Worth Watching: Super Bowl LV, ‘Equalizer’ Premiere, ‘Whitney & Bobbi,’ Oprah and Cicely Tyson, ‘Life in a Day’
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Super Bowl LV (Sunday, 6:30/5:30c, CBS): The biggest night of any TV year plays out with a smaller in-house crowd at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, home field of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The at-home audience, however, should be enormous as star quarterback Tom Brady takes on defending champ Kansas City Chiefs, led by Patrick Mahomes. The Weeknd is the halftime star, but don’t be surprised if everyone is upstaged by Youth Poet Laureate and inauguration show-stopper Amanda Gorman, who’ll recite an ode to community heroes before the game.
The Equalizer (Sunday, 10/9c, 7/PT, time approximate post-Super Bowl, CBS): Hello, Dirty Harriet! Following in the vigilante trail of original Equalizer Edward Woodward and the big screen’s Denzel Washington, Queen Latifah is the new champion of the underdog as ex-CIA agent Robyn McCall. She’s a one-woman demolition squad when facing down the villainous and powerful, though keeping her own bratty daughter in line could be even more of a challenge. Probably the perfect show to launch after the Big Game, since you don’t really need to pay much attention to it to figure out what’s what and who’s the boss.
Stay up after the local news for A Late Show: Super Bowl Edition (11:35/10:35, 8:35/PT, time approximate), a Late Show with Stephen Colbert special featuring Robert Downey Jr., Tiffany Haddish, in a special appearance, and music from Metallica.
Whitney Houston & Bobbi Kristina: Didn’t We Almost Have It All (Saturday, 8/7, Lifetime): A cautionary mother-daughter tragedy like no other, this documentary gathers friends and loved ones of the superstar and Bobbi Kristina Brown to describe their bond and the similar struggles each faced in the media/tabloid spotlight. The similarity of their deaths — Houston‘s 2012 drowning in a hotel bathtub and Bobbi’s three years later after being found unconscious in her bath—adds a macabre coda. This is followed by an encore of Lifetime’s 2015 biopic Whitney (10/9c).
OWN Spotlight: Cicely Tyson (Saturday, 10/9c): Queen of talk Oprah Winfrey unveils a never-shown conversation with the legendary Cicely Tyson, who died Jan. 28 at 96. This intimate chat took place in 2012 during the taping of a 35th-anniversary Roots special, during which Tyson shares anecdotes of her remarkable career and the life lessons she applied along the way.
Life in a Day 2020 (streaming on YouTube Originals): A follow-up to a similar project 10 years earlier, director Kevin Macdonald (The Mauritanian) and executive producer Ridley Scott reached out to people all across the globe, including some who participated in the 2010 version, to record their activities, thoughts and surroundings on the otherwise ordinary day of July 25, 2020. More than 300,000 submissions flooded in from 192 countries in more than 65 languages, and the results reflect an atypical year of COVID-19 struggles, Black Lives Matter social protest, political upheaval — and universal glimpses of family and community.
Miss Scarlet & the Duke (Sunday 8/7c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Should football not be your thing, it’s business as usual on PBS’s Sunday Masterpiece lineup, including this diverting Victorian mystery series about a pioneering female detective, Eliza Scarlet (Kate Phillips). Having dealt with the suffragette movement and the plight of closeted homosexuals in recent weeks, Eliza takes a detour into the supernatural in her latest case. A “death photographer” who specializes in posthumous portraits — a profession well covered in Acorn’s Dead Still — is being mailed creepy postcards with ghostly images of his late wife, a puzzle that sends professional skeptic Eliza into a world of mediums and possible fraud. Will this sensational case finally earn her the publicity she needs to keep her struggling operation afloat?
And there’s no bull on All Creatures Great and Small (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org) when James (Nicholas Ralph) agrees to be the official vet and arbiter of quality at the Darrowby Show. He soon learns he can’t please everybody, or possibly anybody, and he’s put in an ethical bind when he suspects there’s something amiss with Helen’s (Rachel Shenton) prize bull.
Your Honor (Sunday, 10/9c, Showtime): In the penultimate episode of the legal melodrama, judge Michael Desiato (Bryan Cranston) faces yet another dilemma in the trial of Carlo Baxter (Jimi Stanton) when a surprise witness comes forward. And his son Adam’s (Hunter Doohan) ill-considered relationship with Baxter daughter Fia (Lilli Kay) is in danger of blowing up in all the worst ways. No way is this going to end well for everybody.
Inside Weekend TV:Schitt’s Creek‘s Dan Levy, who just earned Golden Globe and SAG nominations to add to his Emmy triumph, is first-time guest host on NBC’s Saturday Night Live (11:30/10:30c), with Grammy-nominated Phoebe Bridgers as first-time musical guest… Alan Tudyk, so terrific in Syfy’s Resident Alien, scores again in Syfy’s late-night animated comedy Devil May Care (Saturday, midnight/11c), as the devil, who enlists a new-to-Hell social media manager (Asif Ali) to rebrand the fiery pit as a hot destination. Better Things‘ Pamela Adlon and Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Stephanie Beatriz also lend their voices… MeTV remembers Dustin Diamond, who passed away earlier this week at 44, with a special three-hour block of Screech-centric scene-stealing episodes from Saved by the Bell (Sunday, 7 am/6c), airing before the sitcom’s regularly scheduled Sunday time period (10 am/9c)… As you warn up for the Super Bowl, don’t forget to take a cuddly detour to Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl XVII (Sunday, 2 pm/1c), with numerous pre-game shows, plus specials on Discovery+, and Hallmark’s Kitten Bowl VIII (Sunday, 2 pm/1c) for those who prefer the felines… From Tampa, Shaquille O’Neal brings A-list athletes and celebs together for The SHAQ Bowl (Sunday, 3 pm/2c, Facebook @SHAQ and multiple platforms), hosted by Terrell Owens, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, and Sarah Walsh… If things weren’t already crazy enough on BBC America’s comic fantasy The Watch (Sunday, 8/7c), Capt. Vimes (Richard Dormer) wakes up to find himself in an alt-universe where he’s caught up in a prison jailbreak. Back in the “real” world of Ankh-Morpork, his doppelgänger is leading The Watch right into Carcer’s (Sam Adewunmi) trap.