What’s On: Louis C.K. Suits Up for a Netflix Stand-Up Special, the Return of ‘Prison Break,’ an ‘Americans’ Game-Changer


Louis C.K.: 2017 (Netflix): While we patiently wait (there’s no other option) for Louis C.K. to decide whether and when to do another season of his brilliant FX series Louie, it’s not such a bad consolation to bask in the bawdy genius of this stand-up set filmed in Washington, D.C.— thankfully devoid of the usual political screeds, which are easy enough to digest elsewhere on a nightly basis. Not that he’s playing it safe. In fact, the first topic in this hour-plus special, delivered in suit and tie, is abortion, followed by suicide, all refracted within a wry “I don’t think life is that important” irony-first philosophy. He moves on to religion, stereotypes (“harmful … but the voices are funny”), relationships (“Love plus time minus distance equals hate”) and an unexpected fondness for Magic Mike. This is a seriously funny gent at the top of his game.

The Middle (8/7c, ABC): How remarkable for a family comedy to stay this strong and genuinely hilarious this long into its run, with the kids grown and the nest mostly empty. It helps that each character in the Heck household is distinct and believable in their own quirky way. Hard to say which storyline is the best this week, as Brick (Atticus Shaffer) decides that at 15, it’s time to “par-tay” with his big brother Axl (Charlie McDermott) at college; Mike (Neil Flynn) finds himself in a “girly fight” with neighbor Bill (Pat Finn); and after inadvertently crashing a singles picnic, Frankie (Patricia Heaton) worries that she’s being shut out of Sue’s (Eden Sher) life. Just try not to smile when Perry Como begins playing on the soundtrack.

Prison Break (9/8c, Fox): The latest example of why you should never say die when it comes to TV shows: or, for that matter, TV characters. “The dead talk if you listen,” we hear in a voice-over as Fox resurrects the action series that aired from 2005 to 2009 and which seemed to end with the death of its hero, illustrated man Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller). Jump forward to the present day, and word begins to circulate among Michael’s cronies that he’s somehow alive, but once again behind bars, this time in a prison in the hotbed of Yemen. The opening episode reassembles the team including his brother Lincoln (Dominic Purcell), remarried wife Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies), and former inmates T-Bag (scene stealer Robert Knepper), C-Note (Rockmond Dunbar) and Sucre (Amaury Nolasco), all of whom are in for a big surprise when they track down their buddy to engineer the latest great escape.

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Plus, Robert Knepper (T-Bag) teases why Scofield may have turned to his character for help.

The Americans (10/9c, FX): A much more existential thriller reaches a turning point as Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) travel to Topeka separately on their mission to infiltrate the U.S. government’s agriculture scheme to starve Russia—which triggers more unhappy flashbacks from Philip’s childhood of deprivation. What they discover may change their entire outlook on the life of lies they’ve been perpetrating for so long. Their handlers, Gabriel (Frank Langella) and Claudia (Margo Martindale), have other matters to worry about, when Philip’s Russian-born son Mischa (Alex Ozerov) finally arrives to America and tries to make contact with his unprepared dad.

Inside Tuesday TV: Hulu presents its answer to Black Mirror in a new speculative sci-fi anthology series, Dimension 404. … Comings and goings on The CW: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (8/7c) wraps its second season in the aftershock of a timequake, while the network’s iZombie (9/8c) returns for a third season, in which Liv (Rose McIver) discovers a zombie army is being amassed by a private military contractor. … Oscar winner Mercedes Ruehl guests on CBS’s NCIS (8/7c) as the mother of Alex (Jennifer Esposito). … Should wacky defendant Larry (John Lithgow) plead insanity as NBC’s Trial & Error (9/8c) reaches trial phase? Josh’s (Nicholas D’Agosto) boss thinks so, and heads South to interfere in the case.