Worth Watching: Expanding a Jane Austen 'Masterpiece,' Stephen King's 'Outsider,' 'Ray Donovan' Fixes His Own Problems
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Sanditon (Sunday, 9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Having exhausted Jane Austen's catalogue of classics, Masterpiece turns to her final, unfinished novel for this lavish adaptation from Andrew Davies. He expands on the story of spunky Charlotte (Rose Williams), a farmer's daughter introduced to a colorful world of romantic intrigue when invited to the seaside town of Sanditon, where she's drawn to her benefactor's aloof but to-swoon-for brother (Theo James). Racier than you might expect — the men bathe nude! — Sanditon also embraces Dickensian issues of class and race in its bustling subplots. (Read the full review.)
The Outsider (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): A terrific cast brings to life one of Stephen King's recent bestsellers in a 10-part limited series. Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline) stars as a Georgia detective investigating a horrific child murder, which in the two-hour opener leads him to the unlikely suspect of a beloved local coach (Jason Bateman). The perplexing mystery soon takes on tragic, and supernatural, dimensions, which requires the services of a quirky investigator (Harriet's Cynthia Erivo) who uncovers a terrifying menace. (Read the full review.)
Ray Donovan (Sunday, 8/7c, Showtime): In the season's penultimate episode, Ray (Liev Schreiber) goes into classic fixer mode, but this time it's his own neck he's trying to save, now that he's in police custody — having been caught on tape discussing last season’s dirty-cop murders, thanks to his own over-his-head son-in-law Smitty (Graham Rogers). The web tightens in a classic Ray outing, as he puts the screws on a paranoid judge (The Wire's Delaney Williams). But as always, family drama proves a distraction, this time involving half-brother Darryl (Pooch Hall), last seen driving away from a bungled caper with his wounded girlfriend in the passenger seat.
Awards Season: What would a winter weekend be without an awards show? The big-ticket item this Sunday is The 25th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards (7/6c, The CW) for film and TV, live from Santa Monica's Barker Hangar. Taye Diggs hosts, with special honors going to Eddie Murphy (nominated for Dolemite Is My Name) for Lifetime Achievement, and Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, The Good Place), who receives the fourth annual #SeeHer Award for authentic portrayals of women in the media… Achievements in African-American culture, business and activism are represented in the 28th annual Bounce Trumpet Awards (Sunday, 9/8c, Bounce), hosted by Wanda Sykes. Honorees include Cedric the Entertainer, Martin Lawrence, Marsai Martin of black-ish, ambassador Andrew Young, Epic Records Chairman/CEO Sylvia Rhone and HIV/AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent.
A Beautiful Place to Die: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery (Sunday, 8/7c, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries): A new movie series, based on novels by Philip R. Craig, stars Hallmark favorite, and Desperate Housewives alum, Jesse Metcalfe (Chesapeake Shores) as retired Boston police detective Jeff Jackson, who after an injury relocates to his late father's home on the picturesque vacation town. He'd just as soon go fishing, but he's soon trawling for clues, at the behest of the local police chief, when a visitor to the island turns up dead. His new partner in crime-fighting: the chief's daughter, and medical examiner, Zee (Sarah Lind).
Inside Weekend TV: Another big weekend for football fans, with NFL Divisional Playoffs deciding who’ll make it to the championship games next weekend, and then to the Super Bowl. For the AFC, the Tennessee Titans take on the Baltimore Ravens (Saturday, 8:15/7:15c, CBS), and the Houston Texans face the Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 3: 05/2:05c, CBS); for the NFC, the Minnesota Vikings play the San Francisco 49ers (Saturday, 4:35/3:35c, NBC) and the Seattle Seahawks say cheese in Green Pay against the Packers (Sunday, 6:40/5:40c, Fox)… Oscar front-runner Joaquin Phoenix (The Joker) opens up to Anderson Cooper in an interview for CBS's 60 Minutes (Sunday, 7/6c)… On CBS's God Friended Me (Sunday, 8/7c), the God Account could complicate the wedding of Miles' (Brandon Micheal Hall) dad, Arthur (Joe Morton), when Miles is sent the name of his soon-to-be-new stepmom’s daughter. What’s that about?… MeTV's Collector's Call (Sunday, 9:30/8:30c) returns with new episodes, hosted by Lisa Whelchel, that explore the pop-culture treasure troves of notable collectors, including radio personality "Mancow" Muller.