Worth Watching: 'Alienist' Sequel, Return of Sharkfest, 'Masterpiece' Finales
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness (Sunday, 9/8c, TNT): The atmospheric period mystery, winner of an Emmy for special visual effects, returns for a four-week limited-series sequel, with back-to-back episodes each Sunday. Based on Caleb Carr's best-sellers, Angel of Darkness opens in 1897 New York, where Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning) is now a full-fledged private detective. When the infant daughter of the Spanish Consulate is kidnapped, Sara reunites the team of pioneering forensic psychiatrist Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl) and illustrator-turned-New York Times crime reporter John Moore (Luke Evans) to join the search, which reveals the existence of another deranged killer.
Sharkfest (Sunday, 8/7c, National Geographic): The eighth annual orgy of underwater filmmaking, spotlighting the fearsome predators of the deep, kicks off a five-week smorgasbord of 17 new specials — transitioning to Nat Geo WILD Aug. 9 — with World's Biggest Tiger Shark? In the opener, Emmy-winning cinematographer Andy Casagrande and marine biologist Kori Garza head to French Polynesia in search of the 13-foot Kamakai, rumored to be the world's largest living tiger shark.
Masterpiece Finales: The fifth season of Grantchester (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org) ends with Will (Tom Brittney) forced to confront his many lurking inner demons when the latest case — involving a dead woman found laid out on Jesus Green in the shape of a crucifix — leads him and Geordie (Robson Green) to an oppressive convent… Followed by the climax of the one and only season of the lavish Beecham House (10/9c, check local listings at pbs.org), set in late-18th-century Delhi, in which the embattled John Beecham (Tom Bateman) learns who betrayed him and has a romantic reunion with Margaret Osborne (Dakota Blue Richards). My advice: As the couple gazes upon the Taj Mahal, stop there to give them the happy ending they deserve. Because in the ill-conceived cliffhanger a few minutes later, they return to Beecham House for a calamitous discovery that, thanks to the UK's ITV, will never be resolved.
It's a Crime on HBO: As HBO's revisionist Perry Mason (Sunday, 9/8c) reels from tragedy, events in the Dodson case propel a frustrated Perry (Matthew Rhys) to pursue becoming a lawyer. (And you won't believe who gives him a hand.) One part of his back story I could have done without: his mea culpa to an ex-wife (Gretchen Mol) and son (Cooper Friedman) he sees too seldom… The fourth chapter of the fascinating true-crime docuseries I'll Be Gone in the Dark (Sunday, 10/9c) veers into its most tragic territory, as writer Michelle McNamara dives ever deeper into the case of the Golden State Killer. New research feeds her addiction to her work at the expense of her family and eventually her health, as she turns to prescription drugs to alleviate her many anxieties and nightmares.
Yellowstone (Sunday, 9/8c, Paramount Network): The hit contemporary Western finally goes there, promising to expose one of the series' more lingering mysteries: Why in the world do the steely Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) and sad-sack lawyer brother Jamie (Wes Bentley) despise each other so? As we learn the origin of that fraught sibling backstory, cowboy brother Kayce (Luke Grimes), who nearly everyone likes, once again bends the rules for a good cause.
NOS4A2 (Sunday, 10/9c, AMC and BBC America): The second season's most harrowing episode to date, told from the alternating viewpoints of Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings) and her endangered son Wayne (Jason David), brings this horror saga to the turning point everyone has feared. The undying fiend Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto), with burly sidekick Bing (Olafur Darri Olafsson) in tow, has followed the psychic trail to the lake house, where the McQueens have been hiding little Wayne. Can they keep the beloved boy from getting in the Wraith for a one-way ride to creepy Christmasland?
Valerie Bertinelli: In My Own Words (Saturday, 9/8c, Reelz): We watched her grow up on the original One Day at a Time. We enjoyed her cavorting as a grown-up on Hot in Cleveland. Now more often associated with Food Network, the TV fan favorite enlists her brother, friends and co-stars to help look back at her career, her personal highs (marriages to Eddie Van Halen and businessman Tom Vitale) and lows (Van Halen's cocaine addiction and her struggles with weight).
Inside Weekend TV: Everyone loves a good cat video, but Animal Planet's My Cat from Hell: Cat Sh#t Crazy! (Saturday, 9/8c) realizes we're sometimes less amused when cooped up with a restless feline friend during quarantine. Animal expert/host Jackson Galaxy offers some remote assistance to fretful pet owners… Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo — soon to portray Aretha Franklin in a new season of Genius — provides a stirring portrait of resistance in Harriet, making its HBO debut (Saturday, 8/7c), as abolitionist and women’s suffrage icon Harriet Tubman. Hamilton's Leslie Odom Jr. co-stars as William Till, known today as the father of the Underground Railroad… TV One's Coins for Love (Sunday, 9/8c), a sequel to Coins for Christmas, stars Essence Atkins reprising her role of single-mom Madison Morris, juggling career and romance when she becomes personal assistant to a rising star (Stephen Bishop) on a national sports network… A fifth season of CNN's provocative United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell (Sunday, 10/9c) begins with the timeliest of topics: "Where Do We Even Start with White Supremacy?"