01 a.m. Netflix She returns for her second special and digs deep into the complexities of popularity, identity and her most unusual dog park encounter. 

“America's Got Talent” 8 p.m. NBC (15th season debut)  The first few episodes were taped before the pandemic began, so all seems normal for the four judges, which includes the return of Heidi Klum and addition of Sofia Vergara. 

“Grant” 9 p.m. History – With his back up against the wall, Ulysses S. Grant takes incredible risks, becomes Abraham Lincoln's favorite general, and prepares for an epic clash with Robert E. Lee.

“The Genetic Detective” 10 p.m. ABC (new series) — CeCe Moore works with Snohomish County's Sheriff's Office in Washington state to look into the double homicide case of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg.

“World of Dance” 10 p.m. NBC (fourth season debut) — Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough and Ne-Yo return as judges. 

“The Last O.G.” 10:30 p.m. TBS – Tray is convinced that his mother's younger boyfriend Carl is cheating on her and goes out of his way to prove it by catching him in the act.

WEDNESDAY

“Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich” 3:01 a.m. Netflix - This docuseries based on James Patterson's bestseller examines the shocking crimes committed by the powerful financier and convicted sex offender.

“Love Life” 3:01 a.m. HBO Max (new series) – Anna Kendrick plays one character through a new romantic relationship each episode.

“On the Record” 3:01 a.m. HBO Max (new series) – A controversial #MeToo documentary film about record executive Russell Simmons.

“Mrs. America” 3:01 a.m. Hulu (season finale) – Gloria, Bella and Jill put pressure on the White House to act on their proposals from the National Women’s Conference. Phyllis prepares to leverage her political victories as the 1980 presidential election draws near.

“Game On!” 8 p.m. CBS (new series) –Keegan-Michael Key hosts, as Team Gronk with comedians Bobby Lee and guest Gabriel Iglesias compete against Team Venus with comedian Ian Karmel and guest pro basketball player J.R. Smith, in a variety of outrageous challenges.

“Grant” 9 p.m. History (conclusion) –Ulysses S. Grant defeats Robert E. Lee and wins the Civil War, only to find that he will be called to duty again to serve as President during one of the most difficult times in American history.

“American Soul” 10 p.m. BET (second season debut) – While Soul Train has grown in popularity, Don deals with the stress of success.

“Marvel's Agents of Shield” 10 p.m. ABC (seventh season debut) – Coulson and the agents are thrust back in time and stranded in 1931 New York City.

THURSDAY

“Burden of Truth” 8 p.m. the CW – Joanna is reeling from the sudden apprehension of Kodie's children by Millwood Family Services, so she sets out to win back custody, but in order to win in court, she must conduct a thorough and potentially revealing investigation into her old friend's life.

“Council of Dads” 8 p.m. NBC – Robin tackles the fall holidays bravely but feels she can't compare to how well Scott handled everything.

“Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” 8 p.m. ABC – With guests, Lauren Lapkus and Anderson Cooper.

“Man With a Plan” 8:30 p.m. CBS – Adam and Andi attempt to spice up their social life by making new friends.

“Blindspot” 9:01 p.m. NBC – When an op goes bad, the team must deal with a proverbial monster in their house before it can take them down one by one.

“Holey Moley II: The Sequel” 9 p.m. ABC– Greg Louganis, Steve Guttenberg and Thunder From Down Under Dancers guest star.

“Labor of Love” 9 p.m. Fox – Kristy Katzmann takes the remaining men to the woods for a little camping fun. 

“To Tell the Truth” 10 p.m. ABC – Guests: Tom Lennon, D'Arcy Carden, Alfonso Ribeiro, Andrea Savage.

“Top Chef All Stars” 10 p.m. Bravo – The "Last Chance Kitchen" chef returns. Will it be Kevin Gillespie?

FRIDAY

“Central Park” 3:01 a.m. Apple TV+ (new series) — A whimsical musical animated series by creators of "Bob's Burgers" about a family whose dad manages Central Park. Leslie Odom Jr., Kristen Bell, Josh Gad and Tituss Burgess are among the voices. 

“Ramy” 3:01 a.m. Hulu (second season debut) — Ramy delves further into his spiritual journey, finding a new Muslim community and embracing a deeper commitment to his faith.

“Space Force” 3:01 a.m. Netflix (new series) — A comedy series about the people tasked with creating Space Force, a new branch of the U.S. military starring Steve Carell. 

“Haircut Night in America” 8 p.m. CBS —Married actors Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn will host the special, which will feature TV personality Kelly Osbourne, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn and NHL player P.K. Subban, as well as frontline health care workers, as they attempt to change up their quarantine ‘dos.

WEEKEND

“The Captive Nanny” 8 p.m. Saturday Lifetime — Chloe is a nanny who desperately wants to adopt a child but needs to get her life together first. She finds the perfect live-in nanny position with the Brown family, and she hopes to finally get her life in order. But she quickly learns that something is a bit off with the Browns, and they are not who they seem. The Captive Nanny is produced by MarVista Entertainment.

“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” 8 p.m. Sunday CBS —This classic Indiana Jones sequel rises high on the interplay between Sean Connery and Harrison Ford. 

Celebrity Family Feud” 9 p.m. Sunday ABC (seventh season debut) — The OG Queer Eye team battles with the new class members from Netflix's hit show "Queer Eye."

30 to 30” 9 p.m. Sunday EPSN —Part two about Lance Armstrong,

Billions” 9 p.m. Sunday Showtime —Axe must reckon with his past to secure his future.

I Know This Much Is True” 9 p.m. Sunday HBO — Despite the protestations of those closest to him, Dominick returns to work before fully recovering from his accident.

Killing Eve” 9 p.m. Sunday AMC, BBCA (third season finale) — Only the title is known: "Are You Leading or Am I?"

Press Your Luck” 9 p.m. Sunday ABC (second season debut) — Host Elizabeth Banks is joined by contestants Chad Aull, Walt Charles and Emily Dowler.

Snowpiercer” 9 p.m. Sunday TNT — Layton and Till descend into Snowpiercer's black market, looking for the killer and a commodity for Layton's evolution.

Vida” 9 p.m. Sunday Starz (series finale) — Lyn is MIA, playing politician's wife, as Emma is left to run Drag King Night at the bar on her own.

“Insecure” 10 p.m. Sunday HBO —Issa and Lawrence catch up and talk life, careers, past mistakes and what makes each of them happy.

“Match Game” 10 p.m. Sunday ABC (fifth season debut) — Mario Cantone, Jennifer Esposito, Adam Rodriguez, Angie Harmon, Michael Chiklis and Melissa Fumero on a special detective-themed season premiere.

“Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” 10 p.m. Sunday Showtime — Tiago and Lewis interrogate Diego. Maria tracks down Mateo.

“Quiz” 10:02 p.m. Sunday AMC (new series) — A family's much-loved pub-quiz hobby turns into outright obsession when television producer Paul Smith puts everything on the line to make ITV quiz show an overnight sensation 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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