On a busy TV weekend, PBS offers escapism with the new drama Hotel Portofino and the next-to-last season of the Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour. TNT’s Animal Kingdom serves up its final season of intrigue, while Showtime closes shop on The First Lady and I Love That for You. History’s After Jackie spotlights the Black superstars who followed Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball, a curtain-raiser for a wave of Juneteenth-related programming on Sunday. A curated critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
SUNDAY: Natascha McElhone (Halo) is luminous in this six-part escapist drama as Bella Ainsworth, proprietor of a villa-turned-hotel in the scenic Riviera town of Portofino in Italy. (Much of the series was filmed in Croatia.) As Bella welcomes upper-crust British travelers to her establishment in 1926, including the young woman in line to be wed to her wounded war-hero son (Oliver Dench, great-nephew of Dame Judi), sudsy intrigue swirls through the sun-dappled scenery. Perfect for those seeking a cozy respite, and who couldn’t use that this summer?
SUNDAY: With three feature-length cases comprising the eighth and next-to-last season of the Masterpiece Mystery! prequel to Inspector Morse prequel, young Morse (Shaun Evans) battles the bottle while solving crimes. Evans directs the first episode, involving a murder at an Oxford college.
SUNDAY: It’s the beginning of the end for those rowdy Cody boys as the crime drama’s sixth and final season opens with back-to-back episodes. A cold case investigation will put the expanding Cody empire in peril, but first, Gia (Karina Logue) has a new job opportunity for the boys, while nephew J (Finn Cole) runs the numbers and Craig (Ben Robson) works on his sobriety and co-parenting issues.
The First Lady
SUNDAY: The three-tiered biographical drama ends on parallel threads of uplift after adversity. Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson) finds renewed purpose after the untimely death of FDR — House’s Robert Sean Leonard has a brief cameo as his successor, Harry Truman — while decades later, an in-recovery Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer) breaks ground on the Betty Ford Center. For Michelle Obama (Viola Davis), publishing a successful memoir takes some of the sting out of the results of the 2016 election. Also ending its first season on Showtime: the comedy I Love That for You (Sunday, 8:30/7:30c), in which Joanna (Vanessa Bayer) faces the consequences of lying about her childhood leukemia returning—a deception that earned her a cherished spot on the SVN home-shopping channel.
SATURDAY: This year marks the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s ascension to baseball’s major leagues, shattering the sport’s long history of racial segregation. The illuminating documentary After Jackie follows the fates of three players who followed Robinson into the game — Curt Flood, Bill White and pitching ace Bob Gibson — spending their glory days in the late 1950s and ’60s on the St. Louis Cardinals. As they achieved fame on the diamond during America’s Civil Rights movement, they soon learned that integration didn’t always mean equal treatment, and each faced their own battles against prejudice.
The Power of Juneteenth
SUNDAY: Now recognized as a national holiday, Juneteenth is getting plenty of play on TV, starting with BET’s special (hosted by CBS anchor Jericka Duncan) celebrating the cultural significance of the holiday, with segments on cookouts, music (a performance by Tank and the Bangas) and an interview with historian Henry Louis Gates Jr.
More Juneteenth programming:
- 30th Anniversary Bounce Trumpet Awards (Sunday, 7/6c, Bounce): Among those honored at the annual ceremony: Emmy-winning actor Courtney B. Vance, Def Comedy Jam producer Stan Lathan, Scripps National Spelling Bee winner Zaila Avant-Garde, Georgia senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff and community humanitarian Princess Sarah Culberson. Performers include Tank, PJ Morton, and Avery Wilson.
- Black Pack: Excellence (Sunday, 8/7c, The CW): The “Black Pack” of Taye Diggs, Ne-Yo, and songwriter Eric Bellinger return to celebrate the holiday with a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. and a performance by American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. Followed by Brandon Leake: A Family Affair (9/8c), in which the America’s Got Talent winner uses his spoken-word poetry to illuminate his life in Stockton, California, and honor the family that inspires him.
- Civil (streaming on Netflix): Kenya Barris (black-ish) is among the executive producers of a documentary profiling civil-rights attorney Ben Crump, following him during an eventful year including his work on civil cases for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Andre Hill.
- Omitted: The Black Cowboy (2 pm/1c, ESPN2): An hourlong documentary shines light on a mostly unknown chapter of Western history, with the focus on Bill Pickett, born into slavery but renowned for his cowboy prowess as the first Black cowboy inducted into the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame. An invitational rodeo named in his honor posthumously was the first all-Black rodeo to air on national TV.
Inside Weekend TV:
- Transplant (Saturday, 8/7c, NBC): Things get dark on the Canadian medical drama when a citywide blackout forces surgeon Bash (Hamza Haq) and his fellow docs to operate without lights.
- Moriah’s Lighthouse (Saturday, 8/7c, Hallmark): Twilight’s Rachelle Lefevre stars as a woodworker who dreams of restoring a lighthouse in the French seaside town where she’s living. Turns out so does a visiting American architect (Luke Macfarlane of the upcoming Bros).
- Suitcase Killer: The Melanie McGuire Story (Saturday, 8/7c, Lifetime): In a true-crime docudrama, Candice King is Melanie, a married fertility nurse who falls for a doctor, then drugs and kills her husband, stuffing his body parts in three suitcases thrown into Chesapeake Bay. This violates every do-no-harm rule imaginable.
- Murdaugh Murders: Deadly Dynasty (Sunday, 9/8c, Investigation Discovery): Airing in its entirety, a three-part true-crime docuseries digs into the web of deceptions and crimes of the powerful South Carolina family, culminating in the double murder of attorney Alex Murdaugh’s wife and son.
- Billy the Kid (Sunday, 9/8c, Epix): The biographical Western drama wraps its first season on the eve of the Lincoln County War, when the Seven Rivers Gang’s attacks on farmers compel Billy (Tom Blyth) to switch sides.
- Flatbush Misdemeanors (Sunday, 11/10c, Showtime): The scruffy dramedy about two Brooklyn buds — high-school teacher Dan (Dan Perlman) and bohemian artist Kevin (Kevin Iso) — is back for a second season, as the friends pick up the pieces from the first-season cliffhanger’s shooting and near-fatal overdose.
- Evil (Sunday, streaming on Paramount+): New priest David (Mike Colter) is approached by the shadowy “Entity” (think Vatican Secret Service) to perform clandestine assignments — which distracts him from the case of the week, involving a viral Internet meme, “Visiting Jack,” that’s compelling local teens to do naughty things. Still, the scariest part of this episode is Kristen’s (Katja Herbers) ominously rumbling toilet.