Your TV GPS, Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s look at the week ahead in television, appears every Monday morning on BostonGlobe.com. Today’s column covers April 25-May 1.
I’ve seen Paramount + ‘s “The Offer,” which premieres on Thursday, and it’s a lot of fun. Created by Michael Tolkin, the guy who wrote “The Player,” it’s about the behind-the-scenes dramas in the 1970s during the making of one of the greatest movies of all time, “The Godfather.”
The 10-episode show is far from an insider-only story, as Tolkin turns the remembrances of “Godfather” producer Albert S. Ruddy into a little-engine-that-could tale. We see Miles Teller’s Ruddy, Dan Folger’s Francis Ford Coppola, and Patrick Gallo’s Mario Puzo forming a team that fights to make the film and cast it the way they want to, despite resistance from both Paramount Pictures and its parent company, Gulf + Western. We see Ruddy’s assistant, Bettye McCartt, played endearingly by Juno Temple, becoming an important underdog in the movie’s eventual success.
And we see the real Mafia get involved in the making of the movie about the Mafia, with some trying to shut down production and others, notably Giovanni Ribisi’s Joe Colombo, trying to control the movie’s script and make the portrayal positive. Throughout, Ruddy and the team manage to keep it all together and as close to Coppola’s vision as possible.
The acting is excellent down the line, with Matthew Goode a standout as studio head Robert Evans. Goode ably chews up the scenery as he tracks Evans along his infectious highs and drug-fueled lows. As Marlon Brando, Justin Chambers evokes the legendary actor without overdoing it, and Anthony Ippolito captures something of Al Pacino’s quieter persona.
Here’s the thing: “The Offer” probably isn’t all true. Like so many of scripted TV’s takes on historical events, it’s loosely spun from the truth.
The show takes place from Ruddy’s point of view, and he has clearly amped up aspects – the Mafia plot, for example – to make them more dramatic and cinematic. Some Hollywood folks who were involved in “The Godfather” are noting that Ruddy’s story is more fictional than factual, with Peter Bart, who worked for Evans at the time, writing in Deadline that the show’s “vivid anecdotes” are “at odds with the accounts of principals who made the movie. ” So yeah, enjoy the show, but don’t check your skepticism at the door.
WHAT I’M WATCHING THIS WEEK
1. “Under the Banner of Heaven,” Jon Krakauer’s 2003 true-crime book about Mormon fundamentalists and the 1984 murders of a Utah woman and her infant daughter, has been adapted into a seven-episode miniseries by Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”). It premieres on Hulu on Thursday, with Andrew Garfield as a Mormon detective whose faith is shaken by the case and Daisy Edgar-Jones from “Normal People” as the murdered mother. Here is the preview.
2. Whenever David Simon of “The Wire,” “The Plot Against America,” and “Treme” comes up with something new, it’s worth a look. Even when its title might suggest one of the worst earworms possible. “We Own This City,” created with George Pelecanos, is a six-episode miniseries about the Baltimore Police Department’s corrupt Gun Trace Task Force. Jon Bernthal, Josh Charles, Treat Williams, and Jamie Hector are a few of the familiar names in the cast. It premieres on HBO on Monday at 9 pm Here’s my review.
3. Elisabeth Moss stars in “Shining Girls,” an eight-episode adaptation of the 2013 novel by South African writer Lauren Beukes – which is enough to get me in the door. Moss never disappoints. The story has Moss’s Chicago reporter learning that the man who attacked her – played by Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot!) – is a time-traveler who must murder in order to survive. The Apple TV + series premieres on Friday.
4. Two shows return for their final run of episodes on Friday: Netflix’s Ozark and “Grace and Frankie.” Also this week, two shows return for their second seasons: HBO’s wonderful “Gentleman Jack,” featuring a stellar turn by Suranne Jones, is back on Monday at 10 pm, and HBO Max’s “Made For Love” returns on Thursday.
5. I was a fan of Vanessa Bayer when she was on “Saturday Night Live,” and she did a memorable turn on “What We Do in the Shadows” as an emotional vampire. Now she has a series, a comedy called “I Love That for You” that premieres Sunday at 8:30 pm on Showtime. She plays a woman who aspires to be a host at a home shopping network. Molly Shannon and Jenifer Lewis costar.
6. Sunday at 9 pm on GBH 2, PBS’s “Masterpiece” is premiering a new four-part drama. Called “Ridley Road,” it’s the fictional story – based on the novel by Jo Bloom – of a young Jewish woman named Vivien Epstein (Agnes O’Casey) who moves to London in 1962 and becomes an undercover spy trying to impede a violent anti-Semitic fascist organization.
“Preaching Evil: A Wife on the Run With Warren Jeffs” More cult leader docuseries drama, this time from the perspective of his “favorite” wife. Peacock, Tuesday
The best of the year so far.
“We Own This City” A potent miniseries about crooked cops in Baltimore. HBO
The First Lady A look at Michelle Obama, Betty Ford, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Showtime
Law & Order The series returns with lazy writing. NBC
Julia Sarah Lancashire is just right in this comedy about Julia Child. HBO Max
Slow Horses A taut, entertaining spy drama starring Gary Oldman. Apple TV +
Bridgerton Season two is as frothy and easy to watch as season one. Netflix
“My Brilliant Friend” The adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels continues to shine in its third season. HBO
The Girl From Plainville A well-acted take on the “texting suicide” case. Hulu
Life & Beth Amy Schumer stars as a woman hitting 40 who realizes she’s not thrilled with any of her life choices. Hulu
Minx A comedy about an erotic magazine for women. HBO Max
“Upload” The futuristic comedy returns in good form. Amazon
Severance What if we could split our identities into a work self and a home self? Apple TV +
Matthew Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.