Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, November 27 and Saturday, November 28. All times are Eastern.
The Last Kingdom (BBC America, 10 p.m., Saturday): Remember when BBC America announced, “We’re bringing out our own Viking series and it’s about Vikings but it’s not Vikings. Oh, and some of our Vikings are the descendants of Ragnar Lothbrok from History’s Vikings. And, sure, we do have two characters named Ragnar in ours, but we’re not copycats at all”? Well, all of us who sneered at that blatant British copycatting have had to eat those sneers, as this historical series about a British nobleman raised as a Viking has surpassed not only everyone’s perhaps understandably low expectations—but also perhaps that other Vikings itself. Kyle Fowle’s been banging the tabor on behalf of this excellent series, which wraps up its season tonight with the final showdown between King Alfred and the invading Norsemen, with Alexander Dreymon’s conflicted Uhtred, as ever, caught in the middle.
From last week’s episode—now you’re all caught up!
South Of Hell (We tv, 6 p.m., Friday): This Southern supernatural series starring Mena Suvari as a demon-possessed demon hunter was originally set for an 8-episode season, with directorial contributions from the likes of Ti West, Eli Roth, Rachel Talalay, and Jennifer Lynch. Then We tv cut the order to seven episodes. And they’re all being shown in one big lump of a marathon starting at 6 p.m. on a Friday. So, you know, draw your own conclusions. Emily L. Stephens sure did in her pre-air review. Boy, did she.
Please Like Me (Pivot, 10 p.m., Friday): Brandon Nowalk keeps telling all of you to watch this warm and funny Australian series about a group of twenty-something pals, even going so far as giving the last episode a straight-up ‘A.’ From his review of last week’s episode:
It’s invigorating to watch a show this in control. Every episode has been laugh-out-loud funny and movingly honest—not just confessional or trenchant but true in ways that make you realize you’ve never seen that on TV before, like when Josh tunnels under Arnold. And it’s not about fake nonsense, either, but rather real nonsense. And real, uh, sense. It’s still growing, too, not just in narrative but in form and subjects. Season two is masterfully arranged visually, wringing all that power from basic colors and geometric blocking, and still season three keeps reaching.
Who’s Josh? who’s Arnold? What’s the deal with that tunnel? Well, if you’d been watching like Brandon told you to, you’d know. But, perhaps inspired by all that good will on evidence in the show, he’ll forgive you if you tune in to this week’s episode, where there’s a piñata full of secrets. A piñata full of secrets, people!
The Knick (Cinemax, 10 p.m., Friday): Brandon Nowalk’s been less effusive about the second season of this fin de siècle medical drama, although he was pretty happy with last week’s episode, which added a tinge of horror (body- and otherwise) to the typically gory surgical experimentation. This week, among other things, Clive Owen’s Thack tries to separate conjoined twins, which, considering the state of medical science at the time, is not the surest of bets.
Doctor Who (BBC America, 9 p.m., Saturday): After the MAJOR FREAKING SPOILER in last week’s heartbreaker episode, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor finds himself whisked away to a very scary place. Considering the mood last week’s SPOILER of SPOILER left him in, those responsible had better have brought their A-game if they hope to avoid some Time Lord-level wrath. Alasdair Wilkins advises anyone planning on kidnapping the Doctor not to do so after MAJOR SPOILERS. The Doctor is not, emphatically, in the bloody mood.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead (Starz, 9 p.m., Saturday): After going on a head trip not unlike that caused by the Merciless Pepper of Quetzalacatenango, Bruce Campbell’s Ash is back to his deadite-chainsawing ways. Even though the synopsis promises that “Ash turns over a new leaf, revealing a new side to his character,” Michael Roffman is confident that just means he’s swapped out for a slightly bigger chainsaw.
Guardians Of The Galaxy (Disney XD, 9:30 p.m., Saturday): It’s been an up-and-down season for the ragtag antiheroes of this Marvel Comics space-based semi-super team. But that’s to be expected—they are ragtag after all. This week, Kevin Johnson thinks Star-Lord and company may be in for some trouble, as they discover a living planet (cool) that’s under the control of a resurrected Ronan the Accuser (dammit)—he loves to accuse people of things!
The Returned understands the intoxicating allure of the easy explanation. It would have to, given the way it treats conclusions and answers like narrative pollutants. In this world, as in our own, such explanations can calm the mind, but they can also boil the blood.
So when there’s a huge cache of mysterious bones, or a seemingly unrelated cache of terrifying child’s drawings, The Returned will just keep working its way under your skin—there may be a payoff to one or both at some point, but damned if the show will provide it when you feel you most need it. This week’s synopsis promises answers about one character’s fate, and another’s return—but we all know that neither answer will give us all we need to feel secure again.
