Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Time to hit a High Score

Howard Scott Warshaw and companion
Howard Scott Warshaw and companion
Photo: Netflix

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Wednesday, August 19. All times are Eastern. 


Top pick

High Score (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., complete limited series): Between this new Netflix docuseries and last night’s Dead Pixels premiere, it’s apparently video game week here at What’s On Tonight. Here’s our own Sam Barsanti on this look at the history of classic video games:

In the final episode, High Score comes around to a thesis that puts some of the preceding disjointedness into focus: Video games, the series argues, are built on everything that came before them, whether it’s technology or people, so everyone’s video gaming story is part of video game history. It’s a nice idea, but coming so late in the narrative makes it feel tacked on. One thing that’s not tacked on and can’t possibly be praised enough, though, is the narration from Charles Martinet—better known as the voice of Super Mario. He is an absolute joy to listen to throughout the entirety of High Score, especially when he seemingly can’t pronounce his character’s name without saying it like Mario does (Maaario). It’s just a shame that the rest of High Score can’t live up to its best parts.

Read the rest of Sam’s pre-air review, then pack a few health potions and get started.

Regular coverage

Election stuff

PBS Newshour: Democratic National Convention (PBS, 8 p.m.; also lots of other networks): You might have heard it’s an election year. Speakers scheduled for night three of the DNC include Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Senator Kamala Harris, and former President Barack Obama, as well as performances from Jennifer Hudson and Billie Eilish.

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (TNT, 10:30 p.m.): And Sam Bee is still broadcasting from her backyard; we suspect she’ll have some things to say about the convention so far. And about stamps!

Wild cards

Dodgeball Thunderdome (Discovery, 9 p.m., series premiere): Today’s trio of wild cards—a mini-lighting round of sorts—all have exciting, evocative, or helpfully explanatory titles. This one, as you might guess, is dodgeball, in a thunderdome.

Eaten By An Escalator (Science, 9 p.m.): And this one is about getting eaten by an escalator. We cannot emphasize this enough: Don’t search YouTube for a trailer with the search term “eaten by an escalator.” Here’s Kittens Inspired By Kittens instead.

Cari & Jemele: Stick To Sports (Vice, 10 p.m., series premiere): And last but not least, we have this new series from ESPN veterans Jemele Hill and Cari Champion. It’s a pretty great title, no? Their first guest will be LeBron James, who was very busy playing basketball just last evening. (Go Blazers.)

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!