The Latest from Ana Lily Amirpour, a Heath Ledger Documentary, Plus More TV You Must See This Week

This week’s TV preview also highlights two essentials for true-crime lovers and potentially Robert De Niro’s best performance in years.
I Am Heath Ledger Documentary
By  · Published on May 14th, 2017

Also: two essentials for true-crime lovers and potentially Robert De Niro’s best performance in years.

We hope you like nonfiction, because this week’s highlights mostly consist of documentary features and series, with a highly anticipated biopic closing things out. HBO and Netflix offer up what might be the hottest true crime efforts to come along since The Jinx and Making a Murderer, while filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour and actor Jim Parsons separately showcase medical breakthroughs. Then there’s a doc about Heath Ledger and an HBO movie starring Robert De Niro as Bernie Madoff. Also, we remind you why you need to be watching American Gods.

To help you keep track of the most important TV programs over the next seven days, here’s our guide to everything worth watching, whether it’s on broadcast, cable, or streaming for May 14–20 (all times Eastern):


American Gods (Stars, 9pm)

We’re at episode three of eight of the first season of American Gods this week, and we’re mostly highlighting it again to remind readers to check out our weekly recaps of the series by Liz Baessler — this being the only show we’re currently following and reviewing so closely. “Head Full of Snow” is the title of this one, and the gist of its plot as teased is that it involves Shadow (Ricky Whittle) questioning his employment with Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). Tune in tonight and come back to FSR in the morning for Liz’s latest thoughts on the Neil Gaiman adaptation.

Also on Sunday:
The White Princess
: episode 5 (Starz, 8pm)
Guerrilla: episodes 5 & 6 — the series finale (Showtime, 9pm)
The Leftovers
S3E5: “It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World” (HBO, 9pm)
Elementary S5E23: “Scrambled” (CBS, 10pm)
Silicon Valley 
S4E4: “Teambuilding Exercise” (HBO, 10pm)
S6E5: “Chicklet” (HBO, 10:30pm)


Mommy Dead and Dearest (HBO, 10pm)

One day late for Mother’s Day, which is probably for the best, the new HBO doc from Erin Lee Carr (Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop) looks at a gruesome case of matricide. In June 2015, Dee Dee Blanchard was stabbed to death, and the alleged story is that her young daughter and the girl’s boyfriend were the murderers. That’s all that should be said for now, because this is the sort of true crime documentary that’s filled with plot twists and unexpected reveals. Buzz out of SXSW and Hot Docs has been that this is essential for not just common true crime buffs but anyone riveted by genre breakouts The Jinx, The Imposter, and Making a Murderer.

Also on Monday:
S3E18: “Heroes Rise: Light the Wick” (Fox, 8pm)
Supergirl S2E21: “Resist” (CW, 8pm)
The Voice (NBC, 8pm)
Jane the Virgin 
S3E19: “Chapter Sixty-Three” (CW, 9pm)
Year Million
: doc miniseries debut (National Geographi, 9pm)
Better Call Saul 
S3E6: “Off Brand” (AMC, 10pm)
Forever Pure
: doc debut via Independent Lens (PBS, 10pm)
Angie Tribeca
S3E5: “Hey, I’m Solvin’ Here” (TBS, 10:30pm)


Breakthrough (National Geographic, 10pm)

The Bad Batch, the sophomore feature by Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night) is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. While we wait for that to come out next month, there’s the latest episode of Ron Howard’s science doc series Breakthrough, which she also directed. “Curing Cancer” is the title and obviously that means we’ll be seeing some incredible developments in the fight against cancers, including one treatment that has saved the lives of a number of patients who’d seemed beyond hope. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night star Sheila Vand narrates.

