What's On: Adoption Hurdles on ‘This Is Us,’ ‘Long Road Home’ Premieres, ‘Oak Island’ Returns

Matt Roush
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Pictured: Alexandra Breckinridge as Sophie

A critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:

This Is Us (9/8, NBC): One of the stronger episodes of the season may have you nodding several times that this is why we love these characters, as many deal with potential disappointments. There are especially powerful and moving moments for Randall (Sterling K. Brown), who goes to bat for his new foster daughter after an unhappy field trip to her mother’s prison; for flashback Rebecca (Mandy Moore), who stands up against a skeptical judge (Delroy Lindo) during the adoption process for Baby Randall; and for Toby (Chris Sullivan), who wants to ensure that Kate (Chrissy Metz) gets all the happiness she deserves as they move forward, with their baby-to-be, in their relationship.

The Long Road Home (9/8c, National Geographic): Combat is portrayed on the most personal level in this wrenching eight-hour docudrama miniseries, based on ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz’s book about a 2004 ambush of a newly arrived peacekeeping platoon in Iraq. The individual soldiers under fire, and those who come to their rescue, come into sharp focus, as do the loved ones back home in Fort Hood, Texas, anxiously awaiting word. The impressive cast of mostly unfamiliar faces is led by Jason Ritter, Michael Kelly, Jeremy Sisto, Sarah Wayne Callies and Kate Bosworth. If you watch only one military drama on TV this fall, this should be it. After the two-hour opener, episodes will air Tuesdays at 10/9c through Dec. 19.

The Curse of Oak Island (9/8c, History): The hit unscripted series returns for a fifth season, with brothers Rick and Marty Lagina continuing to explore the island’s mysteries and potential hidden treasures. They’re using new technology to drill even deeper into the so-called Money Pit. The two-hour premiere is preceded at 8/7c by a “The Journey So Far” recap special.

Damnation (10/9c, USA): A holy war between the haves and have-nots ignites in this violent allegorical drama set in Depression-era rural Iowa. “We’re living in biblical times again,” preaches pistol-packing faux-reverend Seth Davenport (Killian Smith), whose conflict with cowboy strikebreaker Creeley Turner (Logan Marshall-Green) has an epic Cain and Abel quality.

Inside Tuesday TV: Marsha Mason returns to ABC’s The Middle (8/7c) as Frankie’s (Patricia Heaton) mom Pat, who runs her daughter ragged while recuperating from illness at their home. … ABC’s black-ish (9/8c) family is there for Diane (Marsai Martin) as she experiences a coming-of-age event. Well, the women, anyway. … Arsenio Hall guests on ABC’s The Mayor (9:30/8:30c) as Reverend Ocho Okoye, who hopes to get Dina (Yvette Nicole Brown) to join the church choir. … TV Land’s twisted comedy Teachers (10/9c) is back to give the profession a bad name. In the opener, Ms. Snap (Katy Colloton) tries to impress a local radio personality at a school dance. … ESPN’s 30 for 30 profiles wrestling superstar Ric Flair in the documentary Nature Boy (10/9c). … truTV’s wacky At Home with Amy Sedaris (10:30/9:30c) welcomes Saturday Night Live veteran Rachel Dratch as Florence Chervil, a volunteer from Our Lady of Research Triangle Church, who has a way with craft candlesticks. Amy’s challenge: “Entertaining for Peanuts,” or how to prepare a frugal meal for a rich uncle.