Worth Watching: Eddie Murphy Returns to ‘SNL,’ ABC Replays ‘The Year,’ More Holiday Movies
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Saturday Night Live (Saturday, 11:30/10:30c, NBC): In arguably the most anticipated episode of the season, Eddie Murphy returns to the show that launched him into stardom for his first appearance as host since 1984. Will he reprise any of his original characters? (“Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood” seems especially timely.) Will he throw in a little “Dolomite” for good measure? Adding to the excitement of the Christmas show: Lizzo makes her SNL debut as musical guest.
The Year: 2019 (Sunday, 9/8c, ABC): While some might just prefer to put the last year of the decade in the rear-view mirror, Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts once again looks back at the highs and lows of the last 12 months in a year-end special. She’s joined by network notables and personalities including George Stephanopoulos, David Muir, Michael Strahan, Keke Palmer, Sara Haines, Amy Robach, Juju Chang, Mary Bruce, Lara Spencer and Byron Pitts. Among the top stories: global activist Greta Thunberg’s crusade against climate change, the U.S. women’s soccer team’s battle for equal pay, the college admissions scandal — and, naturally, the political landscale. Among those interviewed: Pose star Billy Porter and, inevitably, Bachelor star and Dancing with the Stars winner Hannah Brown.
Ho-Ho-Holiday Movies: Still reeling from the flak over canceling, then restoring, ads featuring brides at a same-sex wedding, Hallmark Channel takes a baby step toward diversity in Double Holiday (Saturday, 8/7c). The movie stars Carly Pope and Kristoffer Polaha as competitive co-workers — she’s Jewish, he’s not — who learn about each other’s holiday traditions as they plan the company Christmas (not Hanukkah?) party while vying for a promotion. Hallmark also reminds us It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (Sunday, 8/7c) in a movie starring Eric Mabius (Signed, Sealed, Delivered) and Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) as mayors of neighboring New Hampshire burgs, each hoping to win the state’s “Christmas Spirit Competition.”
Other holiday movies on the docket include several from Lifetime: Christmas Love Letter (Saturday, 6/5c), about an advice columnist who receives an unsigned missive from the heart and heads home to find out who sent it; The Christmas Hotel (Saturday, 8/7c) starring Tatiana Ali as a big-city hotel worker who returns home to the inn where her career started; and A Date by Christmas Eve (Sunday, 8/7c), starring Vanessa Lengies as a brand strategist whose new app, The Nice List, has given her magical powers… Hallmark Movies & Mysteries offers Christmas on My Mind (9/8c), starring Ashley Greene as Lucy, whose temporary short-term amnesia has her confused about a recent breakup and what matters most at Christmastime; and A Family Christmas Gift (Sunday, 9/8c), featuring Patti LaBelle as a famous singer whose pipes help restore a music teacher’s unfunded program, and Holly Robinson Peete as her magazine-editor niece.
Ray Donovan (Sunday, 8/7c, Showtime): TV’s favorite fixer (Liev Schreiber) should have known better than to think he could fix his own family’s problems. A tip from family frenemy Jim Sullivan (Peter Gerety) leads Ray to believe Mickey (Jon Voight), presumed dead by the outside world and supposed to be lying low in the Maldives, never really left town. So begins Ray’s hunt for his wayward father, even while the dogged Detective Perry (Quincy Tyler Bernstine) continues shadowing his nearest and dearest as she seeks to nail the Donovans for last season’s dirty-cop killings.
Inside Weekend TV: The short-form docu-series Looking for Leia, which tells how the Star Wars franchise and its iconic characters have inspired women and non-binary fans, debuts on Syfy (Saturday, 11/10c) with back-to-back episodes. All season can be seen on SYFY.com, VOD, YouTube and NBCU’s OneApp… ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary short Subject to Review (Sunday 3 pm/2c) tracks the history, technology and significance of Instant Replay Review in tennis, a game where a ball being in or out can decide many a crucial point… In the penultimate episode of Starz’s moody Dublin Murders (Sunday, 8/7c), a regressing Rob (Killian Scott) has a eureka revelation about Katy’s murder, while Cassie (Sarah Greene) confronts the killer of her doppelganger… In the first of two prime-time specials, CBS’s The Price Is Right at Night: A Holiday Extravaganza (8/7c) welcomes David Boreanaz and the cast of SEAL Team, along with an audience full of active-duty military and veterans, to play the games. Boreanaz and his co-stars will play for the Headstrong Project, which provides mental-health care for post-9/11 veterans and families.