Worth Watching: When Bobby Met Gwennie in 'Fosse/Verdon,' 9/11 Flashback on 'NCIS,' a New ABC 'Mess' as 'Rookie' Signs Off
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
Fosse/Verdon (10/9c, FX): As obsessed as I am with this dazzling show-biz dual biography, I feel maybe the series should have opened with this episode, which charts the sensuous opening act in the relationship of Broadway musical star Gwen Verdon (a tremulous Michelle Williams) and director with a chronic chip on his shoulder, Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell). As before, the story shifts in time, juxtaposing their first collaboration on the hit musical Damn Yankees, when Gwen was a much bigger star, with the dissolution of their marriage years later, after Gwen finally has had enough of his serial infidelities. The sparks that fly as Fosse works his magic on an intrigued and amorous Verdon during Yankees rehearsals is worth the price of admission.
NCIS (8/7c, CBS): A new case gets personal for Gibbs (Mark Harmon) when the remains of a Marine Major are found at a construction site, and the victim is someone the NCIS team leader not only knew, but believed had died in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Their history makes solving the case a top priority.
Bless This Mess (9:30/8:30c, ABC): Where better to be a fish out of water than in landlocked Nebraska? If you can buy the flimsy set-up to this new sitcom — and that's a fairly big if — there are some compensating charms, though not so much in the overeager performances of star/producers Lake Bell and Dax Shepard. They play city dwellers Rio and Mike (she's a therapist, he's a music journalist) who flee the big city to become instant farmers when he inherits a ramshackle abode on the great plains. Without even checking out the property first, they leave their professions behind and load up the U-Haul. What they find is not so much a romantic escape to a simpler past than a money pit that challenges their urban-to-rural culture shock — and Rio's bovine phobia. Shades of Green Acres, it's the local eccentrics who freshen this stew: Ed Begley Jr. as the peculiar Rudy, who has taken up residence in their barn, and Pam Grier as hardware store owner/sheriff Constance, who seems bemused by the arrival of these insipid greenhorns.
The Rookie (10/9c, ABC): While waiting for news of a renewal for a second season — at which time will they still qualify for "rookie" status? — the police newbies prepare for an exam to decide who moves on to the next stage of training. But for Officer Nolan (Nathan Fillion), there's an even bigger test of his skill set, when he and Bishop (Afton Williamson) arrive at a crime scene and learn the murder victim could be associated with a potential terrorist attack on L.A.
Inside Tuesday TV: Journey front man Steve Perry is the subject of the seventh-season premiere of AXS TV's The Big Interview with Dan Rather (8/7c), discussing why he left the band at the peak of their success and how their "Don't Stop Believin'" ended up in the Sopranos finale… Religion has been an entertaining theme all season on ABC's The Kids Are Alright (8:30/7:30c), and so it is when Peggy (Mary McCormack) manipulates young William (Andy Walken) to join the church choir when she learns he's questioning his beliefs. For brother Timmy (Jack Gore), the choir may be just another stepping stone to stardom, once he learns the choir will be appearing on TV. Holy hambone!… Streaming highlight: the Britbox premiere of the seriocomic There She Goes, starring David Tennant as the father of a 9-year-old daughter whose rare and undiagnosed chromosomal disorder presents the family with more than the usual number of challenges.