Between network, cable and streaming, the modern television landscape is a vast one. Here are some of the shows, specials and movies coming to TV this week, Jan. 3-9. Details and times are subject to change.
INDEPENDENT LENS: PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF DESIRE 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). This documentary explores how real-life connections are being replaced by virtual relationships within the fast-paced livestreaming industry in China. Through a closer look at the popular YY streaming platform, it exposes the impact of technology as a revenue-generating platform, and what younger generations consider success in a never-ending online popularity contest.
MY SALINGER YEAR (2020) 5 p.m. on Showtime. Adapted from the memoir of Joanna Rakoff, this film follows a young writer, Joanna (Margaret Qualley), who lands a job as assistant to a technology-averse literary agent, Margaret (Sigourney Weaver), in New York City. Joanna is assigned the dull task of sorting through the fan mail of J.D. Salinger, the agency’s reclusive top client, and decides to bend the rules, personally responding to letters that would otherwise go unread.
BATMAN FOREVER (1995) 6 p.m. on BBC America. In this Joel Schumacher-directed installment of the “Batman” series, Batman (Val Kilmer) faces off against the cackling split personality of Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and the relentlessly wacky, neon-green-clad Riddler (Jim Carrey) in Gotham City, where everyone seems to have a secret. Brought together by their shared hatred of authority (in this case, Bruce Wayne and his company, Wayne Enterprises — and of course, Batman), the dastardly duo team up and devise a plot to drain the brains of the citizens of Gotham City to uncover the true identity of Batman. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne finds himself a ward, Dick Grayson (Chris O’Donnell), soon to be Robin, and tries to sort out his feelings for Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman), a psychologist new to the city.
THE AMAZING RACE 8 p.m. on CBS. In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced a pause on production after the first three legs of this competition show’s 33rd season were already recorded, sending the teams and crew into a nearly 20-month hiatus before they could resume racing around the world. Finally, they’re back. The two-hour Season 33 premiere shows us 11 teams composed of internet personalities, father-daughter duos, best friends and married couples, all competing in challenges for a chance to win $1 million.
BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967) 9:30 p.m. on TCM. The original tagline from Warner Brothers says it all: “They’re young. They’re in love. They kill people.” When the ex-con Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) meets Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) in a small humdrum town in the 1930s, they’re both enthralled. Soon, the two are off causing mayhem and robbing banks across four Southern states, charming each other to death. In February 1968, months after its release, The New York Times reported that “Bonnie and Clyde” was banned in Norway for being “too brutal.”
RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE 8 p.m. on VH1. Gaze upon 14 shimmering, glittering drag stars — make no mistake, they’re queens, not contestants — as they compete in lip sync battles, bizarre challenges and create showstopping head-to-toe looks in hopes of being crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar by the one and only RuPaul. The 14th season premiere is turning heads for more than one reason, with the show’s controversial first-ever “straight queen” added to the roster, yet this Emmy Award-winning series continues to celebrate the journeys of all of its queens. “We, as queer people, that’s kind of our thing,” Symone, the winner of the 13th season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” said in an interview with The Times. “We look up to our heroes. They give us strength.” Now, sashay away!
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (2012) 5 p.m. on HBO. For some millennials, the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy “occupies the same role that ‘Star Wars’ might for those who grew up from the late ’70s into the ’80s,” Nikita Richardson wrote in a recent article in The Times. But long before Frodo Baggins begins his journey, his distant cousin Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) embarks on a mission of his own. At the request of wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Bilbo leaves the comfort of his home and travels across the evil-creature-riddled land of Middle-earth to the Lonely Mountain, where a community of dwarves have lost their home to a greedy, gold-hoarding dragon. Adding to an origin story of grand proportions, a certain “precious” gold ring slips into Bilbo’s hands, with the power to alter the fate of all Middle-earth.
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994) 7 p.m. on Paramount Network. Based on a 1982 Stephen King short story, this film follows Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) after he is convicted of his wife’s murder and sent to Shawshank Prison. Although quiet and reserved, Dufresne befriends a few inmates, including Red (Morgan Freeman), the film’s narrator and the one on the inside who can get you anything. “Without a single riot scene or horrific effect, it tells a slow, gentle story of camaraderie and growth, with an ending that abruptly finds poetic justice in what has come before,” Janet Maslin wrote in her review for The Times in 1994.
ROBIN AND MARIAN (1976) 8 p.m. on TCM. This take on the legend of Robin Hood follows that hero (played by Sean Connery) as he returns to Sherwood Forest some 20 years after the original “steal from the rich, give to the poor” story took place. Upon his return from fighting in the Crusades, Robin Hood finds himself taking on his greatest adventure of all: attempting to win the heart of Maid Marian (Audrey Hepburn). In true medieval fashion, the journey boasts many a duel, heroic exchanges, cruel foes (notably the Sheriff of Nottingham, played by Robert Shaw) and no shortage of romance.