Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, June 26 and Saturday, June 27. All times are Eastern.
What Happened, Miss Simone? (Netflix, 3:01 a.m, Friday): This new documentary from director Liz Garbus (The Farm: Angola, USA) examines the life and musical legacy of the always-stunning Nina Simone, from her triumphs as childhood prodigy to her tumultuous career and fierce dedication to the fight for civil rights. Joshua Alston’s seen it, and says it’s nearly as uncompromising and great as Simone herself. Actually that’s not possible, but it’s pretty damned good. Need proof?
Catastrophe (Amazon, noon, Friday): In her review of the first episode of this charming British import about a pair of well-meaning but very unprepared accidental parents (Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan), Molly Eichel had this to say:
By making the best of it, Horgan and Delaney have created a lovely little TV rom-com, a genre hard for a medium that has to keep its comedic tension consistently moving forward. None of this would work without the easy chemistry between Delaney and Horgan. They can deliver this barbed dialogue at each other and directed toward other people (“I shouldn’t have called her a cunt. She’s really more of a bitch.”) and it sounds like it’s coming from two people who have an easy rapport with each other.
Molly successfully makes the case that romantic comedy has room for both the words “lovely” and “cunt,” so check out her review of the second episode to see if Delaney and Horgan can keep that delicate balance going.
Power (Starz, 9 p.m., Saturday): Last week, Ghost and Angela ran off together to Miami to pretend they were as happy as two morally questionable lovers could be. This week, Ghost returns to the significantly less romantic reality of life as a drug lord/club owner in New York, and finds himself faced with losing control of both halves of his double life. Joshua Alston’s on hand to track Ghost’s progress on his anti-hero meter. (He’s currently tracking him nearing the Walter White zone.)
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (BBC America, 10 p.m., Saturday): Caitlin PenzeyMoog says this show has had uneven success in translating Susanna Clarke’s novel about a pair of magicians attempting to revive the dark arts, even as she’s been suitably impressed by the performances of Bertie Carvel and Eddie Marsan. Tonight, Carvel’s Strange takes on Napoleon’s army, presumably with a cauldron and/or broom.
Sense8 (Netflix): Look for Rowan Kaiser’s review of the tenth episode of this brain-sharing series on Friday.
Joshua Alston, in his TV Club 10 feature, puts forth the idea that Weeds paved the way for the current model of high-speed TV storytelling. Which seems antithetical to a show about pot—but we’re sure Josh knows what he’s talking about. Then, in a typically insightful Scenic Routes, Mike D’Angelo makes the case that Quentin Tarantino wasn’t just committing movie blasphemy when he called out film legend John Ford. Mike’s evidence—a particularly troubling scene from Ford’s Drums Along The Mohawk. Then, in this week’s AVQ&A, your favorite AV Clubbers play film geek “what if?,” listing the movie remakes they’d love to see, even though they’ll never happen in a million years.
Dragons: Race To The Edge (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): The continuing adventures of those How To Train Your Dragon dragons are the subject of this animated series, which returns much of the films’ voice cast, including Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, and David Tennant. Gwen Ihnat checks in to see how those fire-breathing scamps are getting along.
Defiance (Syfy, 8 p.m., Friday): A buried weapons cache, a bombing by the Votanis Collective, an Omec leader named T’evgin—all of these words make perfect sense to viewers of this Syfy series about an alien takeover of Earth, no doubt.
The Briefcase (CBS, 8 p.m., Friday): “We’re not content with pitting poor people against each other for a bag o’ money, we’re also going to have the big reveal force people of diametrically opposed social and religious views to confront the inevitably wrenching financial choices they made for viewers’ prurient enjoyment. We’re CBS.”
In Performance At The White House: The Gospel Tradition (PBS, 9 p.m., Friday): The Prez invites over the likes of Rodney Crowell, Aretha Franklin, Rhiannon Giddens, Emmylou Harris, Darlene Love, Lyle Lovett, and Tamela Mann to make some beautiful gospel music.
