What’s On: Hit Shows (‘This Is Us,’ ‘NCIS’) Return, Season Finale of ‘Difficult People’
A critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): Happy first birthday—or should we say happy-sad—to last year’s breakout network-TV hit, a tear-jerking wallow of a drama that takes a then-and-now look at a family’s emotional ups and downs. Having celebrated the siblings’ 36th birthdays in last season’s pilot episode, the show’s second-season premiere takes place on the 37th birthday of Kate (Chrissy Metz), Kevin (Justin Hartley) and adoptive brother Randall (Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown), all facing game-changing life decisions. In flashback mode, their parents Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) face the bittersweet music after their big blowout of a fight.
NCIS (8/7c, CBS): TV’s most-watched drama is back for its 15th season, picking up two months after Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and McGee (Sean Murray) were left behind in the Paraguayan jungle, fighting deadly rebels. With the rest of the team in search-and-rescue mode, Director Vance (Rocky Carroll) and Agent Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) go to Capitol Hall to answer for these antics at a congressional hearing.
Difficult People (streaming on Hulu): With Will & Grace returning to TV later this week, it’s time to say goodbye for now to “Will & Graceless”—that would be the proudly miserable Billy (Billy Eichner) and Julie (Julie Klausner)—as the third season of this raucous sitcom wraps with a star-studded finale. Executive producer Amy Poehler (as a duma named Flute) joins special guests Andy Cohen and Tony Hale, playing themselves—although Hale’s cameo is a stretch, taking over for Billy at the diner when the struggling actor gets fed up with Manhattan and decides to move to Los Angeles. “Let’s go ruin another city!” Julie crows, although neither of these misanthropes is quite prepared for what the City of Angels has in store for them. (Anything that tees up another joke at the expense of the Duplass Brothers is OK by me.)
Fall Openers: Kicking off new seasons on Fox: Lethal Weapon (8/7c) picks up two weeks after “El Gringo Loco”—that would be the loose-cannon Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford)—decamped to Mexico to take down the druglord responsible for his wife’s murder. Murtaugh (Damon Wayans, Sr.), naturally, tags along to keep the mayhem to a minimum. Also as usual, he doesn’t quite succeed. … Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine (9:30/8:30c) goes behind bars with hilarious results for its fifth season, with detectives Jake (Andy Samberg) and Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) in jail, framed for bank robberies. Jake’s having a particularly hard time dealing with the fact that he’s even less popular with the inmates than his cannibal cellmate (Tim Meadows). Longmire‘s Lou Diamond Phillips guests as a well-connected con who could be Jake’s salvation until Amy (Melissa Fumero) and Boyle (Loe Lo Truglio) are able to clear their names.
Law & Order: The Menendez Murders (10/9c, NBC): The always fabulous Edie Falco as outspoken defense attorney Leslie Abramson is the primary draw for an otherwise familiar docudrama rehash of the notorious murder case from the 1990s. Law & Order producers are clearly hoping for the same sort of sensation generated by FX’s American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson last year.
Inside Tuesday TV: In the land of streaming, familiar faces return to Hulu’s The Mindy Project when Mindy (Mindy Kaling) asks her ex, Cliff (Glenn Howerton), to help guide her through her messy divorce. Peter (Adam Pally) is also back, lifting Mindy’s spirits with an office karaoke party. … Netflix marks a milestone with Def Comedy Jam 25, an anniversary stand-up event recorded earlier this month at the Beverly Hilton, with performers including Bill Bellamy, Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, Eddie Griffin, Tiffany Haddish, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan, Craig Robinson, JB Smoove, Sheryl Underwood and more. … Jill Flint returns to CBS’s Bull (9/8c) in the second-season opener as Bull’s (Michael Weatherly) on-off romantic interest, as they face off over a murder case involving the widow (Minka Kelly) of a billionaire. … HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (10/9c) features the host’s interview with celebrated British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and his younger brother Nicolas, a racer with cerebral palsy.