1 The term "indie gem" may be sorely overused, but here it comes again because "Short Term 12" truly is one. This drama about a few days in the lives of counselors and residents at a teen group home manages to be both documentary-style realistic and completely captivating. Sweet but never cloying, heartbreaking but not manipulative, it's the perfect autumn antidote to the rash of failed summer blockbusters that tried too hard and crashed. It's only at the Uptown in Minneapolis — for now.
2 Sam Shepard's "Fool for Love" is receiving a riveting production at the Jungle Theater because Terry Hempleman and Jennifer Blagen bring such heat to the lead roles. Her performance veers from mysterious quiet to sudden tempests and bombast. He infuses his testosterone-addled character with a hunter's focus, trying to convince her to come home so that they can live together on a trailer on a farm they always coveted. He vacillates between stalking his prey and seducing her. www.jungletheater.com.
3 Held up as a hot young blues and soul purveyor in recent years — which is probably inherent when your nickname is "Black Joe" and you employ a horn section — Texas hothead Black Joe Lewis shows his true colors on his third album, "Electric Slave." If this isn't rock 'n' roll, then Webster's had better come up with a new definition. Harder-grinding and more ferocious than its predecessors, it goes beyond obvious Black Keys comparisons to full-on, New York Dolls-like punk boogie.
5There's something about Mindy Kaling. All the "New Girl"-type sitcoms tend to morph into one overloaded cupcake, but "The Mindy Project" stands out, due to some je ne sais quoi combo of unique writing, ensemble cast and Kaling's self-assured kookiness. Even if you were "meh" on the first season — a lot of shows need to develop their sea legs before becoming hits — Tuesday's Season 2 premiere, featuring Mr. Everywhere James Franco's takeover of her chief-doc slot while she's away in Haiti with her do-gooder boyfriend, deserves at least a look-see.
4 Based on new research and interviews with previously uncooperative relatives of Charles Manson, bestselling author Jeff Guinn puts the bearded demon in the context of the 1960s and helps explain how an ordinary delinquent became "the boogeyman" to a generation of Americans. The unemployed ex-con recruited and controlled his mostly female acolytes and convinced them to kill for him. He even invaded the world of Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson and wrote a song for him. Like the best true stories, "Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson" reads like fascinating fiction.