What’s On: Tracy Morgan is ‘Staying Alive’ on Netflix, and Axl Looks at Life Beyond College on the ‘Middle’ Finale
Tracy Morgan: Staying Alive (streaming on Netflix): Mining comedy from tragedy, the Saturday Night Live comedian rocks the house at New Jersey’s Count Basie Theatre with a stand-up set that relives his nearly fatal automobile collision from 2014 and celebrates his recovery from brain injury and physical rehabilitation that gave him the ability to walk—and crack jokes—again. A happier show-biz survival story is hard to imagine.
The Middle (8/7c, ABC): Capping a terrific eighth season, this underappreciated family comedy faces life after college for Axl (Charlie McDermott). The grad wants to go to Europe over the summer, but Mike (Neil Flynn) worries this is a backsliding into slacker-dom and wants his son to get serious about finding work. Meanwhile, Sue (Eden Sher) overreacts when she scrapes a parked SUV, and Brick (Atticus Shaffer) discovers the unexpected origin of his backaches. In other words, Heck business as usual. So glad we’ll get to spend a ninth year with these folks.
American Epic (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Robert Redford narrates an ambitious three-part music documentary that harks back to the 1920s, when scouts traveled the country with what was then cutting-edge recording technology to discover and capture American music in all of its variety for posterity. The opening chapter is set in Tennessee, where producer Ralph Peer creates the first recordings of R&B and country songs on a then-revolutionary portable recording machine. In June, PBS will air The American Epic Sessions, a film in which Jack White and T Bone Burnett lead a gathering of contemporary musicians in an all-star tribute to the legends shows in this documentary, using the last known recording device dating back to the ’20s.
The Americans (10/9c, FX): For those who might think this season has lacked a bit in suspenseful intensity, that’s hardly the case with this week’s shattering episode, which presents Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) with another emotionally grueling assignment that will further test their resolve and their commitment to the cause. In a lighter subplot, Stan (Noah Emmerich) takes Jennings’ whiz-kid son Henry (Keidrich Sellati) to his FBI workplace as research for a school paper, where the teen encounters the Mail Robot (“more trouble than it’s worth) and concludes that Stan has “the best job in the world.” Stan, naturally, begs to differ. And if only they knew…
Inside Tuesday TV: In season finale news, CBS’s top-rated NCIS (8/7c) sends Gibbs (Mark Harmon), McGee (Sean Murray) and Torres (Wilmer Valderemma) on a perilous mission to rebel-controlled Paraguay, where they’re tasked to locate a missing Navy SEAL. … ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat (9/8c) welcomes an eclectic set of guest stars including Michael Bolton, Howard Hesseman, Ian Gomez and Chris Elliott to its finale, as parents Louis (Randall Park) and Jessica (Constance Wu) consider making big changes that could disrupt the family forever. … A&E’s Emmy-winning docu-series Born This Way returns for a third season with back-to-back episodes (9/8c), reintroducing us to a compelling cast of young adults born with Down syndrome who are finding their way in the world, pursuing dreams of community including friendship, romance and work. … Ghost Rider (Gabriel Lunda) is back on ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (10/9c) as Team Coulson once again tries to save the world from Aida (Mallory Jansen). … A warehouse fire creates cliffhanger peril on the season finale of NBC’s Chicago Fire (10/9c), and cameos by Chicago Cubs players Kris Bryant and Jake Arrieta and NBC sportscaster Mike Tirico provide a more heartwarming moment.