Worth Watching: A Legend Joins 'The Voice,' The Real Story of 'Green Book,' 'Enemy Within' and 'London Kills'
A selective critical checklist of notable Monday TV:
The Voice (8/7c, NBC): With an Emmy for producing Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert and a holiday special making him something of an NBC go-to guy, John Legend segues into the spinning-chair brigade as the singing competition's newest coach. He joins Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Kelly Clarkson in what is always the best part of any season of The Voice: the Blind Auditions.
The Green Book: Guide to Freedom (8/7c, Smithsonian Channel): Even if you didn't see the Oscar-nominated film Green Book, this documentary promises to be illuminating as it tells the true story behind the travel guide that gave African-Americans a road map of safe havens during the Jim Crow era. Interviewing historians, business owners and citizens who learned first-hand the rigors of "traveling while black," Green Book illustrates the realities of a segregated past while championing the resolve of those who risked everything by hitting the often unfriendly road.
I Am the Night (9/8c, TNT): In the penultimate episode of the atmospheric fact-based crime drama, Jay (Chris Pine) and Fauna (India Eisley) head to Hawaii in hopes of finding answers from her birth mother, Tamar Hodel (Jamie Anne Allman). All roads lead back to L.A. and creepy Dr. George Hodel (Jefferson Mays), and as Jay cynically notes, "Death and evil, they're around us all the time — and the line between us is thin as tissue paper."
The Enemy Within (10/9c, NBC): Basically The Blacklist without a sense of humor, this uninspired spy thriller stars Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter as former CIA Deputy Director Erica Shepherd, now in prison for treason — turns out she was manipulated into spilling deadly secrets, and does she ever regret it. Despite her dark past, and the objections of unforgiving FBI agent Will Keaton (Morris Chestnut), Erica becomes the feds' "secret weapon" in a crusade against Russian terrorist Mikhail Vassily Tal, who's coordinating attacks on multiple U.S. cities. Seeking redemption in hopes of reconnecting to her daughter, Erica is a pushy know-it-all willing to break the rules to take down Tal's network. With typical subtlety, she brags, "You can save this country — but you cannot do it without me." We figured as much.
London Kills (streaming on Acorn TV): Gritty in look and tone, but otherwise a fairly routine big-city procedural, this straight-to-series commission from the distinguished Brit-focused streamer is a grim affair. A dour Hugh Speer stars as Detective Inspector David Bradford, whose return to the job from months of compassionate leave is clouded by the unresolved disappearance of his wife. As he and his by-the-numbers team (including Inspector Lynley's Sharon Small as a Detective Sergeant bristling against the "old-boys' network") investigate murders, new revelations continue to dog Bradford about his vanished spouse. Not so sure about "kills," but this London kind of bores.
Inside Monday TV: Nurse your Oscar-night hangover with Live's After Oscar Show (9 am/8c, syndicated). Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest broadcast bright and early from Oscar central, L.A.'s Dolby Theatre, with a performance from Bebe Rexha among the highlights… Freeform's supernatural action series Shadowhunters (8/7c) is back, as the demon-fighters deal with the "death" of star hunter Clary (Katherine McNamara) and the ominous arrival of her sadistic brother, Jonathan (Luke Baines)… HBO's documentary It's a Hard Truth Ain't It (10/9c) allows 13 men serving long sentences at Indiana's Pendleton Correctional Facility — the location used for HBO's movie O.G.to get behind the camera (collaborating with co-director Madeline Sackler) and use filmmaking to explore the paths that led them to prison. Scenes from their lives are also animated by Yoni Goodman.