Worth Watching: Another Good 'Doctor,' Return of 'Cash Cab,' 'Private Lives of Windsors'
A selective critical checklist of notable Monday TV:
The Good Doctor (10/9c, ABC): Reminding us that it's not always about Shaun (Freddie Highmore), the medical drama builds a very strong episode around Dr. Claire Brown (Antonia Thomas), who's nervously preparing to take lead on her first surgery, which turns out to be unusually tricky and emotionally challenging. While trying not to lose focus with distractions from her unstable mom (Sharon Leal) and an insecure Shaun, who needs help interpreting the signs from his second date with Carly (Jasika Nicole), Claire learns it might be wise not to share her doubts too openly. As her boss, Dr. Audrey Lim (Christina Chang), warns about women in their surgical profession: "We don't get the luxury of public insecurity." In a lighter subplot, Robert Sean Leonard reunites with House executive producer David Shore — part of ABC's weeklong "Cast from the Past" stunt — as a fisherman whose leg has been impaled by his prize catch of a giant marlin, and who seems less concerned with his health than preserving his valued trophy.
Cash Cab (11:30/10:30c, Bravo): After many years (and countless reruns) on Discovery, the on-the-go quiz show changes lanes with new episodes airing Sunday through Thursday on Bravo. Comedian Ben Bailey is back behind the wheel in New York City, pitching questions to unsuspecting but delighted passengers. The episode I sampled got off to a great start, with three FDNY firefighters climbing in and tackling the quiz with gusto. This reboot promises more of a focus on pop culture, and (gulp) occasional appearances from Bravo-lebrities. I'll recommend it anyway, because this is almost always one breezy, fun and informative ride.
Private Lives of the Windsors (8/7c, Smithsonian Channel): Can't wait for The Crown to return? Jump back a generation for a gossipy three-part wallow in the intrigues and scandals that threatened the survival of Britain's royal century in the early 20th century. Private Lives reminds us that in post-World War I Europe, monarchs were something of an endangered species. King George V (grandfather to current Queen Elizabeth II) was, after all, first cousin to ill-fated Tsar Nicholas of Russia and Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm. The premiere focuses on George’s eldest son Edward (who would one day abdicate the throne), sent on a charm offensive of the British Empire, and his sheltered sister Princess Mary, whose 1922 marriage to an earl foreshadowed the lavish weddings that today still attract global audiences as our fascination with the royals continues.
Prodigal Son (9/8c, Fox): This psychological thriller, one of the fall's more intriguing new shows, forces troubled Malcolm (Tom Payne) to face his fears as he probes more deeply into the mysteries of his youth involving his serial-killer father, Martin (Michael Sheen). A grisly new case brings the NYPD consultant face to face with fear, when Malcolm meets one of his idols (Sakina Jaffrey of Timeless), a famous psychologist whose LSD studies may have led to murder. This is an especially good episode for Bellamy Young as Malcolm's dishy mother, Jessica, who becomes so alarmed at her son's behavior after his visits to his infamous dad that she decides to go back into Martin's lion den and confront him.
A Very Brady Renovation: Behind the Build (9/8c, HGTV): Surely you didn't think HGTV would let the Brady cash cow go away without milking it for what it's worth? The hit Very Brady Renovation series may be over, but there's plenty of behind-the-scenes content still to be gleaned from more than 9,000 hours of footage. So for the next two Mondays (concluding Oct. 14), fans can revel in unseen footage of renovated spaces, reveals and other highlights, including a visit to the iconic house by actors Jerry Houser and Ron Kuhlman, who played Marcia and Jan's husbands in the Brady Brides spinoff. (A new digital series, Just Ask Brady, can be found online at HGTV.com/Brady.)
Inside Monday TV: The past helps us understand the present in Retro Report on PBS (8/7c, check local listings at pbs.org), a magazine-format series airing Mondays and Tuesdays through October. In the opener, our social-media addiction is linked to behavioral-science experiments of the 1950s, while the sports-protest movement (including Colin Kaepernick's bended knee) finds echoes in symbolic moments from the 1960s' civil-rights movement. Comedian Andy Borowitz closes each episode with a humorous "Now It All Makes Sense" vignette… In the finale of HBO's controversial Israeli docu-series Our Boys (9/8c), the trial puts a focus on Yosef's (Ben Melech) mental state before a verdict is reached… It's a homecoming for the interned Japanese-Americans on the penultimate episode of AMC's The Terror: Infamy (9/8c) when they're allowed to return to Terminal Island, where they discover how much has changed. But one thing hasn't: those creepy evil spirits… Adult Swim goes prehistoric with the five-night animated event Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal (midnight/11c, airing through Friday), which uses music and painting-like graphic images to tell the story of a caveman who bonds with a dinosaur.