Worth Watching: Norman Lear Classics ‘Live In Front of a Studio Audience,’ ‘Brockmire,’ ‘Whiskey’ and Other Finales, History’s ‘Butcher’
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons“ (8/7c, ABC): What better way to mark the last official night of the traditional TV season than by reaching back into the archives for an homage to Norman Lear‘s groundbreaking sitcoms of the 1970s, the sort of shows we often say they don’t — or won’t — make them like that anymore. Lear and executive producer Jimmy Kimmel host this 90-minute event, directed by sitcom master James Burrows, who leads all-star casts through recreations of classic episodes of All in the Family and The Jeffersons. Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei are Archie and Edith Bunker, with Ellie Kemper as Gloria and Ike Barinholtz as Meathead. For The Jeffersons, Jamie Foxx and Wanda Sykes do the honors as George and Louise, with Will Ferrell and Kerry Washington as Tom and Helen Willis and One Day at a Time‘s Justina Machado as Florence Johnston. How will the material play with today’s audience? Will these accomplished actors be able to fill their iconic precedessors’ shoes? Either way, this demands to be seen.
Brockmire (10/9c, IFC): Things are looking up for sportscaster Jim Brockmire (Hank Azaria) and his new partner Gabby (Tawny Newsome) heading into opening day, where they’re calling their first regular season MLB game for Oakland. But how much fun would an unsullied happy ending be for the third-season finale of this uproarious dark comedy? Before long, bigots are protesting them on all sides, their sponsor (King Venom Vape Cartridge) pulls out, and with new personal setbacks in Brockmire’s personal life, it’s little wonder he starts praying to the baseball gods, “Please grant me a respite from this tornado of s—.” Can Brockmire stay sober through it all? Tune in and find out, and begin the vigil for a (green-lit) fourth season next year.
Whiskey Cavalier (10/9c, ABC): The road is even rockier for this spy caper, which ABC canceled last week after one short caper. In the season finale, arch-nemesis and former boss Ollerman (Dylan Walsh) tries to get the team to commit a terrorist act, using smarmy Ray (Josh Hopkins) as leverage. Amid the mayhem, Will (Scott Foley) and Frankie (Lauren Cohan) come to a reckoning about their relationship. Does that mean sparks will fly before the final curtain? (Don’t hold your breath, but the studio is looking to find a new outlet for this escapist romp.)
Also closing shop for the summer: NBC’s Chicago trilogy, which includes the swan songs for Dr. Connor Rhodes (Colin Donnell) and his obsessed wannabe lover, trauma surgeon Ava Bekker (Norma Kuhling) on Chicago Med (8/7c), and a farewell to detective Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda) on Chicago P.D. (10/9c)… CBS’s SEAL Team (10/9c) finds the Bravo Team in danger of being split up by Commander Shaw (Peter Jessop), but Jason (David Boreanaz) & Co. get one more mission to prove their worth.
The Butcher (10/9c, History): Vegans should probably look away, as the production company responsible for History’s Forged in Fire returns with a competition for those skilled in the ancient craft of butchery. Survivor’s Colby Donaldson hosts the bloody contest, in which four butchers ply their trade each week, vying for a $10,000 prize. Challenges include breaking down a whole animal, gauging a desired weight or length or thickness, and delivering cuts from an exotic animal like an alligator or ostrich. Judges Michael “The Reverend of Fat” Sullivan, Chef Roxanne Spruance and Dave “The Butcher” Budworth decide the winner. Most definitely not brought to you by PETA.
Inside Wednesday TV: Now that Survivor has finished for the season, CBS’s The Amazing Race (8/7c) airs back-to-back episodes, with teams making their way through Dubai and Uganda… The CW revives its inspirational docu-series My Last Days (8/7c) for a three-week run, with Jane the Virgin‘s Justin Baldoni once again introducing stories from the perspective of the terminally ill who haven’t given up on life… The season finale of PBS’s Breakthrough: The Ideas That Changed the World (10/9c, check local listings at pbs.org) focuses on the smartphone, while providing a history of world-changing communications discoveries from the telegraph and Morse Code to the telephone and its portable successor… Don’t say you weren’t warned. With only one more episode to go in the first season of FX’s hilarious supernatural comedy What We Do in the Shadows (10/9c), our hapless heroes prepare to host the Biannual Vampire Orgy. What could possibly go wrong?