What's On: ‘Anne With an E’ is the Family-Friendly Streaming Option, and ‘King Richard III’ on ‘Masterpiece’

Matt Roush
Netflix

Amybeth McNulty as Anne

Anne with an E (Friday, Netflix): In another busy day for those attuned to the binge-watching streaming universe, highlights include a new season of Netflix’s Master of None and the premiere of Amazon’s I Love Dick (both reviewed here). Neither could be considered family viewing (especially Dick), so to fill that need, along comes a splendid new version of the Anne of Green Gables fable. Amybeth McNulty is engaging as the irrepressible title character, an orphan possessed of an “ecstatic” imagination and conditioned to disappointment, after an upbringing in foster homes and orphanages relived in Dickensian flashbacks, courtesy of Emmy-winning series creator Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad). When she is taken in by aging farm siblings Marilla (Geraldine James) and Matthew (R.H. Thomson), who were expecting to be raising a boy, any sentimentality is undercut by the palpable sadness and loneliness each of these characters is leaving behind.

Saturday Night Live (Saturday, 11:30/10:30, NBC): Welcome Melissa McCarthy to the exclusive “Five-Timers” club, guest-hosting after having stolen many an episode this year with her over-the-top impersonation of embattled White House press secretary Sean Spicer. (If bushes aren’t somehow involved in her appearance this week, we’ll be shocked.) This shtick aside, McCarthy has proven to be one of the most versatile and fearless of guest clowns, doing anything for a laugh. Great to have her back. HAIM is the musical guest.

King Charles III (Sunday, 9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): The late Tim Pigott-Smith (The Jewel in the Crown), who died unexpectedly in April, was Tony-nominated for his majestic title performance in Mike Bartlett’s fascinating and audacious play of speculative future history, the TV adaptation directed by Rupert Goold. Written in elegant blank verse befitting the tragically Shakespearean royal intrigues that unfold, the play imagines Charles assuming the throne after the death (hopefully far in the future) of the long-reigning Queen Elizabeth II, and almost instantly clashing with government. His stubborn principles put him on a collision course with the ambitions of his family, most notably Kate (Charlotte Riley), Prince William’s wife and the Lady Macbeth of this story.

Inside Weekend TV: CBS’s Undercover Boss (Friday, 8/7c) airs the first of two celebrity editions, featuring Darius Rucker going incognito in Austin as he seeks new musical acts among street performers. … The greatest news program on this planet, CBS’s 60 Minutes (Sunday, 7/6c), goes to Mars, courtesy of Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with reporter Bill Whitaker sifting through images and data beamed back by the Mars rover Curiosity. … As ABC’s Once Upon a Time prepares for an uncertain future without Emma—Jennifer Morrison has announced this is her final season—the show looks back at the first six years in a retrospective special (Sunday, 7/6), followed by a two-hour finale (8/7c) in which the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray) has trapped our heroine in a mental hospital, with many of her allies seeking a way out of a crumbling Fairy Tale Land. A “Final Battle” ensues, begging the question: “Just how final?” … Before Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry produced an intriguing military drama, The Lieutenant (1963-64) about life on the peacetime Marine base at Camp Pendleton in California. A five-episode “Get Lost in TV” marathon begins on nostalgia channel getTV at 11 pm/10c, featuring Gary Lockwood as Second Lieutenant Bill Rice, keeping the peace with the help of supervising Capt. Ray Rambridge (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s Robert Vaughn). Guest stars include future Trek icons Leonard Nimoy and Nichelle Nichols, plus Robert Duvall, Rip Torn and Dennis Hopper.

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