“NOTHING SO concentrates the mind as the sight of the gallows.” Samuel Johnson wrote that in the 18th century, and Joni Mitchell updated the sentiment in her 1969 song “Big Yellow Taxi,” when she sang, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
Hulu streams the original teen melodrama “The Ultimate Playlist of Noise.” Its story is both highly contrived and as concise as the sentiments above.
After suffering a seizure, precocious high school senior Marcus (Keean Johnson) must undergo lifesaving surgery that will leave him deaf. While that would be tragic under any circumstances, it’s particularly hard on Marcus, an audio buff and collector of songs and sounds. He’s the kind of kid who wears two headphones at a time to add ambient noise to his musical experience.
After the tragic death of his older brother, he became obsessed with his sibling’s old-school music collection and analog tape recorders.
Faced with the loss of hearing, he decides to compile a collection of every “noise” that he loves and knows he will lose, and share them with his friends, especially the fetching busker (Madeline Brewer) he met just before his seizure. They fell in love “at first sound.”
“Noise” will appeal to fans of the many books and movies about young adults dying young. It also suffers from most of the pitfalls of that maudlin genre. Its poignancy is hammered in nearly every scene, mostly through use of Marcus’s wise-beyond-his-years voiceover. The kid sounds like he’s living his life as a podcast.
It also continues one of the more annoying trends of recent pop culture. For some writers, teens can only sound “smart” if they parrot the pop culture of their elders. Do teens in 2021 really want to listen to cassettes of Sonic Youth?
I noticed this peculiar theme in “Juno” and to some degree in “Gilmore Girls,” and it has bothered me ever since. For starters, it’s simply condescending to insist that somebody born in 2002 obsess about the college rock of the 1990s, the alternative music scene of the ’80s or the origins of punk, from the Velvets to the Voidoids. And it robs old farts like myself from actually learning what “the kids” are up to these days. I may find “their” music terrible, but at least it’s “their” music.
• The geniuses at Netflix have weaponized the habit of “hate-watching” to their advantage. And there’s so much to cringe about in “Bling Empire,” streaming today. The series follows an impossibly good-looking Korean-American fashion model who falls in with a demimonde of spectacularly spoiled gazillionaire Asian Americans in Beverly Hills. It’s a rare series where a model has the most smarts and emotional depth.
• In the days and weeks after the 9/11 attack, network and cable broadcasters devoted their programming to little else. A scant 10 days after a terror attack on the Capitol, at a time when thousands die every day from a pandemic, and a presidential transition takes place against the backdrop of multiple Constitutional crises, “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC) devotes two hours to the search for the killer of JonBenet Ramsey, a child pageant contestant murdered in 1996.
• Ladies free figure skating (8 p.m., NBC), live from Las Vegas.
• “WWE Friday Night SmackDown” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).
• In a 2021 melodrama, a college grad returns home to find her mother has a new boyfriend, someone she thinks of as “The Wrong Mr. Right” (8 p.m., LMN).
• A vital witness seems rather sketchy on “Blue Bloods” (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
• Opera singers and music buffs recall a famous soprano’s comeback in a 1964 televised adaptation of Puccini’s “Tosca” on “Great Performances: The Magic of Callas” (10 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings).
Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn star in the stylish 1963 romantic thriller “Charade” (8 p.m., TCM, TV-PG), set in Paris and directed by Stanley Donen in the Hitchcock tradition. A perfect score by Henry Mancini adds an element of whimsy to the intrigue.
Deciphering a dead man’s last message on “MacGyver” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14) ... “Shark Tank” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... Improvisations on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (8 p.m. CW, TV-14), followed by a repeat episode (8:30 p.m.).
Shelter from the storm on “Magnum P.I.” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14) ... “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (9:30 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
Jimmy Fallon welcomes Nicole Kidman, Cole Sprouse and Henry Hall on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Amy Poehler, Burna Boy and Chris Coleman visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC, r).