Worth Watching: ‘Tonight Show’ Goes to Puerto Rico, ‘Drunk History’ Imbibes Frankenstein, ‘This Is Us’ Returns
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (11:35/10:35c, NBC): In what would be a very special outing for any show — but especially welcome to the late show that has lost much of its buzz in recent months — Jimmy Fallon takes Tonight to Puerto Rico to celebrate the arrival of Lin-Manuel Miranda (whose parents are from the island) and his smash Broadway hit Hamilton. Miranda and the touring cast will perform “The Story of Tonight” from the epic musical. Tonight will further celebrate Puerto Rican culture with performances by Puerto Rican natives José Feliciano and Bad Bunny, and celebrity/humanitariaun chef José Andrés will also appear to spotlight the word of his World Central Kitchen, which helped served 3.7 million meals to survivors of Hurricane Maria.
Drunk History (10/9c, Comedy Central): While few things can be as wearisome as watching comics laugh uproariously at their own antics, this tipsy series pulls it off in the sixth-season premiere, presented as a parody of Are You Afraid of the Dark? (substitute “drunk”) and told as a campfire story by Rich Fulcher. An all-star cast recreates Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s — try saying that under the influence — creation of Frankenstein, with Westworld’s Evan Rachel Wood as the author, Elijah Wood as Percy Shelley, Jack McBrayer as Lord Byron, and in scenes from the classic monster story, Seth Roger as Dr. Frankenstein and Will Farrell as the Monster. That clanking sound you hear may be Boris Karloff rolling in his grave.
Paired with a second season of the acclaimed workplace satire Corporate (10:30/930c), in which Matt (Matt Ingebretson) gets a new “proximity crush” (Saturday Night Live’s Sasheer Zamata) at the office.
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): Tears will flow as the hit drama returns from holiday hiatus, with stories involving Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) quixotic political campaign, the impending birth of Kate (Chrissie Metz) and Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) baby, and complications in the relationship of Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Zoe (Melanie Liburd).
Roswell: New Mexico (9/8c, The CW): Another day, another reboot, as CW relives the good old WB days with a grown-up remake of Roswell (1999-2002) in which the star-crossed lovers are young adults, not teens — and the notion of “alien” takes on a more topical resonance. Liz (Jeanine Mason), you see, is a scientist raised by ICE-fearing undocumented immigrants. When she returns home to Roswell, she soon discovers — thanks to events echoing the original — that her adolescent crush Max (Nathan Dean Parsons), now a Roswell police officer, has his own otherworldly origin story. Local prejudice and soap-operatic secrets complicate their love story, as super-sensitive Max and his fellow closeted aliens fear discovery by sinister government agents. But then, if you saw the original, you’ll already know that.
American Experience: The Swamp (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): PBS’s premier history anthology returns with a two-hour special that takes a deep dive (metaphorically) into Florida’s fabled Everglades, a wetland ecosystem that many an entrepreneur attempted to develop, and drain — until naturalists and environmentals got involved. Natural disasters ensued, and after much advocacy, FDR authorized the creation of Everglades National Park in 1934.
Inside Tuesday TV: Dabney Coleman guests on CBS’s NCIS (8/7c) as an Army Corporal and old family friend who asks Gibbs (Mark Harmon) to accompany him on a road trip to find a missing military I.D. bracelet. … In another provocative episode of ABC’s black-ish (9/8c), the parents are furious when Diane’s (Marsai Martin) class photo isn’t lit properly — sparking a debate on colorism within the family… In Bird vs. Plane: Miracle on the Hudson (9/8c), Smithsonian Channel marks the 10th anniversary of Sully Sullenberger’s sensational landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River after being struck by a flock of birds… Try to contain your excitement. USA Network is reviving Temptation Island (10/9c), because Fox’s reality coffers are apparently already full with crud like The Masked Singer. Mark L. Walberg is back as host, with four dating couples facing you-know-what while 24 singles await their cue in Maui, Hawaii.