Katharine McPhee: From 'American Idol' to victim

Posted 11/3/17

By Kevin McDonough

Having survived Simon Cowell, can Katharine McPhee take on Robert Durst? Torn from old headlines, by way of the HBO documentary "The Jinx," the fact-based drama "The Lost Wife of Robert Durst" (8 p.m. Saturday, Lifetime) …

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Katharine McPhee: From 'American Idol' to victim

Posted

By Kevin McDonough

Having survived Simon Cowell, can Katharine McPhee take on Robert Durst? Torn from old headlines, by way of the HBO documentary "The Jinx," the fact-based drama "The Lost Wife of Robert Durst" (8 p.m. Saturday, Lifetime) features the "Scorpion" star as Kathie, a naive dental hygienist who first meets eccentric real estate heir Robert Durst (Daniel Gillies) when she moves to Manhattan in the early 1970s.

She's perky and pretty, and he's odd and beset by a facial spasm. But he's also the son of a man who owns half of Manhattan. He comes to her door as her landlord, collecting rent, but they soon go out for lunch. This being the shaggy 1970s, he takes her to his family's club, but they are jettisoned after he refuses to wear a jacket. Instead, they buy sandwiches and smoke marijuana in a public park. What does this scene signify? I'm not sure. But "Lost Wife" is filled with such moments.

The film bounces back and forth in time, from their early courtship and the aftermath of her disappearance in 1982, into the late 1990s, when new witnesses and evidence emerge.

"Wife" suffers from its own successes. Gillies is very convincing as a troubled Durst and McPhee loses herself in her doormat role. We already know how it turns out for her. We just never learn why she let it happen.

Despite all its time-jumping and period music, clothes and cars, "Wife" becomes a bit of a slog. It's two hours spent in the company of a very creepy guy who most of us would have avoided in the first place.

"Killer Women With Piers Morgan" (9 p.m. Saturday, ID, TV-14) enters its second season with the former CNN anchor interviewing convicted murderer Rebecca Fenton, who denies killing her husband on Super Bowl Sunday in 2008. A second episode follows (10 p.m.).

• OK, let's get this straight. I am the very last guy on Earth who should be reviewing "SMILF" (10 p.m. Sunday, Showtime, TV-MA), a new half-hour comedy. But as I am the only guy who writes this column, here goes.

"SMILF" was written and created by director and producer Frankie Shaw, who stars as Bridgette Bird, a feisty young woman from South Boston who tries to make it as an actress while navigating single motherhood and shedding some of her blue-collar hang-ups.

Rosie O'Donnell plays her hard-nosed mother, a woman who marches around dropping her R's and complaining about gentrification and changes to the neighborhood, not unlike 100,000 other characters in shows and movies set in South Boston.

Despite efforts to project a Boston flavor of Irish Catholic passive-aggressiveness, O'Donnell often sounds like she's doing an imitation of the late New York newspaperman Jimmy Breslin.

"SMILF" shows how difficult it is for a woman to tell her own story in today's entertainment world. She can do it, just as long as she sounds like a 14-year-old boy.

Look for Connie Britton in a guest-starring role in this aggressively bleak comedy.

CULT CHOICE

The history of Hollywood can be divided into periods before and after the 1967 gangster drama "Bonnie and Clyde" (6 p.m. Saturday, TCM).

SATURDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

• A crabby sculptor is beguiled by a spunky small-town woman with a passion for frozen H2O in the 2017 romance "Christmas Festival of Ice" (8 p.m., Hallmark). Followed by the 2016 confection "Christmas Cookies" (10 p.m., Hallmark), starring Jill Wagner.

"The Wonder List With Bill Weir" (9 p.m., CNN) follows conservationists who try to remove predatory invaders from a New Zealand preserve.

• Life grows dull for a listless shar-pei on "My Big Fat Pet Makeover" (10 p.m., Animal Planet).

• Emma Thompson, Adam Sandler, Claire Foy, Cara Delevingne and Morrissey appear on "The Graham Norton Show" (10 p.m., BBC America, TV-14).

SUNDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

• Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (7:30 p.m., CBS): updates from Puerto Rico; a 12-year-old prodigy being compared to Mozart; San Francisco's sinking high rise.

• Claire returns to Lallybroch on "Outlander" (8 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).

• A woman in search of a "perfect" Christmas tree receives a touching letter from a precocious tyke living in a picturesque New England town in the high-fructose 2017 fable "Miss Christmas" (8 p.m., Hallmark). Followed by 2016's "Christmas in Homestead" (10 p.m.).

• The Miami Dolphins host the Oakland Raiders in "Sunday Night Football" (8:20 p.m., NBC).

"Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" (9 p.m., CNN, TV-PG) visits Puerto Rico.

• Combat throws morals out the window on "The Walking Dead" (9 p.m., AMC, TV-MA).

"Make it Out Alive" (9 p.m., Smithsonian) recalls a 1988 oil rig explosion that endangered 230 workers.

• Carl sells a family treasure on the eighth season premiere of "Shameless" (9 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).

• Extremely contrived situations trigger mortification and nervous chatter on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (10 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).

• Elizabeth takes on human trafficking on "Madam Secretary" (10:30 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

"StarTalk With Neil DeGrasse Tyson" (11 p.m., National Geographic, TV-14) discusses national defense.

SATURDAY SERIES

"Dateline" (9 p.m., NBC) * A vintage helping of "Saturday Night Live" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

SUNDAY SERIES

Grampa regains his senses on "The Simpsons" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) * Dads are featured on "America's Funniest Home Videos" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) * Teens are dying to play an online game on "Wisdom of the Crowd" (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Undercover in a country club on "Ghosted" (8:30 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) * Carrie Fisher guest-voices on "Family Guy" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14) * A cop goes rogue on "NCIS: Los Angeles" (9:30 p.m., CBS, TV-14) * The gang takes over a mansion on "The Last Man on Earth" (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

© 2017, United Feature Syndicate