What's On: Letterman Talks to Obama on Netflix, 'Crazy' Sings Its 100th Song, 'Family Guy' Hits 300, 'Victoria' Returns
A critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction (Friday, Netflix): And neither does the host. Launching a new monthly series of in-depth conversations, former late-night icon David Letterman brings his bushy beard—always good for a joke—and undimmed curiosity to a new network and new format. His first guest: Barack Obama, engaged and engaging as he discusses, in his first such interview since leaving office, life after the presidency. The moving centerpiece of the hour is their discussion of the historic Selma civil-rights march, with video from Letterman’s recent visit with Rep. John Lewis, as they walked the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge. Personal and probing, with moments of genuine humor but also gravity, as Obama laments a culture in which polarized segments of the public no longer share “a common baseline of facts.”
Also new on Netflix: Somebody Feed Phil (Friday), a continuation of Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal’s global love affair with food (a previous version, on PBS, was titled I’ll Have What Phil’s Having). Not to be watched on an empty stomach, the culinary travelogue follows Rosenthal’s passions to Saigon, Lisbon, Bangkok, Tel Aviv, Mexico City and closer to home in New Orleans.
In other streaming news, Amazon has just made the world a more joyful place by making its delightful Golden Globe-winning comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel available for free this weekend, from Friday morning through Sunday night. Amy Sherman-Palladino’s bawdy period piece starring Globe winner Rachel Brosnahan as a witty 1950s Upper West Side housewife who discovers an unexpected gift for downtown stand-up comedy. Alex Borstein is a hoot as her gruff would-be manager, and Tony Shalhoub a master of the slow burn as her uncomprehending father.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Friday, 8/7c, The CW): What an achievement: The groundbreaking musical comedy delivers its 100th original song, and as usual, it’s a delight, especially if you’re a fan of Hair-like frolics. Another song is a bromantic duet that has a very Magic Mike feel—and if that doesn’t have you setting your DVRs, you’re obviously not a fan.
Victoria (Sunday, 9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): The Queen of Thorns may be gone from Game of Thrones, but the fabulous Dame Diana Rigg resurfaces as Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) in the second season of the deluxe historical drama. As the new chapter begins with a two-hour opener, Victoria is eager to return to the throne after giving birth, then discovers she’s pregnant again.
Family Guy (Sunday, 9/8c, Fox): The irreverent animated hit reaches the rare milestone of a 300th episode (still less than half the total of The Simpsons to date), asking the question, “Can this relationship be saved?”—being that of baby Stewie and talking dog Brian, who come to blows after the canine pet drunkenly destroys Stewie’s beloved stuffed bear, Rupert. If only the tyke were as fond of humans.
Inside Weekend TV: A musical legend is celebrated in PBS’s Tony Bennett: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (Friday, 9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), with Bennett himself taking the mike in the finale. Other performers include Michael Bublé, Gloria Estefan, Josh Groban, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Vanessa Willians and 2008 honoree Stevie Wonder. … NBC’s Saturday Night Live kicks off its 2018 live shows with Golden Globe winner Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) as guest host. Musical guest: Halsey. … In two very different segments of CBS’s 60 Minutes (Sunday, 7/6c), Lara Logan visits Afghanistan 16 years into the costly and tragic war, and Jon Wertheim explores a rapidly changing Portland, Oregon, through the eyes of Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen as that beloved comedy prepares to begin its final season. … Reason to root on the heroes of CBS’s NCIS: Los Angeles this week (Sunday, 9/8c): They’re planning a rescue mission to get Hetty (Linda Hunt) away from her captors in Vietnam. Fans went her back, pronto. … HBO premieres second seasons of Divorce (Sunday, 10/9c) and Crashing (Sunday, 10:30/9:30c), even though one was plenty for both. … Fiction imitates life on CBS’s Madam Secretary (Sunday, 10/9c) as questions arise over the president’s (Keith Carradine) mental status.