‘Simpsons’ Sets a New Record, ‘Idol’ Live Across the Country, ‘Homeland’ Finale

ABC/Eric McCandless
'American Idol' Top 10

A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:

The Simpsons (Sunday, 8/7c, Fox): If we haven’t had a cow by now, we never will. Fox’s animated hit comedy chalks up another first for the record books as it surpasses the legendary Western Gunsmoke with its 636th episode, making The Simpsons the longest-running prime-time scripted show with the most episodes ever. This week’s story involves Grampa, whose deathbed confession rocks Homer’s world. Grampa recovers, of course, because it seems quite obvious that The Simpsons will never die.

American Idol (Sunday, 8/7c, 5 CT): In a first for the singing competition, as it re-establishes itself in a comeback season, American Idol will go live coast to coast over the next few weeks, starting with the Top 10 performance show. Viewers will be able to vote in real time, no longer shutting out West Coast fans—who’ll have to watch earlier in the day—to decide who’ll stay and go. The results will be announced the same night at the end of each show—following, no doubt, the patented Ryan Seacrest dramatic pause and commercial break.

Killing Eve (Sunday, 8/7c, BBC America): The stakes just got higher for Eve (Sandra Oh) and her international-assassin nemesis Villanelle (Jodie Comer) in the wake of last week’s tragedy. So in the best spy-thriller tradition, the search is on for a mole, prompting this amazing observation from the dour MI6 boss Caroline (Fiona Shaw): “It’s disappointing that the mole is the one that looks most like a rodent.” The blend of dark humor and suspense is altogether thrilling as the episode races to a wild cliffhanger ending.

Homeland (Sunday, 9/8c, Showtime: A harrowing and unnervingly timely season of geopolitical intrigue ends with Carrie (Claire Danes) and Saul (Mandy Patinkin) desperately trying to leave Russia with a “package”—you can call her Simone (Sandrine Holt)—that, once exposed, could restore the embattled presidency of Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel). Danes has announced that next season will be her and Carrie’s last, and it’s fairly remarkable that someone this erratic is still in the game.

The Good Fight (Sunday, streaming on CBS All Access): No political satire is funnier, and no legal drama cleverer than this inspired Good Wife spinoff. Creators Robert and Michelle King wrote this episode, featuring terrific guest performances by Margo Martindale (a crafty Democratic political operative), Jane Lynch (a deceptively daffy FBI agent) and Fisher Stevens (a disheveled lawyer) in a twisty story that somehow conflates a deportation case with the rumored Russian “PP” tape. What’s real, what’s fake, and who’s playing who? All good questions. At least it snaps Diane (Christine Baranski) out of her jaded “I’m all laughed out” funk. A subplot smartly ties Colin’s (Justin Bartha) political ambitions to the plight of the unjustly incarcerated victim of police corruption, introduced a week ago.

Inside Weekend TV: Hallmark’s “Hall of Fame” presentation of The Beach House (Saturday, 9/8c), based on Mary Alice Monroe’s novel, stars Andie MacDowell, Friday Night Lights’s Minka Kelly and Chad Michael Murray in a romantic drama set in the South’s coastal Low Country. Hundreds of sea turtles are saved during a climactic storm, which alone makes this worth recommending. … CNN spans the globe in the 11th season of Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown (Sunday, 9/8c), but stays within our borders in the season premiere, which kicks off with the celebrity chef going deep into the Appalachian culture and cuisine of West Virginia. … Starz’ deluxe adaptation of Howard’s End (Sunday, 9:336/8:36c) concludes with life-altering events in and around the titular country estate. … Another bombing rocks the world of CBS’s Madam Secretary (10/9c) when Elizabeth (Téa Leoni) attends a Montreal summit, and in the aftermath, Jason (Evan Roe) and Piper (Salena Qureshi) go missing.