Benedict Cumberbatch in 'Child,' 'Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,' Sterling K. Brown in 'Brooklyn,' the Final Four
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
The Child in Time (Sunday, 9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): A parent’s worst nightmare becomes a living dreamscape of quietly shattering grief and undying love in Masterpiece’s sensitive and sometimes surreal 90-minute adaptation of Ian McEwan’s acclaimed 1987 novel. Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) is flawless in his dazed restraint as children’s book author Stephen Lewis, still reeling three years after the inexplicable disappearance of his adored 4-year-old daughter Kate during a mundane shopping trip. The fragmented narrative of the psychological drama jumps around in time, reflecting Stephen’s emotional dislocation, which includes occasional startling sightings of a ghost Kate who seems oh-so-real, especially when she takes his hand. His estranged wife, Julie (Kelly Macdonald), shares this visionary symptom, and also refuses to abandon hope. As they tentatively reconnect, The Child in Time avoids the clichés of the missing-child mystery. At times raw and wrenching, the movie is ultimately transcendent in its depiction of lost innocence and reclaimed faith.
Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert (Sunday, 8/7c, NBC): Easter Sunday’s main TV event is NBC’s latest staging of a live musical—in this case, performed in the style of a rock concert, befitting the rock-opera nature of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s breakthrough collaboration. Performed before an audience at Brooklyn’s Marcy Armory, Superstar features John Legend in the title role, Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene (delivering the show’s signature hit, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”), Hamilton alum Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, and a potential show-stopper in Alice Cooper’s King Judas.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Sunday, 8:30/7:30c, Fox): With two Emmys already on his shelf (for supporting actor in a limited series for The People v. O.J. Simpson and lead actor in a drama for This Is Us), Sterling K. Brown could add a Guest Actor in a Comedy trophy for this inspired episode, built entirely around a marathon Homicide: Life on the Street-style ticking-clock interrogation. Brown is cool, smug and very funny as a dentist suspected of murder, being drilled in an overnight session by Jake (Andy Samberg) and Capt. Holt (Andre Braugher), whose “smart cop-dumb cop” routine only amplifies tension in their own relationship, when manipulated by their cunning prey. “There will be no ‘Oh, damns’,” Holt advises his eager partner. He will be wrong.
Homeland (Sunday, 9/8c, Showtime): A very different high-stakes interrogation dominates another tense hour of the political spy thriller, as the emotionally fraught—what else is new—Carrie (Claire Danes) tries to break down her possibly corrupt FBI contact Dante (Morgan Spector) in an effort to derail the damaging testimony of Soviet plant Simone (Sandrine Holt). With calls for President Keane (Elizabeth Marvel) to resign, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) is forced once again to lean on his unstable colleague—even as her family situation falls to pieces. Understandable when you consider what trauma she just put her little daughter through. Bad Carrie. Good Carrie. It’s all the same.
Inside Weekend TV: Sign of the times: If you want to watch Final Four NCAA college basketball action, you have to turn to TBS, which is broadcasting both games Saturday: Michigan vs. Loyola at 6:09/5:09c, followed by the clash of the remaining #1 seeds Villanova and Kansas. … Showtime’s true-crime documentary movie Operation Odessa (Saturday, 9/8c) sounds like a fanciful caper, about a Russian mobster, a Miami playboy and Cuban spy who collude to sell a Soviet submarine to a Columbian drug cartel. What could possibly go wrong? … The trippy Starz spy/fantasy drama Counterpart (Sunday, 8/7c) wraps its first season with a crisis that leaves both Howards (J.K. Simmons) stranded. … Is it just a coincidence that on the same weekend Alexis joins The CW’s Dynasty, the original version, Joan Collins, returns to E!’s The Royals (Sunday, 10/9c) as the Grand Duchess? Probably.