Sue Heck Turns 21 on ‘The Middle,’ Return of ‘This Is Us,’ ‘Unsolved’ Premiere on USA
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
The Middle (8/7c, ABC): Happy 21st birthday, Sue Heck (Eden Sher)! One of the great coming-of-age characters in all of TV family comedy, whose eternal optimism has survived so many setbacks and disappointments, is finally legal, so Frankie (Patricia Heaton) takes her daughter to celebrate at a bar near her college. What happens next is anyone’s guess. In another outing destined to go sideways, Mike (Neil Flynn) draws the short straw to accompany Brick (Atticus Shaffer) to a Planet Nowhere convention, where nerds rule.
We’ll Meet Again (8/7c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Ann Curry’s emotional docu-series closes its first season with a look back at the struggle of gay Americans before legal protections (still under assault in some areas) made coming out such a daunting prospect. One subject, Tom, hopes to reconnect with Maria, a friend he trusted with his secret in the 1960s and who saved him from undergoing electroshock conversion therapy. Another, Paul, is a former University of New Hampshire student body president who’s looking for Wayne, an activist who organized the first gay-student organization on campus and whose actions helped Paul accept his own sexual orientation.
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): Enough time has passed for most fans to have come to terms with the emotional roller coaster of the episodes airing around the Super Bowl, which revealed Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) tragic fate. Now it’s time to party, with Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) off to Las Vegas for bachelorette and bachelor parties. In the flashback timeline, Jack and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) celebrate an anniversary in presumably happier times.
Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. (10/9c, USA): Attention must be paid, or you might be confused by the way this intricate and compelling 10-part docudrama explores the 1990s shooting deaths of the rap superstars (well played by Marcc Rose as Tupac and Wavyy Jonez as Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace). The narrative skips between two separate investigations a decade apart: In 1997, in the immediate wake of Wallace’s murder, dogged LAPD Det. Russell Poole (Jimmi Simpson) seeks connections between the two shootings. In 2006, with the case now cold, a federal task force led by Det. Greg Kading (Josh Duhamel) reopens the mystery, for which no one to date has yet been charged.
Inside Tuesday TV: Will the success of Black Panther at the movies have an impact on The CW’s more modestly scaled Black Lightning (9/8c)? This week, Jefferson/aka Lightning (Cress Williams) continues to hunt for his father’s killer, while his daughters deal with their own emerging powers. … Marlon Wayans delivers his first stand-up comedy special for Netflix, Marlon Wayans: Woke-ish, tackling topical subjects including politics and racism from MGM’s National Harbor’s The Theater in Washington, D.C. … Taped earlier this month at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations (10/9c, OWN) features highlights from Oprah Winfrey’s one-on-one conversations with cultural influencers including Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, Get Out’s Jordan Peele, late-night hosts Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert, 2 Dope Queens’ Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson, grown-ish star Yara Shahidi and actress/activist Salma Hayek Pinault.