Worth Watching: Jeffrey Wright in 'O.G.,' The Host-less Oscars, 'True Detective' Finale
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
O.G. (Saturday, 10/9c, HBO): Authenticity is everything in this intense and immersive, if overly familiar, prison-drama movie. Filmed on location at an active maximum-security facility in Indiana, with inmates and staff doubling as actors and extras, O.G. compensates with realism what it lacks in originality. The mesmerizing Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) stars as Louis, a former top dog about to released after 24 years (of a 60-year sentence). This character study juggles multiple plots as it depicts Louis's final days in captivity — complicated by his desire to convey wisdom to a vulnerable new inmate (Theothus Carter) who's being recruited by a dangerous gang. A wrenching scene involving Louis's cathartic encounter with a relative of his victim becomes almost an afterthought amid the melodramatic jumble.
The 91st Annual Academy Awards (Sunday, 8/7c, 5 PT, ABC): Or, in short — though never short enough — the Oscars. This year there's no host, which is one way ABC is counting on to shorten the show. (Earlier attempts to omit a few of the nominated songs, or push some categories into the commercial breaks, were dropped after backlash.) Maybe a sharper focus on the most exciting aspects of this year's movies would make for a better show. (Check out our wish list of ways to fix the Oscars.) Some categories are easy to pick: Rami Malek of Bohemian Rhapsody and "Shallow," the Lady Gaga-Bradley Cooper show-stopper from A Star Is Born. But the big prize for Best Picture could go any number of ways, to an art-house fave from Netflix (Roma), a superhero blockbuster (Black Panther), a feel-good crowd-pleaser (Green Book) or a naughty period piece (The Favourite).
True Detective (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): Most networks go into repeat mode against events like the Oscars, but not HBO and the engrossing third season of its atmospheric crime drama. The season finale promises to at last reveal the truth behind the Purcell case, which has been unfolding all season across three distinct timelines — in 1980, 1990 and 2015 — as Arkansas detective Wayne Hays (an Emmy-worthy Mahershala Ali) tries to piece his memories together. Dark secrets have been revealed, but can Old Wayne's cloudy mind make sense of it all?
Inside Weekend TV: As wonderful as nature series like Dynasties can be, the stories behind the scenes are just as fascinating — which is why BBC America's The Making of Dynasties (Saturday, 9/8c) comes highly recommended, following crews from the BBC's Natural History Unit as they spend four years — over 1,000 days in the field — to capture images from Africa and India to Antarctica… More TV for animal lovers: the seventh season of Nat Geo WILD's Dr. K's Exotic Animal ER (Sunday, 9/8c), with Dr. Susan Kelleher treating everything from a wounded macaw to a self-mutilating bush baby at South Florida's Broward Avian and Exotics Animal Hospital… The sixth season of Hallmark Channel's longest-running drama, When Calls the Heart (Sunday, 8/7c), opens with widowed Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) now a single mother learning on her Hope Valley neighbors for support.