Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter, offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV.
Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s TV schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch it. This week, midseason premieres take over the broadcast networks with a slew of new series, plus E!’s second scripted show and Ryan Murphy’s latest FX project debut.
“When We Rise,” ABC, Monday, 9 p.m.
Kudos to ABC for bringing this long-overdue story to broadcast television — the four-part, eight-hour series from “Milk” Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black is about the gay rights movement. But, Variety‘s critic Sonia Soraiya has mixed feelings, writing, “The mere existence of ‘When We Rise’ is almost virtue enough. But in terms of tone and execution, the four-part event series from ABC is wildly uneven…” (Read Soraiya’s full review here.)
“Taken,” NBC, Monday, 10 p.m.
Liam Neeson’s fan-favorite action flicks head to TV — but without Liam Neeson. Variety‘s critic Maureen Ryan says that “Vikings” alum Clive Standen, who plays the younger version of the film’s character Bryan Mills, is not as strong a lead as Neeson, but she still praises the television remake, at the very least, for being better than another recent reboot. Ryan writes in her review, “As the ‘Taken’ ensemble takes shape and the drama lightens up and begins to work up a head of steam, it ends up being more satisfying on the plotting and action fronts than, for instance, ’24: Legacy,’ a recent action-oriented reboot that didn’t quite gel in its first few installments.”
“Chicago Justice,” NBC, Wednesday, 10 p.m.
The fourth series (yes, four!) in the Chicago franchise lands at the Peacock with a special preview episode this Wednesday, before heading to its regular Sunday night timeslot on March 5 at 9 p.m. Will the legal drama be a success like “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.” and “Chicago Med?” Time will tell, but if anyone knows how to make a procedural hit, it’s Dick Wolf.
“National Treasure,” Hulu, Wednesday (CRITICS CHOICE)
Hulu’s “National Treasure” has nothing to do with the adventure film franchise of the same name. The streaming service’s new offering is a concentrated jolt of meticulously crafted British drama, which, in four episodes, tells the story of a disgraced celebrity and the scandal that envelops his family. Over the course of that handful of installments, which arrive on Hulu all at once, “National Treasure” manages to build more suspense and have greater impact than many dramas that chew up far more airtime. Thanks in part to a uniformly phenomenal cast (Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters, Andrea Riseborough and Tim McInnerny), it makes intelligent and unsentimental observations about the cost of fame and the routine concessions made to celebrity.
“Making History,” Fox, Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
“Gossip Girl” alum Leighton Meester, “Happy Endings” star Adam Pally and “Girls” writer Yassir Lester team up for this comical time-travel series — but Variety‘s Ryan says the cast is better than the show. Her so-so review states, “’Making History’ makes an amusing observation, but there’s no overwhelming reason to sign up for repeated journeys with this crew.” However, with the likable cast, the comedy is worth a shot.
“Time After Time,” ABC, Sunday, 9 p.m.
Kevin Williamson’s latest project centers around a modern-day H.G. Wells, who is transported to present Manhattan in pursuit of Jack the Ripper. The subject matter is a bit of a stretch, but the cast is appealing: fan-favorite actors Freddie Stroma of “UnReal” and Josh Bowman of “Revenge” star in the title roles.
“The Arrangement,” E!, Sunday, 10 p.m.
The entertainment cabler jumps into its second scripted series, following “The Royals,” and does so rather successfully. The drama is a Hollywood story that’s perfect for a Hollywood-obsessed E! audience. Don’t count on any Emmys, but count on some sexy, twisty-turny fun.
“Feud,” FX, Sunday, 10 p.m.
Ryan Murphy’s follow-up to the award-winning “People V. O.J. Simpson” is a new anthology series which tells the story of clashing silver screen titans Joan Crawford, played by Jessica Lange, and Bette Davis, played by Susan Sarandon. Variety‘s Ryan was on the set of “Feud” and spoke with Murphy, who admitted, “After ‘O.J.,’ I did say to myself, ‘Well, I should rest a little. Maybe I should just do less.'” Murphy, who recently launched the Half foundation to tackle Hollywood’s diversity problem, says “hearing all these crazy, outlandish stories from women” convinced him to get back to work.