Worth Watching: 'Masterpiece' Doubles Up With 'Grantchester' and 'Beecham,' '60 Minutes' on Tulsa Massacre, Finales of 'True' and 'Insecure'
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Grantchester (Sunday, 9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): The new vicar, Will Davenport (Tom Brittney), isn't so new anymore, and the fifth season of the Masterpiece mystery series continues to satisfy as Will and Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (the invaluable Robson Green) discover more dark corners in their bucolic village. In the opener, Will finds new admirers among the entitled students at an all-female college, where an apparent drowning death exposes a subculture of drinking societies and initiation rites. As usual, Geordie is all "What's the world coming to?" while Will, who sowed his own wild oats not that long ago, understands these suspects too well.
Beecham House (Sunday, 10/9c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): A second hour of Masterpiece escapism takes us back to 1795 India in a sumptuous six-episode historical soap. When British trader and ex-soldier John Beecham (Tom Bateman) moves into a mansion in remote Delhi, gossip flies about the mixed-race infant he is raising, but whose origins he refuses to discuss. Matters become more complicated when his family (including Downton Abbey's Lesley Nicol as his kvetching mother) arrives, making Beecham House a very busy and full house. (See full review.)
60 Minutes (Sunday, 7/6c, CBS): Many people may have first been exposed to the tragic history of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre in the opening scenes of HBO's Watchmen. This largely forgotten incident of devastating racist violence has resurfaced amid the news of the president choosing Tulsa as the site of a campaign rally on June 19 — or Juneteenth. (He has since moved the rally to the following day.) The revered newsmagazine presents a report from Scott Pelley in Tulsa, where a community is hoping to bring this shameful chapter into the light.
The Playbook (Saturday, 8/7c, NBC): In another timely news report, NBC's Lester Holt anchors a Dateline NBC special that looks at whether the pandemic that is still sweeping through the country might have been contained or slowed if government agencies had followed the "Pandemic Playbook" prepared for White House officials in 2016. Among those interviewed: Dr. Beth Cameron, former head of the National Security Council's pandemic response and preparedness team, and Jeremy Konyndyk, who helped coordinate the Obama administration's response to the Ebola outbreak, both among the authors of the 2016 "Playbook."
Taking a very different angle on the pandemic, CNN's Bats: The Mystery Behind COVID-19 (Sunday, 10/9c) looks at the possible link between bats and deadly viruses including the coronavirus. Anderson Cooper hosts this investigation, featuring interviews with bat-borne-disease experts, many of whom believe COVID-19 originated among bats in southeastern China and could be instrumental in finding a treatment.
I Know This Much Is True (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): Mark Ruffalo's remarkable performance as twin brothers, one mentally disturbed and the other emotionally crippled, makes even the most grueling moments of this wrenching drama worth watching. In the final chapter, Dominick finds little to celebrate after securing brother Thomas's freedom from his latest confinement. When another body blow of misfortune occurs, Dominick publicly unleashes his wrath at stepfather Ray (John Procaccino) until further events lead to reconciliation and even a glimmer of hope that Dominick may finally achieve some inner peace.
Insecure (10:20/9:20c, HBO): Can these relationships and friendships be saved? The fourth season has brought former BFFs Issa (Issa Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji) to the breaking point time and again, and while Issa seems back on good terms with her on-and-off-now-on-again boyfriend Laurence (Jay Ellis), Molly's contentious relationship with Andrew (Alexander Hodge) could hit another bump when she takes him to a work function. When the estranged gal pals get what is described as "distressing" news about a friend, could this bring them back together?
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (Sunday, 10/9c, Showtime): "Save her? We're just trying to survive her," quips detective Lewis Michener (Nathan Lane) about the city of Los Angeles. His crusade against the Nazis trying to gain influence among the local movers and shakers leads to many a showdown. And while German-American Bund leader Dr. Peter Croft (Rory Kinnear) is promoting a platform of peace, which none of his fellow ex-pats is buying, he should be focusing on the horror-show within his own home, where creepy little Frank (The Kids Are Alright's Santino Barnard) is spooking everyone, especially defiant housekeeper Maria (Adriana Barraza). Another reason to watch: a special musical interlude from a performer well known to fans of the original Penny Dreadful.
Inside Weekend TV: Postponed from last weekend, CNN's The ABCs of COVID-19 (Saturday, 10 am/9c) uses Sesame Street fan favorites Big Bird, Elmo and Abby Cadabby to explain to children and their parents the latest news about the virus, including how to stay safe during the summer… Ovation revives the 2015 mystery series Partners in Crime (Saturday, 7/6, 4/PT) for a six-week run, starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine as Agatha Christie's intrepid Tommy and Tuppence, in stories updated to the 1950s' Cold War era… ESPN continues its run of Sunday night sports documentaries with the 30 for 30 film Long Gone Summer (Sunday, 9/8c), reliving the summer of 1998 when the St. Louis Cardinals' Mark McGwire and the Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa became a national obsession as they each sought to break Roger Maris's record of 61 home runs in a single season. Their accomplishments were later tarnished by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use… The trial of the murderer on board gets underway on TNT's Snowpiercer (Sunday, 9/8c), but Melanie (Jennifer Connelly) has her hands full quelling an uprising from Third Class, which is threatening a work stoppage unless they get representation on the jury.