Watching: A Sweeping New BBC Drama

And a love letter to Broadway.

Hello, Watchers,

I’m filling in for Margaret as your televisual concierge this week. As 2020 snowplows toward the calendar’s end, I’ve been thinking through the logic (logic?) of which shows get renewed and revived and which don’t. Me? I would have loved more seasons of “GLOW,” “On Becoming a God in Central Florida,” even the downbeat “Veronica Mars” extension.

“Dexter”? Not necessarily! But at least “Tuca & Bertie” has found a new home on Adult Swim.

Happy watching!


I want saris, and I’m not sorry

The Bollywood stars Ishaan Khatter and Tabu star in the BBC production of “A Suitable Boy,” directed by Mira Nair.Taha Ahmad/BBC/Acorn TV

‘A Suitable Boy’

When to watch: Debuts Monday on Acorn TV.

Vikram Seth’s bedside table-toppling novel, nearly 1500 pages in softcover, follows the marriage prospects of a middle-class Indian woman, Lata (Tanya Maniktala), in the early 1950s, just after partition. Andrew Davies (who adapted the wet-shirt Colin Firth version of “Pride and Prejudice”) has written it as a six-episode limited series for the BBC, the company’s first to star an all-South Asian lead cast. The series’s director, Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding”), who shot it on location in India, has called it “‘The Crown’ in Brown.”


Despite nearly universal praise for the cast, which includes the bedroom-eyed Bollywood leading man Ishaan Khatter, the response to the series, which debuted in Britain in July, has been all over the post-colonial map. Even in the first episode, the conjoining of the narrow marriage plot with broader political events shows seams. (A police complaint was also filed in India against Netflix, which distributes the show there, for depicting an interfaith kiss at a Hindu temple.) But see it if Merchant-Ivory-style costume drama is your happy place, if you admire Nair’s precise, sociological eye, or if you just want to bask in the radiance of the Bollywood legend Tabu, who plays an elegant courtesan.

I want a kick line, and I want it now

The cast of “Chicago,” as seen in a performance from “One Night Only: The Best of Broadway.”Virginia Sherwood/NBC

‘One Night Only: The Best of Broadway’

When to watch: Thursday at 8 p.m., on NBC.

In October, the Tony Awards finally released its 2020 nominations. Congratulations to Aaron Tveit, the sole choice for best leading actor in a musical. But when or where or how the ceremony will happen? We still don’t know. Meanwhile, Broadway has been shushed for nearly nine months and will remain closed at least through May. If the absence of jazz hands and vibrato hurts your heart, NBC has a temporary analgesic, a two-hour benefit, hosted by Tina Fey, for the nonprofit group Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.


Performances are confirmed from current shows like “Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations,” “Chicago,” “Jagged Little Pill” and “Mean Girls.” Also confirmed are numbers from “Diana: The Musical,” which was in previews when the lockdown was announced; “Rent,” about to embark on a 25th anniversary tour; and “Jersey Boys,” which seems always to be playing somewhere. (A title like “One Night Only” might suggest a “Dream Girls” appearance, but no.) The cast of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” has promised to work some magic. Jake Gyllenhaal, too. And optimistic producers will provide glimpses of shows planned for 2021 because those uncomfortable plush seats can’t stay empty forever, right? Right?


‘A Suitable Boy’ Finally Finds Its Perfect Match: Mira Nair

The filmmaker’s acclaimed and controversial adaptation of the landmark novel, the BBC’s first prime-time drama with an almost entirely Indian cast, comes to American TV this week.

By Bilal Qureshi

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Being Boba Fett: Temuera Morrison Discusses ‘The Mandalorian’

Morrison, a veteran of the “Star Wars” film franchise, talks about his role as the fearsome bounty hunter on the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian.”

By Dave Itzkoff

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Best Movies of 2020

The screening rooms were closed. The festivals were virtual. The blockbusters were in storage. Even so, our critics found abundant and inspiring signs of cinematic life in the pandemic.

By Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott

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‘S.N.L.’ Parodies Rudy Giuliani and Melissa Carone’s Disastrous Hearing

Cecily Strong took center stage in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch playing a real-life figure who had already reminded viewers of one of her best-known characters.

By Dave Itzkoff

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Geek Out Over Christmas Films

Enjoy famous holiday movies communally again at virtual conventions and digital museum exhibits.

By Erik Piepenburg

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Pat Patterson, a Wrestling Star Who Came Out, Dies at 79

He delighted his fans, especially in villain roles. When he announced in 2014 that he was gay, they remained loyal.

By Alex Traub

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