What's Worth Watching: This is Us, NCIS, Atlanta, The Middle, Fresh Off The Boat and more for Tuesday, October 18
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): Beating the summer Pittsburgh heat at the local public swimming pool is the ordinary set-up for an extraordinary episode of this affecting family drama. What should be a fun family outing instead exposes domestic fault lines that will have consequences in the future. As Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) try to keep all three kids in line, we see little Kevin desperately seeking their attention, while twin Kate gets too much attention from her peers over body-image issues, and Randall feels out of place as an African-American boy living in a mostly white world. The adult versions of these characters continue playing out their insecurities, with Kevin nervously auditioning for a Broadway play, Kate encountering someone from boyfriend Toby’s past, and Randall on the defense with his biological father, William. This is one of those shows where everyone’s working at the top of their game.
NCIS (8/7c, CBS): The new post-Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) era comes a step closer to its final formation with the return of MI6 agent Clayton Reeves (Duane Henry) from last season. He’s on the trail of a missing MI6 officer, and when his case overlaps with an NCIS investigation in Philadelphia, he’ll find this team too irresistible to leave. (Millions know how he feels.) And another relative newbie, Quinn (Jennifer Esposito), finally opens up to reveal why she quit field work.
Atlanta (10/9c, FX): As the first season of this remarkable comedy continues, it’s clear no two episodes will be alike. This week, the action takes place almost entirely within a nightclub where Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) is making a paid celebrity appearance, although he bristles when he realizes he’s not the biggest star in the room. Meanwhile, Earn (Donald Glover) is obsessing over the “paid” aspect of the gig, shadowing the slippery promoter in what turns out to be something of a nightmare odyssey.
Inside Tuesday TV: Poor Sue (Eden Sher). As the family Eeyore on ABC’s The Middle (8/7c), her latest calamity involves financial aid at college, which she forgot to renew and now she’s expelled. Time for Mike (Neil Flynn) to come to the rescue. … Getting on Jessica’s (Constance Wu) bad side is never a good idea on ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat (9/8c), which makes you wonder what Louis (Randall Park) was thinking, hiring a housekeeper for her without her approval. … You’ve likely heard the name without knowing why it still resonates today in our wireless age, which he foretold. PBS’s American Experience profiles the visionary inventor and futurist Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) in Tesla (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org).AlertMe