Nukes, tales and docs - What’s new on TV

If you missed the suspenseful and very scary miniseries Chernobyl, about the nuclear power plant explosion in the Ukraine in 1986, it will be shown again on HOT HBO, HOT VOD and NEXT TV.

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June 20, 2019 14:58
3 minute read.
Nukes, tales and docs - What’s new on TV

NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY ‘Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story.’. (photo credit: NETFLIX)

 
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If you missed the acclaimed, suspenseful and very scary miniseries Chernobyl, about the nuclear power plant explosion in the Ukraine in 1986, it will be shown again on HOT HBO, HOT VOD and NEXT TV starting on July 1.

No matter how much you remember about the disaster, this riveting series will add to what you know. It’s shocking and scary how chaotic the accident was and how ill-equipped the authorities were to cope with it, not to mention their callousness toward the local population, the plant workers and everyone else downwind in Europe.

The series stars Jared Harris – who played Lane Pryce in Mad Men – as a nuclear physicist who gives testimony at a trial investigating the accident and was tormented as to whether to lie and please the Soviet authorities or tell the truth and risk losing everything.

If you’re not familiar with the remarkable series of nine novels by Armistead Maupin about life in San Francisco, Tales of the City, you probably won’t quite know what to make of the new Netflix series, Tales of the City. It picks up a couple of decades after a previous acclaimed adaptation of the books of the same name, with several of the same actors playing the characters they portrayed in the original series. These include Olympia Dukakis as Anna Madrigal, the pot-smoking matriarch of a diverse community comprised of the tenants at her boarding house at 28 Barbary Lane, and Laura Linney (The Big C) as Mary Ann Singleton, an Ohio native who originally was the most mainstream resident but whose entire life was transformed by her new friends.

It’s not that the new series, which opens as the familiar characters and several new ones are celebrating Anna’s 90th birthday, isn’t well acted or engaging. It’s just that these beloved characters carry four decades and nine novel’s worth of history with them, a history that included the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the devastation it brought with it and its transformation into a medical problem that people can live with, as well as a major story line about gender identify that was light-years ahead of its time.

The current series focuses on the rather soapy story line of Mary Ann’s relationship with the now-grown daughter (Ellen Page of Juno) she adopted and abandoned. Aficionados of the series will have fun with this, but it won’t make much of an impact on others. If this series inspires viewers to seek out the extraordinarily enjoyable series of books, though, that would be wonderful.

Bob Dylan fans will enjoy the new Netflix documentary Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story, Martin Scorsese’s look at the Dylan’s legendary 1970s concert tour. The film mixes concert footage, interviews and clips from the difficult-to-watch movie Dylan directed in 1978 about the same tour, Renaldo and Clara. Among those interviewed and shown performing, in addition to Dylan, are Patti Smith, Sam Shepard, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Joan Baez, Ronee Blakley and Joni Mitchell.

There are many other compelling documentaries on television, including Ferrante Fever, which will be shown on June 22 on YesDocu at 10 p.m., as well as on YesVOD.

This movie examines the phenomenon of the popularity of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet, her series of novels about two friends growing up in an impoverished neighborhood of Naples. If you read them, you know that there have never been any books quite like them, page-turners about female friendship that reach the highest literary standards.

The film is most interesting when it is exploring the mystery of Ferrante’s true identity – Ferrante is a pseudonym, and one theory is that she is the Jewish daughter of Holocaust survivors – and less inspiring when it features talking heads trying to explain what makes her writing so magical.

A new Israeli series on YesDocu examines the fascinating history of the Dayan family, including Moshe, Assi, Yael and many others who are not as well-known but no less interesting. It runs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on YesDocu and on YesVOD.

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