Worth Watching: Dinner with the Pearsons on ‘This Is Us,’ Playing ‘Misery Index,’ Frontline on Immigration, the World Series Begins
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): Even by this show’s standards, the timeline is all over the map in an episode that has its best moments in a turbulent dinner party organized by Rebecca (Mandy Moore) a year after Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) death — which prompts flashbacks to another eventful meal for the then-newly married Pearsons. In a twist on “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”, Rebecca hopes to keep the peace when young-adult Kevin shows up with new wife Sophie, and college-fresh Randall brings his new crush Beth to break bread. In the present-day drama, Kevin (Justin Hartley) owns the week as he tries to do right by AA pal and war vet Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison), prompting curmudgeonly Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne) to remark, “You have strange relationships with people.” True, but fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Misery Index (10/9c, TBS): The Good Place‘s Jameela Jamil is the incongruously glamorous host for a down-and-dirty game show with the tagline, “Let’s get miserable.” Flanked by members of the irrepressible Impractical Jokers troupe The Tenderloins, contestants are asked to rank real-life humiliations — some shown in viral videos, others in headlines — on a scale of 1-100, based on therapists’ expert opinions and revealed on a “Trauma-tron” screen. The “three pillars of misery” include physical pain, emotional trauma and lasting impact. None of which apply to this silly comedy game, where embarrassment gets the last laugh.
Frontline (10/9c, check local listings at pbs.org): A more serious form of misery is the focus of “Zero Tolerance,” the first of three Frontline documentaries planned for this season that deal with the immigration crisis. Veteran political filmmaker Michael Kirk reports on how three key presidential advisers and lightning rods — Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller — shaped the president’s hardline views on immigration, turning it into a polarizing wedge issue that has sown division and violence while rallying the administration’s base.
The World Series (7:30/630c, 4:30/PT, Fox): The Fall Classic kicks off in Houston, where the Astros return to the World Series for the second time in three years. They face the wild-card Washington Nationals, who advanced to their first World Series after sweeping the Cardinals. This could be exciting.
Celebrating Motown Productions (starts at 8/7c, Turner Classic Movies): In a collaboration with the African-American Film Critics Association, TCM host Alicia Malone teams with journalist Chris Witherspoon to introduce three iconic films produced under Berry Gordy’s Motown banner. The lineup begins with 1985’s martial-arts cult favorite The Last Dragon and continues with two Diana Ross vehicles: 1972’s memorable Billie Holiday biopic Lady Sings the Blues (10/9c), which earned Ross an Oscar nomination, and 1975’s fashionable campfest Mahogany (12:30 am/11:30c).
Inside Tuesday TV: Another fall classic returns with ABC’s annual showing of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (8/7c). Like Linus, I never give up hope that the giant gourd will someday appear… In HGTV’s Fixer to Fabulous (9/8c), home renovators Dave and Jenny Marrs work their magic on Arkansas homesteads that have seen better days… HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (10/9c) includes a report on the rehabilitation and adoption of damaged dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s dog-fighting ring… Streaming, comedy department: Jenny Slate (Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation) gets personal in her first Netflix special, Jenny Slate: Stage Fright, which includes childhood clips and family interviews within her stand-up set… Streaming, drama department: Echoes of Broadchurch in the BritBox exclusive mystery The Bay, starring Morven Christie (Grantchester) as a detective investigating the disappearance of two teenagers in a coastal English town.