Billie Jean King
For nearly 30 years, PBS's great American Masters series has profiled overachievers in the arts and culture at large. It only makes sense than when the documentary series finally decided to do its first study of a sports superstar, it turned to tennis legend Billie Jean King. Masters (Tuesday, 8/7c; check tvguide.com listings) has always reflected personality through performance, so who better than a woman who says of her craft: "Every ball I hit has a consequence."
Freddie Highmore, Vera Farmiga
At 86, Mel Brooks is still the life of the party, a consummate ham and peerless joke-spinning storyteller. "I've come to stop the show," announces the irrepressible comic dynamo as he does just that, breaking into song mid-interview and reinforcing why PBS' American Masters titled its latest must-see career profile Mel Brooks: Make a Noise (Monday, check tvguide.com listings). His brilliant career in TV (Your Show of Shows, Get Smart), the movies and Broadway makes him an overdue American Masters subject, and his unflagging comic energy keeps everyone amused — including an intrusively visible camera crew. "I'm head over heels in love with myself," Brooks says, only half-joking.
The curtain comes down on the best part of TV's hottest singing competition, as the "blind auditions" portion of NBC's The Voice reaches its final act (Tuesday, 8/7c) with the selection of the last members of the four coaches' teams. Any fears that the show would lose its oomph this season with new bodies in the hot seats were quickly put to rest when Usher eased onto his swiveling throne with charismatic grace, adopting a signature "one leg up" posture that was parodied last weekend on Saturday Night Live, while Shakira proved a worthy adversary to the boys' club with her feisty attitude, passion and humor.
Entertainment mogul David Geffen was pleased that the prestigious PBS documentary series American Masters wanted to feature him as a subject — until executive producer Susan Lacy told him he had to be interviewed on camera. Geffen likes to talk, but apparently not...
It's awfully early for the summer TCA press tour — which began over the weekend, and continues through next week — to have peaked. It's even more rare for an entity like PBS to steal the bigger, richer, more hype-heavy broadcast networks' thunder.
But it's hard to imagine any single event, or show, generating a more enthusiastic, jubilant vibe during the annual gathering of the Television Critics Association than the opening night party in honor of Downton Abbey, perfectly timed to celebrate the period drama's astounding 16 Emmy nominations.
Imagine a TV world where the late-night comedy audience is not fragmented in a clutter of Dave or Jay or Stewart/Colbert, Conan, the Jimmys and Craig.
Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz
Once again testing the audience's willingness to follow Bones all over prime time, Fox follows up its non-surprise eighth-season renewal by moving the enjoyable romantic/forensic procedural to yet another night: Mondays at 8/7c, in front of the ...
Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter
You don't see many films about furniture designers on television, even on PBS.
Even if you're not a fan of the band, Cameron Crowe's stellar Pearl Jam Twenty is worthy of a full-arena standing-o.
Disorientation is nothing new for the loyal viewer — we hardy few — of Fox's fantastically bizarre Fringe (9/8c).