Worth Watching: ‘Little Mermaid Live,’ Fateful Dinner Parties on ‘This Is Us,’ Seth Meyer Stand-Up on Netflix
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
The Little Mermaid Live! (8/7c, ABC): Has it really been 30 years since we first went “Under the Sea” with Ariel and her aquatic friends in the movie that revived Disney’s musically animated fortunes? To mark the occasion, The Wonderful World of Disney presents an unusual hybrid of a tribute that’s part live performance and part rebroadcast of the 1989 Oscar winner. Interwoven with scenes of the original film will be musical performances on elaborate sets, featuring Auli’i Cravalho (Moana) as Ariel, Queen Latifah as the fearsome Ursula, Shaggy as Sebastian, John Stamos as the French cook, and The Good Wife‘s Graham Phillips as Prince Eric. How it plays remains to be seen, but there’s little doubt the acclaimed score by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman (with additional lyrics by Galavant‘s Glenn Slater) holds up.
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): How many awkward family dinners did Randall (Sterling K. Brown) endure in his lifetime? This affecting episode details two of them in overlapping timelines. Adolescent Randall (Lonnie Chavis) puts on a brave face when an insecure Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) invites his favorite teacher, Mr. Reynolds (Brandon Scott), and his wife over for dinner, so Jack can take the measure of this young African-American role model who’s making such an impression on his studious adopted son. Flash forward to Randall and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) being overprotective of their adopted daughter, Deja (Lyric Ross), and her budding teenage romance with single dad Malik (Asante Blackk of When They See Us). When their latest escapade inspires the Pearsons to reach out to get to know Malik’s parents (including Omar Epps) by inviting them to dinner, things get real — and real uncomfortable — really quickly.
Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby (streaming on Netflix): The Late Night host gets personal in front of an appreciative audience at the Pantages Theater in Minneapolis with a winning stand-up set in which he’s the sheepish butt of most of his anecdotes about marriage, childbirth, and parenthood. Those expecting a “Closer Look” at politics, as in his brilliant segments during his nightly show, will have to wait until past the special’s halfway point, when a “Skip Politics” box appears on screen, giving viewers the option to jump over that shtick if (understandably) they’re exhausted by the subject. But they’d be missing some great stuff, including his feelings about having mocked the future president along with then-President Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011, an event upstaged a day later by the announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Which Meyers also finds a way to make funny.
Also new on Netflix (which can never stop at just one premiere): a fourth season of the animated She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and a second season of the exceedingly dark British comedy The End of the F***ing World, which introduces an anarchic nw character in Bonnie (Naomi Ackie), who shares a fateful connection with rebellious Alyssa (Jessica Barden).
Inside Tuesday TV: It’s the end of the “Knockout Rounds” on NBC’s The Voice (8/7c), with Taylor Swift finishing her duties as Mega Mentor — is that a new superhero? — as the remaining top 20 singers move on next week to the live playoffs. … Kasie (Diona Reasonover) steps out of the lab on CBS’s NCIS (8/7c) when her best friend Dante (Devale Ellis) becomes a suspect in the murder of a petty officer’s son. … Will the seventh season of History’s The Curse of Oak Island (9/8c) bring brothers Rick and Marty Legina any closer to discovering a mysterious treasure in the island off the coast of Nova Scotia? Viewers hope so, but they seem entertained enough by the hunt. … Running Wild with Bear Grylls finds a new home on National Geographic Channel (10/9c), with the adventurer opening a new season by accompanying Captain Marvel‘s Brie Larson as she jumps from a helicopter into the Gulf of Panama to explore the Pearl Islands. … Travel Channel’s Famously Afraid (10/9c) invites celebrities to share their stories of encounters with the paranormal, including in the opener America’s Got Talent judge Howie Mandel and actor Hal Sparks. … FX’s Mayans M.C. (10/9c) revs up a second-season finale, the last involving series co-creator Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy), who wrote the episode presenting yet more tough decisions for biker brothers EZ (J.D. Pardo) and Angel (Clayton Cardenas) Reyes.