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What to Watch This Week: April 6 to 12

From the final episode of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm to a historical drama starring Michael Douglas as Benjamin Franklin, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week

1. 2024 CMT Music Awards – Sunday, April 7, CBS

2024 CMT Music Awards on CBS. Pictured: Kelsea Ballerini is both host and one of the top moninees.

Kelsea Ballerini is both host and one of the top nominees at this year’s edition of Country Music Television’s fan-voted awards gala, honouring top achievements in music videos and specials. 

Live from the Moody Center in Austin, Texas, the “Penthouse” singer will share the stage with such fellow crooners as Lainey Wilson, Cody Johnson, Megan Moroney and the one and only Jelly Roll. This is the fourth time that Ballerini is hosting the show, but her first without a co-host. 

As the 30-year-old Tennessee native told People: “It’s definitely new grounds for me . . . but I feel like I’ve learned a lot. And the good thing about CMTs is there’s such a light energy, so there’s not a pressure that I feel to be perfect. I just want to be fun, honour the night and help people have a good time.”

2. Curb Your Enthusiasm – Sunday, April 7, HBO Canada | Series Finale

Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO Canada. Pictured: Larry David as Larry David.

You would be hard-pressed to find a writer or performer who’s had a more profound impact on the small-screen comedy landscape over the past four decades than Larry David. In 1989, he co-created Seinfeld for NBC — a show that was not just one of the defining sitcoms of its generation, but redefined what a sitcom could be with its sharp, sophisticated wit and a writers’ room ethos of “no hugging, no learning.”

David was, of course, behind the scenes on that show (give or take a cape-clad cameo). But in 2000, he took centre stage as not only creator but star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, leading the charge of the cable TV revolution alongside fellow HBO game-changer The Sopranos in making television, rather than film, the new playground for boundary-pushing writers.

In 12 seasons spread across 24 years, the Brooklyn native has played a fictionalized version of himself in a largely improvised affair that finds our antihero perpetually undermined by his own neuroses and petty grievances. During that time, Larry David has turned “Larry David” into one of television’s most indelible curmudgeons. 

Alas, this Sunday, it all comes to an end in a series finale that seems primed to bring things full-circle — not just to the start of Curb, but to the halcyon days of Seinfeld — with an episode titled “No Lessons Learned” . . . undoubtedly a tip of the cap to “no hugging, no learning.”

Of course, this is not the first time David has talked about ending the show. He has even taken multiple years-long breaks between seasons. So why should we trust him now? Well, as the man himself told Variety ahead of the season 12 premiere: “Yeah, I said it before . . . but I wasn’t 76 when I said it.”

3. Elton John & Bernie Taupin: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Modern Song – Monday, April 8, WTVS & KCTS

Elton John & Bernie Taupin: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Modern Song on PBS. Pictured: Elton John & Bernie Taupin. Inset: Elton John & Bernie Taupin.
Gavin Bond/PBS, (inset) Barrie Wentzell/PBS

When it comes to the art of marrying music and lyrics, the combination of Elton John and Bernie Taupin has been unstoppable, gifting the world with such iconic hits as Rocket Man, Tiny Dancer, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Candle in the Wind and so many more. 

The dynamic duo were honoured with 2024’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, with the gala festivities filmed for a star-studded PBS special. Among the artists paying tribute by performing the pair’s songs are Billy Porter (who also serves as host), Joni Mitchell, Garth Brooks, Brandi Carlile, Annie Lennox, Metallica, Maren Morris, Charlie Puth and Jacob Lusk of the band Gabriels, along with appearances by both John and Taupin.

During a PBS panel at the Television Critics Association press tour in February, Taupin opened up about their partnership, which famously began when he answered John’s classified ad seeking a lyricist. 

“In the early days, I really didn’t have any idea,” Taupin explained. “I was flying by the seat of my pants because, you know, I was just trying to tell stories, write stories. And the actual idea of having any melodic sense of anything was completely foreign to me . . . 

I didn’t know the difference between sort of choruses and verses, what have you. So it was a learning process, and it wasn’t till much later on that, when I was writing, I would actually use a guitar, and I would sort of base things on, you know, three chords and the truth, if you will. So I would have my own ideas about melodies, but, at the same time, I would never share them because I felt that that was his territory and his territory only, and he never told me what to write.”

Over the years, Taupin and John have developed a litmus test to determine how well one of their collaborations is working. “The thing is, the test of a good song is when you strip everything away from it and just have one instrument and the vocal. And if it stands up then, you’ve got a good song.”

4. Grand Cayman: Secrets in Paradise – Tuesday, April 9, ABC Spark | Series Premiere

Grand Cayman: Secrets in Paradise on ABC Spark. Pictured: A group of singles in the tropical paradise of Grand Cayman.

Described as “sexy and sizzling with secrets,” this “docusoap” follows a group of singles as they navigate relationships, friendships and careers in the tropical paradise of Grand Cayman. Among them: Elizabeth Chambers, ex-wife of disgraced movie star Armie Hammer. “I moved here with my husband three years ago,” she says in the pilot, “but things have changed.” 

5. Neal Brennan: Crazy Good – Tuesday, April 9, Netflix

Neal Brennan: Crazy Good on Netflix. Neal Brennan performs standup.

The erstwhile co-creator of Chappelle’s Show continues his foray into standup with a new special that muses on sex compliments, cryptocurrency, social media flexes and “the link between greatness and mental health.” 

