Worth Watching: 'This Is Us' Plays 'What If' Card, All-Coronavirus 'Nightline' Flips with 'Kimmel,' 'Networld' on PBS
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): Randall (Sterling K. Brown) put it out there last week: "Don't you ever wonder what it would have been like if Dad hadn't died?" Kevin (Justin Hartley) said it never crossed his mind, but it has occupied Randall's imagination for years — and the sometimes-surprising psychological results are unveiled in the fourth season's affecting penultimate episode. Better Things' Pamela Adlon is back as Randall's no-nonsense therapist, hearing both his best- and worst-case scenarios of a world in which the best TV dad ever (Milo Ventimiglia) survived the night of the house fire. And if Jack had lived, what would that have meant for Randall's relationships with his biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones), and mother Rebecca (Mandy Moore)?
Nightline (11:35/10:35c, ABC): With the developing story of the coronavirus outbreak changing and escalating daily, ABC News has wisely moved its venerable late-night news show in front of Jimmy Kimmel Live (gone dark for at least the next two weeks) for the next four nights — and don't be surprised if it stays that way for a while. Nightline had already announced that it was devoting each night's entire episode for the foreseeable future to coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and its ripple effects on the society and economy. This is a return to Nightline's origins 40 years ago when it was launched as a nightly news update during the Iran hostage crisis.
Niall Ferguson's Networld (8/7c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Public TV devotes its entire prime-time lineup to a three-part documentary from historian Niall Ferguson (The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook), using events from the past — the Protestant Reformation, the Cold War — as a template to explain how today's social media networks can polarize us and be exploited, putting truth and even democracy at risk.
Inside Tuesday TV: Looking for something offbeat to stream? BritBox offers a new season of the quirky anthology Inside No. 9, with each bizarre serio-comic half-hour vignette featuring the number 9. Guest stars include The Walking Dead's David Morrissey and Doctor Who's Jenna Coleman… How humiliating for Darlene (Sara Gilbert) on ABC's The Conners (8/7c), when financial straits compel her to get a job at Price Warehouse, where daughter Harris (Emma Kenney) becomes her boss. Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne guest as themselves in a cameo… We jumped the gun last Tuesday, because this Tuesday is when The CW's DC's Legends of Tomorrow (9/8c) says goodbye to Brandon Routh (Ray) and wife Courtney Ford (Nora) in a Shakespeare-themed episode… Comedy Central's Tosh.0 (10/9c) returns with new episodes — and a segment titled "Web Legends," which features one-hit wonder Rebecca "Friday" Black… Is this it for Dr. Reynolds (Jocko Sims) on NBC's New Amsterdam (10/9c)? Sure sounds like it, as a “Fighting Cancer” gala fundraiser at the hospital provides a backdrop for the doc’s farewell to the rest of the crew before he leaves for San Francisco.