Worth Watching: ‘Silicon Valley’ Returns, Kathryn Hahn Is ‘Mrs. Fletcher,’ a ‘Godfather’ Showdown
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Silicon Valley (Sunday, 10/9c, HBO): Mike Judge’s spot-on send-up of the tech boom and its geeky geniuses is the latest HBO tentpole (following Game of Thrones and Veep) to sign off this year. The sixth and final season kicks in with a terrific opener, satirizing Mark Zuckerberg’s occasional trips to Congress when deer-in-the-headlights Richard (Thomas Middleditch) testifies before a Senate committee. Amid the comic fumbling and prat-falling, he somehow manages to deliver a manifesto, pledging that his vision of a new decentralized Internet will no longer collect and abuse user data. If only it were that easy. Back in the Pied Piper workplace, the love-hate relationship between needy Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and misanthropic Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) becomes hilariously complicated when they run afoul of AI. As usual, Gilfoyle puts it all in perspective when addressing Richard’s latest crisis: “This is the cost of working with humans. They suck.” Takes one to know one.
Mrs. Fletcher (Sunday, 10:30/9:30c, HBO): Kathryn Hahn (Transparent) is a marvel as the title character of a bittersweet seven-week dramedy based on the novel by Tom Perotta (The Leftovers). She’s Eve Fletcher, a forlorn divorced mom facing an empty nest when her aimless son Brendan (Jackson White) heads to college for his own awakening. For Eve, it’s an opportunity to explore her sexuality, online and perhaps eventually in person.
Godfather of Harlem (Sunday, 9/8c, Epix): The war between rival mobsters Bumpy Johnson (Forest Whitaker) and “Chin” Gigante (Vincent D’Onofrio) escalates in a pivotal episode dealing with the profitable numbers lottery. When Chin rigs the system to wipe our Bumpy’s bank, the Harlem insider turns to unlikely sources for support, hoping to outmaneuver his Italian nemesis. Also caught up in the conflict: politician Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (Giancarlo Esposito), who pledges to expose corruption within a police department that targets African-Americans while letting their Italian counterparts run free. Will he actually have the gumption to name names?
Watchmen (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): In the fallout from the shocking crime that ended the dazzling series premiere, a grieving Angela (Regina King) grills mystery man Will Reeves (Louis Gossett Jr.), who speaks in riddles about unusual powers and skeletons in closets. (By the episode’s end, more than a few are discovered.) Flashbacks reveal Angela’s ordeal of the “White Night,” when she barely survived a coordinated attack on police by white supremacists. Is there any connection to the recent lynching murder? And if you can figure out what Jeremy Irons and his play-acting servants are up to in the wackiest subplot, congratulations.
The Walking Dead (Sunday, 9/8c, AMC): If you’re wondering, as I often have, why the Alexandrians still tolerate vanquished villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in their midst, this week’s episode (directed by former cast member Michael Cudlitz) puts the paradox in focus when Negan bonds with Whisperer refugee Lydia (Cassady McClincy) over her own outcast status. As bullies threaten the fragile status quo, Daryl (Norman Reedus) debates with Carol (Melissa McBride) whether “the real enemy is out there.” Daryl suggests, “There’s enough bad stuff happening here.” Meanwhile, anyone remember Hilltop? (Yeah, me neither.) When the walls come a-tumblin’ down, the communities go into crisis mode, as always wondering whether those blasted Whisperers are to blame.
Inside Weekend TV: Actresses at the top of their game open up to Oprah Winfrey in OWN’s OWN Spotlight: Oprah at Home with Lupita Nyong’o and Cynthia Erivo (Saturday, 8/7c), as the host interviews the Oscar-winning Nyong’o and Tony-winning rising star Erivo, the latter poised to make a breakthrough as Harriet Tubman in the big-screen Harriet… More remarkable women are celebrated in National Geographic Channel’s Women of Impact: Changing the World (Saturday, 10/9c), including the legendary Jane Goodall, ABC journalist Martha Raddatz, philanthropist Melinda Gates among many others. The special is an accompaniment to a forthcoming book, Women: The National Geographic Image Collection, and National Geographic Magazine’s November issue, the first to be exclusively written and photographed by women… Chance the Rapper is both guest host (his second time) and musical guest (his third) on NBC’s Saturday Night Live (Saturday, 11:30/10:30c)… Former Vice President Joe Biden sits with CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell for an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes (Sunday, 7:30/6:30c, 7/PT) to discuss his presidential campaign and the current impeachment inquiry, among other subjects. He’s joined by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden… PBS’s Poldark (Sunday, 9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org) continues its final season with Ross (Aidan Turner) heading back to London to help his antislavery ally Ned Despard (Vincent Regan) fight false charges. As usual, eternal enemy George Warleggen (Jack Farthing) schemes to make everything as difficult for Ross as possible.