Watching: What to Watch This Weekend

Family, friendship, shapeshifters.

Author Headshot

By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

“Parks and Recreation” is doing a reunion episode next week, Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on NBC, a quarantine special from our favorite residents of Pawnee. Usually, I’m wary of stunt-y stuff, reunions especially, but “Parks” is one of vanishingly few shows for which this actually seems like a good idea. If only Li’l Sebastian were still with us. (The special is a fund-raiser for Feeding America; in the interest of disclosure, my mom works for one of Feeding America’s member organizations.)

If you need some TV advice, I have a TV advice column, and I’d love to answer your questions. You can read previous installments here and send in your Qs to

Have a safe weekend.


This weekend I have … 40 minutes, and I like spilling secrets

Melissa Barrera, left, and Mishel Prada on “Vida.”Starz


When to watch: Sunday at 9 p.m., on Starz.

“Vida” returns for a third and final season this weekend, with its requisite sex, social strife and gossip. The sisters Lyn and Emma (played by Melissa Barrera and Mishel Prada) are kind of getting along, which they both sense can’t last, and they deal with that in different ways, Lyn by squeezing harder and Emma by pulling away. Characters on “Vida” are very up in each other’s business, which is one reason this show is so good at rich, complicated interpersonal conflict: Everyone starts from a place of You think you know me so well, but you don’t.


… an hour, and I like excess

Natalie Dormer in “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.”Justin Lubin/Showtime

‘Penny Dreadful: City of Angels’

When to watch: Sunday at 10:10 p.m., on Showtime.

This spinoff of the horror series “Penny Dreadful” moves the festivities to 1938 Los Angeles, where it takes on a little of everything: Nazis, Mexican mysticism, politics, racism, evangelism, demons, cop stuff, old cars that make funny noises, you name it. Natalie Dormer anchors the show as a creepy shape-shifter, and she’s flanked by strong performances from Adam Rodriguez, Rory Kinnear, Michael Gladis, Kerry Bishé and Nathan Lane among others. It’s possible the show has bitten off more than it can chew, but then again, demons can chew an awful lot.


… a few hours, and I need gentle comedy

Celia Pacquola, left, and Luke McGregor on “Rosehaven.”Scott Bradshaw/SundanceTV


When to watch: Now, on SundanceNow or with a Sundance add-on on Amazon.

If you’ve burned through shows like “Schitt’s Creek,” “Gavin and Stacey” and “New Girl,” watch this three-season Australian comedy. It’s about two BFFs, Emma and Daniel (played by Celia Pacquola and Luke McGregor, both of whom also created the show), who live in rural Tasmania and work at Daniel’s mother’s real estate agency. It’s a cozy goof-off show, where characters make jokes for one another’s benefit, not the audience’s. “Before you go, can you do one thing for me?” Emma asks when she has a cold. “Can you watch a whole season of ‘Game of Thrones’ with me?” Relatable.

Your weekend double feature: Elaine May

John Cassavetes, left, and Peter Falk in “Mikey and Nicky,” directed by Elaine May.Jumer Productions, Inc.

‘Mikey and Nicky’ and ‘A New Leaf’

After their celebrated run as the comedy duo Nichols and May, Mike Nichols and Elaine May both embarked on careers in filmmaking. But where Nichols logged close to two dozen movies, starting with the one-two punch of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “The Graduate,” May and Hollywood were not a great fit. Stories of troubled productions and editing-room fights dogged May even before she made “Ishtar,” the last of her four features, but time has been kind to her dark, iconoclastic comedies.

Added this month to the Collection on the Criterion Channel (the space reserved for editions with bonus features), May’s 1976 gangster film, “Mikey and Nicky,” is her nocturnal riff on a John Cassavetes movie — starring Cassavetes and his regular leading man Peter Falk. Believing a contract is out on his life, Nicky (Cassavetes) calls on Mikey (Falk) to protect him, but trust has eroded between them. May gives her actors enough space for combustible performances, but there are moments of spiky humor, too, as in the scenes starring Ned Beatty as an exasperated hit man.

For a more straightforward comedy, albeit one similarly obsessed with human duplicity, revisit May’s 1971 directorial debut, “A New Leaf,” a brilliant farce that turns into a rom-com at the last possible moment. Walter Matthau stars as a free-spending rich guy who burns through his inherited wealth and hatches a plan to marry (and possibly kill) a painfully awkward heiress (May) to maintain his lifestyle. Matthau’s caustic presence makes the film feel like a lost Billy Wilder classic. — Scott Tobias

Stream “Mikey and Nicky” on the Criterion Channel; rent it on Apple TV, Google Play and YouTube.

Rent “A New Leaf” on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.

Also this weekend

A scene from “Bad Education.”HBO

  • The season finale of “Making the Cut,” Amazon’s “Project Runway”-like series, is now streaming. (If you’re curious about the show’s merchandise, here’s an interesting piece from Reality Blurred.)
  • “Bad Education,” starring Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney, airs Saturday at 8 p.m. on HBO. It’s based on the true story of school administrators who embezzled money from a Long Island high school, and it’s fantastic — a spry entry in the suburban rot genre, in which folks are getting what they claim to want but nobody’s happy.
  • The two-hour series finale of “God Friended Me” airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBS.
  • The series finale of “Homeland” airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on Showtime.


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