A 'Roseanne' Reunion, 'NCIS' Hits 350, 'Frontline' Profiles John McCain
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
Roseanne (8/7c, ABC): It’s old home week on this midseason’s hit revival. Johnny Galecki, now a TV superstar thanks to The Big Bang Theory, returns to the Conner home as the sheepishly lovable David, Darlene’s (Sara Gilbert) ex. He’s been pretty much an absentee parent to Harris (Emma Kenney) and Mark (Ames McNamara) in recent years—for unexpectedly altruistic reasons—but when he comes back to Lanford for his daughter’s birthday, it rekindles painful memories and also longings. For more comic relief, great grandma Bev (the wacky Estelle Parsons) also shows up at the door, having been unceremoniously expelled from her nursing home. A full house is not a quiet house. Never has been. (And tune in early for a nifty gag built around one of my own pet peeves: the grocery self-check counter.)
Paramount Network is capitalizing on the revival’s success with a daylong Roseanne marathon (9 am/8c), heavy on Darlene and David stories, leading up to the new episode on ABC. Starting Wednesday, two-hour blocks of Roseanne classic will air on weekday afternoon starting at 4 pm/3c.
NCIS (8/7c, CBS): For long-running shows, it’s almost always a time of transition, and that certainly applies to CBS’s top-rated NCIS, which will be saying goodbye to original cast member Pauley Perrette next month, even as the network has renewed the series for a 16th season. This week, it’s time to celebrate the milestone of a 350th episode, which otherwise sounds like business as usual as the team searches for an escaped petty officer accused of assault who flees during transport.
McCain (10/9c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Frontline and producer/director Michael Kirk examine the life and political career of Arizona Sen. John McCain in a documentary profile that also serves as a contemporary history of the Republican party. McCain’s history as a POW war hero turned political leader—sometimes maverick, sometimes establishment standard-bearer—makes for a fascinating life story.
Inside Tuesday TV: PBS revives one of its classics with a new nine-part version of Civilizations (8/7c, check local listings at pbs.org), narrated by Ray Donovan’s Liev Schreiber, which takes a global view of the history of art, starting with the theme of creation. … One of The CW’s more distinctive superhero shows, the culturally relevant Black Lightning (9/8c, signs off its freshman season with Black Lightning/Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) and his literally electrifying daughters Jennifer (China Anne McClain) and Anissa (Nafessa Williams) teaming up to take down the ASA. … History’s new reality competition, Forged in Fire: Knife or Death (10/9c) pits martial arts and knife experts through cutting-edge (sorry) obstacle courses and other grueling challenges to test their skills with a blade. … Married, and expectant, comedians Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher a chance to reflect on love, impending parenthood and the give and take of relationships in The Honeywoon Stand Up Special (streaming on Netflix).