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Winter TV Watch List: ‘Law & Order’ and Madea Return

Also: Revisiting Abe Lincoln and the Proud Family

Last week, a very exciting Super Bowl aired, and during that Super Bowl countless commercials for the new “Law & Order” were featured. Usually they are only advertising big shows weeks down the road, but here we are, and here “Law & Order” is. But don’t worry, Dick Wolf’s immortal crime-and-court classic isn’t the only thing to debut this week, with a lengthy new Abraham Lincoln documentary, the latest Tyler Perry-led “Madea” sequel and another few episodes with shambling zombies all coming home.

On with the television!

Law & Order
Sam Waterston as D.A. Jack McCoy in “Law & Order” (Michael Greenberg/NBC)

“Law & Order”
Thursday, February 24 at 8 p.m., NBC

Dun-dun. That immortal noise began every episode of “Law & Order,” which ran for 20 glorious seasons on NBC and inspired countless spinoffs and continuations (still ongoing). Now, the original flagship series is back, 12 years after the last season aired (mostly because another planned spinoff, “For the Defense,” fell apart). There’s a dimension of “Avengers: Endgame” to this new series, or at least one of those crazy crossover episodes of television, as original stars Sam Waterston and Anthony Anderson are joined by new actors like Jeffrey Donovan and characters from other Dick Wolf-universe shows, including “FBI” and “Chicago Med.” But even if you haven’t kept up with all of these other shows, having “Law & Order” back, more than a decade after it went off the air, should be more than exciting enough. [Cue glorious saxophone solo] [REVIEW]

winter tv finale
Celebrity Big Brother

“Celebrity Big Brother”
Wednesday, February 23 at 8 p.m., CBS

Listen, there’s not a lot wrapping up this week! But “Celebrity Big Brother” is. The third season of the American version of the show starred marginal celebrities/house guests like former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Chris Kattan, “Diff’rent Strokes” actor Todd Bridges, “American Idol” contestant Todrick Hall and NSYNC member Chris Kirkpatrick. Is watching a bunch of strangers on the periphery of fame trapped in a house more entertaining than being trapped in your own house? That’s for you to decide! [TRAILER]

winter tv watch list movie
20th Century Studios/Hulu

“No Exit”
Friday, February 25, Hulu

Talk about a delicious premise: Darby Thorne (Havana Rose Liu) escapes court-mandated rehab to visit her sick mother. On the way, she gets waylaid by a powerful winter storm. While hanging out in a dinky rest stop waiting for the storm to pass, she discovers an abducted girl in the back of one of the cars. That triggers a desperate struggle for Darby to uncover who is responsible and then to find a way out. The trailer evokes wintery whodunits like “The Hateful Eight” or “The Thing,” and the original 20th Century movie was developed and produced by the great Scott Frank, who was responsible for Netflix’s “Godless” and “The Queen’s Gambit” (amongst many other things). This could be the sleeper thriller you’d brave a winter storm to watch. [TRAILER]

winter tv watch list documentary

“Abraham Lincoln”
Sunday, February 20 at 8 p.m., History Channel

Abraham Lincoln History Channel
History Channel

This is the first night of a three-night, eight-hour exploration of the life of Abraham Lincoln (Graham Sibley portrays the Great Emancipator in dramatic reenactments). Based on author and historian’s Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Leadership: In Turbulent Times” (she also serves as one of the producers), the event miniseries features new interviews with Barack Obama and others. Another of Kearns Goodwin’s Lincoln histories served as the basis for Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning “Lincoln,” which is a pretty good pedigree. And given the time and complexity of the miniseries, it should delve into the president’s life (and untimely death) with even greater depth and introspection. Sounds like a pretty good way to spend the Presidents Day weekend, right? [TRAILER]

winter tv watch rewatch of the week
Forky Asks a Question

“Forky Asks a Question”

The buzz for this summer’s “Lightyear” is starting to intensify (pun very much intended), with a new trailer that dropped right before the Super Bowl. So why not use the excitement surrounding the upcoming movie as an excuse to indulge in a more esoteric corner of the “Toy Story” universe? “Forky Asks a Question,” one of the original series that launched Disney+, features Forky (voiced by Tony Hale) asking various “Toy Story” characters questions like “What is money?” (Hamm answers that one, of course) and “What is art?” (tackled by pompous porcupine Mr. Pricklepants). Written and directed by unsung Pixar legend Bob Peterson, who co-directed “Up,” “Forky Asks a Question” is laugh-out-loud funny and occasionally quite profound, with delightful animation (it has the basic aesthetic of a public television science program form the late 1970s). And the best part of “Forky Asks a Question”? You can watch all the episodes in around a half hour (total). How great is that? [WATCH]

winter tv watch best of the rest

“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”
Sunday, February 20 at 11 p.m., HBO

Welcome, welcome, welcome! John Oliver has escaped the existential vacuum of the void, is back in the studio and is ready to break down the biggest topics of the week in a way that is both hilarious and deeply unsettling. And honestly, given the state of the world, we need him now more than ever. [INTERVIEW]

“The Walking Dead”
Sunday, February 20 at 9 p.m., AMC

“The Walking Dead” continues its slow walk to the grave. Confusingly billed as “the final season, part 2 of 3” (the third part will undoubtedly air as part of AMC’s big Halloween programming push in October), this latest batch of episodes consists of six episodes and goes until late March. (Jon Amiel, the director of underrated thrillers like “Copycat,” directs the first episode of this bunch.) What new horrors will the survivors face in this set of episodes? And how many of those horrors will be zombie-related versus human-related remains to be seen? But chances are things are going to get worse before they get better (or simply end). [EXPLAINER]

“Cat Burglar”
Tuesday, February 22, Netflix

Building on the success of the interactive “Black Mirror” movie “Bandersnatch,” this new animated project, described as edgy and in the style of classic cartoonist Tex Avery, is co-written by “BoJack Horseman” alum Mike Hollingsworth. (“Black Mirror” mastermind Charlie Brooker is a producer.) This time around, the interactive element involves a mechanism wherein the answers to trivia questions will dictate how you navigate the story. [TRAILER]

“The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder”
Wednesday, February 23, Disney+

“The Proud Family” is back. The original series, created by Disney animator Bruce W. Smith, originally ran on the Disney Channel from 2001 to 2005. This new series, which was developed by Smith and Ralph Farquhar, debuts on Disney+ and as such is freer and more complex. Things that were merely subtext before (like one character’s homosexuality) are more explicit this time around, with tough topics being addressed honestly and openly. Oh, and it’s still very funny and the updated animation is terrific. The premiere includes the first two episodes, which will be more than enough to hook you back in. It’s good to have them back. [TRAILER]

“Tyler Perry’s A Madea Homecoming”
Friday, February 25, Netflix

2019’s “A Madea Family Funeral,” was meant to be the farewell to Tyler Perry’s Madea character. (Did you know there are 12 films in the Madea cinematic universe? Because there are!) Creator Tyler Perry quietly walked back those plans in 2021 and here we are. “A Madea Homecoming,” based on Perry’s play “Madea’s Farewell Play” (the first Madea film based on a play since 2013), again has Perry writing, directing and starring. If you’re a fan of the franchise, chances are this will hit the spot. And that franchise is ever-expanding – the movie is also meant to serve as a backdoor pilot to a forthcoming Madea prequel series headed to Showtime. Can’t stop, won’t stop. [TRAILER]

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