Worth Watching: A Grammy Salute to Aretha, ‘SNL’ Remembers Luke Perry, HBO Investigates ‘Case Against Adnan Syed’
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Aretha! A Grammy Celebration for the Queen of Soul (Sunday, 9/8c, CBS): R-E-S-P-E-C-T will be paid, and a rousing time had by all, in an all-star musical tribute to the late, great Aretha Franklin, taped a few days after last month’s Grammy Awards. Several fellow legends, including Smokey Robinson and Patti LaBelle, are on hand to honor Aretha at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium, along with an eclectic gathering of contemporary artists including Jennifer Hudson (belting “Respect”), Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, SZA, Common, Alicia Keys and Celine Dion.
Saturday Night Live (Saturday, 10/9c, NBC): In a recent tradition of honoring beloved fallen stars, SNL uses its Saturday night repeat slot to remember the late Luke Perry, replaying highlights from the episode he hosted in February 1993, at the height of his Beverly Hills, 90210 fame. (Mick Jagger was the musical guest.) Stay up late to watch Luther star Idris Elba make his debut as an SNL guest host (11:30/10:30c), with Khalid as a first-time musical guest.
The Case Against Adnan Syed (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): A four-part true-crime documentary from director Amy Berg combs over the same material popularized in 2014’s headline-making “Serial” podcast: namely, the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old Baltimore County high-school student, and the conviction a year later of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syad. Reminiscent of the Netflix hit Making a Murderer and its sequel, Case deals with the impact of “Serial,” the media attention it attracted, and the legal status of Syed, still awaiting the outcome of a lengthy and complicated appeals process.
Hearing Voices: Fox’s animated comedies go all in with high-profile guest voices in Sunday’s new episodes. On The Simpsons (8/7c), Wallace Shawn can be heard as part of a story in which Homer bonds with his hallucinated hernia. Tiffany Haddish can be heard in a special musical episode of Bob’s Burgers (8:30/7:30c), and This Is Us star Mandy Moore lends her voice to an episode of Family Guy (9/8c) as Courtney, a girl whom Quagmire (Seth MacFarlane) hits it off with while chaperoning the high-school prom, until he realizes she’s his daughter.
Now Apocalypse (Sunday, 9/8c, Starz): Provocateur Gregg Araki’s hypersexualized new sci-fi/sex comedy may be the only series of the year that comes with the spoiler warning: “alien rape.” Indulgent, amateurish, frequently incoherent and smugly raunchy, this soft-core, mush-brained mess about L.A. libertines who may or may not be hallucinating end-game nightmares involving horny alien lizards is, at least, original. In the way that debilitating migraines seem new at the time.
Shameless (Sunday, 9/8, Showtime): How will this raucous family dramedy survive without Fiona (Emmy Rossum), the eldest of the Gallagher sibs — and for many the core of the series? That will be the challenge for a 10th season, as the ninth signs off with Fiona’s farewell episode. In recent times, she has followed in the staggering footsteps of dissolute father Frank (William H. Macy), turning into a bitter, boozy mess. Can she get her life back on track, and will putting the family in her rear-view mirror be part of that process?
Inside Weekend TV: As a response to HBO’s controversial Leaving Neverland documentary, Oxygen replays its 2017 special Michael Jackson: The Jury Speaks (Saturday, 9/8c), in which jury members who acquitted Jackson in a high-profile molestation trial reconsider their decision… TLC’s new wedding special Drag Me Down the Aisle (Saturday, 9/8c) is a drag version of Queer Eye in which four fabulous drag queens help Emily, an Amish Country bride, gain confidence for her big day… The stylish Starz adaptation of American Gods (Sunday, 8/7c) returns for a second season, with new show-runners, but following the same bizarre story of Old Gods, led by Odin/Wednesday (Ian McShane), recruiting other neglected deities for a war against newer, tech-driven idols.