DIRECTED BY Todd Haynes, the documentary “The Velvet Underground” captures much more than the history of a band. Streaming today on Apple TV+, the film interviews surviving founding members John Cale and Maureen Tucker, and includes a wealth of interviews and footage from a creatively fertile period when art, music, poetry and a countercultural approach to life collided in low-rent apartments and artistic collectives.
Haynes evokes the period of the early 1960s with a persistent use of a split screen, juxtaposing contemporary reflection with footage of underground movies and artist’s “happenings.”
The film begins with a look at John Cale’s musical meanderings through the avant-garde scene of John Cage and other experimental composers. He’s seen on an episode of the vintage series “I’ve Got a Secret,” after his performance of an 18-hour piano recital of an obscure and inscrutable work. There, he’s united with the only audience member to have sat through his entire performance!
If Cale brought experimental sounds to the Velvets, Lou Reed blended a beat poet’s taste for the transgressive imagery with a 1950s kid’s love of Top 40 doo-wop. Reed wanted to be an artist and he also wanted to be a star, and saw no contradictions there. This attitude meshed perfectly with Pop Art sensation Andy Warhol, who would step in as a producer and sponsor of the Velvet Underground. He would also introduce Nico, the European model and movie star (“La Dolce Vita”), who would bring an ethereal voice to the proceedings.
Actress Mary Woronov (“Eating Raoul”) would become part of the Velvets’ elaborate stage and multimedia shows, a mid-1960s innovation long predating the light shows at the Fillmore West, something the Velvets’ drummer, Tucker, dismisses as a meager imitation.
As both Woronov and Tucker make clear, the Velvet Underground were of the 1960s, but they collectively despised what they saw as an insipid hippie philosophy.
The Velvets would eventually become Lou Reed’s band, but not before rather acrimonious breaks with both Warhol and Cale. Never commercially big in their time, their importance is more as a cultural influence and an attitude that would grow as the glam and punk scenes had their moments in the 1970s.
Director Haynes is no stranger to very specific musical niches; he directed “Velvet Goldmine” in 1998 and burst on the scene with the audaciously unauthorized “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story,” a 1987 cult classic using Barbie dolls in place of actors.
• Amazon Prime launches the eight-part adaptation of the 1997 shocker “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” updated for the era of smartphones and social media.
• Netflix streams the third season of the disturbing stalker/killer series “You.”
• Families from diverse backgrounds move in together to discover both differences and similarities on the new series “Home Sweet Home” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG). Not to be confused with “Wife Swap.”
• The Boston Red Sox meet the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series (8 p.m., Fox).
• A drifter (Shea Whigham) kills a minister and assumes his life in the 2020 drama “The Quarry” (7:15 p.m., HBO Signature).
• “Passion Play: Russell Westbrook” (9 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA) profiles the nine-time NBA All-Star.
• Frank considers a career move on “Blue Bloods” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
• A “VOCES on PBS” presentation, “Letters To Eloisa” (10 p.m., TV-14, check local listings) profiles Cuban writer Jose Lezama Lima.
After walking away from a car crash that killed three of her friends, a church organist (Candace Hilligoss) receives otherworldly visitors in the 1962 shocker “Carnival of Souls” (6:15 p.m. TCM, TV-PG). Directed and produced by industrial filmmaker Herk Harvey for a budget of $33,000, this chilling movie remains a classic of independent filmmaking.
Under new management on “S.W.A.T.” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14) ... Meat and greets on “Shark Tank” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... Illusionists audition on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (8 p.m. CW, TV-PG).
Undercover at a country club on “Magnum P.I.” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... “Dateline” (9 p.m., NBC) ... “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC) ... Frozen hearts never thaw on “Nancy Drew” (9 p.m. CW, TV-PG).
Drew Carey and Phoebe Robinson are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (11:35 p.m., CBS, r) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Oscar Isaac, Jo Firestone and Alec Benjamin on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Blake Shelton, Brett Goldstein, Cuco and Barrett Martin visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) ... Dr. Phil McGraw and Teddy Swims appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).