From documentaries to reality TV to Netflix exclusives, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week
1. Silicon Valley – Sunday, April 23, 9 p.m., 12 a.m. & 3 a.m., HBO Canada | Season Premiere
HBO CanadaWhen we last saw the guys from Pied Piper, things were not exactly looking great, as the company was left reeling after the clickfarm scandal, but if there’s a chance of saving the day, it seems likely that it’s going to come out of the company’s video-chat app, PiperChat.
The problem is that the scandal has damaged their reputation amongst the money men, which means that funding isn’t as easy to come by as it once was, no matter how many legitimate users they may have. Then again, there seems to be something magic about hitting a million, so it’s a goal they’re aiming toward, just in case they might yet be able to change their fortunes. Unfortunately, Richard has found himself struggling with the fact that he designed his algorithm for bigger things than a video-chat app, and his failure to fully commit to everyone else’s goal is causing some tension.
Elsewhere, Erlich finds himself in a battle with Big Head’s father over how best to spread out the various percentages of the company’s ownership; and over at Hooli, Gavin grows angry after super-CEO “Action” Jack Barker (guest star Stephen Tobolowsky) steps on his toes; and a past investor serves as an unexpected source of inspiration for Richard.
Does that mean that Pied Piper will be victorious at last? Don’t count on it. “It’s more fun to watch these guys be uncomfortable and fail and be humiliated,” creator Mike Judge said during last summer’s Comic-Con panel for the series. “They’re funnier that way. If they become successful and live happily ever after, it will be less fun to watch.”
2. Iron Chef Gauntlet – Sunday, April 23, 6 p.m. & 9 p.m., Food | Series Premiere
FoodIt’s been a good long while since we’ve stepped into the Iron Chef kitchen, and boy, how we’ve missed those epic culinary clashes. This all-new spinoff tweaks the format, putting seven of the hottest up-and-coming chefs from across the United States in what’s arguably the most intense pressure-cooker in the franchise’s history.
Each week, two of the contestants square off in a battle of skill, determination and confounding ingredients to be judged by veteran host Alton Brown, until, at season’s end, only one is left standing. That final kitchen warrior will then face the titular “gauntlet,” competing against Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto and Michael Symon, three of the legendary chefs from the American version of the show—all at the same time. As Iron Chef America’s Mark Dacascos would say, à la cuisine!
3. The Good Fight – Sunday, April 23, 10 p.m., W Network | Season Finale
W Network When it was first announced that creators Robert and Michelle King had a Good Wife spinoff in the works, there were plenty of naysayers. After all, the ending the Kings came up with for Alicia et al. proved controversial at best. But Diane Lockhart (as brought to life by the incomparable Christine Baranski) was always one of the show’s most consistently compelling characters, and putting her in a situation where she had to start over from scratch was a perfect entry point to a new story. Add in intriguing newcomers like Adrian Boseman (Delroy Lindo), and familiar scene-stealers like Marissa Gold and Lucca Quinn, and you’ve got a legal drama that’s nearly as compelling as the show that came before it. No wonder the series was renewed for a second season well in advance of this week’s finale.
4. Gotham – Monday, April 24, 7 p.m, CTV; 8 p.m., Fox
CTVWhen the bat-tastic drama returns from hiatus, there are plenty of developments in store. For one, young Bruce comes one step closer to becoming the Dark Knight just as Nygma begins truly embracing his Riddler persona. Meanwhile, Gordon gets some troubling news, and the Court of Owls makes its move.
5. Bates Motel – Monday, April 24, 7 p.m., 8:36 p.m. & Midnight, A&E | Series Finale
A&EWe thought we knew the story of Norman Bates, a.k.a. the infamous Alfred Hitchcock killer whose terrifying acts were spawned deep in the depths of a tortured psyche, where his beloved “Mother” pulled all the strings. But then Freddie Highmore took over the role of Norman and Vera Farmiga hopped on board as his mom Norma, and suddenly the characters took on a whole new life.
From their arrival at White Pine Bay and the opening of the famed motel, to their struggles to stay afloat both financially and psychologically in a cold, unforgiving world, this series has proven to be a worthy expansion on its celebrated forebear. This last season, to be sure, has brought us closer to the original Psycho story that Hitchcock laid out, with the arrival of Marion Crane (played by Rihanna) and a novel take on her iconic shower scene. But it’s also twisted Norman’s mind in terrifying new ways thanks to unexpected allies (Chick, for one), former enemies back for revenge (Romero) and love interests who are a little too much like Mother (here’s looking at you, Madeleine).
As the saga prepares to wrap up this week, details are understandably sparse. Is there hope for Norman after all? Do any of the characters end up emerging from the darkness that’s haunted their lives these past five seasons? Many fans are expecting a grave or a prison cell for our troubled protagonist, given how the film ended, but in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Kerry Ehrin warned viewers not to assume anything: “I don’t think it has to end with anyone’s death. There are things that happen, we have a roster of characters that are gonna meet various fates,” she said, before adding: “We are not doing Psycho... Psycho visits us [during the season], let me put it that way. We’re definitely doing our own ending of Bates Motel.”
