Worth Watching: ‘Snowpiercer’ & ‘Hightown’ Finales, ‘P-Valley’ Swings Into Action, ‘Perry Mason’ Bends the Rules
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Snowpiercer (Sunday, 9/8c, TNT): “The train demanded blood,” reflects a demoted and imprisoned Melanie (Jennifer Connelly), and the frozen world’s longest survival passenger train gets what it asks for in a very eventful finale of back-to-back episodes that takes some major turns in preparation for a second season (which will likely be another long wait). With a back-of-the-train rebellion worthy of Les Miserables seemingly doomed by the rapacious First Class and their jackboots, the reversals of fortune can be foreshadowed by the cliffhanger episode’s title: “994 Cars Long.” (Do the math.) The surprises continue to the end, when the survivors aboard Snowpiercer realize not all of the threats to their existence lurk inside the train.
Hightown (Sunday, 8/7c, Starz): Also renewed for a second round, the gritty New England crime drama ends its first season with emotional and legal fallout from the latest tragedy. Jackie (Monica Raymund) is a mess as usual, but so is the case against Frankie (Amaury Nolasco), while Ray (James Badge Dale) could see his entire law-enforcement career blow up over the bad decisions he’s made. Can the good guys get their act together in time for next season?
P-Valley (Sunday, 9/8c, Starz): The pandemic kept us from getting a third season of Pose this summer, but anyone seeking exotic and outrageous characters in a proudly diverse and eroticized setting may find their bliss in playwright Katori Hall’s raw, raunchy and heartfelt drama (adapted from her play) about the denizens of a strip club in the Mississippi Delta. Humanizing rather than exploiting these bawdy working women, executed by a team of all-female directors, P-Valley only occasionally lapses into melodrama as it introduces memorable characters like ambitious and soon-to-retire pole-mistress Mercedes (Brandee Evans), gender-fluid and cash-strapped proprietor Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan, who could give Billy Porter a run for their money) and enigmatic newbie Autumn Night (Elarica Johnson), who’s hiding and possibly running from a traumatic past.
Perry Mason (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): Now at the halfway point in its fourth episode, the bold and predictably polarizing origin story finds Perry (Matthew Rhys) and sidekick Pete Strickland (the droll Shea Whigham) on the fringes of the law, as they draw skittish coroner Virgil (Jefferson Mays) into their scheme to expose a cover-up. The episode really belongs to John Lithgow in a poignant performance as Perry’s employer and mentor, E.B. Jonathan, who comes to terms with the unavoidable realization that his legal skills, bluff and bluster aren’t what they used to be.
Unfiltered (Saturday, 8:30/7:30c, Nickelodeon): Back in the days of the classic game show What’s My Line?, panelists would try to guess the identity of a celebrity “Mystery Guest” while wearing blindfolds. That was then, and this is the high-tech now, as Saturday Night Live veteran Jay Pharoah hosts a remotely produced game show in when young stars try to decipher which famous face is behind an animated 3D filter and voice changer. Those playing the guessing games include America’s Got Talent‘s Darci Lynne and All That‘s Lex Lumpkin and Gabrielle Nevaeh Green.
Inside Weekend TV: More fun for Nickelodeon fans, as the Zoey 101 cast led by Jamie Lynn Spears gathers on All That (Saturday, 9/8c) for their first on-air reunion since the show wrapped in 2008. … OWN’s social experiment Family or Fiancé (Saturday, 9/8c) is back with new episodes, in which engaged couples try to convince their disapproving families that they deserve to be together, while all live under one roof for three days. … Also returning: Nat Geo Wild’s popular The Incredible Dr. Pol (Saturday, 9/8c) with a 90-minute premiere. … Back on History: The UnXplained (Saturday, 9/8c), hosted by the inXhaustible William Shatner, with a second-season premiere all about mysterious escapes, including the exploits of Henry Houdini; followed by the second-season opener of Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation (Saturday, 10/9c), which may or not appease those upset by the channel’s cancellation of Project Blue Book. … NFL Hall of Famers take on some of the league’s rising stars, tackling the usual assortment of ridiculous “Survey Says” innuendo, on ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud (Sunday, 8/7c). … Donnie Wahlberg hosts a second season of HLN’s Very Scary People (Sunday, 9/8c), a title quite fitting for the first subject: serial killer David Berkowitz, better known as “Son of Sam.” … We know that Will Davenport (Tom Brittney), the vicar of PBS’s Grantchester (Sunday, 9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), likes to work out his frustrations at the local boxing gym. His faith is tested when he finds two young lads near death in the ring.