By Kevin McDonough
Viewers in search of distraction might turn to "The Happy Days of Garry Marshall" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG). A prolific producer of movies and television, Marshall was adept at packaging fantasies and discovering major …
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Viewers in search of distraction might turn to "The Happy Days of Garry Marshall" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG). A prolific producer of movies and television, Marshall was adept at packaging fantasies and discovering major talent.
"Happy" includes recollections from surviving performers from some of his most memorable productions, including Richard Gere, Hector Elizondo and Julia Roberts from "Pretty Woman"; Ron Howard, Don Most, Marion Ross, Anson Williams and Henry Winkler from "Happy Days"; Cindy Williams, David Lander and Michael McKean from "Laverne & Shirley"; Pam Dawber of "Mork & Mindy" fame; Barbara Hershey ("Beaches") and Julie Andrews, Anne Hathaway and Chris Pine from the cast of "The Princess Diaries."
You have to hand it to somebody who could launch the careers of Julia Roberts, Henry Winkler and Robin Williams. At the same time, I've long been allergic to Garry Marshall's brand of escapism. "Happy Days" offered a literally white-washed view of mid-century American life from which we have never escaped.
Hailed as a "feel-good" movie, "Pretty Woman" asked viewers to completely ignore its sordid setting of prostitution and exploitation to embrace some Cinderella hogwash about a streetwalker rescued by a Wall Street hero. And goes shopping too! Director Ken Russell felt compelled to make the bitter and sordid 1991 movie "Whore" as a response. At least somebody was paying attention.
Marshall's long career clearly shows he had a kind of magic touch. But films like "Pretty Woman" and its enduring appeal demonstrate to what great lengths people will go to ignore reality and to embrace "distraction" as a kind of narcotic.
A great deal of Garry Marshall's appeal was giving audiences the sense of "discovering" a talent in the making. From Fonzi's rebellious charm to Mork's manic mind and the incandescent smile of a "Pretty Woman," stars were born before our eyes.
Time and again we learn that TV shows make stars far more than they need the already famous. This was underscored last week when CBS announced the renewal of 23 shows for next fall.
Conspicuous among its cancellations were four shows: "Tommy," "Man With a Plan," "Carol's Second Act" and "Broke." Each featured a major star (Edie Falco, Matt LeBlanc, Patricia Heaton and Pauley Perrette, respectively) with at least one previous hit. It didn't matter.
• The final two installments of "Asian Americans" (8 p.m. and 10 p.m., PBS, TV-14, check local listings) brings the story to the 21st century as Asians are more integrated into the nation's society than ever, even as the current administration stokes xenophobic fears of foreigners and singles out China as an economic rival and national security threat.
• The movie-length special "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend" streams on Netflix. As our heroine prepares for her walk down the aisle, she learns of the Reverend's (Jon Hamm) plan to return his bevy of girls to the Doomsday Bunker.
TV on DVD
TV-themed DVDs available today include "Shameless" Season 10.
TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
• Athletic stars Cal Ripken Jr. and Torrey Smith help out on two hours of "Gordon Ramsay: 24 Hours to Hell and Back" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto helm the Enterprise in the 2009 adaptation of "Star Trek" (8 p.m., AMC, TV-14).
• A lecherous CEO is found murdered on "FBI" (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
• A cult leader goes underground after ordering a hit on family members on "FBI: Most Wanted" (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
• Max frantically adjusts the budget to get employees paid on "New Amsterdam" (10 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
• Aaron's attempts at a retrial and the election coincide on the season finale of "For Life" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
• Archaeologists discover what they believe to be an ancient funeral home in "Kingdom of the Mummies" (10 p.m., National Geographic, TV-14).
A star of the popular "Die Hard" franchise, Bruce Willis got to stretch in the 1990s with appearances in the 1994 hit "Pulp Fiction" (9 p.m., Starz Encore) from Quentin Tarantino and the 1999 shocker "The Sixth Sense" (10 p.m., Showtime) from M. Night Shyamalan.
Gibbs may have known a suspect on "NCIS" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) * Prizes galore on "Ellen's Game of Games" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) * Iris must be saved from the Mirrorverse on the season finale of "The Flash" (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG) * The Legends form a college sorority on "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
Jimmy Fallon welcomes Ethan Hawke, Elle Fanning and Kane Brown on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) * Paul Giamatti and Nicole Richie visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC).
© 2020, United Feature Syndicate
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