From highly anticipated spinoffs to heartthrobs gone too soon, we round up the top 10 shows to watch this week
1. Downton Abbey Live! — Sunday, August 18, 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. & 9 p.m., WTVS; 6 p.m. & 9 p.m., KCTS
KCTSIt’s hard to believe that after over three years of waiting for more Downton Abbey, we’re now only months away from revisiting the Crawley family, this time on the big screen! Naturally, we’re all hungry for details on the plot, which special guest stars might appear (we’ll take one Matthew Crawley flashback/ dream sequence, please) and whether everyone will make it out alive.
Though our appetites shall remain unsated for a good long while yet, this new special arrives as a welcome appetizer. The 90-minute instalment is hosted by ABC News’ Deborah Roberts and features appearances by cast and creators to celebrate the series that was, and drop a few hints about the movie to come. Guests include Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore), Kevin Doyle (Molesley) and Harry Hadden-Paton (Bertie).
2. City on a Hill — Sunday, August 18, 8 p.m., Crave1 I Season Finale
CraveIt’s time to dump the getaway car in Harvard Yard because the Boston-set period drama that’s been shining the klieg lights on 1990s violence, criminality, corruption and racism (along with the efforts of those trying to change the system from within) comes to a dramatic close on season one.
3. Pearson — Sunday, August 18, 9 p.m., W Network I Series Premiere
W NetworkWhen Gina Torres said goodbye to the character of Jessica Pearson after seven seasons as the powerhouse managing partner on legal drama Suits, she intended it to be a one-way ticket out. “I was actually working on other things,” says Torres, who was making a foray into producing. “I was gone.”
Yet, thanks to a newly discovered obsession with U.S. politics, she often found herself wondering, What Would Jessica Do? “I had become obsessed with all the people in that world; whether they were believers or not, whether they were guns for hire, whether they were in it for the greater good or whether they were in it for power,” she says. “My mind went to Jessica Pearson, this character who I thought was in the rearview mirror of my life, and realized that was something that she did in the world of Suits—not just walking a line but blurring it, and moving it, and drawing it. I wondered what she would do in that world.”
Lucky for Torres, she knew people who were equally curious. Suits creator Aaron Korsh and exec producer Daniel Arkin were immediately on board for the spinoff, thrilled to keep the franchise going. “What is particularly nice about this spinoff is that the pieces were all there,” says Arkin. “It didn’t feel like we had to contrive something. Her character had organically come to a crisis in her life, left New York for Chicago to make more of a commitment to her boyfriend, played by D.B. Woodside. She wanted to do good. She wanted to start getting back to the core of why she became a lawyer.”
That road, though paved with good intentions, is both morally and emotionally charged. Stripped of her law licence, Jessica moves to Chicago and takes on a role in the mayor’s office, quickly discovering that nothing in this world is predictable. “[On Suits], Jessica was a chess player. She knew what was happening eight steps ahead, and that’s a great skill to have. We’re seeing her behind the eight ball for a change,” says Arkin. With Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) and lovebirds Mike and Rachel (Patrick J. Adams and Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle) no longer doing her bidding, Jessica has to gather new allies around her. “Jessica has to earn her family,” says Torres. “Suits was inhabited by little monsters of her own making in a lot of ways, because she was their boss and she knew how to manipulate them. She knew them, nurtured them and they bit her in the ass a couple times—and that was fine, because she liked it that way. These are completely different people. It’s a completely different world. They don’t know her. She doesn’t know them. They don’t know if they can trust her.”
4. Pose — Tuesday, August 20, 7 p.m., 8 p.m. & 10 p.m, FX Canada I Season Finale
FXLegends, icons, house mothers; the second season of this genre-bending drama about the African-American and Latino ballroom culture in 1980s and ’90s New York hasn’t just featured a panoply of gritty storylines that have resonated with modern audiences, it’s also become part of the weekly water-cooler chatter across social media platforms.
With an Emmy nomination in the bag for Outstanding Drama Series and a Lead Actor nod for star Billy Porter (the first openly gay black man to be nominated in that category), how could it not?
This week, the dramatics wrap up as the future of the House of Evangelista is plunged into turmoil following a medical setback. As Blanca works hard to reassemble the family, emcee Pray Tell confronts some of his own former traumas when an exciting new category is proposed.
Whatever goes down in the episode’s closing moments, we can all sashay away happily, now that we know FX has renewed the show for a third and final season next year.
