Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

All hail the Queen, as Bessie comes to HBO

Queen Latifah is Bessie Smith (HBO)
Queen Latifah is Bessie Smith (HBO)

Top pick

Bessie (HBO, 8 p.m., Saturday): The ever-luminous Queen Latifah stars in this HBO biopic of legendary blues singer Bessie Smith. Surrounded by a great supporting cast that includes Michael K. Williams, Mo’Nique, Khandi Alexander, Charles S. Dutton, Mike Epps, and Oliver Platt, the Queen, no doubt, will get plenty of opportunity to show off her pipes alongside her acting chops. Alex McCown is the lucky so-and-so on reviewing duties. In the meantime, here’s Latifah absolutely owning the jazz standard “Lush Life” from the underrated Living Out Loud.

Also noted—season finale edition!

Grimm (NBC, 8 p.m., Friday): Nick makes a horrifying discovery in the finale of what Les Chappell says is a surprisingly strong fourth season. In his review of last week’s episode, Les states:

As the grades for the last few reviews indicate, Grimm has been going through a fairly terrific upswing late in its fourth season. It’s interesting because that growth comes from two seemingly opposite sources, an acknowledgment of the show’s mythology and its willingness to destroy parts of that mythology in ways that can’t be excused with a wave of the hand.


We say that’s fine and all—but if they get rid of the loopiest monsters of the week on TV, we’ll have some complaints.

The Amazing Race (CBS, 8 p.m., Friday): Who will win this, the race that some people call amazing? We’re hoping it’s decided like this:

Shark Tank (ABC, 8 p.m., Friday): Who will win the entrepreneurial sweepstakes? Our money’s on gimmicky Capitalism.


Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m., Saturday): Louis CK is back for the third time in this 40th season finale, with Rihanna as his musical guest. Dennis Perkins has his expectations raised to reasonable levels.

Also noted—season not-finales!

Other Space (Yahoo): When Tina’s boyfriend breaks up with her—through lost-in-space wormhole-gram, no doubt—the other women of the ship try to cheer her up with a girls’ night—in space! Molly Eichel’s just glad there’s so much fudge on that ship.

Grace And Frankie (Netflix): Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya continues her reviews of this star-laden Netflix series about late-life romantic upheaval with two, count ’em, two new reviews coming out on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. She can take it.

Comedy Bang! Bang! (IFC, 11 p.m., Friday): Master Of Sex Michael Sheen stops by to give Scott love lessons, while Home Movies and Metalocalypse creator Brendon Small makes music with Reggie. LaToya Ferguson can only hope it’s this:

Childrens Hospital (Adult Swim, 11:59 p.m., Friday): Malin Akerman’s Val breaks into Sy’s sperm back in order to have a kid in what promises to be a sticky situation. That’s just the sort of stupid pun you can not expect from LaToya Ferguson’s review. She is absolutely guaranteeing that.


Orphan Black (BBC America, 9 p.m., Saturday): The search for the original clone material continues. As Caroline Framke said last week:

A slash of blood, a pulsing wound, a gaping hole, an exposed brain: Orphan Black isn’t a subtle show, but damn if it isn’t an arresting one.


Outlander (Starz, 9 p.m., Saturday): After poking around for a while, Outlander roared back last week with one of its best episodes ever. As Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya said of the derring-do:

Jenny and Claire play the role of rescuers, effectively gender-fucking assumptions about who saves who in the typical adventure tale.


Can this week’s episode—with Claire plotting Jamie’s escape from the chop—keep up the pace? Is haggis an acquired taste?

Elsewhere in TV Club

AV Clubbers trot the globe this week, as Ignatiy Vishnevetsky logs in from his post at the Cannes Film Festival. Then Samantha Nelson examines themes of fatherhood in Avengers: Age Of Ultron in her For Our Consideration. (Which may have been written in Cannes—there’s no way to know). Then, a bunch of us gang up on entertainments we love in spite of—or perhaps because of—their datedness. (Watch out for fedoras.) And Marah Eakin scores another cool cat for her 11 Questions with Nick Frost.


What else is on

21 Years: Richard Linklater (Showtime, 8 p.m., Friday): Not to be outdone by Boyhood, the makers of this documentary feature film of director Linklater from his entire life. Ball’s in your court, Linklater.


American Masters—American Ballet Theatre: A History (PBS, 9 p.m., Friday): In which dancers explain that it takes more than bellyfire to be the next Baryshnikov.

Bitten (Syfy, 9 p.m., Friday): Rachel and Logan are locked in a cage together, which, as Oz can tell us, is never a great idea where werewolves are concerned.


The Messengers (CW, 9 p.m., Friday): While the battle between the forces of good and evil are endless, this angels vs. the apocalypse series has already been cancelled, seemingly clearing the way for evil to triumph. Well, we had a good run.

Lost Girl (Syfy, 10 p.m., Friday): Bo tries computer dating. To catch a killer, that is—succubi and casual internet hookups are just a mess. For everyone.


Vice (HBO, 11 p.m., Friday): The docu-bummer series examines Uganda’s murderous anti-gay laws and the illegal human organ trade in Bangladesh.

When Calls The Heart (Hallmark, 8 p.m., Saturday): A spunky schoolteacher tries to make it in rural, turn-of-the-century Canada, which is great. But is there a drippier title than this in TV history? Where Rainbows The Smiles? When Kittens The Butterfly? It’s like greeting card Mad Libs over here.


The Wrong Girl (Lifetime, 8 p.m., Saturday): When the perfect teenage daughter befriends the new girl in school, everything goes just great! Oh, no, this is Lifetime—her attempt to reach out for human contact leads to horror and pain.

Iverson (Showtime, 9 p.m., Saturday): The life and career of one of the NBA’s most fascinating—often infuriating—superstars is the subject of this documentary. We told Kyle Fowle to do do some writing exercises to get ready for the review, but he takes Allen Iverson’s advice in all things:

Playoff central

NBA: Hawks at Wizards (ESPN, 7 p.m., Friday)

Warriors at Grizzlies (ESPN, 9:30 p.m., Friday)

NHL: Lightning at Rangers (NBC, 1 p.m., Saturday)

In case you missed it

The Vampire Diaries: Speaking of finales, Carrie Raisler gave the end of this vampy series’ sixth season a big ol’ ‘A’—and suggests you break out a big ol’ box ‘o tissues before you watch it.


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