Worth Watching: ‘Ray Donovan’ Returns, ‘Poldark’ Rides Off, ‘The Crown’ Rules on Netflix
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Ray Donovan (Sunday, 8/7c, Showtime): If anyone could use a good therapist, it’s Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber), the taciturn fixer whose whole family could benefit from a psychological tune-up. Or maybe just a break. The seventh season of the brooding and often violent drama picks up four months after last year’s events, with Ray still in treatment under the quietly perceptive gaze of Dr. Arthur Amiot (a perfectly cast Alan Alda). Ray’s not that great about opening up, but with reprobate father Mickey (Jon Voight) back in prison and overdue a visit, Ray must look into what’s left of his battered soul to answer the question: “What can you change about you that will make it easier for you to be with him?” Meanwhile, there’s work to be done, including dirty tricks for New York’s corrupt mayor corrupt mayor (The Good Wife‘s Zach Grenier) and other shady clients. And then a crooked cop’s severed head is fished out of the river, which could implicate oh so many Donovans, and we’re off for another dark ride.
Poldark (Sunday, 9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Masterpiece‘s swashbuckling period romance rides off into the Cornwall sunset after five seasons, with Ross (Aidan Turner) and loyal Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) battling foes abroad and at home to the very end with passionate fervor. If the plots veer perilously toward melodrama, at least no one can say it hasn’t been sexy fun.
The Crown (Sunday, streaming on Netflix): Her Majesty has a new look, when the third season of the deluxe royal drama advances into the 1960s and 1970s, and Oscar-winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) assumes the throne as Queen Elizabeth II with a poignant undercurrent of resigned gravity. Tobias Menzies (Outlander) is a stalwart Prince Philip and Helena Bonham-Carter a scene-stealing Princess Margaret. All find themselves at odds with the restrictions of royalty, especially when turbulent economic times lead to a backlash against the monarchy. Over 10 distinct and gripping episodes, the series peers through the “smoke and mirrors, the mystery and the protocol” to witness the stifled humanity of these iconic public figures. The Crown truly is a crowning achievement. (See the full review.)
Christmas Under the Stars (Saturday, 8/7c, Hallmark): ‘Tis the season, and no November weekend would be complete without a new Hallmark holiday movie. The latest features two audience favorites, Desperate Housewives hunk Jesse Metcalfe and The O.C.’s eternally adorable Autumn Reeser, in the tale of Nick, an investment banker whose Christmastime firing turns out to be a blessing, when he takes a job at a Christmas tree lot and falls for Julie, an astronomy teacher whose head and heart are in the stars.
60 Minutes (Sunday, 7:30/6:30c, 7 pm/PT): Turns out Sesame Street isn’t resting on its laurels on its 50th anniversary. IN a special report, Lesley Stahl travels to Jordan, visiting Syrian refugee camps and visiting the set of a new version of the legendary children’s series that will air in the Middle East, North African and the Gulf early next year. Aimed at comforting refugee children, “Ahlan Simsim (Welcome Sesame)” features a curriculum emphasizing how to deal with such emotions as fear, loneliness, and anger. Muppets really do speak an international language.
Inside Weekend TV: Harry Styles, formerly of One Direction, does double duty as guest host (his first time) and solo musical guest (his second) on NBC’s Saturday Night Live (11:30/10:30c), returning amid the impeachment hearings, which should provide material for a juicy opening sketch. … BET airs the 2019 Soul Train Awards (Sunday, 8/7c) live from Las Vegas, with Tisha Campbell and Tichina Arnold returning as hosts. Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis receive the Legends Award, and gospel great Yolanda Adams will be honored with the fifth annual Lady of Soul Award. … The 1963 March on Washington provides the historic backdrop on the Epix drama Godfather of Harlem (9/8c) as Malcolm X (Nigél Thatch) and Adam Clayton Powell (Giancarlo Esposito) participate in the peaceful protest. But peace is the last thing on Bumpy’s (Forest Whitaker) mind as he plots revenge after an attempt on his life. … The Weather Channel tackles climate change in the newsy special Meltdown (Sunday, 10/9c), with national correspondent Dave Malkoff joining NASA scientists at the Arctic Circle to investigate how rapidly melting glaciers are affecting rising sea levels across the globe.