Worth Watching: Kirsten Dunst in ‘Central Florida,’ Making of Motown, Final Seasons of ‘Ballers,’ ‘Power,’ ‘The Affair’
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
On Becoming a God in Central Florida: (Sunday, 10/9c, Showtime): An underdog story if ever there was one, this bizarre dark dramedy of chasing the American dream was developed for AMC, and moved to YouTube Premium before ending up on Showtime, where it’s best recommended as a fabulous showcase for Kirsten Dunst. Returning to TV after wowing us in the second season of Fargo, Dunst brings a sardonic humanizing grace to the role of Krystal Stubbs, who toils at a sad Orlando-adjacent water park while her husband (Alexander Skarsgård) gets literally underwater hawking merchandise in an Amway-like pyramid scheme. When Krystal is left facing ruin, she gets with the program in surprising and life-changing ways. Not for everyone, but it would be less engaging if it were.
Hitsville: The Making of Motown: (Saturday, 9/8, Showtime): Marking the fabled record label’s 60th anniversary, this celebratory documentary revisits Motown’s formative years, up to its move to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. Visionary founder Berry Gordy gives an extensive, exclusive interview to accompany the tuneful account of his successful venture to bring African-American artists (Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, the Jackson 5) into the mainstream. Music would never be the same.
The Beginning of the End: It’s a banner weekend for premium-cable series beginning their final journey. HBO’s sports comedy Ballers (Sunday, 10:30/9:30c) is back for a fifth and final round, with Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) leaving retirement to become a team owner. The sixth and farewell season of Starz’s Power (Sunday, 8/7c) finds Ghost (Omari Hardwick) out for revenge after being betrayed by longtime partner Tommy (Joseph Sikora). And Showtime’s The Affair (Sunday, 9/8c) embarks on its fifth tangled season, introducing a new twist with Anna Paquin starring in a time jump as the late Alison’s adult daughter Joanie, seeking answers about her mother’s death.
The End of the End: To the dismay of its fans, CBS has pulled the plug on the Alan Cumming-led mystery drama Instinct, making Sunday’s episode (9/8c) the series finale. Their last case involves Dylan (Cumming) and Lizzie (Bojana Novakovic) investigating a murder after a gruesome discovery in a city pond, while Dylan’s husband Andy (Daniel Ings) helps one of Dr. Reinhart’s students with some legal problems.
Succession (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): An episode that can’t be missed, as the tyranny of a paranoid and furious Logan (Brian Cox) goes into overdrive during a corporate retreat in Hungary. Advocating a controversial takeover bid amid rumors that someone in his inner circle has blabbed secrets to the press, Logan forces his minions, including those he should consider family, to literally grovel for favor. It’s a devastating display of power and manipulations, but like the series, also somehow darkly hilarious.
Foodie Frenzy: Alton Brown brings a signature show back to Food Network with back-to-back episodes of Good Eats: The Return (10/9c), the first new installments since 2012. The opener celebrates the “American” Italian classic of Chicken Parmesan, and in the second, Brown reveals how ancient grains including quinoa, chia and amaranth are enjoying a comeback… In the season finale of National Geographic Channel’s Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted (Sunday, 10/9c), the celebrity chef heads to Alaska’s Panhandle to study, and eventually, prepare local cuisine, while learning survival skills that come in handy when climbing a rock face during a snowstorm.
Inside Weekend TV: Hallmark’s romantic drama Chesapeake Shores (Sunday, 8/7c) returns for a fourth season with Trace (Jesse Metcalfe) back from tour, but now out of sync with former girlfriend Abby (Meghan Ory)… Enter the Kingdom of the White Wolf (Sunday, 8/7c) as biologist/photographer Ronan Donovan insinuates himself into a pack in the Canadian Arctic during an epic three-hour Nat Geo WILD special… CNN Films presents Halston (Sunday, 9/8c), Frédéric Tcheng’s documentary profile of the iconic fashion designer, who’s credited with Jacqueline Kennedy’s pillbox hat and became almost as famous as his celebrity clients as he cavorted with those he dressed through the 1970s and ’80s… Good and bad tidings on AMC’s Preacher (Sunday, 10/9c): Tulip (Ruth Negga) and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) joyfully reunite on the outskirts of Masada, and debate joining Jesse (Dominic Cooper) in Australia. Things are darker Down Under, where Jesse has a more awkward coming to terms with Eugene (Ian Colletti), and the implacable Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) leaves a trail of gore while dogging Jesse’s every step to avert the approaching apocalypse.