Also on Tuesday:
Tracy Morgan: Staying Alive
: comedy special debut (Netflix)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine 
S4E19 & S4E20: “Your Honor”/“The Slaughterhouse” (Fox, 8pm)
The Flash S3E22: “Infantino Street” (CW, 8pm)
The Voice 
(NBC, 8pm)
Fresh Off the Boat 
S3E23: “This Isn’t Us” — season finale (ABC, 9pm)
S1E3: “Chapter Four” (National Geographic, 9pm)
Great News S1E7 & S1E8: “The Red Door”/ “Celebrity Hacking Scandal” (NBC, 9pm)
S3E7: “Dirt Nap Time” (CW, 9pm)
The Americans 
S5E11: “Dyatkovo” (FX, 10pm)


I Am Heath Ledger (Spike, 10pm)

The late, posthumously Academy Award-honored star of such movies as The Dark Knight, Brokeback Mountain, and A Knight’s Tale is the latest icon to receive filmmaker Derik Murray’s “I Am” documentary treatment (his most notable previous efforts are I Am Chris Farley and I Am Bruce Lee). The profile will feature a lot of talking heads, from famous faces to childhood friends, along with movie clips and tons of previously unseen home movie footage. Reviews out of the Tribeca Film Festival, where the doc premiered, praised its intimacy, and there’s no doubt it’s going to get some tears out of those of us who’d been fans of the actor and were devastated by his death.

Also on Wednesday:
The Handmaid’s Tale
S1E6: “A Woman’s Place” (Hulu)
S5E22: “Missing” (CW, 8pm)
The Goldbergs 
S4E24: “Graduation Day” — season finale (ABC, 8pm)
Modern Family 
S8E22: “The Graduates” — season finale (ABC, 9pm)
Archer: Dreamland 
S8E7: “Gramercy, Halberd!” (FXX, 10pm)
Gomorrah S3E7 (Sundance, 10pm)


First in Human: The Trials of Building 10 (Discovery Channel, 9pm)

John Hoffman, a longtime Emmy-winning documentary producer who co-directed this year’s Sundance feature Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman, is at the helm of this three-part verite miniseries on the National Institute of Health’s Building 10. Offering an unprecedented look inside the research hospital, the program will show the scientists and doctors seeking breakthroughs in treatment as well as the brave but desperate volunteer patients who’ve exhausted every other option for a cure. Jim Parsons narrates the series, which airs over a few weeks.

Also on Thursday
Scandal S6E15 & S6E16: “Tick Tock” /“Transfer of Power” — season finale (ABC, 9pm)
The Amazing Race S29E9 & S29E10: “I Thought We Were Playing It Nice”/“Riding a Bike is Like Riding a Bike” (CBS, 10pm)


The Keepers (Netflix)

Given Netflix’s success with Making a Murderer, their latest true crime documentary miniseries is sure to be a hit. This one is a little different, following a 48-year-old murder mystery that is being re-investigated by a journalist and a group of civilians close to the case. In November 1969, 26-year-old schoolteacher nun Cathy Cesnik went missing, and her body was found a few months later. Her killer was never discovered, so some of her former students sought answers decades later. We haven’t yet seen all seven episodes of The Keepers, which starts off rather slowly, but it’s an intriguing story and the series is probably going to wind up with many passionately concerned fans.

Also on Friday:
: anime feature debut (Netflix)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 3 debut in full (Netflix)
RuPaul’s Drag Race
S9E9 (VH1, 8pm)
Twelve Monkeys: season premiere (SyFy, 8pm)
Summer of 69: No Apostrophe: comedy special debut (Epix, 10pm)


The Wizard of Lies (HBO, 8pm)

Robert De Niro stars as Bernie Madoff in the latest biopic about the fraudulent financial advisor, with Michelle Pfeiffer as wife Ruth Madoff and Alessandro Nivola as son Mark Madoff. Barry Levinson, who is doing better these days with made-for-TV movies, such as You Don’t Know Jack, is at the helm. Even though Madoff and his Ponzi scheme have already been the subject of documentaries (Chasing Madoff, In God We Trust) and dramas (last year’s TV miniseries Madoff starred Richard Dreyfuss in the title role), this one looks to be the best yet, especially with regards to the tragic story of Mark. This also could be De Niro’s best movie and performance in years.

Also on Saturday:
Twelve Monkeys 
S3E5 & S3E6 & S3E7 (SyFy, 8pm)
Doctor Who
S10E6: “Extremis” (BBC America, 9pm)
Class S1E6: “Detained(BBC America, 10pm)
Saturday Night Live S42E21: Dwayne Johnson hosts the season finale with Katy Perry as musical guest (NBC, 11:29pm)

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.