Tune in Tonight: Childhood wonder, Jim Henson and ‘Lillian Hall’

Jessica Lange stars in the title role in the 2024 TV drama “The Great Lillian Hall” (8 p.m., HBO, TV-14). Described at least once as “the first lady of the American stage,” Hall is deep into preparations for her latest drama when she begins to succumb to memory loss and confusion.

Look for Pierce Brosnan as a playwright who believes that Hall is equal to any challenge, and Lily Rabe as Hall’s daughter, who has only known her mother as a Broadway legend. Kathy Bates appears as well, as Hall’s tough-as-nails contemporary.

Lange, Bates and Rabe have been consistent members of the “American Horror Story” acting ensemble. Bates will appear on CBS next season in a reboot of “Matlock.”

A love letter to the stage, “Hall” also streams on Max. While streamers, including Netflix and Apple TV+, have often launched new and important projects on Friday nights, this is unusual for HBO.

— One pop culture icon salutes another in the 2024 Ron Howard biographical documentary “Jim Henson Idea Man,” streaming on Disney+.

The story of Henson (1936-1990), a hyper-creative writer and puppeteer, “Idea Man” transcends his association with the Muppets franchise and uses archival interviews as well as contemporary insights from his many collaborators to explore an imaginative childhood that, for Henson, never really ended.

Tapping into that youthful wonder, he tells a reporter how he fashioned Kermit the Frog from his mother’s dress and a couple of pingpong balls. Contemporaries and friends recall a boundless energy and a life defined by a cascade of new concepts and a missionary zeal to have them realized.

Look for insights from guest stars, actors and fellow puppeteers who worked with Henson on “Sesame Street,” “Fraggle Rock,” “Labyrinth” and “The Dark Crystal” among other projects. “Idea Man” is the first filmed biography to have the blessing and participation of Henson’s family.

— Hulu imports the BBC children’s book fantasy “The Famous Five.” Adapted from a series of kids’ adventures by Enid Blyton, “Five” follows a gaggle of school-aged Britons often entangled in global conspiracies and plots completely unseen by their parents and other adults.

The first “Five” book was written in 1942 and clearly reflects the sense of danger and adventure of the World War II era. Over her writing career, Blyton wrote 21 full-length “Five” novels and other shorter adventure stories. This six-episode series is the third attempt to adapt “Five” stories for the small screen.

— Adapted from books for even younger readers, “Frog and Toad” launches its second season on Apple TV+. As I noted in my review of the first season, “there is something spectacularly unrushed” about the series. It can take a very long time to come to grips with the smallest actions and details, like the fact that Frog has decided to make cookies and share them with all his anthropomorphic animal friends. There’s not much in the way of subplot, exposition or guile in the characters. “Duck Dynasty” used to strike me in all the same ways.

Appropriate for preschool viewers and aspiring readers.


— “Great Performances” (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings) presents songs from the Rodgers and Hammerstein collection.

— Frank grieves a good friend’s passing on “Blue Bloods” (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).


The 1971 made-for-TV true-life weepie “Brian’s Song” (9:30 p.m., TCM, TV-PG) launched Billy Dee Williams and James Caan, who portrayed Chicago Bears players Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, as the latter succumbed to cancer. This blend of “Love Story” and the NFL has had viewers reaching for hankies for decades.


RuPaul hosts “Lingo” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) … On two episodes of “Night Court” (NBC, r, TV-PG): cybercrime (8 p.m.); jealousy (8:30 p.m.) … “WWE Friday Night SmackDown” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) … The call of the wild on “Shark Tank” (8 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) … Gun runners on “S.W.A.T.” (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) … “Dateline” (9 p.m., NBC) … “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC).


Steve Carell and Paul Simon appear on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (11:35 p.m., CBS) … Jimmy Fallon welcomes Glen Powell, Christian Slater and Arlo Parks on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC, r) … Maya Rudolph, Jacob Batalon and Crowded House appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (11:35 p.m., ABC).

Tiffany Haddish, Cam Heyward and Jay Weinberg visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) … Taylor Tomlinson hosts Chloe Radcliffe, Matt Braunger and Chris Fleming on “After Midnight” (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).