Worth Watching: ‘Rent’ Performed Live, ‘Sunday Morning’ Turns 40, 25th SAG Awards
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Rent (Sunday, 8/7c, Fox): The live TV musical takes a leap into the contemporary playbook with a performance of the late Jonathan Larson’s groundbreaking rock-opera adaptation of La Boheme. A pop-culture phenom that was the Hamilton of the 1990s, the fable of struggling but irrepressible East Village hipsters will be performed before a live audience (shades of NBC’s sensational and Emmy-winning Jesus Christ Superstar) with a 24-piece orchestra on stage. The cast includes Brandon Victor Dixon (Superstar’s electrifying Judas), Dancing With the Stars champ Jordan Fisher, High School Musical alum Vanessa Hudgens, pop stars Mario and Tinashe — with The Greatest Showman’s Keale Settle leading the ensemble in the show’s biggest hit, “Seasons of Love.”
CBS Sunday Morning (Sunday, 9 am/8c, CBS): The distinguished weekly digest of culture, news and personality marks its 40th birthday with a special celebration, anchored by class act Jane Pauley. Among the highlights: the story behind the show’s theme song, “Abblasen,” and a nod to “the Sun Queen,” the woman who selects the striking graphic images of the sun featured every week. In an homage to original host Charles Osgood, senior contributor Ted Koppel presents his retrospective look back at 40 years in rhyme.
The 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (Sunday, 8/7c, TNT and TBS): Let the Oscar handicapping continue, with a few caveats — front-running supporting actress Regina King of If Beale Street Could Talk isn’t even nominated. It’s all about the actors in the silver anniversary of the SAG Awards, hosted by Will & Grace’s Megan Mullally (a four-time SAG winner, once for ensemble). A highlight of the night: the Life Achievement Award presented to Alan Alda, still very active on the eve of his 83rd birthday (Monday). Alda appeared in the most recent seasons of Ray Donovan and The Good Fight, and what better testimonial for a life-achievement winner than to still be in the game. Bravo!
Dynasties (Saturday, 9/8c, BBC America): The beautifully filmed nature series continues with an engrossing two-year study in the West African Senegalese forest of an “alpha male” chimpanzee known as David. This imposing and battle-scarred primate has ruled over his tribe for a longer-than-usual three-year reign, but with few allies, his authority is tested by nature and by attacks from antagonistic rivals. A grueling survival story, remarkably told.
Outlander (Sunday, 8/7c, Starz): The fourth season of the sweeping historical/time-travel romance concludes with Jamie (Sam Heughan), Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Young Ian (John Bell) head to the Mohawk village in an attempt to rescue Roger (Richard Rankin). As usual, there are complications. And where’s Roger’s beloved, Brianna (Sophie Skelton)? Back at River Run, about to give birth to their bairn. Never a dull moment in colonial America.
Inside Weekend TV: Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden and Emily Skeggs star as mother and daughter in a twisted relationship that culminates in murder in the Lifetime movie Love You to Death (Saturday, 8/7c)… Saturday night comedy: Insecure scene-stealer Amanda Seales gets an HBO comedy stand-up special, Amanda Seales: I Be Knowin’ (10/9c), and Glass star James McAvoy debuts as guest host on NBC’s Saturday Night Live (11:30/10:30c), with Meek Mill as musical guest… Just in time for the government shutdown to be (at least for now) suspended, Showtime revives its fly-on-the-wall docuseries The Circus: Inside the Wildest Political Show on Earth (Sunday, 8/7c)… One of last year’s most fascinating documentaries, Three Identical Strangers, premieres on CNN with back-to-back showings (9/8c, 6/PT; 11/10c, 8/PT). It’s the story of male triplets who were separated at birth and only realized as adults the others’ existence by chance. Their jubilant reunion is clouded by tragedy once they realize the circumstances that kept them apart.