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

Birdgirl swoops in, The Walking Dead shuffles out

From left: Birdgirl and friends (Image: Adult Swim), and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in The Walking Dead (Photo: AMC)
From left: Birdgirl and friends (Image: Adult Swim), and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in The Walking Dead (Photo: AMC)

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Sunday, April 4. All times are Eastern.

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Top picks

The Walking Dead (AMC, 9 p.m., 10th-season finale): It’s time for the long-promised, long-awaited (for some) Negan backstory episode, a fitting end to a scattered season. This won’t be exciting news for some, but hey—it’ll probably be better than the Carol Builds A Mousetrap Variety Hour! Here’s Alex McLevy on last week’s “Diverged”:

That’s all this was: a distraction. It’s hard to grant the creative team the benefit of the doubt when the episode doesn’t seem to offer any benefit to those watching. “Can’t you just let people like me suffer in peace?” Carol says to Jerry when he comes by to offer emotional support, and honestly, not showing us any of this would’ve been the right move. There’s a reason most of our characters’ lives happen off-screen, and we only check in when meaningful encounters and/or moments that change their perspective arise. It doesn’t move the plot forward, or enrich our understanding the way a good character-study episode does (see: last week’s plunge into the mind of Princess), or even just offer the bare minimum of some good old-fashioned zombie-killing spectacle. Daryl comes back, and they have a stilted, awkward conversation, and Carol realizes nothing has really changed since the start of the episode—which is the moment the audience realizes it, too. It’s an hourlong shrug, a time-filler in the worst way. Get your shit together, Walking Dead. This was embarrassing.

Not quite nowhere to go but up, but the comparison might be helpful! Negan probably won’t build a mousetrap, and he probably also won’t be a ghost. That’s got to count for something. Watch for Alex’s recap this evening.

Birdgirl (Adult Swim, midnight, series premiere): Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law was a madcap celebration of cartoon history, office humor (pre-The Office), and a complex structure of endless callbacks and nonsensical running jokes. Unfortunately, Adult Swim’s new revival/sequel series Birdgirl is only some of those things. Set after the death of Phil Ken Sebben (Stephen Colbert in the original series), the series centers on his daughter, Paget Brewster’s Judy Sebben/Birdgirl, as she tries to juggle her superhero work with her new job running her father’s company. Brewster is still an absolute joy in the title role, but the world around her is a lot less interesting now. Part of that is due to Birdgirl dropping Birdman’s connection to the Hanna-Barbera library, which allowed the series to pack every scene with background gags and references. So far, Birdgirl hasn’t replaced the Hanna-Barbera jokes with anything. It just takes place in an office now, and the people (save for a talking dog and Judy’s friend Meredith The Mindtaker) are just people and not zany supervillains or Funky Phantoms or Peter Potamuses. Birdgirl stands fine on its own and will be more enjoyable if you push Harvey Birdman out of your mind, but… why do that? [Sam Barsanti]

Regular coverage

Shameless (Showtime, 9 p.m.)
City On A Hill (Showtime, 10 p.m.)

Wild cards

Time for another wild card lightning round.

Malika The Lion Queen (Fox, 8 p.m., two-hour special): Angela Bassett narrates this wildlife special about a “powerful pride of lions in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.”

My Grandparents’ War (PBS, 8 p.m., U.S. series premiere): Think of this one as being a bit like Finding Your Roots, only the history is more recent and the famous people are more British. Same amount of quiet weeping, though!

Masterpiece: Atlantic Crossing (PBS, 9 p.m., premiere): And speaking of World War II, Kyle MacLachlan plays Roosevelt (FD, not T) in this eight-part miniseries about the president’s relationship with a Norwegian Crown Princess forced to flee from the Nazis.

27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (TBS, 9 p.m.): Honestly, worth tuning into this just to see the Ted Lasso pep talk and/or Jason Sudekis’ hoodie. You can, of course, watch for our coverage of the winners.

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!