‘Coun­ter­part’ re­turns for sec­ond sea­son

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - PUZZLES & FUNNIES - BY KEVIN MCDONUGH UNITED FEA­TURE SYN­DI­CATE

The bleak and stylish sci­ence-fic­tion thriller “Coun­ter­part” (9 p.m. Sun­day, Starz, TV-MA) re­turns for a sec­ond sea­son. J.K. Sim­mons, the mas­ter of emo­tional re­straint, stars as Howard Silk. First seen as a low-level func­tionary in a Ber­lin spy agency, he is in­tro­duced to his of­fice’s real mis­sion, mon­i­tor­ing and con­trol­ling a par­al­lel uni­verse cre­ated by East Ger­man sci­en­tists in the late 1980s. On the other side, Silk’s dop­pel­ganger, his “Prime,” has very dif­fer­ent pri­or­i­ties.

As things stand, the border be­tween the two worlds has been shut, and many from the “wrong” side are trapped. Their in­car­cer­a­tion and the pres­ence of rogue ter­ror­ists who com­pro­mise el­e­ments of Silk’s agency of­fer sim­i­lar­i­ties to cur­rent events as well as echoes of many Cold War thrillers.

Add “Coun­ter­part” to the grow­ing list of peak TV se­ries, in­clud­ing “The Amer­i­cans,” “Deutsch­land 83” and “The Lit­tle Drum­mer Girl,” filled with nos­tal­gia for a pre-dig­i­tal era and set in the twi­light world of Cold War es­pi­onage. Let’s not for­get “Ber­lin Sta­tion” (9 p.m. Sun­day, Epix, TV-MA). Or the par­al­lel Ger­man uni­verse of Ama­zon Prime’s “The Man in the High Cas­tle.”

Slow-mov­ing and icy in tone, “Coun­ter­part” bor­rows from the “24” and “Home­land” play­book, keep­ing the in­trigue and be­tray­als very close to home. Not un­like Net­flix’s “Body­guard,” in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ships are the most fraught with in­trigue.

It is best ap­pre­ci­ated for Sim­mons’ un­der­state­ment as well as Olivia Wil­liams’ per­for­mance as his wife, Emily, a con­va­les­cent only slowly awak­en­ing to her true iden­tity. Make that iden­ti­ties.

› I’ll never un­der­stand why any­body over 11 wants to visit the Magic King­dom, but ap­par­ently some peo­ple spend vast sums to get mar­ried there. “Dis­ney’s Fairy Tale Wed­dings: Hol­i­day Magic” (8 p.m. Satur­day, Freeform) show­cases some of these lav­ish nup­tials, one set to a “Mary Pop­pins Re­turns” theme, while an­other fea­tures a Martina McBride per­for­mance at Ep­cot.

› Oprah Win­frey pre­sides over “Q85: A Mu­si­cal Cel­e­bra­tion for Quincy Jones” (8 p.m. Sun­day, BET), fea­tur­ing per­for­mances by Ste­vie Won­der, Brian McKnight, Meghan Trainor, John Le­gend, Patti Austin, Glo­ria Este­fan, Char­lie Wil­son, Le­disi, Gla­dys Knight and Jen­nifer Hud­son.

Jones and his ex­tra­or­di­nary ca­reer are the sub­ject of the re­cent Net­flix documentary “Quincy,” co-di­rected by his daugh­ter, Rashida Jones (“Parks & Recre­ation,” “The Of­fice”).

SATUR­DAY’S HOL­I­DAY HIGH­LIGHTS

› Mis­fits save the day in the 1964 Rankin-Bass pro­duc­tion “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rein­deer” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-G).

› Emma Bun­ton, An­thony Adams, Paul Hol­ly­wood and Sherry Yard pre­side over two slices of “The Great Amer­i­can Bak­ing Show: Hol­i­day Edi­tion” (8 p.m., ABC, re­peat, TV-PG).

› Sparks fly when for­mer teenage sweet­hearts are forced to or­ga­nize a hol­i­day dance in the 2018 ro­mance “Home­grown Christ­mas” (8 p.m., Hall­mark).

› A depart­ment store elf falls for the big guy in the 2018 ro­mance “Santa’s Boots” (8 p.m., Life­time).

› Pre­co­cious kids use tech­nol­ogy to surveil a cer­tain North Pole gift-giver in the 2014 com­edy “Santa Hunters” (8 p.m., Nick­elodeon, TV-G).

› Jimmy Du­rante nar­rates the 1969 Rank­inBass spe­cial “Frosty the Snow­man” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-G).

› A woman who of­fers hol­i­day cheer for hire runs into fam­ily com­pli­ca­tions in the 2018 ro­mance “Rent-an-Elf” (9 p.m., ION).

› The voices of John Good­man and Jonathan Win­ters an­i­mate the 1992 se­quel “Frosty Re­turns” (9:30 p.m., CBS, TV-G).

Con­tact Kevin McDonough at kevin [email protected]

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