Worth Watching: A Smart Addition to ‘Watchmen,’ Ellen Burstyn and Al Pacino in ‘Studio,’ Finales of ‘Durrells’ and ‘Affair’
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Watchmen (9/8c, HBO): “You know how you can tell the difference between a masked cop and a vigilante? Me neither.” So quips FBI agent Laurie Blake, introduced this week with a triumphantly sardonic flourish by Jean Smart, adding yet more luster to an already outstanding cast. A former vigilante (Silk Spectre) herself, and now a member of the Anti-Vigilante Task Force, Blake is sent to Tulsa to oversee the murder investigation, which takes another dramatic twist at the victim’s funeral. Blake is a force to be reckoned with, whether relating a long and nihilistic joke on the phone to her beloved Doctor Manhattan (on a connection to Mars) or tormenting her fanboy sidekick, Special Agent Dale Petey (Dustin Ingram) — who’s already making a name for himself with the illuminating “Peteypedia” files on HBO’s website. Obviously, Watchmen is a show that rewards obsession.
Inside the Actors Studio (Sunday, 10/9c, Ovation): In a rare opportunity to see two Oscar-winning legends — and co-presidents of the Actors Studio — in conversation, Ellen Burstyn interviews a disarmingly rambling Al Pacino for an extended edition of the reformatted Inside the Actors Studio. Highlights include discussion of his insecurities about taking the role of Michael Corleone (against the studio’s objections) in the career-launching The Godfather and revealing the origins of his “Hoo-Ah!” catchphrase in Scent of a Woman.
Farewells: The winds of war mark the end of PBS’s charming Masterpiece series The Durrells in Corfu (Sunday, 8/7c, check local listings at pbs.org) after four seasons, as Larry (Josh O’Connor) returns to the Greek isle with a new play about his family but also bearing news of troubling events in Europe. How will this affect the relationship of Louisa (Keeley Hawes) and Spiros (Alexis Georgoulis) should the widowed mom decide to return home?… Showtime’s The Affair (Sunday, 9/8c) returns to its roots in the series finale as the tortured Solloway family heads back to Montauk with tons of emotional baggage to celebrate the wedding of eldest daughter Whitney (Julia Goldani Telles).
The Walking Dead (Sunday, 9/8c, AMC): Is anyone buying the redemption of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)? Didn’t think so. And yet the former fiend, now a fugitive, is the most compelling aspect of an episode that finds him considering his own legacy of terror when he encounters a fanboy from Alexandria who trails him like an eager, psychopathic puppy. With rabies.
Madam Secretary (Sunday, 10:30/9:30c, 10/9c, CBS): Madam President’s (Téa Leoni) press secretary Daisy (Patina Miller) is the latest aide to get into hot water, when evidence in the ongoing investigation suggests she may have helped leak hacked information during the presidential campaign. While trying to find out if this is real or fake news, Elizabeth welcomes back her predecessor, President Dalton (Keith Carradine), after he’s interviewed by CBS News legend Bob Schieffer (as himself).
Inside Weekend TV: BBC America is rebranding its Saturday lineup of nature programming as the micro-net Wonderstruck, launching with a special preview presentation of Sir David Attenborough’s upcoming Seven Worlds, One Planet (9/8c). The docu-series, premiering in 2020, explores animal life on each of the Earth’s seven diverse continents… Kristen Stewart returns to NBC’s Saturday Night Live (Saturday, 11:30/10:30c) for her second time as guest host, with Coldplay paying its sixth visit as musical guest… Liam Gallagher receives the first-ever “Rock Icon” award at the 2019 MTV EMAs (9/8c, MTV), hosted by Becky G from Seville, Spain… TV fans with long memories will recognize The Love Boat’s Bernie Kopell as one of the outspoken board members on HBO’s uproarious Silicon Valley (Sunday, 10/9c), expressing impatience with Hooli as Gavin (Matt Ross) scrambles to save what’s left of his company after being swallowed by Amazon. His nemesis, and our awkward hero, Richard (Thomas Middleditch), is also on the ropes with Pied Piper, getting in too deep with a shady investor (Alternatino’s Arturo Castro) and discovering to his alarm that milquetoast Jared (Zach Woods) harbors an angry, and very funny, beast within.