History presents ‘Fight the Power’; ‘Us’ on ‘Masterpiece’ | Arts & Entertainment

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NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hosts and co-produced “Fight the Power: The Movements That Changed America” (7 p.m. Saturday, History, TV-PG). This one-hour survey offers a brisk glance at protest movements, from the Labor Rights struggled between the 1880s and the 1930s; the battle to give women the vote; the modern Civil Rights movement that emerged from the Montgomery, Ala., bus protests and the murder of Emmett Till; the fight for gay recognition and rights in the post-Stonewall era; and the recent uprisings protesting police violence against men and women of color. Each of these historical currents could fill a documentary of its own, if not miniseries treatment.

A fascinating figure who defies category, Jabbar was a perennial All-Star during his playing days with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. At the same time, he studied martial arts with Bruce Lee. In his retirement, he has emerged as what used to be known as a “public intellectual,” a writer and spokesperson unaffiliated with academia who has been vocal in his support of social justice movements. He’s also a widely published author. Similar to many famous people, he has written his memoirs but also has co-written several ruminations on Sherlock Holmes and World War II.

“Fight the Power” is one among many commemorations of Juneteenth, recalling June 19, 1865, when Black residents of Galveston, Texas, were informed of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. History will repeat “Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre” (8 p.m., Saturday, TV-14). Other notable cable offerings include “12 Years a Slave” (6 p.m. Saturday, Sundance, TV-14) and “Selma” (7 p.m., FXM, TV-14). CBS will air “Selma” (7 p.m., Sunday) as well, its network broadcast debut.

• Nothing quite announces a couple’s comfortable semi-retirement like a European tour. Unless, of course, you’re on the verge of splitting up and have a miserable teenage son tagging along.

That’s the gist of “Us,” a “Masterpiece” (8 p.m., Sunday, PBS, TV-14) presentation based on a novel by David Nicholls.

Douglas (Tom Hollander, “The Night Manager”) awakens one morning to his wife, Connie’s (Saskia Reeve, “Luther”), announcement she wants a change. Not a divorce as much as a separation. With their moody son, Albie (Tom Taylor), about to enter university, she thinks “their work is done” and can’t face the prospect of empty nesting with a man who can’t communicate.

Or so she says. This bombshell coincides with their long-planned grand tour of continental capitals, an expensive one at that. Douglas insists they call it off, but Connie persuades him it might offer one last chance for him to bond with his sullen offspring.

So, don’t go expecting an amusing travelogue similar to “The Trip” franchise with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. The spirit here is more akin to “Two for the Road,” the wistful 1967 anti-romance starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney.

Happily, it’s about this time “Us” offers prolonged flashbacks to the first encounters of young Douglas and Connie (Iain De Caestecker and Gina Bramhill), when he was a socially awkward biochemist and she a budding artist surrounded by a gaggle of pretentious friends.

Both the grand tour and the misty reminiscences unfold with a great deal of walking and talking, not unlike the charming and highly chatty 1995 Richard Linklater romance “Before Sunrise,” starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. At its best, and perhaps its most obvious, “Us,” suggests this long wander is about to enter a new juncture.

It’s a bit of a shame “Masterpiece” should offer this series during two Sundays in two-hour dollops. Sixty minutes of this talky and often heartbreaking story is more than enough in one sitting. Who tunes in to British TV to listen to characters talk about their feelings?

SATURDAY’S HIGHLIGHTS

• 2021 U.S. Open golf championship (6 p.m., NBC).

• Auto racing (7 p.m., CBS).

• A pregnant woman vanishes in the 2021 shocker “Secrets of a Marine’s Wife” (7 p.m., Lifetime, TV-14).

• Both clans face peril as “Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty” (7 p.m., BBC America, TV-PG) continues.

• Scheduled in the U.S. Olympic trials: swimming (8 p.m.); track and field (9 p.m.).

• When circumstances keep an event planner from attending her friend’s destination wedding, she turns to an old correspondent in the 2021 romance “Her Pen Pal” (8 p.m., Hallmark, TV-G).

SUNDAY’S HIGHLIGHTS

• Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): A profile of the Minnesota prosecutors in the George Floyd case; the Oath Keepers’ role in the Jan. 6 terrorist attack on the Capitol; Japan’s baseball phenom Shohei Ohtani.

• The Braves host the Cardinals in Major League Baseball (6 p.m., ESPN).

• U.S. Olympic trials (NBC) include swimming (7 p.m.) and track and field (8 p.m.).

• “Kevin Can FK Himself” (8 p.m., AMC, TV-MA) migrates to cable.

