Worth Watching: ‘Baby Chimp Rescue,’ ‘A Holly Dolly Christmas,’ ‘Shameless’ to the End, Bryan Cranston Is ‘Your Honor’
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Baby Chimp Rescue (Saturday, 8/7c, BBC America): They’re not monkeying around in this huggably heartwarming nature series, and you’re likely to instantly fall for these orphaned baby chimpanzees. The three-part Rescue series follows American couple Jenny and Jim Desmond, raising an ever-growing family of 21 mischievous chimps in Liberia while building a forest sanctuary for them to roam free — though first, they’ll need to learn how to live in the wild.
A Holly Dolly Christmas (Sunday, 8:30/7:30c, 8/PT, CBS): Even if she hadn’t donated $1 million to COVID-19 vaccine research, Dolly Parton would forever be one of our pop-culture heroes — and here she comes again, brightening the holiday season with a special featuring songs from her new Christmas album. She’ll also share uplifting and personal stories about the season as only Dolly can.
Shameless (Sunday, 9/8c, Showtime): The real world intrudes on the network’s longest-running series as the darkly comedic family dramedy begins its 11th and final season, with the Gallaghers besieged by the pandemic and encroaching gentrification. While Frank (William H. Macy) faces mortality yet again — talk about nine lives — Lip (Jeremy Allen White) comes to grips with the notion of becoming the new family leader. Everyone else? At their usual crossroads of surviving love, life and each other.
Your Honor (Sunday, 10/9c, Showtime): Multiple Emmy (and Tony) winner Bryan Cranston is once again breaking, or at least, bending bad in this grim melodrama, returning to TV as New Orleans judge Michael Desiato, who skirts the law he’s meant to uphold to protect his teenage son (Hunter Doohan). The kid is in mortal danger after fleeing a car accident that killed the son of the city’s most dangerous mobster (Michael Stuhlbarg), and Judge Michael will go to any lengths to keep him safe. Cranston is always watchable, and he commands attention as a pillar of tortured conscience, even though he seems to have forgotten the cardinal rule that the cover-up is almost always worse than the crime. While he goes about doing all the wrong things for what he thinks are the right reasons, you might not be able to stop yourself from judging him — and the show for that matter. (See the full review.)
Christmas Ever After (Sunday, 8/7c, Lifetime): It’s not easy to stand out from the yearly avalanche of cookie-cutter Christmas movies, but Ever After benefits from the groundbreaking casting of Ali Stroker (Glee), who made theater history last year when she won a Tony for her lusty performance as Oklahoma‘s Ado Annie from a wheelchair. In the movie, she plays Izzi, a romance novelist with writer’s block, which vanishes while her heart melts after meet Matt (Daniel di Tomasso), a B&B owner who looks an awful lot like the hero from her novels.
More movies from the yuletide assembly line: From Lifetime: Let’s Meet Again on Christmas Eve (Saturday, 8/7c), which was the plan for college sweethearts Corinne (Kyla Pratt) and Rob (Brooks Darnell) until one didn’t show for their scheduled reunion. A chance meeting years later could change everything.
From Hallmark Channel: In Christmas in Evergreen: Bells Are Ringing (Saturday, 8/7c), the latest in the Evergreen holiday franchise, Michelle (Holly Robinson Peete) is prepping to walk down the aisle, leaving Hannah (Rikiya Bernard) to launch the town’s museum in time for the holidays… The Wonder Years‘ Danica McKellar is back on Hallmark in Christmas She Wrote (8/7c) as advice columnist Kayleigh, whose column is cut right before Christmas. Will the editor (Dylan Neal) responsible be able to win her back? Too bad there’s not an advice columnist when you need one.
From Hallmark Movies & Mysteries: Another fan favorite, Party of Five veteran Lacey Chabert, returns in Time for Us to Come Home for Christmas (Saturday, 10/9c) as one of five invited guests to Snowfall Inn who must figure out the identity of their anonymous host and why they were brought together… Another gentle mystery unfolds in A Little Christmas Charm (Sunday, 10/9c) when jewelry designer Holly (Ashley Greene) finds a charm bracelet in a vintage coat, and with the help of investigative reporter Greg (Brendan Penny), sets out to find its source.
MTV Movie & TV Awards: Greatest of All Time (Sunday, 8/7c, MTV): With traditional awards programs disrupted by the pandemic, MTV goes big with a tribute to the biggest and best moments in film and TV from MTV’s 1980s heyday to today. Vanessa Hudgens hosts, with GOAT categories including Scream Queen, Legendary Lip Lock, Heartbreaking Break-Up, Comedy Giant and Dynamic Duo.
Inside Weekend TV: CNN presents the documentary President in Waiting (Saturday, 9/8c), a title certainly apropos to the current situation. Director Jeffrey Roth’s film gathers all living vice presidents, including president-elect Joe Biden, outgoing vice president Mike Pence, plus Dick Cheney, Al Gore, Dan Quayle and Walter Mondale, to reflect on their duties and relationships with their respective presidents… Ozark‘s Jason Bateman returns to NBC’s Saturday Night Live (11:30/10:30c) for a second turn as guest host, with Morgan Wallen as first-time musical guest… The great Oscar-Tony-Emmy winning actress Viola Davis, whose latest film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is heading to Netflix later this month, opens up to CBS’s 60 Minutes (7/6c) in an interview with Jon Wertheim… Four new couples join three returning for an eighth season of TLC’s reality hit 90 Day Fiancé (Sunday, 8/7c)… Zendaya, the surprise winner of an Emmy for HBO’s Euphoria, is back as teen addict Rue for a special holiday episode of the controversial drama (Sunday, 9/8c)… Season finales include the Epix historical fantasy Britannia (Sunday, 9/8c), where diabolical Druid Harka (Mackenzie Crook) faces his powerful brother Veran (also Crook), and back-to-back episodes of Showtime’s droll astronauts-on-Earth comedy Moonbase 8 (Sunday, 11/10c).