Worth Watching: A New ‘Perry Mason,’ ‘Yellowstone’ and ‘NOS4A2’ Return, the ESPYS

Matthew Rhys Perry Mason HBO
Perry Mason

A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:

Perry Mason (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): This is not the infallible legal eagle that generations of TV viewers grew up on. HBO’s bold revisionist take on the Erle Stanley Gardner character is a film noir-ish origin story for Mason (Matthew Rhys), a disheveled, down-on-his-luck private eye in 1930s Los Angeles. His passion for the law and truth is ignited by a case involving a baby’s kidnapping gone wrong, linked to a powerful evangelical church and its leader, played by Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany. The outstanding cast includes Juliet Rylance as an ahead-of-her-time Della Street and John Lithgow as Mason’s legal mentor, who unlike Perry knows he’s well past his prime. (See the full review.)

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HBO's revisionist origin story for the iconic legal eagle presents Perry Mason as a down-on-his-luck gumshoe in 1930s L.A..

Yellowstone (Sunday, 9/8c, Paramount Network): A new season means a new threat for the ranching Dutton family led by Kevin Costner, who as John Dutton begins his third tour of duty on the hit contemporary adult Western. Josh Holloway rides onto the Montana range as hedge fund manager/developer Roarke Morris, whose designs on their land make him a perfect foil for man-eating Dutton daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly). Their first encounter is harmless enough, swapping saucy banter when she spots him trespassing, fly-fishing in one of their glorious waterways.

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'This is not going to be [your] parents' 'Perry Mason,'' the star says of the prequel's surprising iteration of a beloved character.

NOS4A2 (Sunday, 10/9c, AMC and BBC America): The second season of the horror series adapting Joe Hill’s best-seller picks up eight years after last season’s explosive climax, with Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings) now a mom in Colorado, still trying to put the events of her youth in Haverhill, Mass., behind her. When news reports tell of the death of her supernatural nemesis Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto), Vic’s reignited obsessions put her family at risk. It doesn’t help that she’s getting calls once again from those creepy sharp-teethed children still stuck in the ghoulish Christmasland. Vic knows, and she’s no doubt right given the genre, that even if you stick a fork in Manx, he’s probably not going to stay dead. And now she’s got her own kid to protect.

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John is 'desperate to protect' what's his, like the ranch, the star says.

The 2020 ESPYS (Sunday, 9/8c, ESPN): Expect plenty of uplift, but not the usual awards-show trappings, when the annual celebration of sports achievement returns, produced remotely with hosts Megan Rapinoe (of women’s soccer fame), Seattle Storm’s Sue Bird and Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson. The emphasis will be on stories of service, perseverance and courage, with highlights including a Los Angeles-based tribute to Kobe Bryant featuring a performance by Snoop Dogg, “Athletes United” segments showing athletes and coaches reaching out during the COVID-19 crisis and another segment in which athletes address the Black Lives Matter movement. Among the special accolades: Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love receives the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for his work in bringing mental-illness issues into the light, and the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance goes to Mesabi Range College running back Taquarius Wair, who overcame obstacles after being severely burned in a house fire when he was 4 years old.

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A different kind of vampire story returns on June 21.

The Chi (Sunday, 9/8c, Showtime): Lena Waithe‘s Chicago-set coming-of-age drama returns for a third season, with more change looming for its multigenerational cast. In advance of the timely premiere, a virtual “The Chi with Love” concert will be presented Sunday (7 pm/6c/4 PT) with an appearance by Waithe and a performance by executive producer Common, raising awareness for the Equal Justice Initiative, including a $500,000 donation from Showtime and ViacomCBS. Other headliners include Chi star Jacob Latimore and local faves Twista, Ravyn Lenae, Jamila Woods, BJ The Chicago Kid and MFnMelo.

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John Legend and Family: A Bigger Love Father’s Day (Sunday, 8/7c, ABC): Common is also among the many celebs helping EGOT superstar John Legend celebrate Father’s Day in a variety special featuring music, personal anecdotes and even some comedy, including a game of “Fatherly Feud.” Legend performs from his new album “Bigger Love,” with appearances from wife Chrissy Teigen and their kids, Luna and Miles. Others showing up for the fun include Stevie Wonder, Anthony Anderson, Michael Ealy, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jim Gaffigan, Ne-Yo, Patton Oswalt and sports greats Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal, Deion Sanders and Andy Roddick.

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Paramount Network released a behind-the-scenes look at what to expect this summer, with teases from the cast and producers.

United We Sing: A Grammy Salute to the Unsung Heroes (Sunday, 8/7c, CBS): Continuing the musical theme, Harry Connick, Jr. hosts a tuneful two-hour tribute to essential workers, taking a road trip with filmmaker daughter Georgia in an RV to help famous friends deliver messages of support to those risking everything during the pandemic to keep their neighbors safe. Making special appearances: Sandra Bullock, Drew Brees, Queen Latifah, Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey and Renée Zellweger, with musical performances from Connick, Jon Batiste, Andra Day, John Fogerty, Jamie Foxx, Herbie Hancock, Cyndi Lauper, Brandford and Wynton Marsalis and many others.

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The model is joining the Food Network series for the Sunday, June 21 episode.

Inside Weekend TV: While horse racing’s Triple Crown was disrupted by the pandemic, like many sporting tentpoles, the 152nd Belmont Stakes carries on, with NBC’s coverage starting Saturday at 2:45 pm/1:45c… Neal McDonough didn’t survive the last season of Yellowstone, but he’s back in the saddle in INSP’s post-Civil War drama The Warrant (Saturday, 8/7c). He plays a sheriff who accompanies his son (Steven R. McQueen), a Federal Marshal, to deliver an arrest warrant to a veteran turned vigilante, played by Casper Van Dien… TV One marks Black Music Month with the documentary The Beat Don’t Stop (Sunday, 8/7c), charting the evolution of Go-go music, which Radio One helped popularize… Historian Lucy Worsley, chief curator of Britain’s Historic Royal Palaces, digs into the true stories of three female monarchs in PBS’s three-part Lucy Worsley’s Royal Myths & Secrets (Sunday, 8/7c, check local listings at pbs.org), starting with Elizabeth I and her reputation as the Warrior Queen… ABC News global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz sits down with the former National Security Adviser making waves with his explosive new memoir for the news special The Room Where It Happened: ABC News Exclusive Interview with John Bolton (Sunday, 9/8c)… A Food Network favorite, Worst Cooks in America (Sunday, 9/8c) is back, with Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli joining Anne Burrell as boot-camp mentors, aiming to get a new cast of 14 novices to learn their way around a kitchen. Their first task is to make a favorite childhood dish, then they spice thing up with a course of Jamaican jerk chicken… TBS stages a Tournament of Laughs (Sunday, 10/9c) with Jason Sudeikis hosting as 32 comedians square off in regional competitions in a single-elimination bracket-style laugh-off.