Worth Watching: ‘Laugh-In’ Tribute, ‘FBI’ and ‘Amsterdam Finales, Enjoy ‘Kids’ While You Can
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate (streaming on Netflix): You bet your sweet bippy it’s a big deal to reunite original Laugh-In performers Lily Tomlin —reprising her classic Ernestine and Edith All characters in brief vignettes — Ruth Buzzi (whose old-lady Gladys shtick gets a double-take update) and Jo Anne “Chicken Joke” Worley as part of a starry salute to the revolutionary late-1960s sketch-comedy series. Tiffany Haddish and Neil Patrick Harris host the scattershot festivities from Hollywood’s cavernous Dolby Theatre, with show creator George Schlatter and sitcom legend Norman Lear beaming from the audience. Contemporary comics and other celebrities recreate gags in the iconic “cocktail party” and “joke wall” set-ups, and before it’s over, someone will be doused in “sock it to me” fashion. The whole special is so retro at times I was tempted to walk across the room to change the channel — that’s how we did it back then. And when the hourlong tribute buffers new material with vintage clips and outtakes, guess which ones are funnier?
FBI (9/8c, CBS): Things get personal in the first-season finale of the Dick Wolf procedural — which is already spawning a Most Wanted spinoff for next season. While Agent Maggie Bell (Missy Peregrym) follows leads that her late husband’s auto-accident death may have been murder, a woman with intel on the case is kidnapped. Dana (Sela Ward) puts her own career in jeopardy by letting Maggie run with the case despite the personal stakes.
New Amsterdam (10/9c, NBC): Another freshman series that has been renewed for a second season, the hospital drama signs off until the fall with oncology chief Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) seeking a creative new treatment for Dr. Max’s (Ryan Eggold) throat cancer. Chemotherapy treatments have taken their toll on the earnest medical director, and as the staff rallies around their hero, there’s also time for some other personal subplots to leave us hanging.
The Kids Are Alright (8:30/7:30c, ABC): Few of the many cancellations confirmed in recent days were much of a surprise — but ABC really blundered by scrapping this terrific family sitcom, its best hope to fill the void left by The Middle, after just one season. The victim of studio politics within the newly combined Disney/Fox empire, Kids is a riot, with well-defined and hilarious characters among each of the eight boys (excepting the baby) being raised by sardonic parents (Michael Cudlitz and Mary McCormack at the top of their game). In the next-to-last original episode, Peggy (McCormack) goes on a tirade when she learns that donations are down at their church. (It’s also the rare sitcom that treats religion seriously, albeit with great humor.) Kids was perfectly on brand for ABC and will be missed.
Inside Tuesday TV: The much-chronicled life of an outspoken sports icon gets another retelling, courtesy of director Antoine Fuqua and executive producers LeBron James and Maverick Carter, in the HBO documentary What’s My Name/Muhammad Ali (8/7c), both parts airing back to back. The film uses Ali’s own words and archival footage to chart his career and activism… The fifth season of The CW’s The Flash (8/7c) ends with Barry (Grant Gustin) going up against his nemesis, Reverse Flash (Tom Cavanagh)… A health crisis looms on FX’s Fosse/Verdon (10/9), as overextended director Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell) juggles multiple projects while starting rehearsals for Broadway’s Chicago starring his estranged soulmate, Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams). What happens next was dramatized in Fosse’s autobiographical All That Jazz… Streaming highlight: Britbox presents the comedy Living the Dream, starring Life on Mars’ Philip Glenister and Lesley Sharp as heads of a British family that relocates to sun-soaked Florida to run an RV park. Clouds soon form on the horizon. Co-stars include sitcom veterans Kim Fields and Leslie Jordan.