Worth Watching: A Presidential Visit on ‘Homeland,’ ‘Zoey’ Goes to Church, John Mulaney Returns to ‘SNL’
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Homeland (Sunday, 9/8c, Showtime): Could peace finally be at hand in the topical spy thriller’s last season? A cease-fire has lasted five days in war-torn Kabul, and Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) is celebrating the détente with the Taliban. Adding to the celebration, but also the tension, is the president’s (Beau Bridges) decision to travel to Afghanistan to announce the framework for peace and withdrawal of troops alongside the Afghan president. But this is only the fourth episode, so it’s probably too early to be talking Nobel Peace Prize. In a subplot of the nail-biting episode, Carrie (Claire Danes) detours from her own assignment to tend to a crisis involving the widowed activist Samira (Sitara Attaie).
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (Sunday, 9/8c, NBC): It was only a matter of time before Zoey’s (Jane Levy) scene-stealing neighbor, the gender-fluid Mo (Glee‘s Alex Newell), commanded the spotlight. In one of the strongest episodes to date of the musical-fantasy-drama hybrid, Zoey’s ability to look into people’s souls through music takes on a new dimension when she follows her new friend to his church, prompting her to explore her own uneasy relationship with faith. There’s a lot of talk about “little miracles” throughout the hour, which seems fitting, since Zoey feels a bit like a miracle itself.
Saturday Night Live (Saturday, 11:30/10:30c, NBC): Three reasons to tune in this week, as the late-night comedy-variety series returns from a few weeks off: 1) To see if they can top the chaos of recent shouting-match debates with a parody of what already seems a parody; 2) The return of the brilliant John Mulaney for her third turn as guest-host. He was nominated for an Emmy for his hosting gig last season (and won a 2011 Emmy while a writer on the show for co-writing lyrics), and is coming off the righteous buzz of his Netflix special John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch; 3) David Byrne is musical guest, fresh from his Broadway triumph in David Byrne’s American Utopia.
Dispatches from Elsewhere (Sunday, 10/9c, AMC): Few things are more painful to watch than a passion project that turns out to be a pretentious folly. Such is the case with How I Met Your Mother star Jason Segel’s peculiar, indulgent fantasia, based on an actual social experiment that took the form of a real-life scavenger hunt. The series depicts a search for self in which four lost souls are enticed to participate in an elaborate and inexplicable game, submitting to the whims of a nebulous secret society. The acting is fine: Segel is moving as the emotionally stagnant Peter, matched by Sally Field‘s mousy Janice, trans actress Eve Lindley as the insecure Simone and Outkast’s André Benjamin as the opinionated Fredwynn. But as they each jump through surreal hoops, suggesting a magical realism that too rarely enchants, the overwritten Elsewhere feels like a long road to nowhere.
Inside Weekend TV: The global journey of BBC America’s stunning Seven Worlds, One Planet (Saturday, 9/8c: also on AMC, IFC and SundanceTV) ends in Africa, with a poignant sequence from Kenya featuring the last two northern white rhinos on Earth… Fox airs highlights of the Fire Fight Australia concert, filmed earlier this month in Sydney, benefiting rescue and support efforts in the wake of the devastating fires. (Saturday 11/10c). Olivia Newton-John hosts, with performances from Queen + Adam Lambert, k.d. lang, Michael Bublé, 5 Seconds of Summer and more… CBS’s 60 Minutes (Sunday, 7/6c) features Scott Pelley‘s interview with presidential hopeful, and former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg. In another segment, Bill Whitaker travels to the Bahamas to see how the Caribbean island is taking on climate change… In the epic season finale of BBC America’s Doctor Who (Sunday, 8/7c), the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her crew battle to survive against the relentless Cybermen as the last remaining humans are hunted… NBC’s reimagined Little Big Shots moves into its regular Sunday time period (8/7c), welcoming Melissa McCarthy as the new host as she mixes it up with talented and inspiring kids… Disney Channel’s Raven’s Home (Sunday, 8/7c) takes on the issue of vaping when Raven’s (Raven-Symoné) son Booker (Issac Ryan Brown) is pressured by new friend to try vaping, and when he refuses, is framed after the coach finds a vape pen.