'Outlander' in America, Rick Leaves 'Walking Dead,' Mickey Mouse's 90th
A critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Outlander (Sunday, 8/7c, Starz): Welcome to America, Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie Sam Heughan)! In the fourth season of the rapturously romantic historical time-travel drama, the Frasers settle in colonial North Carolina, running afoul of a nefarious smuggler while dealing with British overlords as seeds of revolution brew. Back in the 20th century, Claire and Jamie’s daughter Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and beau/historian Roger (Richard Rankin) remain fascinated by her parents’ stormy past. Who wouldn’t be?
The Walking Dead (Sunday, 9/8c, AMC): When last we saw Rick (Andrew Lincoln), things weren’t looking good for the former sheriff and current moral compass for the divided communities he’s trying to point toward a united future in honor of his late son. Having been thrown from a horse and impaled on a pile of inconvenient rebar while herds of zombies approach from two directions, Rick might as well be tied to the railroad tracks for good measure. AMC is trumpeting this as “Rick Grimes’ Final Episode” with more fanfare than a Cher farewell tour, and while some may find the hype cringe-worthy, we admit to some curiosity as to whether he’ll get a true hero’s farewell. An episode of Talking Dead (10:08/9:08) follows, promising a “surprise cast member.” Remember, folks: No speaking ill of the dead.
Mickey’s 90th Spectacular (Sunday, 8/7c, ABC): The beloved cartoon character that launched an entertainment empire is celebrated — by the Disney-owned network, naturally — with a two-hour special from Shrine Auditorium featuring live-action performances of Disney classics from Hamilton/Smash star Leslie Odom Jr. (Pinocchio’s “When You Wish Upon a Star”), Zac Brown Band (Jungle Book’s “The Bare Necessities”) and Meghan Trainor (“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from the Toy Story movies). Many more celebrities show up, or tape testimonials, to honor the one and only Mickey Mouse. (Original Mickey Mouse Club members Bob Burgess and Sharon Baird pay a visit for nostalgia’s sake.)
The Deuce (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): With one more season to go, David Simon’s gritty dissection of the sex industry in 1970s Times Square wraps its second season with prostitute-turned-director Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) basking in the success of the premiere of her art-porn Red Hot (as in Little Red Riding Hood), dealing with competing investors. Things aren’t quite as rosy for Vincent (James Franco) and Abby (Margarita Levieva), who contend with a devastating loss, while rising adult-film star Lori (Emily Meade) considers a move to L.A., facing fallout from her split with pimp-lover C.C. (Gary Carr).
Good Sports: NBC’s Sunday Night Football (7/6c; kickoff at 8:20/7:20c) will be even more epic than usual in a superstar quarterback faceoff when Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) throws down against Tom Brady (New England Patriots) for the first time on Brady’s home turf at Gillette Stadium. (They’ve faced each other only one other time as starting quarterbacks.)
Showtime explores the culture of pro basketball in the provocative three-part documentary series Shut Up and Dribble (Saturday, 9/8c), executive-produced by (among others) LeBron James, whose criticisms of the current White House — including declining an invitation to the president’s mansion after the 2018 NBA Finals — prompted the infamous rebuke from conservative flame-thrower Laura Ingraham that gives the series its title. The series looks at the rise of the NBA and its star culture, and how these athletes have influenced fashion, commerce and, more recently, political activism.
Ho-Ho-Holiday Movies: From now through Christmas, every weekend brings multiple gifts of heartwarming movies for those seeking schmaltzy comfort food. Wallow in these: Hallmark Channel leads the pack as usual, with Christmas Joy (Saturday, 8/7c), starring The Flash’s Danielle Panabaker as a career gal from D.C. who heads back to Crystal Falls, N.C. for a family emergency and reconnects with former beau Matt Long (Timeless), who comes to her aid in a baking competition. More Hallmark fun on Sunday, with Road to Christmas (8/7c) starring Jessy Shram (Nashville) as a TV producer and Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill) as her accidental love interest; and on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, Marrying Father Christmas (9/8c), starring When Calls the Heart’s Erin Krakow. And UPtv weighs in with A Christmas Switch (Sunday, 7/6c), about two moms — one a struggling singer, one a successful record execs — who magically switch bodies (shades of Freaky Friday) and learn a lot about themselves in the process.
Inside Weekend TV: Jonah Hill joins the “five-timers club” as he returns for his fifth gig as host of NBC’s Saturday Night Live (11:30/10:30c), with Maggie Rogers as musical guest… The Fox sitcom Rel (Sunday, 9:30/8:30c) gets relevant with a twist on #MeToo matters, when ex-con Nat (Jordan L. Jones) finally gets a job, only to be confronted by inappropriate behavior from a superior… Showtime lampoons the upcoming midterm vote with a bonus episode of the satirical animated series Our Cartoon President: Election Special 2018 (Sunday, 10:30/9:30c), executive produced by Stephen Colbert.