Showtime (Thurs., Aug. 25, 1:30 a.m. ET)
The single best music series on TV returns with another winner. Host Herbie Hancock spends this entire 90-minute show in New York. He throws some overdue attention and adoration on blues singer Ruth Brown and on songwriter Otis Blackwell, who has given us no end of rock classics like Don’t Be Cruel and Great Balls of Fire. Meanwhile, vocalist Bobby McFerrin has a ball making music with average folks, even rhythmless yuppies, in the streets and parks of Manhattan. Anybody who can make New York in the summer look like a pleasant, friendly and melodic place must be an artist. Marsha Warfield, that super comic, gets onstage and gets to shine more than she ever does on Night Court. And every episode of Coast to Coast makes at least one discovery. This time, it’s Brazilian singer Milton Nascimento, who performs with Hancock, Pat Metheny and that Christopher Columbus of musical discovery, Paul Simon. Nascimento sings in Portuguese, so the producers do something I’ve never seen before but hope to see again: They subtitle his lyrics so we can figure out whether he’s singing a love song or a fight song. Leave it to Coast to Coast to do things just right.