Worth Watching: Late Night Comes Back, Corden ‘Homefest’ in Prime Time, Nickelodeon & ABC News Virus Specials, ‘Good Doctor’ Earthquake Finale
A selective critical checklist of notable Monday TV:
Homefest: James Corden’s Late Late Show Special (10/9c): Most late-night shows are back in business this week in what passes as the new normal: Stephen Colbert’s Late Show on CBS, Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC, Conan on TBS, Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show on NBC, Showtime’s Desus & Mero, joining Comedy Central’s Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah — all appearing from home or remote locations, with celebrity interviews via video chat links. Showing up a bit early is the ebullient Late Late Show host James Corden, presenting a prime-time music-comedy-variety special from his garage, with musical performances chiming in from locations across the globe. Among those scheduled: BTS from South Korea, opera legend Andrea Bocelli from Italy, Dua Lipa in London, plus John Legend and Billie Eilish in Los Angeles, and non-musical guests including David Blaine and Will Ferrell.
#KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall (7/6c, Nickelodeon, simulcast on TeenNick and Nicktoons): In the tradition of Linda Ellerbee’s invaluable Nick News reports, this taped special offers a kid’s-eye perspective on the coronavirus crisis, with The Good Place‘s Kristen Bell as host and Alicia Keys performing. The meat of the hour is information delivered directly, but never down to, the network’s young audience, as Bell connects via video with California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris and former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy — plus celebrity cameos including Josh Gad, Kel Mitchell and Kenan Thompson, Ciara and Russell Wilson.
Broadcast networks’ news divisions continue presenting reports and updates in prime time, and ABC’s 20/20 offers its third special edition, America Rising: Fighting the Pandemic (9/8c), anchored by David Muir. The focus will be on health-care workers on the front lines, along with communities and volunteers stepping up to the special challenges of this crisis. The special also includes video diaries from people facing unemployment and stories of those infected by this contagious virus.
The Good Doctor (10/9c, ABC): The water’s rising, and multiple lives are at stake, in the second half of the medical drama’s disaster-movie-like season finale. When last seen, Shaun (Freddie Highmore) was tending underground to an impaled woman (Marin Ireland) as a leak threatened to submerge them both, and Dr. Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) collapsed from the injuries suffered during the earthquake. What shocks and aftershocks await these good doctors? Let’s just hope no one gets transferred to a towering inferno.
The Plot Against America (9/8c, HBO): Philip Roth’s nightmare alternative-history allegory becomes more sinister now that President Lindbergh (“We have taken back America”) is in office and taking secret meetings with Hitler in Iceland. The Levin family is more torn apart than ever, as Alvin (Anthony Levin) heads overseas to fight Nazis under the Canadian banner, and a national “Just Folks” assimilation program is instituted by the Office of American Absorption, in which urban Jewish “minority” lads like Sandy (Caleb Malis) are sent to the heartland — in his case a Kentucky farm — to see how the other half lives. “I’m not American enough?” erupts his outspoken father, Herman (Morgan Spector). A family trip to Washington, D.C. reveals just how much society has already changed.
Better Call Saul (9/8c, AMC): As this excellent season of the Breaking Bad prequel spirals further, the merger of Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) becomes official, while their legal careers continue on divergent paths. Kim has a reckoning with her Mesa Verde bosses, while Saul is drawn further into the Salamanca cartel/Gus Fring war. And after that prank with the prostitutes last week, Howard (Patrick Fabian) may finally be seeing the light about trying to make nice with his late partner’s wayward brother.
Inside Monday TV: Dermot Mulroney guests on Fox’s twisted Prodigal Son (9/8c) as an old friend of Jessica’s (Bellamy Young), while Malcolm (Tom Payne) takes Eve (Molly Griggs) to his dad Martin “the Surgeon” (Michael Sheen) in hopes of getting some answers about that girl in the box… PBS’s Independent Lens presents the acclaimed documentary One Child Nation (10/9c, check local listings at pbs.org), which investigates human-rights violations in China connected to the nation’s one-child policy… Shot in the Philippines, WGN America’s crime series Almost Paradise (10/9c) stars Leverage‘s Christian Kane as Alex Walker, a former DEA agent forced into early retirement because of hypertension. His R&R is cut short, though, when criminal activity forces him back into action.