While HBO's original scripted programming is what earned it the medium-transcending tagline "It's not TV, it's HBO," their documentary presentations have for a very long time brought the network some of its best and most prestigious moments. In addition to shows like Real Sports, where host Bryant Gumbel and a cast of veteran sports journalists take a deeper look at the serious issues at play in sports, HBO sports docs have profiled the likes of Serena Williams, Billie Jean King, Joe Namath, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Just recently, HBO Sports put out that excellent documentary on Andre the Giant. So it's not taking a leap to say that any new prestige doc out of the HBO sports division deserves more notice than your typical fluff piece.
There was nothing fluffy about Muhammad Ali, unless you count that "float like a butterfly" stuff in the ring. In What's My Name, the more incendiary aspects of Ali's personal politics and what he represented to the changing racial and social moment in America are all on display. It seems practically destined to take its place among HBO's top-tier sports docs.
WORLD PREMIERE: Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) What's My Name tells Ali's story via archival interview clips. Ali died in 2016, and for a long time before that his communication was affected by Parkinson's disease, so to hear Ali tell his story in his own words is powerful stuff. 8:00 PM ET on HBO
SPECIAL PRESENTATION: The seminal 1960s comedy/variety show Laugh-In celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, but being a year late didn't keep the stars from showing up for Netflix's Still Laugh-In, which celebrates the legacy of the original series with appearances by Lily Tomlin, Billy Crystal, Tiffany Haddish, Neil Patrick Harris, Michael Douglas, Rita Moreno, Rita Wilson, JoAnne Worley, Maria Bamford, Margaret Cho, and more. Netflix promises the special will take classic Laugh-In sketches and moments and give them a contemporary flair. Surprise Goldie Hawn cameo or we walk! Streaming on Netflix
SEASON FINALE: As The Flash reaches the end of its fifth season, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) prepares to face off with his old nemesis Reverse Flash (Tom Cavanagh, aka Ed Stevens himself!). 8:00 PM ET on The CW
SEASON FINALE: On the fifth season finale of N.C.I.S.: New Orleans, the team must band together to rescue Scott Bakula's character. Here's a fun fact: Bakula plays an NCIS agent named Dwayne Pride, which means that whenever the plot description includes a line like "In order to save Pride, the NCIS team must locate a mole who continues to feed information to Apollyon," it gets fun to imagine that the local New Orleans Gay Pride parade is subject to a mole who is feeding information to rival gay parade leader Apollyon. Who wouldn't watch that?? 10:00 PM ET on CBS
Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: HBO, Netflix, FBI, The Flash, NCIS: New Orleans, Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate, Muhammad Ali