What’s on TV This Week: ‘Sam Now’ and ‘Jeopardy! Masters’

A coming-of-age documentary from PBS follows Sam Harkness and his family over 25 years, and a new iteration of the popular quiz show premieres on ABC.

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By Kristen Bayrakdarian

With 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, May 8-14. Details and times are subject to change.


JEOPARDY! MASTERS 8 p.m. on ABC. The “Jeopardy!” champion and co-host Ken Jennings is now the host of the beloved quiz show’s latest iteration. Each episode will feature the current six highest-ranked “Jeopardy!” contestants competing in two games for $500,000 and the Masters champion title. Amy Schneider, Matt Amodio, Mattea Roach, Andrew He, Sam Buttrey and James Holzhauer appear in the premiere.

SAM NOW 10 p.m. on PBS. Shot by Sam Harkness’s half brother, the director Reed Harkness, this documentary follows Sam as he grapples with his mother’s abrupt departure. Through home videos and interviews over 25 years, the film explores concepts of intergenerational trauma, familial relationships and healing as Sam searches for answers and inner peace. Nicolas Rapold’s review for The New York Times called it “a sensitive and surprising“ film “whose emotional reality seems to evolve before your eyes.”


DANCING QUEENS 9 p.m. on BRAVO. This docu-series follows six amateur dancers as they vie for top spots in the world of Pro-Am ballroom dancing, where professionals are paired with amateur partners for competitions. The six featured women this season range from stay-at-home mothers to businesswomen, all of whom invest their time, money and wits in practice, clothing, makeup, travel and the occasional sabotage in the hope of coming out on top.


WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT AMERICA 10 p.m. on FUSE. Featuring new and returning first-generation American comedians, this commentary series about the oddities of American pop culture is back for a second season. Gender reveals, eating contests and over the top marriage proposals are among the topics to be dismantled and roasted.

THE GAME SHOW SHOW 10 p.m. on ABC. Through interviews with contestants and hosts as well as analyses of the game show genre’s evolution and scandals, this four-part series explores the history and persistence of a variety of American game show formats. The season premiere opens with an examination of the development of the quiz show, and what changes in the audience, contestants and questions asked reveal about American culture. Other episodes explore reality competitions and dating shows.


THE GREEN MILE (1999) 8 p.m. on AMC. Adapted from the book of the same name by Stephen King, this Academy Award nominated film from the director Frank Darabont (‘The Shawshank Redemption’) is a death row drama that focuses on the reminiscences of Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), a retired corrections officer residing in an assisted living facility in 1999. The film follows the story of John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), a Black man who has been sentenced to death at “The Green Mile” — the nickname given to Cold Mountain Penitentiary’s death row, where Paul worked in the 1930s — after being convicted of raping and murdering two white girls. As it becomes evident that John is a healer of both humans and animals, and Paul and some of the other officers begin to doubt his guilt. In her review for The Times, Janet Maslin wrote that the film “makes the horrors of the death penalty grotesquely clear,” but that “much of it is very gentle.” She added that the three-hour film’s “unassumingly strong, moving performances and Mr. Darabont’s durable storytelling” make watching it “a trip worth taking.”


BLACK NARCISSUS (1947) 6:15 p.m. on TCM. This Golden Globe and Academy Award winning film, adapted from the novel of the same name by Rumer Godden, is a “work of rare pictorial beauty,” according to a review for The Times. It described the movie as “a coldly intellectual morality drama tinged with a cynicism” that hinges on its “provocative contemplation of the age-old conflict between the soul and the flesh.” It follows five nuns attempting to establish a school and hospital in an isolated town in the Himalayas — a mission that goes awry as they each succumb to the pressures of their environment. The film focuses especially on Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr) and Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron), and their responses when their faith and morals are tested. The film was banned for four months in 1947 by the National Legion of Decency, a Catholic group, for its erotic themes. In 2020, the story was remade as an FX mini-series.


HIDDEN LETTERS 8 p.m. on PBS. For Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month, “Independent Lens” presents an exploration of gender relations in modern China through the lens of Nushu, a secret written language developed by women for women centuries ago in southern China. The documentary is structured around the stories of two Nushu practitioners — a divorced museum guide and an engaged musician — and hints at the ways in which the principles of Nushu are still at play today. “‘Hidden Letters’ compels when it dwells in the everyday lives of its two leads, capturing the stray misogyny leveled at them by their partners, fathers, bosses, customers and even strangers,” wrote Devika Girish in her review for The Times. “Like a totem from their ancestors, Nushu evidently helps these women reckon with their own lives and ambitions.”


MATCH ME ABROAD 10 p.m. on TLC. This new dating show follows matchmakers based in the Czech Republic, Colombia and Morocco as they work to find connections for seven Americans seeking love overseas. It chronicles the journeys of the singles and their motivations as well as the matchmakers’ perspectives, as they chaperone dates, translate and coach their clients.

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