'Victoria' returns on 'Masterpiece,' spunkier than ever

Posted 1/12/18

By Kevin McDonough

"Victoria" returns on "Masterpiece" (9 p.m. Sunday, PBS, TV-PG, check local listings) with the queen (Jenna Coleman) fresh from childbirth. A little too fresh for her courtiers, who insist that she be carried around like an …

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'Victoria' returns on 'Masterpiece,' spunkier than ever


By Kevin McDonough

"Victoria" returns on "Masterpiece" (9 p.m. Sunday, PBS, TV-PG, check local listings) with the queen (Jenna Coleman) fresh from childbirth. A little too fresh for her courtiers, who insist that she be carried around like an invalid and undergo a church ceremony to welcome her back to a cleansed state of sanctity after the ordeal of pregnancy and all of the carnality that contributed to it.

Tom Hughes returns as the queen's rather studly consort, Prince Albert, and Rufus Sewell is back as Lord Melbourne, the prime minister and mentor to the young queen. Diana Rigg ("Game of Thrones," "The Avengers") joins the proceedings as the Duchess of Buccleuch, the "Mistress of the Robes" and a fount of experience and sage advice.

The first season of "Victoria" attracted a large audience for "Masterpiece," the biggest since "Downton Abbey." But like the first installment, this season of "Victoria" arrives on the heels of Netflix's "The Crown," a lavishly mounted and spectacularly expensive production. It's simply unfair to compare the two. Budget aside, "The Crown" does try to hew closely to the history and the attitudes of its time. That's what makes it interesting.

Rather than reflect the repressive 19th-century mores that were hallmarks of the so-called "Victorian" era, Coleman's queen is shot through with "you go girl" gumption. She's spunky, forthright and frank, as if she were the queen of California. This is the American Girl Doll version of history.

• While we're on the subject of royals, "The Coronation" (8 p.m. Sunday, Smithsonian) glances back at the 1953 Buckingham Palace ceremony that anointed Queen Elizabeth II. The special includes an interview with the queen, who recalls her ceremony as well as the 1937 coronation of her father, King George VI.

"Divorce" (10 p.m. Sunday, HBO, TV-MA) returns for a second season. A slice of upper-middle-class life as unpleasant as the title implies, "Divorce" is very short on laughs.

Having endured the mother of all messy breakups, Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Robert (Thomas Haden Church) meet in a lawyer's office to sign their divorce papers and then face an awkward trip back to Westchester. On the same commuter train.

"Divorce" does a good job of creating the suffocating atmosphere shared by a divorced couple with shared custody of two high schoolers and a small group of mutual friends.

Molly Shannon offers sporadic cartoony laughs as Diane, Frances' neurotic friend whose love-hate relationship with her rich husband resulted in gunfire last season.

Frances is consumed by self-pity while Robert careens from being boring to simply being a jerk. Is their unhappiness well-deserved? Yes. Is it interesting? No. Funny? Never.

• Look for Saturday night's NFL playoff game between the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots (8 p.m., CBS) to grab the lion's share of the broadcast television audience.

• Hallmark has finally put the holly and tinsel in the attic. But it hasn't changed its movie formula quite yet. "Frozen in Love" (9 p.m. Saturday, TV-G) stars Rachael Leigh Cook as a struggling bookstore owner who sparks an unlikely friendship with a brash hockey star (Niall Matter) while trying to save her shop.

• Lifetime has also stored its Christmas decorations and settles back into traumatized female mode with "Deadly Delusion" (8 p.m. Saturday, TV-14), about a woman who hopes to make a clean break from her ugly past by moving to Los Angeles with her new boyfriend. Think she can outrun her demons? Of course she can't!


• Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet and Ian McKellen animate the 2006 comedy "Flushed Away" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG). Who could have predicted that a cartoon comedy about a sewer rat would be a box-office stinker?

"The Vet Life" (10 p.m., Animal Planet, TV-PG) returns for a second season, following the Houston vets as they cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.


• Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (7 p.m., CBS): a visit to Kabul, Afghanistan, a capital still under siege after a 16-year, trillion-dollar war; concealed weapons and state laws; Portland's embrace of the eccentric.

• Ice Cube and Kevin Hart star in the 2014 comedy "Ride Along" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

• Stewie and Brian bicker on the 300th episode of "Family Guy" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

• The two-hour documentary "Trophy" (9 p.m., CNN) examines the surprisingly powerful industry behind big-game hunting in both the United States and Africa.

• Dalton's challenge to the Russians has many questioning his mental state on "Madam Secretary" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

• ID launches the three-night, re-enactment-heavy docu-miniseries "Jodi Arias: An American Murder Mystery" (10 p.m., TV-14), recalling an oft-told tale of salacious scandal and murder.

• Emmett gets a wakeup call on "The Chi" (10 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).

• Penn Jillette rattles Pete's belief system on the second season premiere of "Crashing" (10 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).


TCM invites viewers to stay up late this weekend with two Blaxploitation classics, 1973's "The Mack" (2 a.m. Sunday), co-starring Richard Pryor, and the 1972 thriller "Super Fly" (4 a.m. Sunday), directed by Gordon Parks Jr.


"Dateline" (7 p.m., NBC) * Conspiracies uncovered on the season finale of "Wisdom of the Crowd" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Burns fears the end is near on "The Simpsons" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) * Coffee-craving cats on "America's Funniest Home Videos" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) * Tina suffers through Valentine's Day on "Bob's Burgers" (8:30 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) * Hetty endures torture on "NCIS: Los Angeles" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14) * Two episodes of "Shark Tank" (9 p.m. and 10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) * Karl (Fred Armisen) settles in on "The Last Man on Earth" (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

© 2018, United Feature Syndicate