Elsewhere in TV Club
Sure, none of us want to think about food after the Thanksgiving holiday—well, maybe just one heap of leftovers between two slabs of bread—but this week’s AVQ&A sees all your favorite AV Clubbers unbuckling their belts and listing the movie or T.V. scenes that always make them hungry. Then, over in Comics, Tim O’Neil examines the reduced but perhaps more interesting place the X-Men and other mutant types hold in the current Marvel universe. And, if the description “a disappearing show, an erotic film, and some armpit advertising” doesn’t make you want to read Saturday’s Staff Picks, well, you’re probably a well-adjusted individual.
What else is on
The Amazing Race (CBS, 8 p.m., Friday): Everyone’s still stomping all over Agra, India, even though they all bought up all the Taj Mahal postcards and snow globes.
I Am Chris Farley (Comedy Central, 8 p.m., Friday): In his review of this documentary about the late, hard-not-to-love SNL star, Kyle Ryan said of the film’s elegiac parade of affectionate anecdotes, “There are too many good Chris Farley stories.” While that might be a weakness, it’s an understandable problem for a film about the big galoot to have. In the complexly wrenching oral history-format biography The Chris Farley Show, discussion of this sketch concludes with a half-dozen friends and family members saying simply, “That was Chris.”
Crown For Christmas (Hallmark, 8 p.m., Friday): Danica McKellar is a fired maid who gets swept off to the European castle home of the family of her new charge, an adorable but bratty little kid. Wait, wait! The kid’s dad is a hunky but distant single father! Hallmark knows what you want!
Unforgettable (A&E, 8 p.m., Friday): In the two-hour season four premiere, Poppy Montgomery’s detective still can never forget anything. Seems like a useful tool for a copper, but there are some memories she just wants to forget, you guys!
The Ties That Bind (HBO, 9 p.m., Friday): Boss fans, be of good cheer, as this documentary chronicles the making of Bruce Springsteen’s epic 1980 double album The River.
Great Performances—Andrea Bocelli: Cinema (PBS, 9 p.m., Friday): Noted Italian tenor Bocelli performs selections from films like The Godfather, Love Story, and Doctor Zhivago alongside a truly odd assortment of accompanists and pals, inluding Arianna Grande, John Travolta, Andy Garcia, and Ali McGraw.
Z Nation (Syfy, 10 p.m., Friday): “Captured by the Zeros, the heroes are taken to their compound to meet their leader, La Reina, who reveals her plans to institute a new form of democracy.” Even though they’ve been killing the walking dead this whole time, the heroes think her “zombie equals 3/5 of a human” voting policy is bullshit.
Satisfaction (USA, 10 p.m., Friday): The synopsis reads: “Neil and Grace try to win back Bastion’s lost investors; and Adriana interferes in a family matter.” Meanwhile, USA would like you to remember that they’re all escorts and swingers, and having lots of sex.
Black Jesus (Adult Swim, 11 p.m., Friday): In the second season finale, Black Jesus is horrified by the commercialization of his not-actually birthday, Christmas, so he sets out to change things. First move—publicly calling out those decrying the removal of pagan-derived, culturally appropriated symbols from a national coffee chain’s cups as, “people with too Dad-damned much time on their Dad-damned hands.”
A Christmas Detour (Hallmark, 8 p.m., Saturday): It’s a Hallmark Christmas movie. It stars Candace Cameron Bure. You can probably make up your mind from there.
A Gift Wrapped Christmas (Lifetime, 8 p.m., Saturday): “Personal shopper Gwen’s newest client, Charlie, is a high-rolling, workaholic, single father. When Gwen meets his 8-year-old son, Owen, during a package drop, she is saddened to see just how little time Charlie spends with him.” Will these two crazy kids get together? Or will it all end in a brutal holiday shoot out? Remember—this is a Lifetime movie. You have 30 seconds. Hit play, below:
Da Vinci’s Demons (Starz, 8 p.m., Saturday): “The Monster of Italy is captured,” presumably by one of Leonardo’s patented Monster of Italy trap inventions.
The Spymasters: CIA In The Crosshairs (Showtime, 9 p.m., Saturday): Documentary goes deep inside the CIA’s secrets, is immediately kidnapped off the street, blindfolded, and swept off to an illegal black site. (Rest of synopsis REDACTED.)
Survivorman (Discovery Science, 10 p.m., Saturday): Survivorman reenacts the ordeal of a family lost for six days in the forests of Oregon. Probably just one forest of Oregon, unless they got really, really lost.
Spotless (Esquire, 10 p.m., Saturday): The crime scene-cleaning brothers discover that their new mob connections mean cleaning up a lot of blood. Like, even more than they anticipated. So, so much blood.
College Football (Everywhere, all the time, you cannot escape)
In case you missed it
Jessica Jones: Oliver Sava calls this third episode of the Marvel comics series the best yet, with some serious Jessica-Luke Cage chemistry. And don’t forget to match up Oliver’s reviews with Caroline Siede’s binge-watching marathon reviews.