Worth Watching: ‘Killing Eve’ Returns, HBO’s ‘Native Son,’ Academy of Country Music Awards, NCAA’s Final Four
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Killing Eve (Sunday, 8/7c, BBC America and AMC): The breathless pace is unabated as TV’s drop-dead-funniest yet most suspensefully unpredictable spy thriller returns for a second season. It picks up in the immediate aftermath of last season’s cliffhanger shocker, with frazzled agent Eve (emotionally volatile Sandra Oh) leaving behind a wounded Villanelle (the fascinating Jodie Comer), who miraculously for TV doesn’t immediately recover from her injury. The childlike yet lethal international assassin is still determined to reconnect with Eve — or as she calls her, “my girlfriend in London” — while her prey is determined to get back to normal. Good luck with that. There may not be a more hilarious moment all year than the sight of glamourpuss Villanelle cringing as she slips her feet into a pair of unattended Crocs as part of a desperate hospital escape. As she puts it, “Sometimes when you love someone [to death?], you will do crazy things.” TV doesn’t get much crazier than Eve.
Native Son (Saturday, 10/9c, HBO): Richard Wright’s controversial 1940 novel is modernized by Pulitzer-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and director/artist Rashid Johnson into a stark film of fatalistic inevitability. Moonlight’s quietly expressive Ashton Sanders stars as Bigger Thomas, sporting green hair and a defensive attitude, as his life changes forever upon accepting a job as driver for the family of a wealthy mogul (Bill Camp) and his willful daughter (Margaret Qualley).
54th Academy of Country Music Awards (Sunday, 8/7c, CBS): You might wonder how country-music stars ever create new work given how many awards shows they attend during the year. Reba McEntire returns for a 16th time to host one of the bigger ones, from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Performances include “ACM Flashbacks,” with covers of country classics delivered by collaborations including Brooks & Dunn with Luke Combs, and George Strait with Miranda Lambert. Other pairings through the night include Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson (who also teams with Dan + Shay), Dierks Bentley and Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne, Eric Church and Ashley McBryde. Among the other headliners, joining McEntire, are Little Big Town, Carrie Underwood, Chris Stapelton and Thomas Rhett.
A Discovery of Witches (Sunday, 9/8c, BBC America and AMC): Previously exclusive to the Sundance Now and Shudder streaming services, the first season of the stylish adaptation of Deborah Harkness’s excellent All Souls trilogy begins a weekly cable run. Like True Blood with a PhD, Discovery mixes sensuality and the supernatural. It opens at Oxford University, where historian Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer), who has long repressed her own witchy powers, unearths an ancient Book of Life tome that makes her a target of witches, vampires and demons. The discovery draws her to Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode), a geneticist and ancient vampire, and their forbidden romance puts them on a collision course with the underworld’s ruling Congregation, based in glorious-looking Venice. The elegant Goode is great, almost compensating for Palmer’s less-than-bewitching blandness. The season builds to a game-changer, and thankfully the series has already been renewed for a second and third season, covering the rest of the trilogy.
Inside Weekend TV: The NCAA Tournament is down to its Final Four, with games Saturday on CBS, starting with Virginia vs. Auburn (6/5c), followed by Michigan State vs. Texas Tech… With only one week to go before Game of Thrones returns to HBO, NBC’s Saturday Night Live (11:30/10:30c) welcomes Jon Snow himself — aka Kit Harington — as first-time guest host. Sara Bareilles, somewhat surprisingly also a first-timer, is musical guest… The great John Lithgow is the guest voice on Fox’s The Simpsons (Sunday, 8/7c), when Marge becomes director of Springfield’s community theater, armed with a script from Lisa that bears suspicious overtones of Hamilton… ABC’s American Idol (Sunday, 8/7c) begins narrowing its Top 20, as 10 singers perform duets with celebrity guests including Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, Jason Mraz, Brett Young, Shaggy and Elle King. 10 more perform Monday… Discovery’s Expedition Unknown: Egypt Live (Sunday, 9/8c) sends host Josh Gates to an Egyptian excavation site for a two-hour live tour of subterranean tunnels and chambers. Highlight: a limestone sarcophagus will be opened on air. (Hope it’s more revealing than Al Capone’s vault.)… Showtime’s acclaimed urban drama The Chi (Sunday, 10/9c), created by Lena Waithe, returns for a second season, with Brandon (Jason Mitchell) facing hurdles to make his food truck a success, while Emmett (Jacob Latimore) works to prove he’s finally grown up and worthy of getting custody of his son… Like an Antiques Roadshow for pop-culture junkies, MeTV’s new series Collector’s Call (Sunday, 10/9c), hosted by Facts of Life alum Lisa Whelchel, travels the land to meet collectors of memorabilia, with appraisers determining the value of gems like the original phone from The Dick Van Dyke Show.