Worth Watching: BET Awards on CBS, 'I'll Be Gone in the Dark,' 'City of Angels' Finale
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
BET Awards (Sunday, 8/7c, BET Networks and CBS): For the first time in its 20-year history, the BET Awards partners with a broadcast network, which seems fitting in a year of such remarkable change and revolution. While recognizing activists and artists, including Beyoncé Knowles-Carter receiving the Humanitarian Award, the socially distanced ceremony will include a tribute to Kobe Bryant from Lil Wayne and a salute to Little Richard from Wayne Brady. Performers include Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, Public Enemy, Questlove, Usher and many more. Insecure's Amanda Seales is host, and Drake leads the field of nominees, in a landmark event that marks BET's 40th anniversary with an appearance by network founder Robert L. Johnson and reflections on the Black community and social justice from celebrated public figures including Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Billy Porter, Courtney B. Vance, Debbie Allen, Lena Waithe, Michael B. Jordan, Lizzo, Misty Copeland, Naomi Campbell, Quincy Jones, Regina Hall, Samuel L. Jackson, Sterling K. Brown, Viola Davis and Whoopi Goldberg.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark (Sunday, 10/9c, HBO): Transcending the true-crime formula, director Liz Garbus's compelling six-part docuseries follows the obsessive quest of the late crime writer/blogger Michelle McNamara as she brings to light the rape-murder spree from the 1970s and '80s of an unknown culprit she dubs the Golden State Killer. "I had a murder habit, and it was bad," Michelle confesses as she and other "citizen detectives" follow leads, and she races to expand an acclaimed magazine article into the titular best-seller, not published until after her death of an accidental overdose of prescription meds. (See the full review.)
Global Goal: Unite for Our Future — The Concert (Saturday, 8/7c, NBC): An international coalition of celebrities and activists converge for an event sponsored by Global Citizen and the European Commission, calling attention to the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has wreaked among the poor, people of color and other oppressed populations. Dwayne Johnson hosts the two-hour concert, featuring performances by Shakira, Coldplay, Jennifer Hudson, Justin Bieber and Quavo, Miley Cyrus and more.
Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (Sunday, 10/9c, Showtime): In the tumultuous first-season finale of the supernatural-laced period drama, a riot breaks out in the wake of a pernicious lynching, leading to martial law being declared in Los Angeles. Among those facing pivotal moments of reckoning: Sister Molly (Kerry Bishé), whose faith is tested by new revelations, and Peter Craft (Rory Kinnear), whose losing battle to keep the peace among his fellow German expats is challenged by the unrest within his fractured family. For detectives Lewis (Nathan Lane) and Tiago (Daniel Zovatto), an urgent mission to keep young scientific genius Brian (Kyle McArthur) from falling into the Nazis' clutches becomes a moral crisis when they realize just who it is they're protecting. All things considered, not the worst time to be marking the annual Day of the Dead.
Perry Mason (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): In a bizarre parallel to City of Angels, this revisionist crime drama (also set in the 1930s) introduces Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany as beloved radio evangelist Sister Alice and Lili Taylor as her controlling, overprotective mother (a less severe version of the Angels character played by Amy Madigan). Their church has a significant connection to the Case of the Indisposed Infant (as Erle Stanley Gardner might have put it), and as Perry (Matthew Rhys) continues his investigation of the grieving parents, both he and African-American LAPD cop Paul Drake (Chris Chalk) are presented with new mysteries involving the murdered kidnappers. Curious about Perry's clouded past as a WW1 veteran? Helpful flashbacks fill in some tragic gaps.
Yellowstone (Sunday, 9/8c, Paramount Network): There's a real pining for the way things were when Grandpa John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and young Tate (Brecken Merrill) set up summer camp out in the open, joined by Kayce (Luke Grimes) and Monica (Kelsey Asbille) and the occasional lone wolf. This modern Western seems to be taking a more leisurely approach to its storytelling this season, which is a pleasant change, although not so much for bad-luck black sheep Jamie (Wes Bentley), whose first crisis as the new Livestock Commissioner goes sideways. And once Beth (Kelly Reilly) figures out what hedge-fund entrepreneur Roarke (Josh Holloway) has in mind for the land Market Equities has its eyes on, the stage is set for a fiery second encounter. Their chemistry is palpable, but it's hard not to see this war ending badly for someone. Joining the cast: Jennifer Landon as a trash-talking — she'll fit right in — cowhand named Teeter. (Yes, that's Michael Landon's daughter, a world removed from Little House on the Prairie.)
Inside Weekend TV: Showtime's Black Monday (Sunday, 8/7c), which paused its second season of raucous satire because of post-production issues during the pandemic, is back with the final four episodes… National Geographic's Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks (Sunday, 8:30/7:30c) kicks off its seventh season with a 90-minute episode, introducing a new captain, Gloucester champ Dave Carraro of the FV-Tuna.com, to the competition among bluefin tuna fishermen… ESPN's Backstory: The Decision (Sunday, 9/8c) looks back 10 years to the network's controversial The Decision special during which LeBron James, as an NBA free agent, announced amid much fanfare and backlash his decision to leave Cleveland for the Miami Heat… Jake Tapper anchors CNN Special Report: Trump and the Law after Impeachment (Sunday, 10/9c), interviewing former top officials at the departments of Justice, Labor, Defense and Homeland Security about the president's relationship and, to some, apparent disregard for the rule of law as it applies to the office of the presidency… The ghoulish Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto) takes center stage in the second episode of AMC/BBC America's NOS4A2 (Sunday, 10/9c) as he rises from the morgue, contending with some pesky autopsy incisions and distracted by flashbacks from his pre-Christmasland days.