Sweet Old Song (July 30; 10 to 11 p.m.; Channel 13) picks up where P.O.V. left off in its first season fifteen years ago, with jazz-blues-country-folk musician Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong. Except that in 1983, pretending to be 50 years old, Armstrong was really 73 when he met sculptor Barbara Ward, who pretended to be 25 years old even though she was really 43. Somehow, she ended up in his bed and in his band, on percussion, and they’re still on the road and still making music together today.
The Directors: George Romero (August 1; 7 to 8 p.m.; Encore) talks not only to “the guru of gore,” who gave us Day of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, The Dark Half, Creepshow, Knightriders, and Monkey Shines, but also to Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Stanley Tucci, Hal Holbrook, and Adrienne Barbeau, full of jokes and affection. Several of the movies are featured throughout the month of August on Encore.
Armadillo (August 3; 9 p.m. to midnight; A&E), which has been wonderfully faithful to the comic-sinister novel by William Boyd, plunges insurance-company claims investigator and “loss adjuster” Lorimer Black (James Frain) into a sort of Marx Brothers–Kafka pratfall nightmare involving arson, murder, suicide by hanging, a Greek helmet, an actress in a television commercial, and so many family secrets that Black may not even be who he thinks he is, which perhaps accounts for the insomnia that sends him to a sleep clinic. With Stephen Rea as Black’s angry boss, Catherine McCormack as the lovely Flavia, Hugh Bonneville as the dreadful Torquil, and James Fox as the owner of them all. Howard Davies directs Boyd’s adaptation of his own book, and it’s an exceedingly civilized treat.
Women vs. Men (August 4; 8 to 9:30 p.m.; Showtime), while not quite as excruciating as HBO’s Mind of the Married Man, is in the same minor league, with the considerable talents of Paul Reiser, Joe Mantegna, Glenne Headly, Christine Lahti, and Robert Pastorelli altogether wasted in a marital farce involving strip clubs, lap dancing, a Native American sweat ritual, the divorcée next door (Jennifer Coolidge), and a gun. I am sorry to say that the executive producers of this cough medicine include Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, who used to know better, although Chazz Palminteri is not a bad director.