From a political caper's swan song to the return of Hollywood glamour, we round up the top 10 shows to watch this week
1. Homeland – Sunday, April 26, 8 p.m., Crave 1 | Series Finale
Crave 1If Carrie Mathison has had the longest tension headache in television history, it’s finally about to end.
Claire Danes puts the coda on her much-acclaimed performance as the CIA operative typically in the thick of global calamity—whether she likes it or not, and sometimes, that’s been a toss-up—as Homeland closes out its eight-season run Sunday. During the show’s final stanza, Carrie has been a party to her mentor Saul’s (Mandy Patinkin) efforts to help end the war in Afghanistan in his role as national security adviser... but, Homeland-style, things haven’t gone as intended, resulting in significant deaths that have threatened the balance of international peacekeeping.
“It’s been a long, lovely trip,” says Alex Gansa, who created Homeland with fellow executive producer Howard Gordon. “We made a conscious effort this last season not to reflect and mirror what’s happening in Washington, D.C.; whereas we did do that for the past two seasons. We really decided to focus on these two actors [Danes and Patinkin] and these two characters, and to tell the final chapter of that story. And we went far away to do it [Morocco, doubling for Afghanistan].”
2. Penny Dreadful: City of Angels – Sunday, April 26, 9 p.m., Crave 1 | Series Premiere
Crave 1Though John Logan set the spinoff to his horror drama Penny Dreadful in 1930s Los Angeles, the period piece has never felt more topical. Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, is — like its predecessor—anchored in supernatural elements, but while the epic battle between Mexican folk saint Santa Muerte (Lorenza Izzo) and her demonic sister Magda (Natalie Dormer) makes for great television, it’s the themes of immigration, racism, religion and isolationist politics Logan hopes will hit home with equal weight. “For me, this show is about 2020,” says the series creator. “Looking over the world landscape now, I’m struck by parallels to the late ’30s and what’s going on, particularly the rise of extremist political hatred, of a racist demagoguery that is taken for granted, by the pernicious influence in the danger of a foreign power in our electoral process, in our communication, and particularly by the marginalization and victimization of an ethnic community.”
In 1938, the world is only starting to see the rise of the Nazi movement and in Los Angeles a battle to displace a Hispanic community is about to play out violently. Logan chose the year based on when Los Angeles was starting to build freeways that would drastically shape the city socioeconomically. “What began as a civil engineering project turned into de facto social engineering,” says Logan. “What we’ve created are quarantine zones for ethnic minorities. We have Watts. We have East L.A. And this pattern that began in Los Angeles was then replicated across the country. I found that a compelling story to tell.”
3. Family Guy – Sunday, April 26, 9:30 p.m., City & Fox
CityAfter very belatedly discovering the musical magnificence of Van Halen, Peter starts rocking out in his car. Reckless oaf that he is, however, Peter takes his head-bangin’ a little bit too far, which culminates in an unfortunate accident that leaves him in a coma.
4. Vida – Sunday, April 26, 11:20 p.m., Starz 2 | Season Premiere
Starz2After being at each other’s throats for much of last season, the Hernandez sisters of Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights neighbourhood manage to find some peace as Vida opens its third and final season this week.
Premiering Sunday on Starz, the six-episode swan song finds Lyn and Emma (Melissa Barrera, Mishel Prada) finally enjoying the fruits of their labour as business at the bar is booming and their love lives are taking flight—Lyn with city councilman Rudy (Adrian Gonzalez) and Emma with bar employee Nico (Roberta Colindrez). But the happiness turns out to be shortlived as a long-buried family secret comes to the surface, bringing the sisters up against old ghosts and new enemies and forcing them to decide whether they can continue as a family or move on separately, once and for all.
5. Never Have I Ever – Monday, April 27, Netflix | Series Premiere
NetflixMindy Kaling is one of many TV producers to sign on with Netflix, and in her first series for the streamer, the star/creator of The Mindy Project is delving into her own adolescence. Loosely based on her own experiences, the Kaling-created Never Have I Ever focuses on modern-day first-generation Indian-American teenager Devi Vishwakumar (newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan).
6. Prodigal Son – Monday, April 27, 9:01 p.m., Global & Fox | Season Finale
GlobalAs Dr. Martin Whitly so aptly summed up earlier this year: “It takes a special kind of monster to turn someone else into one.” Will this week’s finale be the moment Martin proves himself “special” by dragging his FBI profiler son into the darkness with him?
7. Top Chef Canada – Monday, 7 p.m. & 10 p.m., Food
FoodFeeling peckish for some fresh, homegrown culinary TV? Season eight of this Canadian spinoff is now well underway, with a commendably eclectic buffet of Cheftestants from all across the country—including B.C.’s own Xin Mao of M8 Bistro & Bar, and former Chopped Canada winner Brock Bowes of CrAsian Food Truck. In tonight’s third episode, the cooks are challenged to “the ultimate skills competition.” Later on, in the Elimination round, it’s T.O.-native Adrien Forte’s time to shine when host Eden Grinshpan reveals the next task: create a takeaway meal for Stackt, an artsy pop-up market held inside some repurposed shipping containers in Toronto. With 100 hungry patrons on standby and some tired chefs struggling to dole out the best food possible as quickly as possible, anything could happen.
8. Hollywood – Friday, May 1, Netflix | Series Premiere
NetflixIf you didn’t get enough vintage Tinsel Town with Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, TV super-producer Ryan Murphy is here to sate your appetite for old-timey glitz, glam, pageantry and heartache. Having inked a massive deal with Netflix a couple years ago, Murphy—who’s developed a rep for championing marginalized voices through projects like Pose and Feud—brings his second series to the streaming service. This one reimagines Hollywood history with a more progressive spin; that’s post-Second World War Hollywood, to be exact, where we follow a group of wannabe actors and filmmakers during the industry’s Golden Age.
The all-star cast this time out features a few regular players from Murphy's stable, including American Crime Story Emmy winner Darren Criss, American Horror Story alum Dylan McDermott and The Politician’s David Corenswet, as well as The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons and Broadway great Patti LuPone.
9. Trying – Friday, May 1, Apple TV+
Apple TV+Given how important children are to many relationships, it goes without saying that a couple being unable to conceive isn’t generally a laughing matter. At the same time, though, there’s that old axiom about laughing to keep from crying.
On that note, let us introduce you to Jason (Rafe Spall) and Nikki (Esther Smith), a 30-something U.K. couple who, amidst trying and repeatedly failing to expand their family, are told by a fertility specialist that pregnancy likely isn’t in the cards. That sends them down the road to adoption—but they’re not quite sure they want to commit if there’s still any chance (however small) they can conceive naturally.
But that indecision brings up an even less enjoyable thought: that they don’t do anything, they blame each other, and their marriage completely implodes. Trying to suss things out, they receive frequently terrible advice from friends and family, while also taking a good hard look at themselves—and pondering whether they have what it takes to raise a child at all. On the latter front, they get a bit of insight from the inimitable Imelda Staunton, playing a counsellor vetting the couple for adoption.
Directed by Jim O’Hanlon (Catastrophe) and written by Andy Wolton (Mock the Week), the series marks Apple TV+’s first-ever British offering.
10. Upload – Friday, May 1, Netflix | Series Premiere
Amazon Prime VideoIn the latest comedy from Greg Daniels (Parks and Recreation), Robbie Amell stars as a guy who has a horrific accident and must choose between death or having his consciousness uploaded into a virtual reality afterlife. He chooses the latter, entering a fantasy world where anything he wants is at his fingertips.