6. Unlocked: A Jail Experiment – Wednesday, April 10, Netflix | Series Premiere

Unlocked: A Jail Experiment on Netflix. Pictured: (left to right) Prisoners Ferrad McCoy and Mason Abraham from episode 102 of Unlocked: A Jail Experiment.
Courtesy of Netflix © 2024 Netflix, Inc.

Many a so-called reality show over the years has been billed as “a social experiment,” but Unlocked: A Jail Experiment more than fits the bill. This eight-episode docuseries chronicles Sheriff Eric Higgins’ radical attempt to transform incarceration at his detention facility in Little Rock, Arkansas — by unlocking the doors of a unit filled with felons, stripping away the usual authority of deputies, and entrusting agency and responsibility to the detainees themselves. Through candid interviews and unprecedented access, Unlocked delves into what happens when inmates are given autonomy rather than being kept under lock and key. Along with this newfound freedom comes a power struggle between younger and older inmates, all jostling for control over how the unit should run. While some choose to maintain order so they can use their freedom to rebuild their lives, others seize the chance to flout authority and indulge in illicit behavior. As tensions escalate and conflicts unfold, the daily struggles and triumphs of both inmates and staff come to light, with viewers presented with an inside look at whether this experiment can be deemed a success or a failure. Meanwhile, Sheriff Higgins is left to decide whether to implement this groundbreaking new philosophy of detention into his facility on a more indefinite basis.

7. Patti Stanger: The Matchmaker – Thursday, April 11, CTV2 & KTLA | Series Premiere

Patti Stanger: The Matchmaker on CTV2 & KTLA. Pictured: Patti Stanger.
The CW

The “Million Dollar Matchmaker” herself, Patti Stanger, returns to dispense more courtship advice to the hapless romantics who need it most.

Every episode of this new CW series follows Patti as she lends her particular set of skills to two different clients who’ve found themselves floundering in that dating pool, for one reason or another. With a kind heart but a firm hand, she pushes them all to “face their fears, identify their emotional core and in the end, emerge ready to find the one.”

Joining Ms. Stanger for this project is another reality television veteran who possesses a unique insight into the pitfalls of searching for happily-ever-after while the cameras are rolling. That would be Nick Viall, two-time runner-up on The Bachelorette and star of The Bachelor season 21.

It’s a duo that should sport more than enough collective wisdom to offer the show’s participants the tools they need to become “the most eligible versions of themselves.” The only question is, can these two titans of the reality dating genre share the spotlight? Well, at least as far as Stanger is concerned, it’s a perfect match.

“I get a partner with great understanding of relationships, the following of Bachelor Nation and, well . . . he’s easy on the eyes,” she said in a press release. “Quite the package.” 

8. Franklin – Friday, April 12, Apple TV+ | Series Premiere

Franklin on Apple TV+. Pictured: Michael Douglas as Benjamin Franklin and Noah Jupe as Temple Franklin.
Apple TV+

He’s among the most charismatic stars ever to light up a multiplex, but recently it’s TV that’s offered Michael Douglas his greatest accolades — from an Emmy-winning turn as Liberace in HBO original movie Behind the Candelabra to his Golden Globe-winning run on The Kominsky Method. Now, Apple casts Douglas as American icon Benjamin Franklin, honing in on the Founding Father’s crucial role in winning the Revolutionary War via delicate, painstaking negotiations with the French.

“At age 70, without any diplomatic training, Franklin convinced an absolute monarchy to underwrite America’s experiment in democracy,” teases the press release — using his ingenuity to outwit enemies on both sides of the table. The eight-part miniseries was penned by Kirk Ellis, writer of HBO’s John Adams.

In a chat with People, Douglas called Franklin “probably the best production I’ve been involved with,” further noting that the show “wanted to stay away from these sorts of historical pictures that are giving you a history lesson but don’t really get into the intrigue, the gamesmanship and the gamble . . .” 

9. The Greatest Hits – Friday, April 12, Disney+

The Greatest Hits on Disney+. Pictured: Lucy Boynton as Harriet and David Corenswet as Max.

Lucy Boynton stars in this movie about a woman who discovers that listening to certain songs can transport her back in time — literally. While reliving her romantic past with her ex (David Corenswet), she becomes caught in a love triangle when her time travelling collides with a burgeoning new love interest in the present (Justin H. Min).

10. Good Times – Friday, April 12, Netflix | Series Premiere

Good Times on Netflix. Pictured: The Evans clan sitting around their kitchen table in their Chicago housing project.

One of the many memorable hits from sitcom legend Norman Lear, Good Times — which ran from 1974 until 1979 — followed the lives of the Evans clan, a working-class Black family living in a Chicago housing project. More than 40 years after the series’ end, Good Times is back in this new animated reboot that proves keeping your head above water is just as tough today as it was in the ’70s. Created by Carl Jones (The Boondocks) and Ranada Shepard (Born Again Virgin), this iteration of Good Times is set in the present, focusing on the fourth generation of the Evans family to live in apartment 17C. Described as an “edgy, irreverent reimagining of the TV classic,” the series’ voice cast includes Jay Pharoah as Junior, Marsai Martin as Grey, Yvette Nicole Brown as Beverly, Gerald Anthony “Slink” Johnson as Dalvin, JB Smoove as Reggie, Venus DeMilo Thomas as Tina and Jessica Mikayla as Jazz. Prior to his death in December at age 101, Lear voiced a character in one of the episodes. 

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