Worth Watching: The Oscars, Final Season of ‘Homeland,’ RuPaul Hosts ‘SNL,’ ‘Power’ Finale
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
The 92nd Annual Academy Awards (Sunday, 8/7c, 5/PT, ABC): For the second year in a row, the movie industry’s biggest (and often stuffiest) awards night goes host-free. Which doesn’t mean there won’t be entertainment. Among the Oscar-nominated songs: lead actress nominee Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) performs “Stand Up” from her movie, Elton John performs “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from his biopic Rocketman, Randy Newman plays his latest Toy Story tune from the 4th in the franchise, I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away. Adele Dazeem — oops, Idina Menzel — belts Into the Unknown from Frozen II with AURORA, and This Is Us star Chrissy Metz sings “I’m Standing with You” from Breakthrough. Questlove will be featured during the show, and the Oscar’s first-ever female conductor, Eimear Noone, will lead a special segment. Otherwise, it’s all about the movies. The acting awards are a lock — barring an upset, Joaquin Phoenix, Renée Zellweger, Brad Pitt and Laura Dern will be making another trip to the stage. Top contenders for Best Picture are (in order of likelihood) 1917, Parasite, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, The Irishman and Joker.
Saturday Night Live (Saturday, 11:30/10:30c, NBC): Maybe if RuPaul slays the Saturday Night Live runway in the Emmy-winner’s first appearance as guest host, this fabulous queen could be tapped to liven up the Oscars some day. While we wait to see how Ru works it, the show welcomes back Justin Bieber returns for his third stint as musical guest. An unimpeachably big night for SNL to be sure.
Homeland (Sunday, 9/8c, Showtime): The eighth and final season of the hit spy thriller brings yet more emotional trauma and espionage into the life of bipolar ex-CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), now suffering memory loss and disorientation after months in a Russian prison. Echoing concerns about Marine double-agent Brody from the show’s early seasons, could Carrie have been inadvertently flipped the Russians to betray state secrets? Even though skeptics are watching her every move, longtime advocate and current National Security Advisor Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) enlists Carrie for a delicate new mission involving a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan. As always, danger awaits.
Power (Sunday, 8/7c, Starz): So who actually shot and killed James St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), turning “Ghost” into a you-know-what? Recent episodes have focused on some of the prime suspects, and the supersized 80-minute series finale, wrapping six seasons of urban drama, promises to explain all.
Sanditon (Sunday, 9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): The Masterpiece expansion of Jane Austen’s unfinished final novel swerves into high melodrama when Charlotte (Rose Williams) and Sidney (Theo James) each venture into London in a desperate attempt to save Georgiana (Crystal Clarke) from the proverbial fate-worse-than-death. Once again, they realize they’ve underestimated the other, and sparks fly. Back at Sanditon, Lady Denham (the glorious Anne Reid) appears to be on her deathbed, leaving her will ripe for the picking by vultures like nephew Edward (Jack Fox) and ward Clara (Lily Sacofsky), partners in crime and seduction.
The Outsider (Sunday,9/8c, HBO): “Expand your sense of what reality might entail” is how investigator Holly (Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo) presents her findings to skeptics, including outraged widow Glory (Julianne Nicholson) and local lawman Ralph (Ben Mendelsohn), who’d rather stick to “dumb cop s***” like facts. Although even he’s rattled by a vision of his late son, so it’s never too late to open minds and broken hearts to the prospect of a supernatural shape-shifter.
Inside Weekend TV: Investigation Discovery’s sobering special In Memoriam (Saturday, 9/8c), airing without commercials, looks back at three horrific mass shootings — the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest music festival, Sutherland Springs Baptist Church in Texas and Florida’s Marjory Stoneman High School — from the personal perspectives of survivors, relatives and first responders to these tragedies… MeTV’s Collector’s Call (Sunday, 9:30/8:30c) gets personal when host Lisa Whelchel visits the son of her beloved TV mentor from The Facts of Life, the late Charlotte Rae, and explores the veteran actress’s personal collection of memorabilia, including one-of-a-kind TV props. Facts co-star Geri Jewell drops by with memories and a treasure of her own… The Starz docuseries Wrong Man (Sunday, 9:45/8:45c) opens a second season by looking into the case of a woman who may have been wrongfully convicted of murdering the mother of one of her grandkids… Jim Carrey is back for a second season of Showtime’s maudlin dramedy Kidding (Sunday, 10/9c) as children’s TV host Jeff Pickles, who’s looking for a new way to reach his audience after Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time goes off the air for the first time in 30 years.