'This Is Us' Finale, 'Rise' and 'For the People' Premiere, Ricky Gervais on Netflix
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): For a change of pace, NBC’s four-hanky phenom wraps its second season promising tears of joy. The kind you experience at a wedding, especially one as life-altering as the union of Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan), who we’ve been rooting for since they met in Season 1. The network’s promotional teaser has fans buzzing at the vision of Milo Ventimiglia in old-man makeup, apparently giving his blessing from the great beyond. As we like to think long-departed parents do on such happy occasions. Pearsons, you’ll be missed.
Rise (10/9c, NBC): NBC is all about the feelings, and hopes to replicate the success of This Is Us in a new musical drama that combines elements of Glee and Friday Night Lights. The latter sets the tone, as a burned-out English teacher (Josh Radnor) in a struggling Pennsylvania steel town lobbies to bring new life to the high school’s drama department by staging the controversial Spring Awakening. (Read the full review.)
For the People (10/9c, ABC): Remember when the core regulars of Grey’s Anatomy were overeager newbies at the start of their professional lives? This slick but overstuffed legal drama from the Shondaland factory hews to that formula, introducing six exceedingly ambitious (and occasionally oversexed) young lawyers joining the high-profile U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, hereafter known as “The Mother Court.” Half are Assistant U.S. Attorneys (prosecutors), the other half public defenders, and always the twain shall meet in court. Overwritten yet also simplistic in its preachy approach to law, People even patronizes most of the grown-ups, including Ben Shenkman and Hope Davis as their respective win-at-all-cost bosses. (Anna Deavere Smith is the wonderful exception as Tina, the stern court clerk.) Susannah Flood as the all-business AUSA Kate Littlejohn is the early standout in the ensemble, although I suspect it won’t be long until the show softens her edges as well.
Inside Tuesday TV: A Netflix favorite returns with Ricky Gervais: Humanity (streaming Tuesday), his first stand-up special in seven years, filmed in London. Among his topics, Gervais is about as happy about the aging process as you’d expect. … Freeform’s The Fosters (8/7c) marks its 100th episode with Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) trying to reconnect on a couples’ retreat, while Brandon (David Lambert) and Grace (Meg DeLacy) go on a road trip. … American Pickers’ Mike Wolfe guests as himself on CBS’s NCIS (8/7c), helping Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and Ducky (David McCallum) analyze an antique war stick linked to a 16-year-old cold case. … In back-to-back episodes of ABC’s black-ish (9/8c), Dre (Anthony Anderson) and Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) deal with hot-button issues including gender bias and parental discipline. … Travel Channel personality Andrew Zimmern launches a new series, The Zimmern List (9/8c), introducing favorite foods in favorite places. First stops: Los Angeles and Austin.