Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Seek your escape in a different World, a near-empty Earth, or a ton of Sex

Thandie Newton (Image: HBO), Kristen Schaal (Image: Fox), Lizzy Caplan (Image: Showtime)
Thandie Newton (Image: HBO), Kristen Schaal (Image: Fox), Lizzy Caplan (Image: Showtime)

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, November 13. All times are Eastern.


Top picks

Westworld (HBO, 9 p.m.): It’s been a rough week for everyone, to say nothing of the rough year that’s preceded it. In these times of uncertainty, fear, dread, and basically every negative emotion under the sun, the escapist power of television is more important to our lives than ever before. Tonight, you can disappear into the technological mysteries and period trappings of Westworld, as “Trompe L’Oeil” (“trick of the eye”) puts everyone from Dolores to Maeve to Bernard in a situation of peril. (And if William’s in similar peril, be sure to read our Random Roles with Jimmi Simpson to get an idea of how he’ll deal with it.) Zack Handlen envies those lucky host bastards, as for the most part, their lives progress entirely unchanged. Excepting those pesky glitches, of course.

The Last Man On Earth (Fox, 9:30 p.m.): If an alternate world isn’t enough for you, why not jump ahead to one that’s been scrubbed clean of the bulk of its population? Then again, things aren’t exactly going well in an episode called “The Open-Ended Nature Of Unwitnessed Deaths,” as Melissa continues her downward spiral into insanity after shooting her husband from another reality. Hopefully, her next step on this road isn’t overeating, since Vikram Murthi recalls that didn’t work out so well for her in said alternate reality (though it did spawn some great YouTube videos).

Masters Of Sex (Showtime, 10 p.m.): Failing that sort of escapism, there’s always losing yourself to life’s carnal pleasures. The A.V. Club hasn’t kept up with the fourth season of Masters Of Sex—promises of last year’s tumescent gorilla aside—so we can’t tell you how Bill, Virginia, Libby, and Betty have handled the swing of the 1970s. But in tonight’s season finale, “The Eyes Of God,” Bill and Virginia “find solace in each other” as they team up to save the practice. Maybe those crazy kids will finally find a way to make it work!

Premieres and finales

The Circus: Inside The Greatest Political Show On Earth (Showtime, 8 p.m.): Showtime attempts to put a bow on this election season with The Circus’ finale. It’s hard to be cheerful about its motif, given that if this were a circus, it’s one that ended with the ringmaster shooting the elephant, climbing on top of its corpse, and inspiring a legion of redheaded clowns to charge the audience to steal their wallets and grab them by the… well, you know.


Christmas Cookies (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): Hallmark’s devotion to the holiday continues to thrive in a way that would normally be infuriating but which, at this point, feels rather comforting. This one sold us the minute it turned out that it’s set in a town literally named Cookie Jar, where a cookie factory is about to get closed down and a corporate executive clashes with said factory’s owner about keeping it open. Will this be a romance that’s topped with frosting, sprinkles, or chocolate chips?

Finding Father Christmas (Hallmark Movie Channel, 9 p.m.): Disappointingly not a film about a woman discovering that her father is Santa Claus (with the shocking twist that she’s Jewish), this is instead the story of a woman tracking the biological father she never knew and discovering an extended family. Hopefully said discovery is made before things tread into Oldboy territory.


Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge (CMT, 10 p.m.): For those who favor a more brutal flavor of escapism, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s reality series returns for its fourth season of extreme physical competition. According to Austin, “We have really ramped it up this season on every level. Our elite athletes are badass and tough as nails, and our new challenges are brutal, making Broken Skull Challenge the toughest show on TV. And that’s the bottom line.” This announcement was surprisingly not followed by a pledge to seek the presidency in 2020 now that the floodgates are open for reality-show hosts to take the highest office of the land.

Clash Of The Grandmas (Food Network, 10 p.m.): We’re not even going to look this one up, because sometimes a show comes along that demands to be watched on the strength of its title alone. Who are we to question the gifts we are given?


Regular coverage

Once Upon A Time (ABC, 8 p.m.)

The Simpsons (Fox, 8 p.m.)

Ash Vs. Evil Dead (Starz, 8 p.m.)

Son Of Zorn (Fox, 8:30 p.m.)

The Walking Dead (AMC, 9 p.m.)

Shameless (Showtime, 9 p.m.)

Divorce (HBO, 10 p.m.)

Elementary (CBS, 10:30 p.m.)

Insecure (HBO, 10:30 p.m.)

Streaming pick

Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The Mind’s Eye” (Hulu Plus/Netflix): Since all three of the top picks have episode titles revolving around eyes or sight (completely unintentional, we promise) it seemed apropos to select something that fit into that mold. This episode where Geordi La Forge’s brain gets rewired by the Romulans may not be the most optimistic of the Star Trek universe, but as Zack Handlen knows, sometimes that’s not what you need: “It’s just trying to kick some ass, and it does that very, very well.”