The prospect of the big game on Sunday moves some of the weekend’s more eventful programming to Saturday night. Angela Bassett (“What’s Love Got to Do With It?”) stars in “Betty & Coretta” (7 p.m. Saturday, Lifetime), along with the movie’s co-producer Mary J. Blige. They play Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz, the wives of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. (Malik Yoba) and Malcolm X (Lindsay Owen Pierre).
The recent HBO documentary “Ethel” mostly covered Ethel Kennedy’s life with her husband and allowed just scant moments of discussion concerning the years after Robert F. Kennedy’s murder. But much of “Betty & Coretta” takes place after their husbands were assassinated in 1965 and 1968, respectively, territory that may be unfamiliar to many viewers.
Handsomely produced and well acted, the film begins with the dedication of a statue to King in Washington, D.C., with clips from a speech by President Barack Obama. This establishes the film’s monumental tone. Much of the dialogue sounds like snippets from eloquent speeches. Too many of the early moments involve grand historical re-enactments. Even stolen moments of conversation between the women involve politics and talk of the movement. “Betty & Coretta” has an air of reverence about it and, as such, will appeal to the faithful, but may seem rather stiff and mannered to the casual viewer.
• I’m sure the folks at HBO know what they’re doing. But it seems odd to move episodes of “Girls” (9:05 p.m.) and “Enlightened” (9:35 p.m.) to Saturday night to avoid a conflict with the Super Bowl. Do they really think there’s much of an audience overlap? Both series will also air on Sunday, but as repeats.
• While many programs associate organized crime with urban syndicates and the florid legends of La Cosa Nostra, “Dixie Mafia” (9 p.m. Saturday, Discovery) looks at criminals centered in Biloxi, Miss., who fought pitched battles with authorities in the 1960s and who have regrouped into a new and dangerous gang.
Saturday’s other highlights
• Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning star in director Steven Spielberg’s 2005 adaptation of “War of the Worlds” (7:30 p.m., ABC).
• “NFL Honors” (8 p.m., CBS) heaps praise on the overpaid.
• Minnie Driver, Stephen Merchant, Clare Balding and the Script appear on “The Graham Norton Show” (9:15 p.m., BBC America).
— Copyright 2012 United Feature Syndicate, distributed by Universal Uclick.