Devil’s Playground (May 30; 8:30 to 10 p.m.; Cinemax) spends quality time with a dozen or so Amish teenagers in Indiana during “rumspringa” (or “running-around time”), between the ages of 16 and 22, when they are allowed to misbehave before deciding whether to commit as adults to their religion. This misbehavior would seem to include not only partying but also coke and crank. And even though they were raised without television and rock and roll, Amish teens sound just as dopey as any other bunch of narcissistic 16-year-olds.
King of Texas (June 2; 8 to 10 p.m.; TNT) stars Patrick Stewart as John Lear (wink-wink), a lordly patriarchal rancher back in the early post-Alamo days of independence from Mexico, who has doubts about the love and loyalty of his three daughters – Marcia Gay Harden, Lauren Holly, and Julie Cox. Also appearing in period dress and timeless fustian are Roy Scheider, Patrick Bergin, David Alan Grier, and Steven Bauer. Why ever should we want Shakespeare without his poetry? Not even some south-of-the-border Yankee imperialism can save this from howling effrontery.
The Whole Warhol (June 2; 9 to 11 p.m.; Bravo) talks to Paul Morrissey, Dennis Hopper, and Deborah Harry about the Pop Art prestidigitator, his Popeyes, Supermans, soup cans, and silk-screen Marilyns and Maos, his Factory and the Velvet Underground. We have seen almost all of this before in other documentaries, but it never ceases to mystify, even stupefy.
Shadow Play (June 2; 10 to 11 p.m.; channel 13), the cinematic equivalent of the exhumation of all the bodies in the mass graves in the mountains of Java, returns to Indonesia during the terror of 1965–66, the Year of Living Dangerously, when General Suharto, with the help of the Americans, the British, and the Australians, overthrew the Sukarno government and murdered as many as a million Indonesians.
The Wire (Starting June 2; 10 to 11 p.m.; HBO), from the same folks who brought us The Corner, is a fictionalized, thirteen-episode account of the drug war between cops and traffickers in West Baltimore, with Dominic West and Sonja Sohn as detectives, Lance Reddick as their supervisor, and Larry Gilliard Jr., Wood Harris, and Idris Elba as the heavies in an organization that controls heroin and cocaine distribution in high-rises and on playgrounds. Brutal and absorbing anthropology.