Worth Watching: Princess Di and Thatcher Upstage ‘The Crown,’ ‘Good Lord Bird’ Finale, 200th ‘Bob’s Burgers,’ a Surreal ‘Fargo’
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
The Crown (Sunday, streaming on Netflix): In her last run as Queen Elizabeth, the supernaturally restrained Olivia Colman deals with two formidable female phenoms in the dramatically rich fourth season of the majestic drama. Prince Charles’ (Josh O’Connor) young bride, Princess Diana (Emma Corrin), achieves a popularity eclipsing that of the royal family while masking her unhappiness; and Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher (the astonishing, icy Gillian Anderson), clashes with the more empathetic Queen in a series of riveting audiences. (See the full review.)
The Good Lord Bird (Sunday, 9/8c, Showtime): The stirring conclusion of the historical drama depicts the last stand of abolitionist zealot John Brown (a fiery Ethan Hawke) during a fateful standoff at Harper’s Ferry, where he remains resolute despite towering odds of failure. As his mentor and sometimes rival Frederick Douglass (Daveed Diggs) puts it: “No man fails or can ever fail who so grandly gives himself and all he has to a righteous cause.” For admiring sidekick Onion (Joshua Caleb Johnson), it’s finally time to give up his disguise and face the music as his true self, Henry: “How can I die as a man if I ain’t lived like one yet?” (See the series review.)
Bob’s Burgers (Sunday, 9/8c, Fox): 200 episodes in, and it’s business as usual for Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) and his family burger joint — which is to say, an anxiety-ridden mess. In a charming milestone episode, everyone but Bob takes responsibility (sometimes musically, naturally) for a calamity that threatens the eatery just in time for the annual Ocean Fest on Ocean Avenue. And all Bob asked was, “I need you kids to not be … horrible.” Easier said than done, at least in their own minds.
Fargo (Sunday, 10/9c): In a stylistic high point for the season — make that the entire series — the world of Fargo shifts into glorious black and white to follow Rabbi (a mournful Ben Whishaw) on a road trip with his ward from the Cotton family, Satchel (Rodney L. Jones III), in a quest for hidden loot and safety in the midst of some very odd strangers. Elements of David Lynch and The Wizard of Oz permeate this odyssey, and where the final two episodes will take us is anyone’s guess.
Ask Matt: Pandemic TV, ABC's Games Mania (But Where's 'Password?'), 'Walker' Remake, 'Filthy' Not So 'Rich' & More
History’s Greatest Mysteries (Saturday, 9/8c, History): Laurence Fishburne (black-ish) narrates a new docuseries that dives into mysterious or tragic incidents that continue to stoke the imagination decades or centuries later. First up: “The Final Hunt for D.B. Cooper,” which enlists Cooper-phile Eric Ulis to share the results of 7,500 hours of research, including more than 20,000 pages of FBI case files, to reveal the location where he believes the hijacker landed in 1971 after parachuting into the unknown with a bag of $200,000 in cash, never to be seen again. Future episodes tackle the sinking of the Titanic, the search for explorer Ernest Shackleton’s missing ice ship, the fate of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, and a three-part investigation of Roswell.
The Reagans (Sunday, 10/9c): An unsparingly critical four-part appraisal of President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy begins by analyzing what executive producer/director Matt Tyrnauer calls “The Hollywood Myth Machine.” With the help of a powerful gossip columnist, Reagan was able to shape the image of a movie hero, which later morphed into the role of a lifetime: as a “citizen politician” selling an ideology amenable to the power brokers that saw a future for him in the White House.
Ho-Ho-Holiday Movies: The gift bag overfloweth. From Hallmark: Christmas in Vienna (Saturday, 8/7c) stars Grey’s Anatomy‘s Sarah Drew as a violinist who rekindles her love of music after bonding with a widowed diplomat (Brennan Elliott) in Vienna and his three children; and A Timeless Christmas (Sunday, 8/7c), in which a mansion’s tour guide (Erin Cahill) falls for the original owner (Ryan Paevey), who’s magically transported from a century ago into the 2000s through a magical clock. … On Hallmark Movies & Mysteries: Good Witch‘s Catherine Bell stars in Meet Me at Christmas (Saturday, 10/9c) as a mom planning her son’s Christmas Eve wedding with the bride’s handsome uncle (Mark Deklin); and Holly Robinson Peete in the title role of The Christmas Doctor (Saturday, 10/9c), as a traveling physician assigned to a small-town clinic where romance looms for the holidays. … On Lifetime: Christmas on Wheels (Saturday, 8/7c) involves a vintage red convertible that’s restored in time to deliver gifts to a small-town community; and The Christmas Edition (Sunday, 8/7c) focuses on that endangered species, the small-town local newspaper, when a journalist (Carly Hughes) moves to Alaska to revive the paper with Christmas cheer. Marie Osmond co-stars.
Inside Weekend TV: Cable’s Buzzr salutes the late Alex Trebek with a daylong marathon of game-show appearances (starting Saturday at 12:30 pm/11:30c), including as a contestant on Card Sharks, playing against fellow game-show hosts for charity, plus episodes of Classic Concentration and a revival of To Tell the Truth. … President Obama discusses his memoir, A Promised Land, in news-making interview with Gayle King on CBS Sunday Morning (9 am/8c) and with Scott Pelley on CBS’s 60 Minutes (Sunday, 7/6c). … Broadway diva Kristen Chenoweth hosts Food Network’s Candy Land (Sunday, 9/8c), a confectionary competition based on the classic board game, in which five teams of cake and sugar experts create sweet treats from materials found in the Peppermint Forest, Gumdrop Mountains, the Lollipop Woods and so on. Remember to floss. … Demi Lovato hosts E! People’s Choice Awards (Sunday, 9/8c), where Jennifer Lopez gets the Icon award, Tyler Perry receives People’s Champion of 2020 honors and Tracee Ellis Ross is named Fashion Icon of 2020. Justin Bieber is among the performers. … From the true-crime ledger: HBO’s four-part docuseries Murder on Middle Beach (Sunday, 10/9c) is first-time filmmaker Madison Hamburg’s deeply personal and obsessive investigation into the 2010 murder of his divorced mother, Barbara, uncovering dark secrets within his Connecticut family. … On a lighter note, MeTV’s Collector’s Call (10/9c) has a delightful surprise in store for two Dolly Parton fans from Pigeon Forge, TN, who share their treasure trove of Dolly memorabilia, said to be the largest private collection anywhere.