A documentary explores Little Richard’s musical and cultural legacy. Futurama satirizes the pandemic, circa 3023. Saturday Night Live’s Beck Bennett stars in a comedy about a workplace rivalry set against a marathon race. A&E delves into the sordid history of Penthouse and its founder, Bob Guccione.
Angela Deane-Drummond/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Little Richard: I Am Everything
“Everyone was beholden to him,” says Mick Jagger of the pioneering rocker Little Richard, the subject of a spirited biographical documentary that explores the Black and queer roots of rock ’n’ roll as represented by this flamboyant and influential superstar. Among those weighing in on the triumphs and contradictions of his colorful life: Billy Porter, Nona Hendryx, John Waters, Nile Rodgers, Tom Jones, and Sir Paul McCartney, who confesses he used to stand on a desk to channel Little Richard. He wasn’t alone.
Guest voice Bill Nye, whose preserved “science guy” head survives in the year 3023, is heralded as a “super spreader of truth” in an episode satirizing the future world’s reaction to yet another pandemic. This time, the symptoms include rage—naturally, Leela (Katey Sagal) succumbs early on—and while Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) develops a vaccine “as potent as it is untested,” his colleague Hermes (Phil LaMarr) believes voodoo might be the best cure.
Well-timed for the Labor Day holiday, a new workplace comedy movie stars Saturday Night Live veteran Beck Bennett as Pat, an unambitious slacker of an office worker who is motivated to get off the couch when his obnoxious and running-obsessed work rival (Community’s Joel McHale) gets promoted over him. Pat sees an upcoming marathon race as the best chance to one-up his nemesis, but can he possibly get into shape in time? Co-stars with solid comedy cred include Kelsey Grammer, Alyson Hannigan, J.B. Smoove, Erinn Hayes and fellow SNL player Sasheer Zamata.
Secrets of Penthouse
Over four hours in two nights (concluding Tuesday), a new Secrets of limited series charts the rise and fall of porn merchant Bob Guccione, whose graphic Penthouse magazine earned him a fortune, while his lifestyle caused ruptures within his family. The first night covers the rise of the magazine in the 1970s, Guccione’s sexual relationships with the magazine’s “pets,” the filming of the infamous Caligula and the furor over publishing nude photos of the first Black Miss America, Vanessa Williams.
INSIDE MONDAY TV:
- Son of a Critch (8/7c, The CW): A Christmas-themed episode of the nostalgic Canadian family comedy finds Mark (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) and buddy Ritche (Mark Rivera) doing good works by making holiday hampers for the less fortunate, but what to do when they discover one of their classmates may be a recipient? Elsewhere, Mark’s dad (Mark Critch) gets a second job at the mall when he feels his gifts for the family aren’t up to snuff. (Later in the evening, the networks bumps the Australian dramedy Bump off the lineup, replaced by a repeat of Whose Line Is It Anyway?)
- Ancient Empires (8/7c, History Channel): How great was Alexander the Great? The first night of a three-part docuseries (continuing Tuesday and Wednesday) explores the history of legendary rulers with dramatic re-enactments of battle scenes and interviews with historians. Up next: Julius Caesar, followed by Cleopatra.
- Life Below Zero (9/8c, National Geographic): The Emmy-winning docuseries returns for a new season of survival in remote Alaska, with Jessie Holmes recovering from a near-death accident. Followed by a new season of Life Below Zero: Next Generation (10/9c).
- Tough Love with Hilary Farr (9/8c, HGTV): The popular interior designer (Love It or List It) is back with a second season of the show where she helps unhappy homeowners fall back in love with their living spaces. In the opener, she turns a former bachelor pad into a home suitable for a blended family in North Carolina.
- While We Watched (10/9c, PBS): POV presents an award-winning documentary from India that profiles a leading news anchor, Ravish Kumar, who’s trying to maintain journalistic integrity amid financial pressures and a rising tide of misinformation, fake news and assaults on truth itself.
- American Dad! (10/9c, TBS): Seth MacFarlane’s irreverent animated comedy returns with new episodes in its 18th season, with gung-ho Stan crossing the line when he tries to keep a work friend away from his beloved Francine.