Worth Watching: 'Emergence' Gets 'Lost,' Aykroyd Visits 'Conners,' 'Girlfriends' on 'black-ish,' TCM Salutes Denzel
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
Emergence (10/9, ABC): The mysteries surrounding solemn little Piper (Alexa Swinton) deepen when the trail leads to a tech mogul, played by Emmy-winning Lost icon Terry O'Quinn. (Remember when standout performances on network TV still sometimes won Emmys?) He plays Richard Kindred, whose company's shady history of medical research could provide answers, some possibly disturbing, about what makes Piper tick. Kindred's initial confrontation with Piper's protector Sheriff Jo (Allison Tolman) is both menacing and entertaining, because Tolman's witty performance enlivens what otherwise might seem like just another supernatural conspiracy thriller.
The Conners (8/7c, ABC): Yes, that's Dan Aykroyd sitting in on Dan's (John Goodman) kitchen poker game — reuniting with his Blues Brothers 2000 co-star as part of the network's "Cast from the Past" weeklong stunt. It's a solid cameo, but the guest performance of note is Katey Sagal returning in a recurring role as the saucy but warm Louise. She's there for Dan when he takes a shift at the NICU, tending to preemie baby Beverly Rose and giving overwhelmed mom Becky (Lecy Goranson) a break. "I'm not family, but I care," says Louise. And the family gives everyone plenty to care about, including Becky's financial woes and aunt Jackie's (Laurie Metcalf) obsessive meddling.
black-ish (9:30/8:30c, ABC): A more substantial "Cast from the Past" reunion sparks this topical sitcom, when Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) decides her neighborhood feminist-activist group could use some more diversity, so she invites her college BFFs to join — played by Ross's Girlfriends co-stars Golden Brooks, Jill Marie Jones and Persia White. While they soon realize Bow's group has a blind spot regarding race, Dre (Anthony Anderson) fears he's a dinosaur when it comes to navigating the minefields of today's feminism. "Do men treat feminism like white people treat racism? Men are the white people of gender," he realizes in horror.
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): Why did Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne) vandalize the veterans' center? You'll find out early on in another strong episode that furthers this troubled soul's relationship with his nephew, Kevin (Justin Hartley) — whose middle-school younger version also steps up to help 7th-grade Randall deal with a crisis, on the same day Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) has one of his worst days ever. The theme of the week is friendship and fellowship: Jack's with Miguel (Jon Huertas), Kevin's with his uncle, Kate's (Chrissy Metz) with an irascible new neighbor.
Tribute to Denzel Washington (8/7c, TCM): If you missed the two-time Oscar winner and Tony winner receiving his American Film Institute Life Achievement Award when TNT aired the ceremony in June, TCM replays the event, during which Michael B. Jordan referred to him as a "superhero," Jennifer Hudson performed and even Beyoncé appeared to honor the actor. Following the special, TCM airs Washington's Oscar-winning performance in 1989's Civil War tear-jerker Glory (9:30/8:30c), and following another AFI replay, 1995's Devil in a Blue Dress (1:15 am/12:15c) and 1989's The Mighty Quinn (3:15 am/2:15c).
Inside Tuesday TV: A new season of PBS's Finding Your Roots (8/7c, check local listings at pbs.org) begins with genealogical excavations of the lives of "Hollywood Royalty," featuring second-generation stars Anjelica Huston, Mia Farrow and Isabella Rossellini… The sixth season of The CW's The Flash (8/7c) opens with Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton) grieving the evaporation of daughter Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy), but as usual, the heroes must rise up to face yet another threat to Central City… Sasha Alexander guests on CBS's FBI (9/8c) as a front-running presidential candidate who escapes a car bomb, while agents Maggie (Missy Peregrym) and OA (Zeeko Zaki) race to find the bomber and figure out the motive… black-ish scene-stealer Deon Cole, who previously appeared in Netflix's stand-up comedy series The Standups, takes center stage with his first solo stand-up special for the network, Deon Cole: Cole-Hearted.