The Russians are coming (back), plus Martin Luther King, Hitler and more

All the best on TV.

The cast and crew of The Americans at the 74th Annual Peabody Awards (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/THE PEABODY AWARDS)
The cast and crew of The Americans at the 74th Annual Peabody Awards
The TV series The Americans is back for its final season, showing on YES Edge on Thursdays at 5 a.m. and 10:50 p.m. and on YES VOD, and there are quite a few changes for everyone’s favorite deep-cover Soviet spies in 1980s Washington.
Part of the built-in suspense in the entire series is our knowing that the USSR will collapse at the end of the decade, which will make Elizabeth and Philip Jennings (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) feel either disillusioned or liberated, and will leave them to face an uncertain future.
The first episode of this season jumps forward three years to 1987, just a few weeks before the Reagan-Gorbachev summit. Their daughter, Paige (Holly Taylor), who figured out that something was up with her parents two seasons ago and confronted them (“What are we – aliens?” she demanded), agreed to be groomed by her mother in spycraft towards the end of last season. This season, she is a college student with much more self-confidence. She has learned enough Russian to watch the movie Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears with her mother, who is still wearing all kinds of wigs for all the separate operations she is running, and their handler, Claudia (Margo Martindale, who looks more grandmotherly than ever but is as hardcore and brutal as spies come). Philip, who went through something like a breakdown last season as he tried to confront his guilt over killing by going to est meetings, is now living the dream as he runs their legit business, a travel agency. But while it was hard enough for the Jennings when their family business was spying, now Elizabeth is recruited for an operation to undermine Gorbachev if he turns out to be too soft. Oleg (Costa Ronin, the actor who looks more than ever like Arik Einstein and is also appearing as a Russian hardliner on the new season of Homeland), who is back in the USSR, gets involved in a plot run by another faction to recruit Philip to kill Elizabeth if she gets too close to having Gorbachev assassinated.
In short, the crazy world of The Americans is as fascinating and twisty as ever. Just as The Sopranos was basically a story about a man with a troubled marriage having a midlife crisis with a gangster plot dressing it up, The Americans is a profound look at the impossibility of truly knowing another person, with a fascinating period in modern history as its backdrop.
April is a month that is packed with fascinating documentaries.
King in the Wilderness, Peter Kunhardt’s new HBO documentary about the last years of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, was produced to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr.
King’s assassination on April 4, 1968. It features intimate footage that shows the human side of the civil-rights leader. You can see it on HOT VOD already and on HOT HBO on April 7 at 11 p.m. It’s also running on YES VOD.
Other documentaries include The Hitler Chronicles — Blueprint for Dictators, a two-part series that chronicles Hitler’s life, with an emphasis on how he manipulated the media and how he influenced future dictators. The first episode is on April 8 at 10 p.m. on YES Docu.
The next part is a week later.Escape from Room 18, which will be shown on YES Docu at 10 p.m. on April 12, tells the bizarre story of John Daly, a former neo-Nazi who took off for Israel when his fellow skinheads attempted to murder him after they discovered he was Jewish. When one of his former neo-Nazi buddies looks him up 25 years later, they visit concentrations camps in an attempt to make amends.
Ran Tal’s The Museum is an unconventional look at the Israel Museum. It gives a real sense of the incredible variety of art, spectators, artists and administrators, and shows a real feeling for Jerusalem. It will air on April 18 on YES Docu.