Sophomore Year on 'grown-ish,' 'Masked Singer,' 'Mythbusters Jr.'
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
grown-ish (9/8c, Freeform): As the enjoyable collegiate black-ish spinoff advances to a sophomore year at Cal U, opening with back-to-back episodes, Zoey (Yara Shahidi) sees it as a "sequel," an opportunity to improve on the ups and downs of her first year away from home. Moving off-campus seems a good idea, until she and her roomies — Ana (Francia Raisa) and Nomi (Emily Arlook) — discover the condition their new apartment is in. And then it's time to do possible repair work on her relationship with too-cool-for-school Luca (Luka Sabbat), who's back from a summer in Paris. How, one wonders, will they ever find time to study?
The Masked Singer (9/8c, Fox): In a camp spectacle seemingly better suited to the summer "silly season," the question isn't so much "who's behind the mask" as it is "whose career is in such tatters they need this kind of exposure?" Nick Cannon is the overcompensating host, with a witless panel including Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Robin Thicke and Nicole Scherzinger. Their task: to guess who's cloaking themselves in elaborate Mardi Gras-worthy costumes, within which they strut and sing pop anthems while the panel tries to figure out clues to their identity. (Trust me, when someone guesses Lady Gaga, they're wrong. She's better than this.) In the opening round, a Hippo squares off against a Peacock, a furry Monster goes up against a Unicorn, and a Deer faces a Lion —the latter the best costumed by far. One of the three losers will be unmasked at the end of each episode. (Fox blurred the identity in the advance screener, but I'd be lying if I said I cared.)
Mythbusters Jr. (9/8c, Science Channel): Adam Savage is back to explode (sometimes literally) myths and urban legends, but this time he's joined by six whiz kids (ages 12-15) with mad STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — skills. In the series premiere, they take on that handiest and hardiest of all materials, duct tape, to see if they can use it to make a functioning parachute and a usable car tire.
Project Runway All Stars (9/8c, Lifetime): The fashion franchise will soon return to its roots on Bravo, but for now, Lifetime offers one last all-star season with an international twist. Seven former Project Runway winners from the U.S. will be joined by seven veterans from other countries' editions (from Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, the U.K. and Canada), all competing for global bragging rights. Host Alyssa Milano returns with judges Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman, with Marie Claire editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider as mentor.
Inside Wednesday TV: The government may be in shutdown mode, but C-SPAN carries on with a new 90-minute documentary, The Senate: Conflict and Compromise (8/7c), which looks at the history, traditions and role of the legislative body… Go out of this world with PBS's Nova: Pluto and Beyond (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), as a NASA team analyzes new transmissions from the New Horizons spacecraft, which famously beamed images from Pluto in 2015. On New Year's Day, the probe is scheduled to fly by an object known as Ultima Thule, 4 billion miles from Earth, and who knows what wonders will be uncovered… MTV's docuseries True Life (10/9c) returns with a new franchise titled "True Life/Now," a four-part study of real people caught up in today's immersive social and media phenomena. First subject: "Obsessed With Being a Kardashian." Can't pretend to understand that one.