5. Animal Kingdom — Tuesday, August 20, 6 p.m., Bravo I Season Finale
BravoSeason four of the family crime drama ends with the Cody boys feeling the fallout of their mom’s (Ellen Barkin) heist. While that particular noose starts to tighten, Deran (Jake Weary) also struggles to save his snitching boyfriend (Spencer Treat Clark), while the feud between Pope (Shawn Hatosy) and J (Finn Cole) reaches its “boiling point.” Fans would do well to remember: this show has never been shy about killing off main characters... especially when Pope gets his blood up.
6. Love Alarm — Thursday, August 22, Netflix I Series Premiere
NetflixThe streaming service continues its recent trend of showcasing foreign romances, with the debut of a South Korean series called Love Alarm. (And trust us, you won’t want to hit the snooze button on this one.)
The eight-episode offering asks viewers to envision a world in which a mysterious new app alerts its users whenever someone within 10 metres might be into them, which we imagine could lead to a host of problems if you consider the repercussions of learning a co-worker or friend has an unreciprocated thing for you... and how much worse it might be to learn about it in front of a spouse or partner. But then, the meet-cute potential is equally compelling.
7. Baskets — Thursday, August 22, 7 p.m., 8 p.m. & 10 p.m., FX Canada I Series Finale
FXWhat was originally intended as a season finale now turns out to be a series ender. But let’s face it, a four-season run for an eminently strange comedy about a Paris-trained clown (Zach Galifianakis) turned California rodeo clown is a pretty solid achievement in its own right. Plus, it landed Louie Anderson an Emmy!
8. 13 Reasons Why — Friday, August 23, Netflix I Season Premiere
NetflixWho killed Bryce Walker? That’s right, when Netflix’s controversial series about bullying, sexual assault and suicide returns for a third season, one of the show’s Biggest Bads (played by Justin Prentice) is apparently dead.
As the funeral-touting trailer indicates, this young predator may or may not have been murdered, but either way, his classmates are acting plenty shady about it. There’s Zach, who is sitting on the bleachers, seeming a little too close to Bryce’s girlfriend Chloe. There’s Jessica, who is fighting with Montgomery in the halls of the school. And then there’s Alex, who is later seen choking Montgomery in the bathroom.
Regardless of who did the deed, it would seem that every character has something to hide, and knowing this show, no secret will stay buried for long.
9. I Am Patrick Swayze — Friday, August 23, Crave1
CraveWhether he was playing a dirty dancer, a very Zen bouncer or a pottery maker’s ghostly assistant, Patrick Swayze was a unique talent.
Continuing the “I Am... ” series of celebrity biographies, which has previously covered such gone-too-soon stars as Richard Pryor, Chris Farley, Sam Kinison and Heath Ledger, I Am Patrick Swayze premieres a few days after what would have been his 67th birthday. Similar to previous instalments, this doc offers fresh insight into the life and career of the humble Hollywood superstar, whose background in dance came in very useful for some of his most popular roles (his mother Patsy was a dance instructor, his wife Lisa Niemi one of her students). Swayze passed away in 2009 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, and the condolences that came pouring in from his friends and collaborators painted the portrait of a man who was both exceptionally talented and fundamentally decent.
10. I Am Richard Pryor — Friday, August 23, 8:10 a.m. & 11:30 p.m., HBO Canada
HBOHe started out, as so many comedians do, playing the class clown, but unlike most, Richard Pryor went on to become a comedy giant who sparked controversy and wasn’t afraid to tackle the toughest material. He came by his need to see life through a comedic lens honestly, product as he was of a bartender/boxer/pimp father and a prostitute mother. When his parents split up, he was raised by his grandma—in a brothel where she was the proprietor! He dropped out of school at the age of 14 and went on to join the military, which he got kicked out of—ironically—for fighting with another soldier. He started doing standup in African-American clubs in East St. Louis and Pittsburgh before shifting to New York and movin’ on up the comedic ladder the hard way, one gig at a time. Eventually, he muscled his way into the movies and became one of the biggest box-office draws in all of Hollywood.
This 2019 doc entwines film clips, archival material and talking-head interviews to present a fascinating picture of a complex and troubled genius. It includes extensive interviews with his widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, who is able to provide insights into the man when he wasn’t rolling them in the aisles or lighting up the silver screen in such hits as Uptown Saturday Night, Car Wash and Brewster’s Millions. He may be gone, but he won’t soon be forgotten.