Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, October 16. All times are Eastern.
The Simpsons (Fox, 8 p.m.): Here’s something scary for you: The Simpsons has now been on the air for six hundred episodes. Wow, it’s sure come a long way since an old drunk made humans out of his rabbit characters in order to pay off his gambling debts. Fittingly, The Simpsons gets to mark its august occasion with the latest installment of its beloved Treehouse Of Horror series. Last year’s terrifying triptych saw Sideshow Bob finally kill his old archenemy (or rather his second old archenemy after rakes), and this year features the return of Frank Grimes (or Grimey, as he liked to be called). Remember Frank Grimes? Now he’s back, in ghost form! Also: there’s a virtual reality opening called “Planet Of The Couches,” Lisa gets a homicidal imaginary friend, Mr. Burns stages his own personal Hunger Games, and Bart goes from crank calling Moe to joining his group of “secret barfly agents.” Dennis Perkins always wanted to become a secret barfly agent, ever since he was a child and wore an onion on his belt, which was the style at the time.
Berlin Station (Epix, 9 p.m.): Premium cable channel Epix is throwing its hat into the overstuffed ring and producing two new scripted dramas. First up is Berlin Station, an espionage drama featuring Hannibal’s Richard Armitage as a CIA officer looking for a mole in their Berlin office. Danette Chavez was encouraged by the early episodes, with a “commanding” performance from Richard Jenkins as the station chief and a grasp of the toll hiding in plain sight takes on a person:
But the Berlin setting doesn’t just inform the series’ treatment of international quagmires and sensitivity to scandals. The long history and high visibility of Berlin’s LGBT community also provides a metaphor for all the secrecy of espionage. It’s kind of an obvious choice, but that concept of double lives does indeed apply across the board, and it also reflects a deeper understanding of the area.
Graves (Epix, 10 p.m.): Danette was less enamored of the second Epix series premiering tonight, the political drama Graves, where Nick Nolte returns to television as a former POTUS determined to right the wrongs of his time in office—much to the consternation of his wife Margaret (Sela Ward) and his old political cronies. While it’s aspiring to pick up the political satire of Veep, Danette found it lacking the conflict and counterpoints his change of heart should generate:
Even this far from Washington, D.C., Graves still manages to get everyone to play along with his whims. They’re ostensibly more right-minded or conscionable than before, but since they’re a complete 180 from where he was before, they should probably raise more eyebrows and resistance from his family. Instead, the show plays like A Christmas Carol, but with Graves handing out turkeys at the end of every half hour: “You get a temporary visa! And you get a temporary visa!”
Premieres and finales
Once Upon A Time (ABC, 7 p.m.): Good news, Storybrooke fans: OUAT will also start receiving our new discussion post format starting tonight, helmed by Gwen Ihnat. Just in time, too, as the Evil Queen and Hyde are definitely up to something, formerly boring characters like Charming are possibly exploring their dark sides, and Rumple got a haircut. (Not sure if he went to the Storybrooke barber shop, or if he just magicked the hair away.)
The Durrells In Corfu (PBS, 8 p.m.): Between this and Poldark, PBS is killing it with shows that are fun to say. This new series, adapted from the book My Family And Other Animals, features Upstairs Downstairs’ Keeley Hawes as an English widow in 1935 who takes her family to the Greek island of Corfu and its “endless opportunity for living, loving, shooting, and animal collecting.” That sounds like it’ll go great on the brochure, right next to that whole Ottoman invasion thing.
Killing Reagan (National Geographic, 8 p.m.): Not, as you might suspect, a dramatization of what endorsing the blowhard to end all blowhards has done to the Republican party. Instead it’s an adaptation of Killing Reagan, the book by runner-up blowhard to end all blowhards Bill O’Reilly on the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, with Tim Matheson as the president and Cynthia Nixon as his wife Nancy. Nixon spoke with The A.V. Club about playing the first lady, a chat that led us down a rabbit hole of game show discussion.
Rob & Chyna (E!, 9 p.m.): It’s the first season finale of Rob & Chyna, meaning our Sisyphean task of keeping up with the Kardashians gets a little easier after tonight.
Eyewitness (USA, 10 p.m.): Our nation’s hunger to watch European dramas without all those pesky foreign languages continues with this adaptation of the Norwegian series Øyevitne. According to Alex McCown-Levy, it’s “the definition of a satisfying middlebrow mystery drama,” but the ever-welcome presence of Julianne Nicholson lifts it past mediocrity.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead (Starz, 8 p.m.)
Son Of Zorn (Fox, 8:30 p.m.)
Westworld (HBO, 9 p.m.)
Shameless (Showtime, 9 p.m.)
The Last Man On Earth (Fox, 9:30 p.m)
Elementary (CBS, 10 p.m.)
Divorce (HBO, 10 p.m.)
Insecure (HBO, 10:30 p.m.)
How many days until Halloween?
Fifteen more days to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween! Fifteen more days to Halloween, Silver Shamrock!
The Simpsons, “Treehouse Of Horror VII” (FX NOW): With tonight bringing us a new Treehouse Of Horror and a new political satire, it seems as good a time as any to return to the best combination of the two. So many lines that could make their way into this election: “The politics of failure have failed! We need to make them work again.” “As overlord, all will kneel trembling before me and obey my brutal commands.” “We must move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!” And of course, our personal favorite: “Go ahead, throw your vote away!”