Worth Watching: ‘Fargo’ Rocks, a ‘Family Guy’ Milestone, Political Drama in ‘Comey Rule’
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Fargo (Sunday, 9/8c, FX): After a long three-year wait — and a premiere further delayed because of the pandemic — the fourth season of the quirky crime anthology is finally here. Chris Rock stars in a rare dramatic role as the head of a Kansas City crime family in 1950 who hopes to avert war with a rival Italian mob clan by swapping their youngest sons. Blood is thicker than ice water, which doesn’t stop it from flowing in an unpredictable whirlwind of dark humor and suspense. The exceptional cast includes Jason Schwartzman, Ben Whishaw, Timothy Olyphant and Jessie Buckley. (See the full review.)
Family Guy (Sunday, 9:30/8:30c, Fox): The irreverent animated comedy celebrates its milestone 350th episode — still well behind The Simpsons at 685 — with a major event in the Griffin family, when little Stewie utters his first word. The downside: It’s a swear word — what did you expect? — blurted in church during silent prayer. Papa Peter won’t need his Magic 8 ball to predict that mama Lois will become a town pariah because of her apparent bad parenting.
The rest of the network’s Sunday animation lineup returns, including The Simpsons (8/7c), which opens its 32nd season with an Undercover Boss parody in which Mr. Burns finds a way to go incognito in the power plant, with Stranger Things‘ David Harbour providing the guest voice of the mogul’s alter ego, “Fred.”
The Comey Rule (Sunday, 9/8c, Showtime): Relive, if you can stomach it, recent political history, as Emmy winner Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom) takes on the role of former FBI Director James Comey in a two-part docudrama based on his memoir. To its credit, director/writer Billy Ray’s film neither ennobles nor demonizes this Dudley Do-Right, who comes off as either politically naïve or self-righteously arrogant depending on the situation. The first night tracks Comey’s treacherous tightrope act during the 2016 presidential campaign, as he broke FBI tradition by speaking out publicly about the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails while remaining circumspect about intel involving Russian interference favoring rival Donald Trump in the election. Note: Brendan Gleeson’s savage take on the president doesn’t appear until Monday’s conclusion, which follows Comey’s awkward and doomed relationship with the new commander in chief.
Music to Our Ears: The shows must go on, albeit virtually, as two of TV’s most enduring concert events return. Farm Aid on the Road (Saturday, 8/7c. 5/PT, AXS TV) marks the 35th anniversary of the musical benefit for farmers, and while this year’s concert is more of an at-home experience, familiar Farm Aid talent including Willie Nelson and The Boys, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews will be on hand. Other headliners include Bonnie Raitt, Boz Scaggs, Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Jack Johnson, Jon Batiste and Edie Brickell with Charlie Sexton.
So big it takes two nights to broadcast it all, the 10th anniversary of The iHeartRadio Music Festival (Sunday, 8/7c, The CW; concludes Monday) was filmed earlier this month on stages in Los Angeles and Nashville as a virtual (no fans) event. For one special performance, Kane Brown beamed onto L.A.’s iHeartRadio Theater stage from Nashville via newfangled hologram to perform “Be Like That” with special guests Khalid and Swae Lee. Alicia Keys opens the first night, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, with a roster including Migos, Thomas Rhett, Coldplay and BTS; and on night two, Keith Urban, BTS, Usher, Bon Jovi and Miley Cyrus.
Inside Weekend TV: In anticipation of Lifetime’s “Fear the Cheer” movie series of trashy cheerleader thrillers in October, the network repeats some of its “classics” this weekend, including The Wrong Cheerleader (Saturday, 8/7c), The Cheerleader Murders (Saturday, 10/9c), Undercover Cheerleader (Sunday, 8/7) and Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal (Sunday, 10/9c). Give me a P. Give me a U. What’s that spell?… The 30 for 30 documentary The Life and Trials of Oscar Pistorious, about the rise and fall of the South African Paralympic sprinter, drops all four episodes Sunday on ESPN+… At 94, the revered nature filmmaker (Planet Earth) and conservationist Sir David Attenborough speaks out to Anderson Cooper about the escalating dangers of climate change on CBS’s 60 Minutes (Sunday, 7/6c)… A special two-hour edition of ABC’s 20/20 examines the fame game in $ellebrity: The Go-To Girls (Sunday, 8/7c), all about how Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian West redefined‑some might say cheapened — the idea of celebrity as famous-for-being-famous tabloid-friendly influencers… TV’s obsession with the so-called “Tiger King” continues as Investigation Discovery presents a three-hour wallow over two nights, Joe Exotic: Tigers, Lies and Cover-Ups (Sunday, 9/8c, concludes Monday), with a special focus on the still-unresolved disappearance of Don Lewis, the husband of current Dancing with the Stars underdog Carole Baskin… On a much higher plane, CNN presents the acclaimed documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble (Sunday, 9/8c), profiling the life and achievements of the legendary civil-rights activist and congressman who passed away this summer at 80.