What’s On: ‘This Is Us’ Returns, ‘Major Crimes’ Signs off, PBS Goes ‘Into the Amazon’

This-Is-Us-Season-2; The Fifth Wheel, Jan. 9

A critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:

This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): The family drama that makes America weep on a weekly basis is back, and the adult Pearsons can no longer ignore Kevin’s (Justin Hartley) downward spiral—not after his DUI arrest in the midseason finale, with one of Randall’s (Golden Globe winner Sterling K. Brown) kids looking on from the back seat. Jump forward to Kevin finally being able to confront his family in rehab, under the guidance of a therapist played by Kate Burton, and a flashback to a family getaway in the Poconos reveals how even a golden boy like Kevin could feel like an outsider—or “The Fifth Wheel,” the episode’s title. No one emerges unscathed in this session. While they face their demons, their significant “others” find time to bond, and even laugh, which is always a nice change of pace on this show.

Major Crimes (9/8c, TNT): Capping a turbulent final season that included the controversial passing of its lead character, Mary McDonnell as Sharon Raydor, the crime drama signs off for good with the unit confronting the diabolical Phillip Stroh (Billy Burke) for the last time—but not before Lt. Tao (Michael Paul Chan) finds himself stuck in a room with a metaphorical ticking bomb.

Into the Amazon (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): The winter season of the great history series American Experience gets off to an exotic start, telling of a harrowing 1914 expedition into an uncharted tributary of the South American rainforest that teamed Theodore Roosevelt (voiced by Alec Baldwin) with famed Brazilian explorer Candido Mariano Da Silva Rondon (voiced by Narcos star Wagner Moura). The eight-week journey was beset by disease and injury and would claim several lives before it was over.

Inside Tuesday TV: In streaming news, Hulu’s Marvel’s Runaways wraps its first season with the teen rebels facing off against their parents, until Jonah (Julian McMahon) shows up with a new game plan. The series has been renewed for a second season (and so has Hulu’s Future Man, which makes me even happier). … VH1’s America’s Next Top Model (8/7c) returns with a new twist for the contestants: no age limit. … JAG’s Patrick Labyorteaux returns to CBS’s NCIS (8/7c) as JAG Navy Captain Bud Roberts, Jr. He assists in a a case involving the apparent suicide of a seemingly successful Navy Lieutenant who worked with Bud. … Freeform’s The Fosters (8/7c) is back to resume what is now known to be its final season—though a spinoff is in the works. … Shania Twain takes on Meghan Trainor in the season finale of TBS’s Drop the Mic (10/9c). … A&E launches a new docuseries, Undercover High (10/9c), which embeds seven young adults, in their early to mid 20s, in a Topeka, Kansas high school for a full semester. On the curriculum: observing the challenges today’s teenagers face, including bullying and the constant intrusion of social media.