Your TV GPS, Globe critic Matthew Gilbert’s guide to what’s on television, appears at the beginning of each week at BostonGlobe.com. Today’s column covers April 8-14.
WHAT IF DEATH WINS THE ‘GAME’?
Many of us have spent plenty of time thinking about which character on “Game of Thrones” should win the “game,” the contest to sit on the Iron Throne. As the cast has shrunk in recent seasons, that guessing has become more heated.
I started as a Daenerys fan, enraptured by her strong will, her dragons, and, of course, her insane hair, whose braids symbolize battles won. Then I felt that Sansa ought to be the one, now that she has matured and become a shrewd strategist.
And all along, to help explain the HBO show’s intense violence toward women, I have wanted the future ruler to be a woman. The women — Sansa, Daeny, Arya, Cersei, Brienne — have been the most finely drawn characters in a show whose cast is mostly male. Time for the matriarchy, kids.
But recently, as the eighth and final season approaches on April 14 at 9 p.m., I’ve been pondering a very different ending. What if none of the characters wins? What if the game, with all its massive and petty fighting, becomes meaningless at the end, because the Night King takes over?
The Night King is a symbol of death on the show. As showrunner D.B. Weiss has said, “I don’t think of the Night King as a villain as much as Death.” He is the existential threat, the one that trumps, if you will, all the games we feeble, fleshy beings engage in while we are alive.
What if the message of the entire show is that, in the end, there is always only one victor?
WHAT I’M WATCHING THIS WEEK
1. I’ve learned not pre-judge Ryan Murphy’s true-story projects. I was one of the people who went into the writer-producer’s O.J. Simpson, Gianni Versace, and Bette Davis-Joan Crawford dramas with a ton of skepticism — and came out a believer. His newest limited series, “Fosse/Verdon,” is based on the codependent romantic and creative relationship between choreographer-director Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and dancer-actress Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams), and the first two episodes are sharp — Williams in particular. The making of Fosse’s “Cabaret” — a great movie that speaks to us today — is thrilling. “Fosse/Verdon” starts Tuesday at 10 p.m. on FX. Also onboard: Nate Corddry as Neil Simon, Evan Handler as Hal Prince, and Norbert Leo Butz as Paddy Chayefsky.
2. If I never hear “Les Miz” — or is that “Les Mis”? — again it will be too soon, with all due respect to Les Mi-zealots. And yet I am eager to see this new “Masterpiece” adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel, “Les Miserables,” which is mercifully song-less. For one thing, it’s written by Andrew Davies, who more times (“Bleak House,” “Pride and Prejudice”) than not (2007’s “A Room With a View”) adapts the classics with elegance. For another, the cast is promising, with Dominic West as Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo as Javert, Lily Collins as Fantine, and supporting work from Derek Jacobi and Olivia Colman. The six-part series premieres Sunday at 9 p.m.
3. Emma Stone hosts “Saturday Night Live” this week for the fourth time, with musical guest South Korean boy band BTS. Five Timers Club, here she comes.
4. Next week, on April 15 at 3 p.m., the Pulitzer Prize winners will be announced, live-streamed at www.Pulitzer.org. In the meantime, who was that Pulitzer fellow after whom these things are named? On Friday at 9 p.m. on WGBH-2, PBS’s “American Masters” series presents “Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People,” a look at an outspoken champion of a free press who warned about the dangers of “fake news” way back when. Adam Driver narrates, Liev Schreiber voices Pulitzer.
5. No, no, no, NO. The whole interactive storytelling thing is an awful idea, Hollywood. YOU tell US the story, we don’t make it up. YOU surprise US with what happens, whether we like it or not. Ah, but Netflix and Bear Grylls don’t care about my annoyance. They are coming out with eight episodes of “You vs. Wild” on Wednesday, wherein Bear has outdoor adventures all over the world and we determine his actions and whether or not he fails.
6. The eight-episode comedy “Special” is due Friday on Netflix, and it might be worth a gander. Ryan O’Connell is a gay man with cerebral palsy, and he has adapted his own 2015 memoir (“I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves”) for the screen. He also stars in the show, which follows him in his mid-20s, leaving home and starting to date. The series is executive-produced by Jim Parsons.
7. I’d love to be at a brainstorming meeting for horror films with big gimmicks. A world where people are hunted by scent! A world where people are hunted by motion! A world where people are hunted BY HAIR COLOR! On Wednesday, Netflix is releasing a new horror movie, called “The Silence,” about a world where people are hunted by sound! It seems suspiciously like an “A Quiet Place” rip-off, but it’s based on a 2015 novel that was greenlit as a movie before “A Quiet Place” was released, so. Stanley Tucci, Kiernan Shipka, Miranda Otto, and John Corbett star.
8. Reality shows and, these days, politics are like wrestling rings, where larger-than-life characters enact big dramas and humiliations. Viceland is premiering a new docu-series set in the world of professional wrestling on Wednesday at 9 p.m. called “Dark Side of the Ring,” which “explores the darkest stories from the golden age of professional wrestling” about Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Bruiser Brody, “Gorgeous” Gino Hernandez, and legendary female star The Fabulous Moolah. OK, I admit it, I blurbed this one because of those fabulous drag names.
A documentary about a criminal teen who becomes an informant, also the basis of the 2018 movie “White Boy Rick” with Matthew McConaughey. Starz, Monday, 9 p.m.
A new drama series that is very CBS, about Marine attorneys seeking military justice. CBS, Tuesday, 9 p.m.
In this prequel series to “Z Nation,” a mother (Jaime King) looks for her daughter in the early days of a zombie apocalypse. Netflix, Thursday
“Chasing Life With Dr. Sanjay Gupta”
The six-part docu-series finds the doctor on a global journey to find the secrets to a healthy and meaningful life. CNN, Saturday, 9 p.m.
I know, I know, it’s hard to keep track of what’s airing on a weekly basis.
Now that we’ve grown accustomed to binge-watching entire seasons at once on streaming services, then forgetting all about them until they return next year, it’s easy to forget about the old-schoolers who require you to remember them over and over again every week. So here’s a handy list of the best shows currently being released piecemeal, so that when you sit down to watch TV, you can tune right in live or on demand.
FX, Thursday at 10 p.m.
Pamela Adlon’s wise take on single parenthood.
BBC America and AMC, Sunday at 9 p.m.
The cat-and-mouse between a detective and an assassin who happen to be Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer.
HBO, Sunday at 10 p.m.
Bill Hader’s assassin just wants to be an actor, is that so wrong?
HBO, Sunday at 10:30 p.m.
A satire of government — or is it? Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the queen.
“What We Do in the Shadows”
FX, Wednesday at 10 p.m.
The klutzy vampire roommates struggle to rule over Staten Island.
IFC, Wednesday at 10 p.m.
Trouble is, Hank Azaria’s baseball announcer is at his best — professionally — when he’s drunk.
Pop, Wednesday at 10 p.m.
When it’s Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara without a paddle, nothing else matters.
NBC, Thursday at 9 p.m.
The sweetest ensemble on network TV right now.Matthew Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.