Worth Watching: ‘Amy Schumer Growing,’ Fox’s ‘Mental Samurai,’ Relive ‘Farscape’ on Amazon
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
Amy Schumer Growing (Netflix): When a very pregnant Amy Schumer is asked, “Do you know what you’re having?” she answers, “Hemorrhoids.” And that’s about as clean as it gets in the comedian’s uproariously raunchy set before a full house in Chicago, where the audience revels at every explicit detail of her difficult pregnancy. If you thought impending motherhood might soften her approach, you’d be foolishly mistaken. But if you long to hear someone describe Kris Jenner as “the mother of dragons,” by all means tune in. As always with Schumer, it’s not for the squeamish, or easily offended.
Mental Samurai (9/8c, Fox): Rob Lowe keeps calling this elaborate new game/quiz show “the ultimate obstacle course for the mind,” but what it really feels like is Jeopardy! with a possibility of whiplash or motion sickness. As contestants are jerked up and down and sideways around a high-tech set while strapped into a capsule incongruously named Ava, Lowe cheers them on while they attempt to answer a series of trivia questions and solve puzzles through their giddy disorientation. It’s all fast-paced and purposefully over the top, but unlike the winter hit The Masked Singer, at least it’s not grindingly stupid.
Farscape (Amazon Prime Video): No, still no news of a revival after these many years — it was canceled in 2003, with a concluding miniseries in 2004 — but to mark the 20th anniversary of its premiere on the then-Sci Fi Channel, the wondrously enjoyable sci-fi series resurfaces on Amazon. All four seasons, plus a remastered version of the Peacekeeper Wars miniseries, are available for a very merry binge. How we’ve missed you, John Crichton.
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): Life gets back to normal, within reason, for the Pearsons after the premature delivery of Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) son, Jack Pearson Damon. While the new parents maintain their vigil over their fragile infant in an episode that is at its best a paean to motherhood, Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Zoe (Melanie Liburd) come to terms with his alcoholic relapse, and his own desire for a family, while Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) continue to clash over their diverging careers and schedules. The most enjoyable parts of this hour flash back to the first school dance for “the Big Three,” chaperoned by Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), whose troubled upbringing kept him from ever tripping the light fantastic as a kid. How everyone still misses you, Jack Pearson.
The Village (10/9c, NBC): As if to provide an object lesson of just how hard it is to pull off an emotionally driven show like This Is Us, a new drama about the tightly knit residents of a Brooklyn walk-up apartment building lays on the hokey schmaltz as thick as asbestos. With forced uplift and dialogue that feels borrowed from throw-pillow samplers (“Family’s where you find it, kid”), The Village puddles through most of the pilot episode before finding an authentic connection: a reunion between returning veteran Nick (Warren Christie) and his similarly scarred war dog. That show I’d watch.
Inside Tuesday TV: Kudos to C-SPAN, marking its 40th anniversary of the date it began the invaluable service of broadcasting live gavel-to-gavel coverage of the workings of the U.S. Congress… In a reversal of the current college-admissions bribing scandal, Dre (Anthony Anderson) and Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) are outraged on ABC’s black-ish (9/8) when they try to place cousin Kyra (Quvenzhané Wallis) into a fancy prep school and are treated like a charity case… PBS’s invaluable Frontline presents the two-hour The Trial of Ratko Mladic (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), an in-depth look at the historic five-year trial of the Bosnian Serb general accused of genocide, including a massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys that is considered the worst crime on European soil since WWII. Producers go behind the scenes with access to the prosecution and defense teams as well as witnesses telling their harrowing stories.