Matt's Guide to Weekend TV: Friday Cult TV, The Making of South Park and Breaking Bad
Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Friday night is cult night, which may be why Rachelle Lefevre, the original Victoria in the first two Twilight movies, is joining CBS' A Gifted Man (8/7c) as Dr. Kate Sykora, among the candidates Michael is interviewing to run the clinic. ... Elsewhere, Jensen Ackles directs an episode of the CW's Supernatural (9/8c) in which Sam follows a lead on a demonic case from his youth. Firefly's Jewel Staite appears as the monster-of-the-week, whose specialty is dining on the brains of low-life thugs. ... On Fringe (Fox, 9/8c), Walter continues having hallucinations of Peter, as we anxiously await his return. ... And Syfy's Sanctuary (10/9c) returns for a fourth season, following a daylong Season 3 marathon (starts at 8 am/7c). In the premiere, Dr. Magnus time-travels to 1898 London to try to stop the notorious Adam Worth from wrecking the natural order of history. In present time, the rest of the team battles a rising tide of Hollow Earth Abnormals.
Can't get enough of the Amanda Knox story? CBS' 48 Hours Mystery offers what it calls Amanda Knox: The Untold Story (10/9c), with correspondent Peter Van Sant revealing details of her time in Italian prison, including a letter alleging that she was subjected to sexual intimidation by a prison administrator.
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Like dancing on a corpse, BBC America presents the 2009 British comedy series Free Agents (11/10c) mere days after NBC canceled the botched American remake after only three airings. Chances are much better you'll get to see the entire six-episode run of this series, which is funnier and way more frank in its sexually charged office shenanigans. As in the NBC version, Anthony Head steals every scene he's in as the randy boss of a London talent agency, whose employees include the miserably divorced Alex (Episodes' Stephen Mangan) and the acerbic Helen (Sharon Horgan), who's grieving the death of her fiancé. Their not-quite-romantic relationship is the backbone of the series, which is tart without being toxic, unlike the remake, where something vital — like genuine humor and endearing characters — somehow got lost in the translation.
In other highlights: Heroes may be long gone, but Adrian Pasdar keeps trying to save the world. In Syfy's typically over-the-top Saturday night movie The Terror Beneath (9/8c), he takes on monstrous tree roots from the Garden of Eden that could ruin the planet for the rest of us. Who thinks of these things? ... Ben Stiller hosts Saturday Night Live (11:30/10:30c) for only the second time, with Foster the People as musical guest.
So it has come to this. In the fourth-season finale of AMC's relentlessly riveting Breaking Bad (10/9c), titled "Face Off," Walt and Jesse finally decide to take on their boss-turned-nemesis, Gus Fring. I haven't had a chance to see the episode yet, but if this showdown is anything like the confrontations and twists we've thrilled to in recent weeks, it will be the TV event of the weekend.
"No one does an animated show like this," says one of the producers riding the bullet train of creative anarchy known as South Park. Whether anyone should do a show this way is another question. But it's worked pretty well so far for Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who are now in their 15th season of producing cutting-edge scatological and topical satire. In the fascinating documentary 6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park (Comedy Central, 9/8c), filmmaker Arthur Bradford takes cameras inside the writing room — no surprise, poo jokes are a big hit — as well as the recording studio and animation offices for a look at the frenetic process of turning around a South Park episode within a week. Bradford's film visits the team at an interesting time, as Parker and Stone return to work after a longer-than-usual break that included the opening of their hit Book of Mormon on Broadway. As they readjust to the exhilarating but exhausting grind, pitching ideas and rewriting and cutting up to the last minute — the episode in question is delivered via satellite four hours before airtime — you can't help but marvel that they still have the energy to keep cracking themselves (and more often than not, us) up.
In other highlights: Lisa Edelstein has traded up, leaving the fading House behind to begin a three-episode arc on CBS' The Good Wife (9/8c) as Will's feisty ex, who opposes Alicia and Will in a court-ordered mediation. Awkward! ... Ich bin ein Stewardess? In an episode of ABC's Pan Am (10/9c) played out against a historical backdrop, the crew flies journalists to Berlin to cover one of JFK's most iconic speeches, and Maggie goes to great lengths to meet the president she campaigned for. But the setting also evokes painful WWII memories for Colette, while Kate is busy trying to help a spy contact escape East Germany. ... If you would rather spend the evening watching E!'s Kim's Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event (8/7c), a four-hour orgy of celeb-reality excess concluding Monday, you have my sympathies.
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