Jessica Biel plays against type as a seemingly normal young wife and mother with a latent violent streak. And “Obit” follows the obituary team at The New York Times as it commemorates the dead.
What’s on TV
THE SINNER 10 p.m. on USA. Jessica Biel plays Cora Tannetti, a lovely young wife and mother who, on a summer day at the edge of a lake in upstate New York, loses her head to a familiar tune and stabs a stranger to death for no apparent reason. Then she pleads guilty. Bill Pullman is Detective Harry Ambrose, whose own peculiar predilections compel him to get at the source of Cora’s madness. Derek Simonds adapted this limited series from Petra Hammesfahr’s best-selling psychological thriller. The show’s setup — focusing on the why instead of the who — “drains away a lot of the usual suspense,” Mike Hale wrote in The New York Times. And Ms. Biel handles the emotions of fear and bewilderment capably. But “the success of ‘The Sinner’ will depend on how much more she and Cora have to show us.”
AN INCONVENIENT SPECIAL 7:30 p.m. on MTV. In connection with his new film, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” former Vice President Al Gore hosts a town hall forum in MTV’s Times Square studio on the topic of climate change.
BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW 10 p.m. on IFC. This Canadian sketch comedy show starring the “baronesses” Aurora Browne, Meredith MacNeill, Carolyn Taylor and Jennifer Whalen crosses the border, bringing with it “bite-size observations on the micro-absurdities and macro-neuroses of modern life,” Katrina Onstad wrote in The Times — things like Fitbit tyranny, the way moms say hello and product design for women. “We’re four women in our 40s creating our first TV show,” Ms. MacNeill said in the article. “The show has a vulnerability to it because it came from a vulnerable place. I do think that’s why people might tune in.”
OBIT (2017) on iTunes and Amazon. For more than a few readers of The New York Times, the obituaries section is the first place they turn to. For some, it’s to keep watch over our mortality and find out who, famous or not, has checked out for good. For others, it’s because some of the best writing in journalism can be found there. This documentary from Vanessa Gould follows the newspaper’s obit team at work — eavesdropping on William McDonald, the department’s editor, as he and his crew decide whose death deserves the Times treatment, and watching Bruce Weber, a former reporter, assemble the 2014 obituary of William P. Wilson, the media consultant who advised the Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy before his first televised debate with Richard M. Nixon. Ms. Gould’s documentary “is modest, observant, graceful and nonchalantly witty,” Gene Seymour wrote in The Times. “And one comes away from ‘Obit’ grateful that the paper has at its disposal a team of humane, gifted people who make commemorating the dead a lively, lasting art.”
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