What's Worth Watching: The People v. O.J. Simpson, The Grinder, American Experience and more for Tuesday, February 9
The People v. O.J. Simpson (10/9c, FX): "Something big's happening here," muses Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance), as he watches—like the rest of America did—the pursuit of the white Bronco carrying a desperate O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), with A.C. Cowlings (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) at the wheel. This sensationally riveting hour, directed by Ryan Murphy, finds fans cheering "the Juice is loose," while media companies scramble prematurely to prepare obits as a debate rages over how to cover the freeway chase and an NBA final at the same time. "O.J. gets the big screen," decides an executive, and who can blame him. The People v. O.J. Simpson commands the screen in its terrific second episode. (Special kudos this week to David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, the O.J. loyalist who seems particularly distraught by his buddy's dilemma, despite the fact that he signed his suicide note with a happy face.)
The Grinder (9:30/8:30c, Fox): Can Dean (Rob Lowe) ever learn to tone it down? That's the question as Stewart (Fred Savage) tries to woo a deep-pocketed client (Community's Jim Rash) who's not buying the actor's overdone act. But when Stewart introduces Dean to his therapist (Maya Rudolph, blissfully wry), the wheels come off the crazy train once again—just how we like it on this wildly clever sitcom. (Look for Arrow's Colton Haynes in the Grinder show-within-a-show as a character intended to make the star more "emotionally grounded." Good luck with that.)
American Experience: The Perfect Crime and Frontline: The Fantasy Sports Gamble (9/8c and 10/9c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Two of PBS's premiere documentary showcases feed into current obsessions. First, American Experience revisits a true-crime story that resonates today in The Perfect Crime, about the thrill-killing murder perpetrated in 1924 by privileged preppies Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. Their guilt was never in doubt, but when Clarence Darrow came to their defense to argue the social roots of their amorality, the Leopold-Loeb case became a landmark in the history of capital punishment. Frontline follows with an investigation into the billion-dollar boom in fantasy sports and how it has spurred a surge in possibly illegal online betting.
Inside Tuesday TV: Recent recipient of a Life Achievement Award at the SAG Awards (the latest of many accolades), Carol Burnett is a true TV legend, and fans of her greatest showcase are in for a treat, as Time Life releases The Carol Burnett Show: Treasures From The Vault (in six-disc and single-disc formats), with highlights from The Carol Burnett Show's largely unseen first five seasons. … There's a new girl on Fox's New Girl (8/7c): Megan Fox as pharma rep Reagan, who takes over Jess's room while Jess (Zooey Deschanel) goes on jury duty—better known as one way to deal with a star's maternity leave. … It's a Drake & Josh reunion on Fox's Grandfathered (8:30/9:30c), when Drake Bell guests as a tech investor who takes a meeting with Gerald (Josh Peck) and Vanessa (Christina Milian). … Miss Piggy has a wardrobe malfunction on ABC's The Muppets (8:30/7:30c), causing outrage at the network. In real life, it's the show's sluggish ratings that are probably upsetting the ABC suits.