“Oslo” gives a human face to international diplomacy |


Nothing to do with the conflict in the Middle East is particularly funny. But HBO’s adaptation of “Oslo” (7 p.m. Saturday, HBO, TV-MA) often feels like a living room comedy.

Playwright JT Rogers and director Bartlett Sher adapted their Tony-winning Broadway hit, chronicling the peace talks between Israel and Palestine secretly organized by married Norwegian diplomats in 1993.

Directed by Sher, it condenses Rogers’ Broadway drama for the small screen. Based on notable historical events, it recalls the extraordinary efforts of married couple and Norwegian diplomats Mona Juul (Ruth Wilson) and Terje Rod-Larsen (Andrew Scott), who had the audacity to organize sub-rosa meetings between Israelis and members of Palestine. Liberation organization at a time when official negotiations, negotiated by the Americans, were going nowhere. Their efforts will bear fruit in a fairly short time, culminating in the signing of the Oslo Accords at the White House rose garden with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat shaking hands. It was the first time that either entity recognized the existence of the other.

Viewers might remember Wilson from “The Affair” and “Luther,” as well as the real-life mystery “Mrs. Wilson, ”seen on“ Masterpiece ”on PBS and based on his own grandmother’s story. Scott’s manic mannerisms give “Oslo” its comedic touch. He was unforgettable as Moriarty in the recent adaptation of “Sherlock” and indelible as “The Hot Priest” on “Fleabag”.

The purpose of the Norwegian exercise was to remove the icy formality of official diplomacy from the talks, allowing the representatives to become human to one another. They knew they might have made history, but they needed to take care of the house guests first, make sure the drinks were flowing, and the convivial dinner was kept friendly.

Because they were married, they bickered and flirted too. They introduce themselves as Nick and Nora Charles of international diplomacy. These household touches turn what could have been a dry history lesson into an entertaining drama.

Sadly, “Oslo” comes after another reminder that peace has not yet come for Israelis and Palestinians. It also airs right after the conclusion of the PBS “Masterpiece” effort “Atlantic Crossing,” another drama based on historical events about a Norwegian couple at the center of diplomatic maneuvering.

• “Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre” (7 pm Sunday, History, TV-14) is the first of several documentaries and reports celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race riots of 1921.

By the 1920s, the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma had grown into a thriving community of churches and thriving businesses. Known as “Black Wall Street,” he seemed to be an inspiring example of the extent to which black Americans could progress, having been freed from slavery less than 60 years earlier.

Slavery and the civil war were a very vivid memory at the time. To put that in some perspective, we’re as far removed from Mercury astronauts and the start of the space program as the summer of 1921 was from the Battle of Bull Run.

Notions of progress changed completely that summer, when bands of resentful white citizens set the town on fire, razing dozens of housing blocks and killing hundreds, many of whom were hidden in mass graves.

More bodies were buried. The Tulsa riots, and everything they represented, have been pretty much erased from collective American memory. Tulsa’s story was revived in the recent surreal adaptation of “Watchmen,” seen on HBO, but it hasn’t been covered much in the history books.

This centenary comes at another time of racial recognition and backlash, as some argue, Black Lives Matter, and others claim that such a movement amounts to “terrorism.” And others are still trying to pass laws banning discussion of racism in American textbooks and classrooms. Oklahoma passed a law against teaching “critical race theory,” a thinly veiled effort to ban any mention of racism and past events such as the Tulsa Massacre.

Tomorrow night, CBS and PBS will air their own programs reminiscent of the Tulsa Massacre.

• Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise host the National Memorial Day concert (7 pm Sunday, PBS, TV-PG, check local listings). Look for appearances by General Colin Powell, Gladys Knight, Vince Gill, Sara Bareilles, Alan Jackson, Denyce Graves, the Four Tops, Steve Buscemi, Joe Morton, Brian d’Arcy James, Kathy Baker, Mary McCormack, Bailee Madison and the National Symphony Orchestra. Mickey Guyton will sing the national anthem.

This year’s concert will pay special tribute to nurses who served in Vietnam and on the 20th anniversary of September 11.


• Adopted teenager becomes jealous of her adoptive father’s newfound love for the 2021 shock “Daddy’s Perfect Little Girl” (7pm, Lifetime, TV-PG).

• “China: Nature’s Ancient Kingdom” (7 pm, BBC America) explores China’s national parks.


• Scheduled for “60 minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): violent threats against judges; pianist performs on Twitter to evade COVID restrictions; a city where many are living well into their 90s.

• Uzo Aduba stars as Doctor Taylor in “In Treatment” (8 and 8:30 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).


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