The Emmys are the big draw this weekend — my predictions (a combination wish list/analysis) can be found here — but here's a look at some of the other TV this weekend that stands out.
Top, or should I say, topical pick of the night: the return from hiatus of HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher (10/9c), with the usual array of outspoken guests including Keith Olbermann at the roundtable and FX's Louis C.K. among the interviewees. Wonder if this week's Tea Party-fueled debate on CNN will come up?
Geek alert, or something to do while debating whether to shell out for the new Blu-Ray of the complete Star Wars movie series: Cartoon Network launches the fourth season of the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars (8/7c) with an hour-long episode pitting the Jedi Knights and their clone army against the Separatist droids. (I'm assuming this means something to the die-hard fan.) This is preceded by a two-hour block of new episodes of action toons Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Young Justice, Generator Rex and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien.
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CBS News' 48 Hours drops the "mystery" format on a special night for the hour-long report Bullying: Words Can Kill (8/7c), looking in particular at the escalation of online bullies. Producers spent six months following events at a Rhode Island middle school that has directly confronted the issue on how to push back against all of the tormenting.
So what else is on? Cinemax's bloody, bawdy guilty pleasure Strike Back (10/9c), having lost one of its team quite explosively a week ago, reels in a few notable guest stars — Game of Thrones' Iain Glen as a weapons dealer and Lost's Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as a Sudanese sadist of a militia leader — for this week's latest shoot-em-up heroics. As is the show's tradition, this a multi-episode mission ending on multiple cliffhangers. ... Speaking of leaving us hanging, Fox's fabulous Fringe (9/8c) repeats last season's mystifying finale, leaving us wondering "What-The-Fringe?" about Peter Bishop's fate. ... NBC airs the ALMA Awards (8/7c), honoring Latino performers. George Lopez and Eva Longoria are hosts.
Pick of the night: A spooky new Doctor Who (BBC America, 9/8c) takes the TARDIS travelers to a hotel that sounds more like a lethal funhouse, where every room reflects the visitor's darkest, deadliest fears. Even the Doctor's. Need a pick-me-up? BBCA spotlights some of the UK's (and others') best stand-ups in the first of a two-part special, Funny as Hell (11/10c), filmed at Montreal's Just for Laughs festival this summer.
Thanks, NBC-Universal, for challenging TV writers' spell-checking capabilities. First came Syfy, and now Cloo, a channel devoted to crime and mystery. Cloo's first original true-crime series, Killer Instinct (premieres 9/8c), stars retired FBI profiler Mark Safarik as he recreates notorious cases, giving his insights into the criminal mind. This is paired with Dateline on Cloo (10/9c), repurposing some of the newsmag's most sensational stories.
Even OWN is getting into the true-crime thing, though naturally with a more emotional twist, launching Confronting (10/9c), a docu-series about prison mediation in which victims and offenders come face to face.
So what else is on? As a prelude to ABC's last-ever broadcast of All My Children Sept. 23, SOAPnet airs a two-day marathon of some of AMC's best-remembered moments. Saturday's I Love Lucci Erica Kane-fest starts at 7/6c, and Sunday's Last Chance for Romance wallow starts at 5 pm/4c. ... True romantics can head to Hallmark Channel for Love Begins (9/8c), starring Nancy McKeon from The Facts of Life and Wes Brown as Clark Davis, the hero of Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly series, Hallmark's most successful brand-within-a-brand. This is the first of several prequels.
The Emmy Awards telecast (Fox, 8/7c) is tonight's top pick, regardless of whether you agree with the results (or even the nominations). Jane Lynch hosts.
Top non-Emmy pick: Ineligible for Emmys this year, AMC's Breaking Bad (10/9c) apparently has nothing to lose by airing a new episode opposite the awards. You don't want to miss it. This thrillingly pivotal episode features Emmy caliber work by many of its principals, including past winners Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as Walter White and his conflicted partner in crime Jesse Pinkman. Most of the OMG moments this week result from Jesse's eventful trip south of the border, with Gus and Mike looking on as the lab assistant steps up to show the Mexican cartel how to make the magic meth. A poolside reunion between Gus and Don Eladio (Steven Bauer) adds to the intensity. But the true heart of the hour comes in a wrenching father-son talk between Walt and his son (RJ Mitte, never better) on his 16th birthday.
So what else is on? The indefatigable Linda Ellerbee is back with a new edition of Nick News (9/8c) titled A Gift of Life, about organ donation, introducing us to kids who've donated and received life-saving transplants and some who are still waiting. ... VH1's latest Rock Doc defies you to just say no. Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation (10/9c), narrated by exec producer Ice-T, charts the rise of crack cocaine and its influence on the hip-hop culture over the last quarter-century.
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