Worth Watching: Pop Revives ‘One Day at a Time,’ ‘This Is Us’ Finale, ‘Council of Dads,’ ‘FBI’ Crossover
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
One Day at a Time (9:30/8:30c, Pop TV): There’s life after Netflix (which gets smacked in the opening joke), as the jubilant reimagining of the Norman Lear sitcom survives cancellation and is the better for it. Ray Romano guests in the fourth-season opener as a census taker who gets more information than he bargains for upon meeting single mom Penelope (the vibrant Justina Machado) and the bustling, funny Alvarez family — including scene stealer Rita Moreno as grandmother Lydia, whose every grand entrance as she whips back her bedroom curtain is a sight to behold.
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): Even without the plentiful and oh-so-significant flashbacks and flash-forwards, this would be an eventful first birthday for baby Jack, the event that provides a focus for the hit drama’s powerfully moving fourth-season finale. As we’ve been warned to expect, tension between brothers Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) reaches new heights over mother Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) decision about the clinical trial. But the message, perhaps more necessary than ever, of this episode — and series — can be summed up by a beloved character who returns to remark, “Life does have a way of shaking out to be more beautiful than tragic.”
Council of Dads (10/9c, NBC): The network’s ongoing desire to deliver another tearjerker in the tradition of This Is Us takes a more obvious, mawkish step with this family drama. The pilot episode covers a lot of ground, and time, as it introduces family man Scott Perry (the ever-likable Tom Everett Scott), whose response to his cancer diagnosis is to rally his band of best bros to be there for his wife (The Walking Dead‘s Sarah Wayne Callies) and five kids should the worst happen. It’s feel-good/feel-bad TV at its touchy-feeliest. New episodes will resume April 30. I can wait.
FBI/FBI: Most Wanted (9/8c, CBS): Following the lead of producer Dick Wolf’s Chicago series, the two FBI dramas cross over for the first (though almost certainly not the last) time in back-to-back episodes. The impetus: the kidnapping of a bus full of 26 kids, with the prime suspect being a fugitive LaCroix (Most Wanted’s Julian McMahon) arrested years ago. Which makes him the perfect agent to help OA (Zeeko Zaki) in his search.
O.J.: Made in America (7/6c, ESPN): How will ESPN fill all of those hours with so many sports having gone dark across the country and globe? One way: Replaying some of the best 30 for 30 documentaries, and none surpassed 2016’s Oscar-winning account of the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson. Ezra Edelman’s five-part series will air through Thursday, offering what I called at the time “a troubling, provocative and insightful masterwork of psychology and sociology.” (Read the full review.)
Inside Tuesday TV: ABC’s mixed-ish (9/8c) reveals the roots of Rainbow’s (Arica Himmel) interest in medicine when her friend gets mono, inspiring her desire to become a doctor… Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, an executive producer of ABC’s legal/prison drama For Life, begins a guest role as Cassius Dawkins, a dangerous inmate transferred to Bellmore by the devious DA Maskins (Boris McGiver), who hopes he’ll disrupt life for Aaron (Nicholas Pinnock) and Warden Safiya (Indira Varma)… Quincy Jones appears as himself in the first-season finale of OWN’s romantic anthology Cherish the Day (10/9c)… History’s Project Blue Book (10/9c) wraps its second season with Dr. Hynek (Aidan Gillen) and Capt. Quinn (Michael Malarkey) taking a break from UFOs to investigate a possible Unidentified Submerged Object, spotted on the border of Russian waters… PBS’s Frontline explores the gun debate in NRA Under Fire (10/9c, check local listings at pbs.org), as the politically powerful organization deals with internal strife and external pressures from the outspoken likes of the survivors of the Parkland mass shooting.