Between network, cable and streaming, the modern television landscape is vast. Here are some of the shows, specials, and movies hitting TV this week, August 16-22. Details and times are subject to change.
BEN & JERRY’S: CLASH OF THE CONES 9 p.m. on Food Network. While this title may be reminiscent of the recent political advocacy debate of the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s, the series is pretty tame. “Clash of the Cones” is a reality show in which six ice cream makers compete to create new and unusual flavors, which they feed to discerning judges.
CHANGE (2008) 5:40 p.m. on HBO Signature. Angelina Jolie stars in this historical drama, which was directed by Clint Eastwood and is based on real events. Set in 1920s and 1930s Los Angeles, the story follows a single mother whose young son goes missing from their Los Angeles home. Months later, authorities present her with a boy they say is her missing son. She insists it isn’t, and is portrayed as delusional when she tries to argue that point. “When it works best, ‘Changeling’ is a feverish and bluntly effective parable of unjust innocence and inexplicable power,” wrote AO Scott in his review for The New York Times. But overall, Scott wrote, the film presents a “bloated, uneasy story whose strongest themes are lost in the dark splendor of historical detail.”
AWKWAFINA IS NORA FROM QUEENS 10 p.m. on Comedy Central. The actress and one-time viral video maker Awkwafina based the concept of this half-hour sitcom on her own upbringing in Queens. In the first season, her character, the fictional Nora, flitted from gig to gig — ride-hailing app driver, real-estate assistant — navigating home life with her feisty grandmother (Lori Tan Chinn), her father (BD Wong ) and her cousin (Bowen Yang). The two episodes kicking off the show’s second season, which debuts Wednesday night, will focus on CBD and time travel. In a 2020 interview with The Times, Awkwafina discussed the show, which premiered after roles in “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Ocean’s Eight” and “The Farewell” took her to a new level of stardom. “Nora is where many of us are in our twenties,” she said. “What’s next? Do you find success and suddenly solve everything? No, life is an open question.”
IN THE SAME BREATH (2021) 9 p.m. on HBO. Nanfu Wang, co-director of the well-received 2019 documentary ‘One Child Nation’ about the history of China’s long-lived one-child policy, takes on another politically difficult topic in this new documentary, which looks at the Chinese and US governments’ responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. Wang examines the flaws in those responses and how much of the consequences of political decisions fell on the shoulders of health professionals.
WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005) 12:30 p.m. on TNT, and on TBS and TNT on-demand platforms. For an apocalyptic scenario that’s completely fictional, skip “In the Same Breath” and check out this take on HG Wells’ classic science fiction tale of invaders from space. In this adaptation – the third in Steven Spielberg’s 2000 dark sci-fi series, including “AI Artificial Intelligence” and “Minority Report” – Tom Cruise plays a New Jersey father who fights to protect his two children. (played by Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin) as the alien tripods descend. If you prefer sci-fi with a higher fashion sense – Cruise’s character navigates much of the film in a hoodie – consider instead BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017) with Ryan Gosling, airs at 7:55 PM on HBO Signature.
LATE SPRING (1949) 8pm on TCM. Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu kicked off a series of films about families with “Late Spring,” one of his most celebrated films. The story follows a widower (Chishu Ryu) who is convinced to force his only daughter (Setsuko Hara) into marriage, despite her wishes. In 2005, critic Roger Ebert wrote that “Late Spring” is “one of the best two or three movies Ozu has ever made.” TCM is showing it along with several other Ozu movies, including: TOKYO TWILIGHT (1957) at 5:30 p.m. and BAKUSHU (1951) at 10 p.m. A large collection of Ozu films — including EARLY SUMMER (1951) and AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON (1962) – is also available to stream online through the Criterion Channel.
HERCULES (2014) 11pm on TNT. What happens when you take Greek mythology, turn it into a graphic novel, and adapt that graphic novel into a “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner movie? You get this 2014 blockbuster, which casts Dwayne Johnson as Hercules. (He may be one of the few artists who can make the animated ’90s Disney Hercules character look like a peep.) The plot, depicting a Hercules leading a band of mercenaries, takes some liberties with the traditional myth: in his review for The Times, Ben Kenigsberg called this film “tongue-in-cheek revisionist mythology, aimed at classical students who prefer to attend their lectures stoned.”
STAND UP AGAINST CANCER 8 p.m. on several networks, including ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. The seventh edition of this cancer research fundraiser is hosted by Anthony Anderson, Sofia Vergara, comedian Ken Jeong and his wife, Dr. Tran Ho, who is a doctor and a cancer survivor. The broadcast features appearances by Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey and Ed Helms, and appearances by Common, Stevie Wonder and Brittany Howard.
GOSSIP 8 p.m. on Showtime. The life of longtime New York gossip columnist Cindy Adams is the subject of this new four-part documentary. The series uses Adams’ career as a way to look at the history of American tabloid magazines over the decades – she began writing a column for The New York Post in the late 1970s, shortly after it was bought by Rupert Murdoch.