Worth Watching: Premieres of ‘Killing Eve,’ ‘Belgravia,’ ‘Run,’ ‘Baptiste,’ Netflix Exploits ‘Tiger King’
A selective critical checklist of notable TV on an unusually busy Easter weekend:
Killing Eve (Sunday, 9/8c, BBC America and AMC): The third season of the kinky, darkly comic and sporadically shocking spy thriller was moved ahead of schedule two weeks as a treat to viewers during these cloistered times — and also because AMC had to delay its latest Walking Dead spinoff until later this year. No matter. Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer are still utter catnip in this cat-and-mouse (but which is which?) about Eve (Oh), a frazzled now-former MI6 agent, and glamorously twisted international assassin Villanelle (Comer), who are obsessed with each other to a murderous fault. Last season, Villanelle shot Eve, leaving her for dead in Rome — but she obviously survived, or there wouldn’t be a third season. With both taking a temporary pause in their chosen professions, a brutal twist will eventually reunite them (though not in the premiere). The great British actress Harriet Walter joins the cast as Dasha, a former Russian gymnast-turned-killer who groomed Villanelle and urges the lethal lunatic to get back in the game.
Belgravia (Sunday, 9/8c, Epix): Harriet Walter is also a key figure in this lavish six-episode period drama from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, adapting his 2016 novel. In a Victorian world of rigid class divisions, Walter plays the regal and witty Lady Brockenhurst, who learns from socially conscious and reserved trader’s wife Anne Trechanrd (the marvelously subtle Tamsin Greig) a family secret that will soon change all their fortunes. (See the full review.)
Run (Sunday, 10:30/9:30c, HBO): A wild and gloriously unpredictable ride awaits those who hop aboard this exhilarating exercise in bracingly original romantic comedy. Merritt Wever (Unbelievable) is marvelous as bored suburbanite Ruby, who gets a text from rascally ex-boyfriend Billy (Domhnall Gleeson) telling her to “RUN.” And they’re off on a cross-country train trip where perils and surprise lurk around every bend. Travel on the rails has rarely seemed so inviting, or sexy. (See the full review.)
Baptiste (Sunday, 10/9c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Familiar to viewers of the Starz crime drama The Missing, cerebral French detective Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo) graduates to top-billing in a slow-burning but ultimately devastating six-part Masterpiece Mystery! spinoff. Retired and slowing down, telling anyone who will listen that “I’m not the man I was” after surviving a brain tumor, he’s still a quietly intense force to be reckoned with. While visiting family in Amsterdam, Baptiste is drawn into the case of a desperate Englishman (The Night Manager‘s excellent Tom Hollander) seeking his niece, a prostitute who may know too much about a Romanian sex-trafficking operation. As is often the case, no one is quite who they seem, and before it’s over, the mobsters are threatening Baptiste’s own loved ones.
Biography: Dolly (Sunday, 8/7c, A&E): Who has a better life story than Dolly Parton? The effervescent country legend gets the full Biography treatment in a two-hour special reaching back to a childhood of poverty to her celebrated career, recently celebrated in a 50th-anniversary tribute at the Grand Ole Opry. 9 to 5 co-stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda join the likes of Chris Stapleton and Kylie Minogue in singing Dolly’s praises. Followed by the concert special Willie Nelson: American Outlaw, filmed earlier in Nashville to mark the singer-songwriter’s 70-year career. Performers include the afore-mentioned Stapleton, plus Jimmy Buffett, George Strait, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Norah Jones and many more.
The Tiger King and I (Sunday, streaming on Netflix): Never let it be said that Netflix is afraid to milk a cash cow — or caged tiger. With others (including Fox on Monday) hopping aboard the Tiger King bandwagon, the streaming giant rushes in with a hastily announced “after show” eighth episode, hosted by Soup veteran Joel McHale. (In a promo, he promises it will be “eye opening and hopefully funny.”) The series’ two main figures, the incarcerated Joe Exotic and animal sanctuary owner Carole Baskin (who has denounced the series), are not participating, but you can hear from such publicity hounds as John Reinke, Joshua Dial, John Finlay, Saff, Eric Cowie, Rick Kirkman and Jeff and Lauren Lowe about how this exploitative guilty pleasure has rocked their worlds.
Homeland (Sunday, 9/8c, Showtime): In another shattering episode of the political thriller’s final season, Carrie (Claire Danes) is considered “somewhere between a rogue agent and a national security threat” now that the flight recorder she broke all kinds of rules to track down has vanished into Russian hands, containing information that could avert nuclear war. But as a frustrated Saul (Mandy Patinkin) concedes, “The truth isn’t much good if no one will listen.”
Inside Weekend TV: NBC’s Saturday Night Live (Saturday, 11:30/10:30c) returns after an outbreak-forced shutdown with new material produced remotely, including a fresh Weekend Update and comedy from various cast members… Three women attacked in the 1970s by notorious serial killer Ted Bundy recall their harrowing ordeals in CBS’s 48 Hours: Live to Tell: Surviving Ted Bundy (Saturday, 10/9c)… Lifetime dramatizes the lives of gospel legends in The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel (Saturday, 8/7c), executive-produced by Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott and featuring Aunjanue Ellis as matriarch Mattie Moss Clark. (Their story is also told in a replay of TV One’s Unsung: The Clark Sisters on Sunday at 9/8c.)… “It’s time everyone woke up,” declares Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) on HBO’s Westworld (Sunday, 9/8c) as she aims to strike a blow against tech mogul Serac (Vincent Cassel) and his oppressively predictive supercomputer Rehoboam. If you’ve been yearning for more insight into Serac’s crusade of bringing order to chaos, this is your episode… Followed by the fourth-season premiere of HBO’s comedy hit Insecure (Sunday, 10/9c), in which Issa (Issa Rae) plans a mixer — remember mixers that weren’t on Zoom? — to pitch her block party (remember those?) to potential sponsors… Comedy Central’s documentary film This Is Stand Up (Sunday, 10/9c) pulls back the curtain on the struggles and successes of stand-up comedians, featuring a wide range of anecdotal joke-tellers including Judd Apatow, Dave Attell, Maria Bamford, Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, Jamie Foxx, Gilbert Gottfried, Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, D.L. Hughley, George Lopez, Chris Rock, Bob Saget, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, Keenan Ivory Wayans and the late, great Garry Shandling.