Streaming options, from puppets to courtrooms

Posted

By Kevin McDonough

How do you teach cooperation and collaboration? With puppets, of course. Now in its second season, "The Helpsters," streaming on Apple TV+, entertains and educates preschoolers with lessons in sharing responsibilities through stories about party planning, magic tricks and mountain climbing.

In addition to regulars Cody, Scatter, Mr. Primm and Heart, a revolving door of celebrity guests join the adventures. This season look for Terry Crews, Danny Trejo, Gabby Douglas, Christopher Meloni, Richard Kind, Michael Ian Black, Janeane Garofalo, Michelle Buteau and Judah Friedlander, with musical guests including Talib Kweli, Matt Berninger, Jason Mraz, K. Flay, Norah Jones and Ingrid Michaelson.

"Helpsters" has been recognized with a Parents' Choice Gold Medal Award and a Common Sense Media Award.

• Following in a long tradition of teen melodramas, the 2020 movie "Clouds" stars Fin Argus as Zach, an ardent young student on the brink of a brilliant music career who is also facing a possible fatal illness.

Neve Campbell and Tom Everett Scott play his parents. Like many films, "Clouds" will stream on Disney+ instead of getting a wide theatrical release.

• Another potential theatrical film, long in gestation, "The Trial of the Chicago 7" begins streaming on Netflix. Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. In an interesting leap from farce to drama, Sacha Baron Cohen portrays farcical political provocateur Abbie Hoffman.

A historical courtroom drama, this fits right into Sorkin's wheelhouse. "The West Wing" creator came to many people's attention with his Broadway drama "A Few Good Men," later adapted for the screen. The cast of "The West Wing" have assembled for a dramatic reading of a vintage episode. That streams on HBO Max.

• In a similar vein, Amazon Prime will begin streaming a filmed version of the acclaimed Broadway play "What the Constitution Means to Me," written by Heidi Schreck, whose character appears as both an adult woman and as a 15-year-old high school debate champion.

• Survivors of a monster apocalypse make do in the third season of the animated fantasy "The Last Kids on Earth," streaming on Netflix.

• Hulu begins streaming "Helstrom," a 10-episode take on a Marvel comic book franchise about the children of a serial killer who are dedicated to ridding humanity of its worst elements.

• Steeped in the retro Cold War spirit of its time, "Rocky IV" (8 p.m., IFC, TV-PG) launched the career of Dolph Lundgren, the Swedish actor who portrayed mutant Soviet bad guy Ivan Drago. It also starred Sylvester Stallone's then-wife Brigitte Nielsen. She later became a fixture on "Celebrity Rehab." Carl Weathers, who plays Rocky's rival Apollo Creed, can be seen in "The Mandalorian."

TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

• A pop star performs some of her familiar hits from the comforts of home on "MTV Unplugged Presents Miley Cyrus Backyard Sessions" (7 p.m., MTV, TV-PG).

"Shark Tank" (8 p.m., ABC) returns for its 12th season with a new take on a charger for electric cars.

"The Perfect Weapon" (8 p.m., HBO, TV-14) contemplates cyber conflict as a new form of warfare.

"Great Performances: Grammy Salute to Music Legends" (9 p.m., PBS, TV-G, check local listings) includes two hours crowded with special appearances. Highlights include lifetime achievement awards presented to artists living and dead, including Chicago, Roberta Flack, Isaac Hayes, Iggy Pop, John Prine, Public Enemy and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

• Erin's case against a human trafficker faces a crisis when the presiding judge is found dead on "Blue Bloods" (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).

CULT CHOICE

A chauffeur (Lon Chaney Jr.) observes as members of a family afflicted by a genetic disorder become mutant freaks as they enter adulthood in the 1968 shocker "Spider Baby" (4:45 p.m., TCM, TV-PG).

SERIES NOTES

Cedric the Entertainer hosts "The Greatest #AtHome Videos" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * "American Ninja Warrior" (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG) * "WWE Friday Night SmackDown" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) * Dean Cain hosts "Masters of Illusion" (8 p.m. CW, TV-PG), followed by a repeat episode (8:30 p.m.) * A resort CEO appears on "Undercover Boss" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC) * "World's Funniest Animals" (9 p.m., CW, TV-PG), followed by a repeat episode (9:30 p.m.) * "Dateline" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).

LATE NIGHT

Mindy Kaling and John Brennan are booked on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes Jessica Alba, Jack Huston and Keith Urban on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC, r) * "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (11:35 p.m., ABC) is a repeat * Cecily Strong, David Wright, Miranda July and Jessica Burdeaux visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) * Tracee Ellis Ross and Madison Beer appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).

© 2020, United Feature Syndicate