Worth Watching: Catching Up with Michonne ('TWD') and Maeve ('Westworld'), a New Face and Foe on 'Homeland,' Hallmark's Christmas Marathon
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
The Walking Dead (Sunday, 9/8c, AMC): Unseen since last November's midseason finale, warrior goddess Michonne (Danai Gurira) returns in what many expect to be her final appearance as a series regular, filling us in on what happened during her mission with newcomer Virgil (Kevin Carroll) to travel to his island for weapons to use in the war against the Whisperers. (By the way, that twist last week involving Negan, the late-and-not-lamented Alpha and Carol was one of the best and most surprising moments Dead has delivered in ages.) Wherever this takes Michonne, the show is going to miss her.
Westworld (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): Speaking of fierce women, the witty and wily too-sexy-to-be-a-robot Maeve (Emmy winner Thandie Newton) takes center stage in the new season's thrilling second episode. Currently stuck in a World War II simulation, Maeve must soon realize it's time to take control of her reality, with the help of allies who may or may not be who they seem. "How does one escape a cage that doesn't exist?" she ponders in one of many tantalizing tangents as she confronts a new series of technological rabbit holes. In a moment suited to an action-movie trailer, she declares, "Every game has its rules. We just need to know how to break them." This is going to be fun.
Homeland (Sunday, 9/8c, Showtime): We've lost count of how many times Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) has gone rogue over the years, but even by her standards, taking off with a Russian spy (Costa Ronin) in search of poor kidnapped Max (Maury Sterling) would be a career-ender for most people. Now considered a fugitive, Carrie stays focused on her goal while Saul (Mandy Patinkin) goes to desperate lengths to slow down the trail of Taliban leader Haqqani (Numan Acar) in hopes of maintaining some peace in the region. It won't be easy, because the inexperienced new president (Sam Trammell) has a new foreign policy adviser, John Zabel (Hugh Dancy, Danes' real-life husband), speaking hawkish entreaties into his ear. This week's cliffhanger will have you counting the minutes until the next episode.
We Need a Little Christmas Marathon (Hallmark Channel, all weekend): The late Jerry Herman would be so pleased that his Mame anthem is being used to promote the latest feel-good campaign from Hallmark, which has been known to spread Christmas cheer throughout much of the year. In these dark times, with so many stuck at home, what better occasion to roll out a weekend's worth of vintage "Countdown to Christmas" movies, continuing through Sunday at 6 pm/5c with the Lacey Chabert-Sam Page romance Christmas in Rome (which is a place you probably wouldn't want to travel to anytime soon).
Families could also opt for Freeform's FunDay Princess Weekend (all Saturday and Sunday), with a lineup of movies including both Princess Diaries movies, Pocahontas and Frozen (the latter airing Saturday at 8:25/7:25c and Sunday at 7:25/6:25c).
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist (Sunday, 9/8c, NBC): If the Hallmark experiment leaves you still wanting more rom-com in your TV diet, check out the latest episode of this engaging musical-fantasy, in which Zoey (Jane Levy) is forced to confront her feelings — romantic, platonic, what's the deal — with her loyal work bestie, Max (Skylar Astin). We've seen him reveal his own feelings to her in song, but never like this. And just how open is she willing to be about why she knows him so well? In a subplot, the bromance between co-workers Leif (Michael Thomas Grant) and Tobin (Kapil Talwalker) is threatened by Leif's growing bond with boss Joan (Lauren Graham) over the new app they're developing. Who knew a jerk like Tobin could kill a number like "Don't Speak" with actual feels?
House in a Hurry (Sunday, 9/8c, HGTV): File under "Don't try this at home." Described as "house hunting on steroids," the latest in the genre (premiering with back-to-back episodes) follows families spending a frantic 72 hours to find the perfect new home as they relocate to a new town — in the opener, from Raleigh to Charlotte, N.C.
Inside Weekend TV: A new season of Nat Geo Wild's Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet (Saturday, 8/7c) opens with the vet giving a bald eagle a "mani-pedi" (OK, I'm curious)… Billions star Damian Lewis (formerly of Homeland) hosts Smithsonian Channel's Spy Wars with Damian Lewis (Sunday 8/7c), an eight-part docuseries recounting real-life stories of espionage, from the Cold War to the Iran hostage crisis… AXS TV honors rock legend and reality star Eddie Money with a two-hour Eddie Money Tribute Concert (Sunday, 9/8c), hosted by Louie Anderson. The concert, filmed live in February, features performances by Sammy Hagar, John Waite, James Hetfield and Eddie's offspring, Jesse, Dez and Julian Money… Marge and Homer become rival marijuana dealers on Fox's The Simpsons (Sunday, 8/7c) when Marge takes a job at an upscale weed dispensary while Homer sets up his own shop (bad idea, no doubt).… Things get tense in the Big Easy on CBS's NCIS: New Orleans (Sunday, 10/9c) when a white police officer shoots an African-American Navy officer he thought was armed, disrupting an already hectic street party… Fox News Channel offers an update on the war against the COVID-19 outbreak in the news special America vs. Virus (Sunday, 10/9c), anchored by Harris Faulkner.