What’s on TV Saturday: Benedict Cumberbatch Hosts ‘Saturday Night Live’




Benedict Cumberbatch, who is hosting “Saturday Night Live” for the first time this weekend.

Chris Pizzello/Invision, via Associated Press

Benedict Cumberbatch, now flying into theaters as “Doctor Strange,” hosts “Saturday Night Live” for the first time. Alex Gibney investigates the potential for cyberwarfare. And ponder presidents past — some fictional, some not so much — in the final weekend before the election.

What’s on TV

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE 11:30 p.m. on NBC. Benedict Cumberbatch makes his hosting debut a day after “Doctor Strange,” in which he plays Marvel’s supersurgeon turned superhero, arrives in theaters. (Manohla Dargis of The New York Times called it “giddily enjoyable,” adding that “it’s also so visually transfixing, so beautiful and nimble that you may even briefly forget the brand.”) Solange is the musical guest.

ZERO DAYS (2016) 9 p.m. on Showtime. Alex Gibney mines the dark side of digital connectedness — notably, the ability of malware to wreak enough chaos to essentially shut down the world. The documentary begins with the true story of a cyberattack against a nuclear power plant in Iran and a secret program, Stuxnet, that ended up infiltrating computers around the globe. Writing in The Times, Stephen Holden said that the “sobering” documentary “exposes a whole arena of potential terror and calamitous destruction surrounded in secrecy.”

What’s Streaming


From left, Evan Rachel Wood, George Clooney and Ryan Gosling on the set of “The Ides of March.”

Saeed Adyani/Columbia Pictures

THE IDES OF MARCH (2011) on Amazon and iTunes. George Clooney stars as Mike Morris, a Pennsylvania governor turned dream candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Ryan Gosling is Stephen Meyers, a strategist with a pretty intern and a secret that could derail his career and Morris’s campaign. And Marisa Tomei is a reporter trying to get at the truth. Mr. Clooney also directed and helped adapt this political thriller from the play “Farragut North” by Beau Willimon, the mastermind behind “House of Cards” (Netflix).

THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT (1995) on Amazon and iTunes. President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas), a widower with a 63 percent approval rating and an adolescent daughter, falls for Sydney Wade (Annette Bening), a lobbyist with a slightly scandalous past in this frothy fairy tale written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Rob Reiner. Richard Dreyfuss is the political opponent hellbent on tearing their love asunder.

FROST/NIXON (2008) on Amazon and iTunes. In 1977 David Frost (Michael Sheen) conducted a series of interviews with Richard M. Nixon (Frank Langella), three years after Nixon left the presidency in disgrace. Mr. Frost was gambling with his money and reputation; Nixon, with public perception (though he received $600,000 and 10 percent of the program’s profits). The result was blockbuster ratings to rival those of “Happy Days,” starring Ron Howard, who directed this adaptation of Peter Morgan’s play.


Josh Brolin, in the 2008 film “W.,” directed by Oliver Stone.

Sidney Ray Baldwin/Lionsgate

W. (2008) on Amazon and iTunes. Josh Brolin channels President George W. Bush in this biopic, hovering between a sendup and a takedown, directed by Oliver Stone. Elizabeth Banks is Mr. Bush’s wife, Laura; Ellen Burstyn is his mother, Barbara; and James Cromwell is his father, former President George H. W. Bush.

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