Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Ray Stevenson (Image: Starz)

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, January 29. All times are Eastern.

Top picks

Black Sails (Starz, 9 p.m.): We haven’t checked in with Starz’s swords and sailing epic since all the way back in season one, but the swabbing of decks and shivering of timbers has continued at a steady clip in the years since then. With the British Royal Navy sent back to England with its tail between its legs in last season’s finale, the ragtag forces of Captain Flint, Long John Silver, and Blackbeard are determined to secure their West Indies stronghold by any means necessary. This is normally the part on historical dramas where we guess things aren’t going to end well, but given two of its main characters are fictional pirates from Treasure Island, it’s entirely possible this series will end with a fully functional buccaneer kingdom.


Conviction (ABC, 10 p.m.): Hayley Atwell’s turn as cocaine-loving, conviction-overturning first daughter Hayes Morrison ends tonight with the series finale, “Past, Prologue, And What’s To Come.” The past and prologue is revisiting a case from Hayes’ career as a defense attorney. What’s to come is Atwell and the rest of her costars looking for new jobs. Lucky for them it’s pilot season.

The Affair (Showtime, 10 p.m): The Affair hasn’t had the best of third seasons, between a strange psychological horror plot and a largely unpopular character dubbed “Professor SexFrench” by our esteemed commenters. Yet only a couple of weeks after pointing out all of those details, reviewer Gwen Ihnat turned around to say the penultimate episode took “an abrupt detour into greatness,” and Brendan Fraser delivered a tour de force performance. (He’ll still always be George Of The Jungle to us though.) So this may be a finale worth checking out.


Premieres and finales

The 2017 Pro Bowl (ESPN, 7 p.m.): The big game is next week, so in preparation for that, watch the NFC and AFC lock horns at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. Side note, we think this game would be far more entertaining if it were the one time of year that they were allowed to attach horns to their helmets. Clay Matthews especially could get some use out of those.


The 65th Annual Miss Universe Pageant (Fox, 7 p.m.): Due to the fact that our garbage president sold his stake in the pageant in 2015 after NBC ceased to do business with him due to his racist comments—oh, the simpler time when we thought doing things like that would have an impact—this is an event that, if nothing else, doesn’t form an emoluments clause violation. Don’t worry though, we can give you plenty of others. Be sure to tweet them to our unpresident en masse.

23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (TNT/TBS, 8 p.m.): Academy Award nominations were announced last week, meaning that awards season now enters into high gear, and the results of tonight’s show will be closely watched by Oscar prognosticators. Let’s see if La La Land holds as much sway here as it did over the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at the Golden Globes earlier this month, or if something with a bit less razzle-dazzle is able to break through. Lily Tomlin will also receive the SAG Lifetime Achievement award, to be presented in the form of a 9 To 5 reunion.


Mariah’s World (E!, 9 p.m.): “It’s bittersweet for Mariah to have to say goodbye to her road family as the Sweet Sweet Fantasy Tour comes to an end in South Africa in the season 1 finale.” For season two, we’d like to pitch an episode in which she gets her hands on Nathan Rabin’s article on Glitter and responds to such statements as “Carey’s performance here suggests she had long since forgotten how non-famous people behave. With her default deer-in-the-headlights expression, she perennially seems to be on the lookout for personal assistants or bodyguards or some other functionary who could intervene to keep her from communicating with people who aren’t paid to do her bidding.” Zing.

Regular coverage

The Young Pope (HBO, 9 p.m.)

Victoria (PBS, 9 p.m.)

Homeland (Showtime, 9 p.m.)

Streaming pick

The X-Files, “How The Ghosts Stole Christmas” (Hulu/Netflix): In honor of Tomlin’s Lifetime Achievement award tonight, we dug into her impressive body of work and located an appearance alongside Ed Asner in a season six holiday episode of The X-Files. It was a favorite of Zack Handlen, who said of the spectral guest stars: “They are excellent, and really help to make the episode something special, mostly by just being exactly what you’d expect them to be.”


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