What’s On: A meaningful road trip for Randall and William on ‘This Is Us’; and ‘American Masters’ salutes Maya Angelou
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): Even an ardent fan of this tremendously appealing family drama might have rolled one’s eyes last week when Kevin (Justin Hartley) ditched his long-awaited opening night to rush to the side of his emotionally fragile brother Randall (Sterling K. Brown). But there’s not a false note in this week’s wrenching and uplifting self-contained episode, with Emmy-worthy work by Brown and Ron Cephas Jones as Randall’s biological father, William, as the two men embark on a road trip to explore William’s emotional and musical roots in Memphis. The combination of feel-good and tear-jerking moments has rarely felt so assured as satisfying. This is one of the season’s must-see episodes.
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise (8/7c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): The versatile and prolific poet-actor-activist looks back on her life and career in an interview filmed shortly before her death in 2014, the centerpiece of an American Masters tribute that also includes remembrances from Oprah Winfrey, Cicely Tyson, Quincy Jones and Bill Clinton, whose memorable inaugural poem was one of Angelou’s most public triumphs.
The Real O’Neals (9:30/8:30c, ABC): “You are terrifying when you’re in a relationship,” Jimmy (Matt Shively) tells his gay brother, Kenny (Noah Galvin)—and Jimmy has a point, especially when Kenny’s first truly serious boyfriend, Brett (Sean Grandillo), utters those three magic “I love you” words, and Kenny reacts with his usual state of hysterical confusion. Stealing this episode: Matt Oberg as VP Murray, who has been asked by a mischievous Shannon (Bebe Wood) to be her new godfather in advance of her upcoming confirmation. Few think he’s up to the ask, especially Murray himself, and his comic insecurity is a thing to behold.
Inside Tuesday TV: Having previously parodied Melrose Place in loving, knowing fashion, ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat (9/8c) welcomes that soap’s No. 1 diva, Heather Locklear, to guest as Marvin’s (Lee Wise) ex-wife, whom Jessica (Constance Wu) inadvertently befriends, to the dismay of BFF Honey (Chelsey Crisp). … On Fox’s Bones (9/8c), Brennan (Emily Deschanel) deals with her very personal loss, a situation complicated by a visit from her former beau, Sully (Eddie McClintock). … Uma Thurman makes her first appearance on Bravo’s Imposters (10/9c) as enforcer Lenny Cohen, which could mean bad news for serial seductress Maddie’s (Inbar Lavi) dangerously distracting romantic interest in Patrick (Stephen Bishop). … TBS’s raucous The Detour returns for a second season with back-to-back episodes (10/9c) in which Nate (Jason Jones) moves the family to New York City, where Robin’s (Natalie Zea) bizarre past is about to catch up to her. … In Lifetime’s new musical reality series The Pop Game (10/9c), Timbaland mentors five young vocalists hoping to break out, with the help of guest artists including Macy Gray, Nelly Furtado and Jordin Sparks (who gets around, also appearing in a fantasy cameo in this week’s The Real O’Neals). … The latest twist in TV’s survivalist craze, MTV’s Stranded With a Million Dollars (10/9c) deserts 10 players on an island with nothing but (ahem) $1 million to purchase ridiculously overpriced creature comforts and supplies. Whoever makes it to the end of 40 days gets to split whatever money may be left, if any. … This month’s edition of HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (10/9c) includes an exposé on the ugly blood sport of cockfighting, which apparently is still a thing.