Worth Watching: Awards Become ‘iHeart Living Room Concert,’ Honoring Garth Brooks, ‘Zoey’ Sings, ’48 Hours’ Takes a Whack at Lizzie Borden
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
The iHeart Living Room Concert for America (Sunday, 9/8c, Fox): For the current perilous moment, awards shows are out, and homegrown entertainment is in. Which is how the previously scheduled iHeartRadio Music Awards has transformed into a music special, hosted by Elton John, that will feature entertainers performing from their own homes and home studios via cell phone and other video links. The lineup includes Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey, Tim McGraw and Billie Joy Armstrong, and the commercial-free broadcast will include segments honoring health workers and first responders.
The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (Sunday, 9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Country superstar Garth Brooks becomes the youngest (at 58) recipient of the prestigious Gershwin prize, and his career is celebrated at a concert filmed earlier this month at Washington, D.C.’s Constitution Hall. Brooks performs, capping a lineup hosted by Jay Leno and including Trisha Yearwood, Keith Urban, Ricky Skaggs, Chris Stapleton, Keb’ Mo’, Lee Brice and the Howard University Choir.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (Sunday, 9/8c, NBC): The weekend’s other musical highlight is a very special episode of the terrific musical dramedy, reversing the usual gimmick in which Zoey (the marvelous Jane Levy) hears others’ inner thoughts through elaborate song and dance. Now it’s her turn to break suddenly and reluctantly into song, channeling an eclectic playlist that ranges from Gnarls Barkley to Billy Joel and Jason Mraz, with a few extra surprises. Making matters more awkward, others can actually see and hear her. What has caused this glitch in her powers at the worse possible time? Some upsetting news on the personal front, which means the show can turn from hilarious slapstick to heart-wrenching sentiment in a blink. Throughout, Levy is extraordinary.
48 Hours (Saturday, 10/9c, CBS): There are cold cases, and then there’s the legend that is Lizzie Borden. In a change of pace, the true-crime docuseries reaches back in time to 1892 to reopen the notorious case of the woman accused, but acquitted, of killing her father and stepmother with a hatchet. Correspondent Eric Moriarty convenes a jury of 12 men and women to hear the evidence as presented more than a century ago, and observes their deliberations as they reach a new verdict.
Homeland (Sunday, 9/8c, Showtime): In a pivotal episode of an unnervingly tense final season, two lives are in the balance and the world on the brink of war as Carrie (Claire Danes) desperately tries to rescue her loyal Max (Maury Sterling) from his rogue Taliban captors, while Saul (Mandy Patinkin) maneuvers to halt the execution of reformed Taliban leader Haqqani (Numan Acar). Watching things unfold from our own homeland is an indecisive new president (Sam Trammell) and a hawkish military adviser (Hugh Dancy) with no patience for Saul-like diplomacy.
Westworld (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): Thankfully, this season of the dense sci-fi thriller isn’t so much asking “When am I?” as “Who am I?” — and that especially applies to Charlotte (Tessa Thompson), the former Delos executive who we now know to be a host replica. But just who’s inhabiting her body now in this time of intense corporate intrigue? That’s one of the nagging questions in an episode that also tracks the developing relationship between Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Caleb (Aaron Paul), who declares after getting a glimpse at this warrior’s revolution, “You are the first real thing that has happened to me in a long time.”
Inside Weekend TV: For those desiring some feel-good TV, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries continue their weekend-long Christmas-movie marathons, interrupted by two originals: Hallmark’s Just My Type (Saturday, 9/8c), starring Bethany Joy Lenz as an aspiring novelist whose life changes when she scores an interview and makes a connection with an elusive mystery writer (Brett Dalton); and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ Mystery 101: An Education in Murder (Sunday, 9/8c), the latest in the series starring Jill Wagner as English professor/amateur sleuth Amy Winslow and Kristoffer Polaha as her partner in crime-solving, detective Travis Burke… Heartwarming period drama returns with the ninth-season premiere of PBS’s Call the Midwife (Sunday, 9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), which deals in the opener with an outbreak of diphtheria and the search for the mother of a baby abandoned in a dustbin… Now that AMC’s The Walking Dead (Sunday, 9/8c) has said goodbye to Michonne, it’s time to return to the aftermath of the Hilltop fire, and the fallout from the shocking murder of Alpha by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)… Adult Swim’s cult comics Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are back in the mock sitcom Beef House (Sunday, 12:15 am/11:15c), sharing a house with three other guys and Eric’s too-good-for-this wife Megan (The Sopranos‘ Jamie-Lynn Sigler).