• Sessions continue on “In Treatment” (8 p.m. through 8:30 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).

• Kiesha enters labor on “The Chi” (8 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).

• Unfinished business on “Little Birds” (8:30 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).

• Dan wants to coach on “Flatbush Misdemeanors” (9:30 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).

— OK, that was weird. The least expected story of the week was the scandal involving Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”) and Lori Loughlin, star of “When Calls the Heart” (7 p.m. Sunday, Hallmark, TV-G), in a bribery/cheating plot to get their respective daughters into elite universities.

This is obviously an ongoing case, and all sides must have their say, or day, in court. But the motivation at the center of this story is worth discussing. It involves some overwhelming need to do anything to get children into elite schools. As if anything “lesser” were unthinkable.

Television plays no small role in this insecurity. I can’t remember how many times I’ve had to describe an ABC legal drama where every single character hails from only the most exclusive Ivy and spends most of the pilot bragging about it.

There was a time, not that long ago, when John Grisham wrote best-selling books about young, barely accredited lawyers from no-name institutions who took on impossible cases against massive corporations and eventually won. And got the girl, to boot.

So, our current era’s neurotic obsession with elitism and inequality is hardly hard-wired.

If anything comes of this sordid affair, it’s an appreciation that shoddy efforts at snobbery are always essentially pathetic. Or on classic TV, comedic. Watching “Gilligan’s Island,” we identified with Mary Ann and the Skipper, and pitied the millionaire and his wife.

— CNN launches the four-hour documentary “Tricky Dick” (8 p.m., Sunday), profiling the life and times of Richard Nixon’s public career, which spanned the decades from the dawn of the Cold War to the Clinton years.

SATURDAY’S HIGHLIGHTS

— An anxious new mother joins a group for solidarity and support, only to discover that it has darker plans on its agenda in the 2019 shocker “Mommy Group Murder” (7 p.m., Lifetime, TV-14).

— The Thunder and Warriors meet in NBA action (7:30 p.m., ABC).

— An old kidnapper returns to form on “Ransom” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

SUNDAY’S HIGHLIGHTS

— Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): Embassy workers in China and Cuba complain of mysterious ailments; AOL founder Steve Case and his plans to invest in the future of overlooked American small towns and cities; a visit to Monaco.

— The duels begin on “World of Dance” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).

— Auditions continue on “American Idol” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

— Lex Luthor is on the loose on “Supergirl” (7 p.m., CW, TV-PG).

— Mr. Wednesday prepares for battle on “American Gods” (7 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).

— After learning about her royal lineage, an adopted 10-year-old becomes a little tyrant in the 2019 shocker “Mommy’s Little Princess” (7 p.m., Lifetime, TV-14).

— A secret room holds dangers on “Charmed” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).

— Hidden secrets revealed on “The Walking Dead” (8 p.m., AMC, TV-MA).

— A new trial is pursued on “The Case Against Adnan Syed” (8 p.m., HBO, TV-14).

— Axe is determined to destroy Taylor on the fourth season premiere of “Billions” (8 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).

— Ulysses pursues a conspiracy theory on “Now Apocalypse” (8 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).

— “Unsung” (8 p.m., TVONE) profiles the Jets.

— Pacific overtures on “Madam Secretary” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).

— Tensions rise on “Good Girls” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

— Mo’s past is revealed on “Black Monday” (9 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).

CULT CHOICE

— St. Patrick’s Day inspires many traditions. Syfy offers a marathon of “Leprechaun” movies, from “Leprechaun 5: In the Hood” (4 p.m. Saturday, TV-14) to “Leprechaun 2” (8 p.m.). TCM takes the traditional approach, ladling out the Technicolor blarney of director John Ford’s 1952 romance “The Quiet Man” (7 p.m. Sunday, TV-PG).

SATURDAY SERIES

“Dateline” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) … “NBA Countdown” (7 p.m., ABC) … The kids are all right on “MasterChef” (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-PG) … “48 Hours” (9 p.m., CBS) … A vintage helping of “Saturday Night Live” (9 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).

SUNDAY SERIES

A visit from an old friend inspires Miles on “God Friended Me” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) … Homer can’t leave Bart’s virtual realm on “The Simpsons” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-14) … Empathy for all things on “Bob’s Burgers” (7:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

A walk down the aisle on “NCIS: Los Angeles” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14) … On two episodes of “Family Guy” (Fox, TV-14), Meg’s winter Olympics (8 p.m.), fighting over a dowager (8:30 p.m., r) … Aches and pains on “Shark Tank” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

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