Worth Watching: Loving Gilda, a Final ‘Unfortunate’ Season, a New Year’s ‘Doctor Who’


A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:

Happy New TV Year! As usual, even on a holiday, there’s plenty to watch.

Love, Gilda (9/8c, CNN): To watch Gilda Radner in her sketch-comedy prime, as the most immediately endearing and emotionally versatile of Saturday Night Live’s original “Not Ready for Prime Time Players,” was to love her. Director Lisa D’Apolito’s adoring biographical portrait recalls many of her greatest characters (Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella, Lisa Loopner) while delving into Radner’s journals and personal audio reflections for poignant insights into the life of this remarkable star, who died at 42 of ovarian cancer nearly 30 years ago.

A Series of Unfortunate Events (streaming on Netflix): Will those poor put-upon orphans (Violet, Klaus and Sunny) finally get a break? The go-for-baroque adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s gaudy book series inflicts its third and final season, with evil uncle Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) still donning elaborate disguises and plotting wild schemes to get his hands on the little ones’ fortune.

Doctor Who (8/7c, BBC America): Another twist in the life of the first female Doctor (Jodie Whittaker): Instead of the traditional Christmas Day special, the Doctor greets 2019 with a New Year’s escapade, written by executive producer Chris Chibnall. The New Year isn’t a peaceful one for the Doctor and her companions—Ryan (Tosin Cole), Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Yaz (Mandip Gill) — as they confront a terrifying evil manifesting from across the centuries of Earth’s history.

Life Below Zero (9/8c, National Geographic Channel): The popular survival series about living in the most isolated and frigid pockets of Alaska marks its 100th episode with a daylong marathon (starting at 9 am/8c), a compilation and retrospective at 8/7c and a new episode at 9/8c. The new season will feature Jessie Holmes training for the Iditarod sled dog race.

Great Performances — From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2019 (2:30 pm/1:30c and 9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Another great (and global) New Year’s TV tradition, perfect for soothing the most nagging hangover. Downton Abbey‘s Hugh Bonneville returns to host the waltz-heavy program from scenic Vienna, with guest conductor Christian Theilemann leading the Vienna Philharmonic through many Strauss Family favorites. The special also celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Vienna State Opera on the city’s fabled Ringstrasse.

Inside Tuesday TV: HGTV is new all afternoon and evening with a lineup of 10 premiere episodes of fan-favorite series, starting at 2 pm/1c. At 9/8c, the series premiere of Windy City Rehab finds designer/developer Alison Victoria working her deluxe magic on Chicago fixer-uppers… What holiday would be complete without a dog show? Cue Animal Planet’s four-hour blowout of the 18th annual The AKC National Championship Dog Show presented by Royal Canin (6 pm/5c), which besides the main competition also includes events including obedience, agility, rally and dock diving… Network originals include Fox’s Lethal Weapon (8/7c), with Cole’s (Seann William Scott) new love interest complicating his work life, and Murtagh (Damon Wayans) fretting about wife Trish (Keesha Sharp) serving as co-counsel on a case with Leo Getz (Thomas Lennon)… Followed by a new episode of The Gifted (9/8c), in which Andy (Percy Hynes White) considers reuniting with the Strucker family, which doesn’t exactly thrill sister Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind).