Kennedy Center Honors, ‘Pose’ Finale, Return of the Meerkats, ‘Kings’ of Boxing
The Kennedy Center Honors have a different look this year, but the honorees are as deserving and eclectic as ever. FX’s Pose reaches its triumphant, tragic yet hopeful end. BBC America reintroduces us to the world of those exotic meerkats of the Kalahari. ABC reinstalls its Sunday night game night.
Kennedy Center Honors
Postponed from the usual black-tie December gala, this year’s more informal celebration of the arts was taped in May, roaming around the Kennedy Center’s sprawling campus and performance spaces (including a covered outdoor area) to salute another impressively eclectic group of honorees. TV legend Dick Van Dyke, Fame/Grey’s Anatomy actor-director-choreographer Debbie Allen, country superstar Garth Brooks, folk musician/activist Joan Baez and classical violinist Midori are profiled and regaled with performances—some taped (mostly production numbers), others live in front of a socially distanced audience. Brooks is the most emotional, welling up as Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor serenade him with his hits. Others leading the tributes: Broadway veterans Aaron Tveit and Laura Osnes, Derek Hough, Gladys Knight, Pentatonix, Yo-Yo Ma, Emmylou Harris and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Even with the different look and feel, this is the classiest awards show of the year. (SUNDAY)
Proudly sentimental yet filled with righteous anger, the triumphant series finale of TV’s most trans-embracing drama dives into the ACT UP era of social protest. Blanca (Mj Rodriguez), studying to become a nurse, rallies her outcast tribe to fight for clinical HIV trials to be expanded to more people of color—including an ailing but defiant Pray Tell (Billy Porter). By the end of this emotionally overwhelming episode, they’re all ballroom legends. (SUNDAY)
Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty
The beloved wildlife series, which imposes a soap opera-like structure (with narration by Bill Nighy) on these compelling observations of life among the meerkats of the rugged Kalahari Desert, is back 13 years after the original series ended. We meet Swift, great-granddaughter of the late and iconic Flower, who’s leading the Whiskers as they forage and compete for food while dodging enemies. Her main adversary: Flint Lockwood of the Hakuna Matata gang. (SATURDAY)
Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty where to stream
A four-part docuseries profiles the four titans who dominated boxing through the 1980s, each battling to claim the crown held earlier by Muhammed Ali: Roberto Durán, Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard. Theirs are classic stories of rags to riches to rumbles. New interviews and archival footage bring to life the bruising matches that galvanized the sports world. (It’s no coincidence this is premiering on the same night of the Floyd “Money” Mayweather bout against Logan “The Maverick” Paul, presented as a live Showtime PPV event from Miami Gardens, Fla., at 8/7c/5 PT). (SUNDAY)
Joining the team of “chasers” for the quiz show’s second season is Mark Labbett, the British “Beast” renowned for his intimidating persona in the original ITV and GSN versions. (He was also one of six chasers in the Australian iteration.) He joins Jeopardy! champs Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter, taking turns atop the stage to challenge contestants to match their extensive trivia knowledge. Also back for new seasons on the network’s Sunday summer game night: Celebrity Family Feud (8/7c), with 9-1-1: Lone Star’s Rob Lowe and Empire’s Terrence Howard leading their respective teams; and To Tell the Truth (10/9c), with RuPaul, Cedric the Entertainer and Nikki Glaser on the celebrity panel, trying to determine who was really Khloe Kardashian’s prom date. (SUNDAY)
Inside Weekend TV:
- Gone Mom: The Disappearance of Jennifer Dulos (Saturday, 8/7c, Lifetime): Annabeth Gish stars in this fact-based film as the missing woman whose husband (Warren Christie) claimed she fake her disappearance, though police doubted his story as well. Followed by an hourlong documentary recounting the facts of the tragic case.
- You Had Me at Aloha (Saturday, 9/8c, Hallmark Channel): Prefer something lighter? Hallmark’s “Summer Nights” movie series begins with an escape to Hawaii, where two polar-opposite TV travel-show hosts (When Calls the Heart’s Pascale Hutton and Kavan Smith) find they have romantic common ground off camera.
- Soccer Mom Madam (Sunday, 8/7c, Lifetime): Sometimes a title tells you all need to know. One Tree Hill’s Jana Kramer plays the title role of a suburban mom secretly running an escort service for New York high-rollers. A mini-doc, Beyond the Headlines: Desperate Moms, Desperate Crimes, follows at 10/9c, introducing two real-life moms who should have known better.
- War of the Worlds (Sunday, 9/8c, Epix): The European sci-fi thriller escalates the war between the humans and the alien invaders (who could also be humanoid) in the second season, as Emily (Daisy Edgar-Jones) tries to understand her own personal connection to the deadly intruders.
- Domina (Sunday, 10/9c, Epix): The pay cabler shifts gears from the scary future to the brutal era of ancient Rome in a series built around the exploits of Livia Drusilla (Nadia Parkes as a teen, Kasia Smutniak as an adult). The exiled Roman noble would become the ruthless Empress Livia, third wife to Emperor Augustus “Gaius” Caesar (Tom Glynn-Carney as a youth, Matthew McNulty by episode 3).
- Little Birds (Sunday, 9/8c, Starz): Ted Lasso’s Juno Temple stars in a limited series, based on Anaïs Nin’s erotic short stories, as a New York heiress who finds more than she bargained for in the underworld of 1955 Tangier.
- The Great Food Truck Race: All-Stars (Sunday, 9/8c, Food Network): Seven winning teams from past seasons return to face off in a best-of-the-best competition, hosted by Tyler Florence and set in and around San Francisco. The first challenge involves bread bowls, but I look forward to their visit to Napa Valley, where they’ll have to channel their inner Lucille Ball in a grape-stomping challenge.