Killjoys (Syfy, 9 p.m., Friday): The hard-partying space bounty hunters put down their space hooch long enough to bollix up an assignment with a local warlord and get themselves trapped in a city overrun with decidedly not-fun gangs.
Mythbusters Jaws Special (Discovery Science, 9 p.m., Friday): The guys set out to prove whether the ways Brody and the Chief killed the shark are less probable than the ways Bruce put them in peril.
Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang In Pyongyang (Showtime, 9 p.m., Friday): Documentary about the real-life buddy comedy that was former NBA star and cautionary tale Rodman and dangerously insane dictator-for-life Kim Jong-un.
Dark Matter (Syfy, 10 p.m., Friday): “We’re in space and we all have amnesia! And now the ship is veering off course and someone’s got to do a spacewalk and fix it? Man, this day…”
Lisa Lampanelli: Back To The Drawing Board (Epix, 10 p.m., Friday): Lisa Lampanelli would like you to know that you are unimpressive, perhaps ridiculously so. She will be quite comically vociferous on the topic, as is her wont. Our own Dan Jakes braves the comedian’s wrath with his review.
Vice (HBO, 11 p.m., Friday): As ever, warm milk and your favorite cuddle-pillow recommended for this HBO newsmagazine series that efficiently reveals the depths of human assholery in a brisk 30 minutes. This week’s season three finale spends the whole time explaining how the breakdown of the relationship between NATO and Russia jumpstarts that old nuclear clock, plus probably a few other doomsday clocks we don’t even know about.
Perfect High (Lifetime, 8 p.m., Saturday): Lacking Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell, it’s unlikely that this “good girl gone bad” dancers and drugs movie will bring Lifetime the same sort of attention it enjoyed last week. Our own Alex McCown says that, while he can’t argue with the film’s assertion that heroin addiction will really mess up your burgeoning ballet career, the Lifetime formula continues to underwhelm.
Atlantis (BBC America, 9 p.m., Saturday): Sure, those lucky Brits have already seen the rest of this enjoyably silly fantasy series, but we American types finally get to watch the rest of the show starting tonight. In the “second season summer premiere” (a.k.a. season two, episode seven), Pasiphae tries to stop the impending marriage of Ariadne and Jason. Meanwhile, the local lifeboat salesman sighs and closes up shop, lamenting, “No one in Atlantis ever wants my finely crafted lifeboats.” [Zoom in on the nearest boat, named “Dramatic Irony.”]
Mega Berg (Discovery, 9 p.m., Saturday): Sadly, not a Syfy-style TV movie about a monster killer iceberg. Just a documentary about big icebergs. Still, should that actually come to pass, take Mega Berg over Sharktopus, with the points.
A Country Wedding (Hallmark, 9 p.m., Saturday): When a famous country singer with writer’s block returns to his down-home roots, will he choose the sweet childhood sweetheart he left behind over his big city movie star fiancee? (If you’ve ever seen a Hallmark movie before, please don’t spoil the outcome for the others.)
Women’s World Cup: China Vs. USA (Fox, 7:30 p.m., Friday)
CFL Football: Hamilton At Calgary (ESPN2, 9 p.m., Friday): It’s a long, long wait for NFL opening day.
Track and Field: U.S. Outdoor Championships (NBC, 4 p.m., Saturday)
Major League Baseball (Fox, 7 p.m., Saturday): Fox refuses to name the two teams playing this one by press time, which can only mean one thing—MLB is announcing two new teams right in the middle of the season! Good luck, two new teams—we shall root for you as our geographical proximity to your undisclosed locations dictate!
Women’s World Cup: England Vs. Canada (FS1, 7:30 p.m., Saturday)
WNBA Basketball: Phoenix At Minnesota (ESPN2, 8 p.m., Saturday)
Wayward Pines: After that big reveal last week—you know the one—Alex McCown reviews how this increasingly (and entertainingly) loopy series moves forward. You know, now that we know that thing that we know. You know the thing.