Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we offer hyper-specific viewing recommendations in our Watching newsletter. Read the latest picks below, and sign up for the Watching newsletter here.
This weekend I have … an hour, and I don’t believe in love
When to watch: Sunday at 9 p.m., on Showtime
For two decades, women say, Richard Scott Smith romanced them, married them, then took what little money they had. In this four-part documentary series, from the directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, several fleeced ladies hire Carla, a grizzled female bounty hunter, to track him down. After hearing their stories, she offers her services pro bono. “If Richard Scott Smith came in and robbed me like he did these other women, I’d be in prison,” Carla rasps. “I’d have slit his throat and watched him bleed to death.” A tale of crab cakes and treachery, set mostly in Kansas, it’s less lurid than “Dirty John,” another recent series based around a fraudster, but maybe more seductive in its twisty structure and unpeeling of multiple layers of deceit. In the early episodes, Carla and her clients try to track Smith down. Later, other mysteries emerge.
… 90 minutes, and I want to bust somebody
‘Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe’
When to watch: Premieres Friday on Disney+
In a rare upside of the Covid-19 lockdowns, my kids have discovered “Phineas and Ferb,” a semiprecious gem of a Disney series about two S.T.E.M.-adept stepbrothers and the teen sister always trying to catch them in the act. It’s smart and dumb in all the best ways, and there are musical numbers, too. The series wrapped up in 2015, after 222 episodes, but its creators have now briefly revived it. In this movie, Candace accidentally blasts onto another planet and it’s up to her brothers — with a possible assist from a spacewalking platypus — to rescue her. (Assuming she even wants to be rescued … and who says she can’t rescue herself?) The movie probably works better if you know the show well and can enjoy the formula beats and the jaunty callbacks. But it will likely delight the uninitiated, too, especially when Ali Wong shows up to voice the alien baddie.
… a few hours (maybe more for the preshow), and I want my MTV
The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards
When to watch: Sunday at 8 p.m., on MTV
In a moment when live performance is either illegal or a really bad idea, the MTV Video Music Awards are a nice reminder that music has been enjoyed remotely since phonographs were high-tech. Still, the logistics for the 2020 ceremony have skittered around like a middle-aged dad trying to do the Toosie Slide. Originally scheduled to take place in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the event will now unfold in outdoor locations across New York’s five boroughs. Then last week J Balvin, who contracted Covid-19, and Roddy Ricch announced that they would not appear. So what will Sunday’s broadcast include? Keke Palmer as host, some new categories, like Best Music Video from Home and Best Quarantine Performance, plus performances by Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and The Weeknd, who are all up for the Video of the Year award. At least social distancing means no “I’mma let you finish” episodes. (Or is that a bad thing?)