What’s on TV Wednesday: ‘The Apollo’ and Scorsese Crime Films

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THE APOLLO (2019) 9 p.m. on HBO. “When you walk out of the wings and you take the mic,” the Harlem figure Lana Turner says in this documentary, “you have stood on top of the music scores, the gag lines, the costumes, the singers. You’ve stood on top of all of them. And their spirit — and their souls — are in that floor.” She’s talking about the Apollo Theater in Harlem, the venerated launching pad of several generations of musicians, comics and other performers. Directed by Roger Ross Williams, “The Apollo” digs into the theater’s rich, 85-year history through a trove of archival performance footage (Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and James Brown are among those featured) and recent interviews, which it intersperses with scenes of the preparation and performance of a stage version of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me” that debuted last year. The results are “conventional but entertaining,” Ben Kenigsberg wrote in his review for The New York Times. “While ‘The Apollo’ itself might have taken a more inventive approach,” he added, “it derives its power from the artistry it captures.”

THE DEPARTED (2006) 11:05 p.m. on AMC. Martin Scorsese’s latest gangster movie, “The Irishman,” is now in theaters and will soon be available through your internet browser. Television audiences can revisit two of the director’s other mob movies: “The Departed,” a story of made men and moles in Boston with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg, and the decades-spanning New York crime story GOODFELLAS (1990). That second movie, with Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, will air at 8 p.m. on AMC. Those who watch the two films back to back will hear Boston and New York accents united by a familiar British one: Each movie’s soundtrack prominently uses the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”

TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN Stream on Amazon. While both “The Departed” and “Goodfellas” pair the Rolling Stones with organized crime, this action series mixes Mick Jagger and military operatives. In an episode of the new season, The Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” can be heard playing as a group of American fighters prepare to hurl themselves from an Air Force plane. The season brings the action to Venezuela, London and other locales where John Krasinski, as the series’s titular agent, plays hero.

THE ELEPHANT QUEEN (2019) Stream on Apple TV Plus. Chiwetel Ejiofor narrates this kid-friendly nature documentary from Mark Deeble and Victoria Stone. The film follows a herd of elephants wandering the Kenyan savanna over a period of several years. “Deeble’s script spotlights a few daily dramas to raise a bit of tension and humor, and his cinematography is magnificent,” Ken Jaworowski wrote in his review for The Times. Though Jaworowski also noted that the documentary “sometimes shies away from tough truths,” like the effects that climate change and poaching are having on the animals. “Young viewers,” he wrote, “could certainly handle a few more harsh facts.”

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