Worth Watching: The Grammys, Oscar-Nominated ‘Cave,’ ‘Work in Progress’ Finale
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards (Sunday, 8/7c, 5/PT, CBS): There’s turmoil behind the scenes of the Recording Academy, with a suspended chief executive charging irregularities in voting procedures and conflicts of interest on the board, so look for cracks beneath the surface of what’s called “Music’s Biggest Night.” Otherwise, the ceremony is heavy with special events, including a tribute to Prince featuring Sheila E. and Usher, Bonnie Raitt honoring John Prine, and a salute to slain rapper Nipsey Hussell with John Legend, Meek Mill, DJ Khaled, Kirk Franklin and others. Among other highlights: a mega-mashup of “Old Town Road” and a performance of “I Sing the Body Electric” from Fame, choreographed by Debbie Allen with an eclectic lineup of violinist Joshua Bell, ballet star Misty Copeland, Dear Evan Hansen‘s Ben Platt, John Legend (again), Common, Lang Lang, and Cyndi Lauper and more. Plus performances from headliners Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Jonas Brothers, Gary Clark Jr. with The Roots, and Blake Shelton with Gwen Stefani. Along the way, awards will be given.
The Cave (Saturday, 9/8c, National Geographic Channel): Could National Geographic have a second consecutive Oscar winner for documentary feature? Following last year’s success with Free Solo, the channel presents this harrowing and inspiring Oscar-nominated film commercial-free in its broadcast debut. The Cave, from director Feras Fayyad, follows Dr. Amani Ballour and her co-workers Samaher and Dr. Alaa as they work in war-ravaged Syria in a subterranean hospital known as the Cave. Above ground, the patriarchal society would never acknowledge their gifts, but in the Cave, they are true angels and heroes of mercy and hope.
Saturday Night Live (Saturday, 11:30/10:30c, NBC): What are the odds a spoof of the impeachment trial will lead off SNL‘s first new episode of 2020? Adam Driver, Oscar-nominated for Netflix’s Marriage Story, returns for his third time as guest host, with Halsey likewise making her third appearance as musical guest.
Work in Progress (Sunday, 11/10c, Showtime): Heartbreaking yet deeply funny in its emotional authenticity, this character study of obsessive-neurotic Abby (Abby McEnany) wraps its first season — thankfully, there will be a second — with Abby reeling in confused self-contempt after possibly botching things with Chris (Theo Germaine) and ruining one of TV’s most interesting queer relationships. The catalyst for Abby leaving her apartment is a special live performance of “This American Life” in which Julia Sweeney (playing a sweetly warped version of herself) plans to lay bare the story of how her SNL character of Pat ruined Abby’s life. What comes next will rock Abby to her core, and I’m glad this isn’t the last we get to see of her.
Also finishing its first season, and also renewed by Showtime: The L Word: Generation Q (Sunday, 10/9c), with many relationships on the line as Bette (Jennifer Beals) and Dani (Arienne Mandi) await the results on Election Night.
Politics is front and center on Showtime’s Sunday lineup, with the return of The Circus (8/7c), going behind the scenes of the current political season in Iowa and D.C., and the animated satire Our Cartoon President (8:30/7:30c).
Inside Weekend TV: Lifetime’s latest ripped-from-the-headlines movie, Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer (Saturday, 8/7c), stars Brooke Smith (Grey’s Anatomy) as the Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent who got Watts (Sean Kleier) to confess to the 2018 murders of his wife and two daughters after initially pleading for their return on TV. Followed by a Beyond the Headlines documentary special (10/9c)… Nat Geo WILD introduces Ben and Erin Schroeder, Nebraska veterinarians, in the new series Heartland Docs, DVM (Saturday, 10/9c)… History’s Auschwitz Untold (Sunday, 9/8c), narrated by Ben Kingsley (Schindler’s List), uses colorized archival Holocaust footage and interviews with 15 survivors to relate the history of the infamous Nazi prison camp, 75 years after its liberation.