6. The Secret World of Lewis Carroll – Monday, April 24, 9 p.m. & Midnight, Knowledge
KnowledgeIf you’ve got questions about the man who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, you’ll have fewer of them after watching this doc, which explores Lewis Carroll’s life, career and artistic fascination with the real girl who inspired his iconic heroine Alice.
7. Art and Craft – Tuesday, April 25, 9 p.m. & Midnight, Knowledge
KnowledgeMark Landis is extremely prolific in his trade, but while that would generally be something you’d take pride in saying, one would be hard-pressed to find any art dealers or museum professionals who’d be anything less than angered by the mention of his name, let alone his skill.
That’s because Landis is an art forger, one who’s been at it for more than three decades and has managed to perfect a diverse catalogue of art styles ranging from Walt Disney to Pablo Picasso. What’s unique about Landis, however, is that he’s not in it for the money. He just donates these forgeries to museums under the pretense that they’re the real deal.
As the New York Times reported: “In 30 years of deception, he has donated at least 100 pieces—many of them doctored photocopies of small works—to at least 46 museums in 20 states.” Sometimes he’s claimed to be a philanthropist, in other instances he’s purported to be the executor of his (fake) sister’s will, but whatever line he delivers, he’s undeniably been a success at his chosen trade. He’s also driving a lot of people crazy, but Landis has a stock reply: “I didn’t do anything wrong or illegal.”
8. Dear White People – Friday, April 28, Netflix | Series Premiere
NetflixThe title alone is enough to raise eyebrows, but Dear White People—which began life as a 2014 film —is as much about racial tension as it is about a story that we all share: the search for identity and the struggle to find our own path in life. Described as an absurdist endeavour, with elements of “biting irony, self-deprecation and sometimes brutal honesty,” the show follows a group of minority students at a mostly white Ivy League university as they grapple with daily injustices and indignities.
Unfortunately, the first 30-second teaser trailer for the series immediately caused an uproar, leading to accusations that Netflix was somehow “anti-white” and furthermore inspiring the hashtag #BoycottNetflix.
Series creator Justin Simien wasn’t having it: during the course of responding to the situation on Twitter, he wrote, “Equality feels like oppression to the privileged and thus three benign words send them into a fight for their very existence, which happens to it actually not [being] in any real danger. This is how a minute-long date announcement becomes a distorted call for white genocide in the minds of some people. Despite all signs to the contrary.”
In other words, don’t be surprised if Dear White People ends up being the most talked-about show of the spring.
9. Casting JonBenet – Friday, April 28, Netflix
NetflixWith chilling docu-series like Making a Murderer and The Jinx, and podcasts like Serial, it’s become abundantly clear that true crime is one of pop culture’s hottest genres at the moment. But if you delve back into history, humans have always displayed a near-boundless appetite for stories of murder, betrayal and mystery; and it should come as no surprise that even 20 years after her death, JonBenét Ramsey continues to be a subject of fascination.
At this point, it seems like we all know everything there is to know about the Colorado child beauty queen and her murder (except, of course, for who killed her). The case has been pored over at great length, with expert analysis and rampant speculation aplenty (most recently, in CBS’s 2016 docu-series The Case Of).
Here, we get a different approach. Rather than simply laying out the facts all over again, this movie, which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, found filmmakers heading to Ramsey’s hometown of Boulder, and spending more than 15 months “auditioning” local actors to play the victim and her family—who, as you’ll recall, fell under heavy suspicion.
The result is a work that blends the conventions of documentary and fiction filmmaking to provide a unique exploration of how this headline-grabbing case left a mark on a diverse cross-section of society, based largely on the choices each actor makes in their audition. And interestingly, it’s not just the people who were alive when JonBenét was killed who have some strong thoughts on the subject; the project also shows us how high-profile crimes like this can ripple through to future generations when they hit so close to home.
As The Wrap’s Steve Pond puts it: Casting JonBenét makes for “a fascinating and perplexing piece of storytelling.”
10. Let it Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 – Friday, April 28, 9 p.m., ABC
ABCFuelled in no small part by the advent of social media, recent years have seen an almost unending stream of videos exposing the brutal treatment of African-Americans by police. But needless to say, just because these stories weren’t being widely reported in years past, doesn’t mean that the injustices weren’t occurring; it was just a lot rarer for one to capture international attention before YouTube.
Twenty-five years ago, however, one did, and in truly Earth-shaking fashion. This documentary revisits the Los Angeles Riots, a catastrophic display of social rebellion in which 60 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured following the not-guilty verdict in the infamous Rodney King case, wherein several members of the LAPD were acquitted of nearly beating an African-American motorist to death, despite damning visual evidence. Written by John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, American Crime), the film actually goes back to a decade before that verdict and the ensuing Riots to examine the various events that turned a city into a powder keg waiting to blow.
From O.J. Simpson to other cases that followed, it’s clear that King and the anarchy that followed the perceived failure to punish the authority figures responsible for his beating, had a lasting effect still being felt across the world today.