Worth Watching: ‘Homeland’ and ‘God’ Finales, ‘Idol’ Goes Remote, ‘Penny Dreadful’ in L.A., HBO’s ‘Bad Education’
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Homeland (Sunday, 9/8c, Showtime): The gripping political thriller closes the book on its electrifying final season, with Carrie (Claire Danes) still desperately trying to avert a nuclear showdown with Pakistan. But to achieve her ends, she may need to betray (or worse) the one person who’s always had her back: National Security Advisor Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin). Can there possibly be a peaceful, if not happy, ending to this harrowing international crisis?
God Friended Me (Sunday, 8/7c, CBS): At least we knew Homeland‘s end was coming. In a more surprising finish, CBS is ending the run of this heartwarming drama after two seasons with a two-hour finale the network hopes will bring some satisfying closure, and emotional release, to fans. In the first hour, Miles (Brandon Micheal Hall) answers a boy’s friend request to reunite his dad, the creator of the original God Account algorithm, with his own estranged father. The final hour promises to be a tearjerker, when the God Account sends Miles the name of his own sister, Ali (Javicia Leslie), as a friend suggestion on the eve on her cancer surgery.
American Idol (Sunday, 8/7c, ABC): Idol has never looked, or sounded, like this before. The iconic singing competition adapts to the new normal as the top 20 singers compete from their homes all across America (including Canada), filming their performances on iPhones as they vie for viewers’ votes. Judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, host Ryan Seacrest and mentor Bobby Bones weigh in from remote locations as well.
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (Sunday, 10/9c, Showtime): A world removed from the Gothic horrors of the original series, Dreadful creator John Logan now embraces conventions of 1930s Los Angeles film noir for a spinoff. City of Angels shrouds its Chinatown-style intrigues with a subtext of racial oppression in L.A.’s Latino community — and supernatural shenanigans courtesy of a shape-shifting demon (Game of Thrones‘ Natalie Dormer) who seeks to stir up the city’s melting pot and make life a living hell for humanity. Nathan Lane and Daniel Zavarro star as the detectives trying to sort out all of the mayhem. (See the full review.)
Bad Education (Saturday, 8/7c, HBO): Hugh Jackman is a fascinating study in preening vanity and corrupt self-denial in this slickly entertaining fact-based morality tale. He’s Frank Tassone, superintendent of a Long Island school district who attempts an audacious cover-up when a student journalist (the terrific Geraldine Viswanathan) exposes an embezzlement scheme now known to be the largest school theft in American history. Bad Education has a light satirical touch that never diminishes the seriousness of the subject, and Mom‘s Allison Janney employs her flamboyant bravado as Tassone’s assistant superintendent, whose overt misuse of school funds for home-improvements cracks open the scandal. The moral: By your student you’ll be schooled.
Westworld (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): If you’ve been waiting for the showdown between former “hosts” Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve (Thandie Newton), the penultimate episode of the mind-teasing sci-fi thriller’s third season will not disappoint. But the biggest revelations involve the puzzling backstory of Dolores’s human sidekick Caleb (Aaron Paul), whose role in the revolution is about to escalate.
Killing Eve (Sunday, 9/8c, BBC America): Speaking of showdowns, Eve (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer) finally come face to face again in the season’s third episode, when the assassin returns to London on a mission. But first, Villanelle stops into a perfume store, where she demands in her deliciously capricious manner: “I want to smell powerful. I want to make people gag with it. I want to smell like a Roman centurion who’s coming across an old foe who in battle once hurt her greatly.” Sorry, V. You can’t mask the musk of madness.
NCIS: Los Angeles (Sunday, 10/9c, CBS): Fueling more speculation that a JAG reboot may someday be inevitable, the season finale of the hit spinoff brings Marine Lt. Col. Sarah “Mac” MacKenzie (Catherine Bell) back into the world of the L.A. team. She asks their help on a sensitive case (seemingly ripped from the headlines) involving the accusation by two SEALs that their chief murdered an unarmed prisoner. To get to the truth, Sam (LL Cool J), Callen (Chris O’Donnell) and Rountree (Caleb Castille) head to Afghanistan.
Inside Weekend TV: With the help of Sesame Street characters Big Bird, Abby Cadabby, Elmo, Rosita and Grover, CNN presents a town hall for kids, The ABC’s of COVID-19 (Saturday, 9 am/8c), explaining aspects of the pandemic and how it has changed our lives, for families to watch together… Later Saturday, CNN’s Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir presents a CNN Special Report, The Road to Change: America’s Climate Crisis (10/c), where he embarks on a nationwide road trip fro the Florida Keys to Alaska to show how the climate crisis is already transforming the country… MTV revives one of its iconic franchises with Club MTV Presents #DanceTogether with D-Nice (Saturday, 10/9c), in which DJ Derrick “D-Nice” Jones spins music from his home in downtown L.A. with celebrities popping in via remote video. The one-night revival is a fundraiser for the Save the Music Foundation… NBC’s Saturday Night Live (11:30/10:30) attempts its second “at-home” edition… Pete Holmes (HBO’s Crashing) guests on Fox’s The Simpsons (Sunday, 8/7c) as a charismatic new preacher who stirs up a devil of a jealous streak in a suspicious Rev. Lovejoy… A hit for ESPN last weekend, the docu-series The Last Dance (Sunday, 9/8c) continues its chronicle of the Chicago Bulls’ 1997-98 season with episodes focusing on the controversial Dennis Rodman and coach Phil Jackson. (The first two episodes are replayed starting at 7/6c)… In the season finale of Hallmark’s frontier drama When Calls the Heart (Sunday, 8/7c), Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) gets good news about her book, but it’s not such a happy day for Mountie Nathan (Kevin McGarry) when a prisoner transfer goes badly.