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Letter sent on May 28, 2017

‘House of Cards,’ a Martin Scorsese-Produced Grateful Dead Film, Plus More TV You Must See This Week

We are changing things up a little bit this week for our TV guide, trying something different and seeing if this works better for you and us. Instead of highlighting just one program for each of the next seven days, we’re highlighting seven programs, and ranking them by our anticipation, regardless of when during the week they’re airing or streaming. This allows us to feature the multiple must-see items on, say, Tuesday or Friday while not forcing us to find something special for, say, Saturday.

1. House of Cards: Season 3

Are we still interested in Frank Underwood in the era of Donald Trump? The simple answer is yes. House of Cards is one of the great Washington-set series that is adversely affected by the craziness of the current administration, because nothing this or Veep or any other show can do can top the real-life White House anymore. But we also watch this series for the very specific character-driven drama of Frank, Claire, Doug, and the rest, as well as for the performances by Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, etc., in those roles. Newcomers for Season 5, which will be the first following the departure of creator Beau Willimon as showrunner, include Patricia Clarkson, Neve Campbell, and Campbell Scott. All 13 episodes of the season will be available to stream on Netflix starting on Tuesday.

2. Long Strange Trip

Even if you’re not a casual fan of the Grateful Dead, let alone a full-on Deadhead, this four-hour documentary promises to be of interest. And given its acclaim on the festival circuit since its Sundance debut and its being directed by a dependable filmmaker like Amir Bar-Lev (My Kid Could Paint That, Happy Valley), we’re not doubting such an idea. Oh yeah, and it’s produced by Martin Scorsese. It sounds like a great test for us all to take just to see if enthralling as major critics are saying. While most of Amazon’s movie releases are heavily committed to a theatrical run far in advance of their debut on Prime, Long Strange Trip will be available to members starting June 2nd, as an episodic series, one week after it opens on the big screen.

3. Twin Peak: The Return: “Part 3” and “Part 4”

If you’re on board for the new Twin Peaks and didn’t discover you can watch the third and fourth episodes On Demand already, then you can catch them both as they air on Showtime on Sunday night. The first of the two is all about the many sides of Cooper, while Part 4 is heavy on guest stars, including Naomi Watts, Robert Forster, and Michael Cera, who is surprisingly perfect for Twin Peaks. We won’t spoil anything about his character but he’s already a new favorite of the fans.

4. American Gods: “Lemon Scented You”

Also Sunday night, the latest episode of American Gods has the debut of another exciting character. Actually, we’ve already met Gillian Anderson’s Media, but she’s back with a new incarnation: David Bowie. And not just David Bowie but Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie.

5. Breakthrough: “Predicting the Future”

This week’s episode of the science series Breakthrough is another helmed by a favorite indie film auteur. Shane Carruth (Primer). Well, he co-directed with showrunner Kurt Sayenga, and the topic this time is prophecy. With narration from Aaron Eckhart, the episode highlights efforts to predict the weather, asteroid collisions, hot spots for crime, and more using data and probability-focused computers and a new AI program. The show also addresses how such technology can be used as a presumptive surveillance tool. You can catch this in its regular Tuesday night time slot.

6. Fargo: “The Law of Inevitability”

In the wake of last week’s shocking plot development, all the characters of Fargo Season 3 are coming together but also doing a lot more scrambling. Pretty much every major player still alive — including the late-addition Mary McDonnell as the Widow Goldfarb — makes not just an appearance but a significant contribution to the narrative of this seventh episode. This season is not even close to as good as the first two, but at this point it’s clearly worthwhile for Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance alone.

7. Dumb: The Story of Big Brother Magazine

If you’re not familiar with Big Brother magazine, then you probably weren’t a skater in the ’90s. But you likely know much of its legacy, which includes the career of filmmaker Spike Jonze and the creation of MTV’s Jackass through the controversial publication’s video productions. Jonze is one of the talking heads in this new documentary, as are Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera, and Tony Hawk. For some it’ll be a slice of nostalgia and for others it could be an interesting pop culture history lesson. Look for it exclusively on Hulu starting June 3rd.

Now, to help you keep track of when the most important programs are debuting over the next seven days, here’s our guide to everything worth watching, whether it’s on broadcast, cable, or streaming for May 28–June 3 (all times Eastern):


The Voice S6E14: “Battles 1” (NBC, 8pm)
The White Princess E7 “Two Kings” (Starz, 8pm)
American Gods S1E5: “Lemon Scented You” (Starz, 9pm)
The Leftovers
S3E7: “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” (HBO, 9pm)
Twin Peaks: The Return
: E3 & E4 (Showtime, 9pm)
Silicon Valley
S4E6: “Customer Service” (HBO, 10pm)
S6E7: “Blurb” (HBO, 10:30pm)


Gotham S3E20: “Heroes Rise: Pretty Hate Machine” (Fox, 8pm)
The Voice S6E15: “Battles 2” — season finale (NBC, 8pm)
The Bachelorette
S13E2 (ABC, 9pm)
Farmer/Veteran: doc debut via Independent Lens (PBS, 10pm)
Angie Tribeca S3E8: “If You See Something, Solve Something” 
(TBS, 10:30pm)


Casual S3E4: “The Sprout” (Hulu)
F Is for Family
: Season 2 debut in full (Netflix)
House of Cards
: Season 5 debut in full (Netflix)
Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust
: comedy special debut (Netflix)
Animal Kingdom
S2E1 — Season 2 premiere (TNT, 9pm)
Genius S1E4: “Chapter Six” (National Geographic, 9pm)
iZombie S3E9: “Twenty-Sided, Die” (CW, 9pm)
The Americans
S5E13: “The Soviet Division” — season finale (FX, 10pm)
Breakthrough S2E5: “Predicting the Future” (National Geographic, 10pm)


The Handmaid’s Tale S1E8: “Jezebels” (Hulu)
S3E1: “Wolf Tickets” — Season 3 premiere (Audience, 8pm)
S3E7: “The Law of Inevitability” (FX, 10pm)
S3E9 (Sundance, 10pm)


The Amazing Race S29E12: “We’re Going to Victory Lane” — season finale (CBS, 10pm)


Long Strange Trip: doc debut (Amazon)
RuPaul’s Drag Race S9E11 (VH1, 8pm)


Dumb: The Story of Big Brother Magazine: doc debut (Hulu)
Doctor Who S10E8: “The Life of the Land” (BBC America, 9pm)
S1E8: “The Lost” — season finale (BBC America, 10pm)

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