By Kevin McDonough
True crime dominates Saturday nights. Sundance returns to the ultimate nonfiction homicide saga, the 1959 murder of a farm family that inspired Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood," a novelistic take on a crime story that ushered in what was then called "new journalism."
The two-part special "Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders" (9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, TV-14) unfolds over four hours.
It includes interviews with surviving residents of the small Kansas town that was utterly shocked by the murder of an entire family by two drifters. It goes on to use re-enactments to recall the gruesome killings as well as profile the men, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, whose arrests, trial and executions captivated the country.
"Cold Blooded" is part of a "True Crime Weekend" on Sundance, a full schedule of films inspired by ripped-from-the-headlines scandals, beginning with "Star 80" (6 a.m. Saturday), about the murder of actress and former Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten.
The weekend of true crime also features a digitally remastered print of the 1967 film adaptation of Capote's "In Cold Blood" (11 p.m. Sunday) on the 50th anniversary of its release, as well as "Bonnie & Clyde" (3 p.m. Saturday).
Lifetime and A&E commemorate a true crime anniversary of a more recent vintage. Airing on both networks, "I Am Elizabeth Smart" (8 p.m. Saturday, TV-14) arrives 15 years after the abduction and eventual rescue of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart. The film, starring Skeet Ulrich, Deirdre Lovejoy and Alana Boden, unfolds from the victim's perspective and was made with Smart's full cooperation. She acts as producer and on-screen narrator, describing her kidnapping, nine-month ordeal and escape.
• Jon Stewart hosts "Night of Too Many Stars" (8 p.m. Saturday, HBO, TV-MA), an event to raise funds for autism research and education. Look for performances, sketches and short films from Stephen Colbert, Abbi Jacobson, Jordan Klepper, Hasan Minhaj, John Mulaney, Olivia Munn, John Oliver, Adam Sandler and others. Stewart has been hosting "Night" since 2005. This marks the first year that the benefit is being broadcast live.
• Rare indeed is the TV special that reflects thinking about TV itself. "The Problem With Apu" (10 p.m. Sunday, TruTV) offers one man's perspective on "The Simpsons" character, reverberating with observations and misgivings about immigration, assimilation, stereotypes and racism that transcend the world of a two-dimensional cartoon.
For some years, comedian Hari Kondabolu has been on the warpath against the animated Kwik-E-Mart owner/operator, a stereotyped ethnic South Asian who has been part of "The Simpsons" since its first season.
Kondabolu and other South Asian entertainers and personalities discuss how they have been taunted with Apu's catchphrase — "Thank you, come again" — since childhood and how they see his depiction as particularly insulting to their parents, who were immigrants and hard-working strivers.
As much as it is about race, ethnicity and immigration, "Apu" is also about generational differences. Kondabolu interviews his mother, who has little problem with Apu and praises voiceover artist Hank Azaria as a talented man just doing his job. The comic's mother gets to the heart of the matter when she tells her son that he feels differently because "he is an American" and has different expectations than new arrivals.
Kondabolu makes no bones about his very personal beef with Apu and considers it a kind of holy grail to interview Azaria. He does admit that "The Simpsons" basically reduces all groups and identities to silly stereotypes, but he remains hurt by Apu because for some years he was the only South Asian character seen on TV, and as such, he seemed created to amuse Americans at the expense of immigrants. He feels that now that other Indian and Pakistani actors and three-dimensional characters have emerged, including Aziz Ansari and Mindy Kaling and their shows "Master of None" and "The Mindy Project," it may be time to retire Apu.
• Selena Gomez, Christina Aguilera, BTS, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato and Pink are scheduled to perform at the 2017 American Music Awards (8 p.m. Sunday, ABC, TV-14). Diana Ross will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award and will perform as well.
• A teenage runaway (Judy Garland) murders two sisters, takes up with misfits and falls under the spell of an impostor (Frank Morgan) in the 1939 fantasy "The Wizard of Oz" (7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., TBS).
• A fat cat dominates a dog on "Cat vs. Dog" (10 p.m., Animal Planet, TV-PG).
• Hugh Grant, Jason Momoa, Sarah Millican and Kelly Clarkson appear on "The Graham Norton Show" (10 p.m., BBC America, TV-14).
• Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (7:30 p.m., CBS): a food crisis caused by the civil war in Yemen.
• Faced with a shipboard epidemic, Claire puts her medical skills to work on "Outlander" (8 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).
• The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles meet on "Sunday Night Football" (8:25 p.m., NBC).
• "Poldark" on "Masterpiece" (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings) concludes its third season.
• "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" (9 p.m., CNN) visits Seattle.
• A new perspective on Negan emerges on "The Walking Dead" (9 p.m., AMC, TV-MA).
• An epidemic sparks U.S.-Russian cooperation on "Madam Secretary" (10:30 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis and Leslie Nielsen star in the 1956 science-fiction adventure "Forbidden Planet" (8 p.m. Sunday, TCM), an update of Shakespeare's "The Tempest." The original suit worn by "Robby the Robot" featured in this movie will be up for sale at the Bonhams Auction House on Nov. 21.
Callen's father faces questioning on "NCIS: Los Angeles" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) * A dream job with a nightmare boss on "Will & Grace" (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14) * A Halloween decoration proves too real on "Superstore" (8:30 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG).
Class warfare at the bowling lanes on "The Simpsons" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) * A hacker sabotages the sourcing app on "Wisdom of the Crowd" (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Actors find more frights than they can handle on "Ghosted" (8:30 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) * Putin meets Peter on "Family Guy" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14) * An incident at the border on "NCIS: Los Angeles" (9:30 p.m., CBS, TV-14) * Tandy takes a stand on "The Last Man on Earth" (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
© 2017, United Feature Syndicate