Matt Roush, News, Syndicate, Television, Worth Watching

The Rise and Fall of Disco, the History of Queer Comedy, ‘Clipped’ Looks Backwards, Scaling Heights in ‘Here to Climb’

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PBS explores the history of the disco phenomenon in a three-part docuseries. Netflix’s Outstanding: A Comedy Revolution celebrates the rise of LGBTQ+ stand-up comedy. FX’s Clipped (on Hulu) turns back the calendar to reveal earlier challenges for the principals in this scandalous NBA melodrama. An HBO documentary profiles groundbreaking female rock climber Sasha DiGuilian.

John Travolta movie art for the film 'Saturday Night Fever', 1977.

Paramount / Getty Images

Disco: Soundtrack of a Revolution

As you might expect, this vibrant three-part documentary on the rise and fall of the disco era has a great beat and you can dance to it. Dancing being the motivating factor that fueled the genre’s birth in the early 1970s in abandoned New York City warehouses and underground clubs. The phenomenon would eventually go mainstream with the explosion of “disco divas” like Donna Summer and the success of Saturday Night Fever on screen and on vinyl LP. The inevitable backlash would come, but in the opener, witness how marginalized people found community within walls of sound and pulsating tempos. (See the full review.)

Marsha Warfield, Lily Tomlin, Sandra Bernhard and Wanda Sykes in 'Outstanding: A Comedy Revolution'

Netflix

Outstanding: A Comedy Revolution

“It was very important, the idea that we could be seen, that we should be seen, and that we can be funny,” says Margaret Cho in an impassioned film charting the evolution of LGBTQ+ stand-up comedy from the closeted days when, as the legendary Lily Tomlin explains, “It wasn’t accepted to say you were gay on stage.” Outstanding views outspoken comedy as a vehicle for social change, with archival footage and new interviews with stand-up standouts including Tomlin, Cho, Wanda Sykes, Rosie O’Donnell, Tig Notaro, Eddie Izzard, Bob the Drag Queen, Hannah Gadsby and more.

Kelly AuCoin as Andy Rouser, Clifton Davis as Elgin Baylor in 'Clipped' Season 1 Episode 4

Kelsey McNeal / FX

Clipped

The provocative docudrama turns back the calendar in a strong episode that reveals many of the seeds of the scandal that would explode in 2014 when L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s (Ed O’Neill) racist remarks went viral. Embattled coach Doc Rivers (Laurence Fishburne) looks back to 1992, when he was playing for the Clippers during the explosive Rodney King riots in L.A. We also experience turning points for V. Stiviano (Cleopatra Coleman), the social-climbing future assistant who recorded her boss’s damaging statements, Sterling’s conflicted wife Shelly (Jacki Weaver) and NBA great Elgin Baylor (Clifton Davis), who served as the Clippers’ manager for more than 20 years.

Sasha DiGuilian climbing in El Gigante, Chihuahua, Mexico in 'Here to Climb' on HBO

Pablo Durana / HBO

Here to Climb

An inspiring sports documentary in the tradition of Free Solo profiles pioneering female rock climber Sasha DiGuilian, a prodigy whose breathtaking and risky climbs brought her fame with multiple First Female Ascents. Cyberbullying from Internet trolls only served to spur on her ambitions, although injury led to five surgeries over one year, a setback that might have sidelined a less determined athlete’s career.

INSIDE TUESDAY TV:

  • Summer Olympic Trials (8 pm/ET, NBC): Trials continue in swimming and diving, as athletes compete to make the U.S. team for next month’s Paris games.
  • Stanley Cup Final (8 pm/ET, ABC): The Edmonton Oilers avoided a sweep by beating the Florida Panthers in Saturday’s Game 4. Will the home team clinch the series when Game 5 returns to Florida?
  • Hostage Rescue (9/8c, The CW): The Season 1 finale depicts the 2004 kidnapping of American contractor Roy Hallums in Iraq, freed after 311 days following a U.S. Army Delta Force raid.
  • Sin City Tow (9/8c, Discovery): Gamblers who lack caution when parking their car in Las Vegas face the music when tow truck drivers step in to take their rides away in a new reality series.

ON THE STREAM:

  • Power of the Dream (streaming on Prime Video): A documentary spotlights the intersection of sports and politics in 2020 when WNBA athletes rallied against conservative Georgia Senator Kelly Leoffler, then a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, for her statements opposing support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Chopper Cops (streaming on Paramount+) Look, up in the sky, it’s a … police helicopter, one of an elite squad monitoring criminal activity from above 1,600 square miles of Florida’s Marion County in a true-crime docuseries.
  • From abroad: Viaplay presents Swedish director Lasse Halström’s English-language biopic Hilma about abstract artist Hilma af Klint (1862-1944), played by Hallström’s daughter Tora and Lena Olin at younger and older ages. From Finland, MHz Choice presents the satirical Stop Nyqvist, about a mild-mannered office assistant who somehow becomes the head of the Finnish secret service.

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