Worth Watching: 'Deadwater Fell' on Acorn, Quibi Launches, A Classic 'Saul,' 'Jeopardy!' College Championship
A selective critical checklist of notable Monday TV:
Deadwater Fell (streaming on Acorn): Those with an appetite for Broadchurch-style dark British mystery will likely succumb to this taut four-part drama, starring that series' David Tennant. He is compellingly inscrutable as Tom Kendrick, a Scottish town's affable doctor, whose entire family (wife and three adorable daughters) is lost in a terrible house fire that could be the result of foul play. The Good Fight's Cush Jumbo co-stars as a family friend who channels her sorrow, anger and guilt into a determination to get to the shocking truth.
Quibi: What's a Quibi? If you have to ask, you're probably already not inclined to consider your mobile phone as an alternate TV screen. (I'm with you.) Quibi stands for "quick bites," and this peculiar new venture launches with 50 original series — and many more to come — ranging from scripted dramas and comedies to reality and documentary fare and news/infotainment programming. Having sampled a handful of the new offerings, my first impression is that it works better for comedy (Flipped, an HGTV spoof with a Breaking Bad twist) than drama. Even with every "episode" at under 10 minutes, if an adventure series like The Most Dangerous Game (Liam Hemsworth as a dying man who agrees to be hunted for money) takes four installments to get started, it's a classic case of "too much and yet not enough." The much stranger drama Survive stars Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner as a suicidal woman forced to try to survive after a plane crash — episode 2 — in the icy mountains. As someone who generally draws the line at using my phone as a TV, having plenty enough to watch at home, I'm OK with leaving this to the early adapters.
Better Call Saul (9/8c, AMC): As the fifth and next-to-last season of the riveting Breaking Bad prequel approaches the finish line, co-creator Vince Gilligan directs a thrilling episode destined to rank as one of the show's classics, right up there with the best of Breaking Bad. Without giving too much away, "Bagman" serves as a reminder to Jimmy/Saul (Bob Odenkirk) that there's no such thing as running a simple errand for cartel client Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton), especially when it involves driving deep into the desert to make an important pickup (from characters who will be very familiar to Bad fans).
Jeopardy! College Championship (syndicated, check local listings): More than ever, the greatest of all TV quiz shows has been an important touchstone and escape during these stressful times. Taking a break from regular game play, Alex Trebek welcomes 15 young scholars from universities across the country — I'm happy to see that a senior from my Indiana University alma mater is in the mix — to compete for $100,000. Whoever wins will also be eligible for the Tournament of Champions. Where would we be without Jeopardy?
Inside Monday TV: Cable's AXS TV music special remembers Kenny Rogers with replays of classic concert specials, including 1989's Kenny, Dolly and Willie: Something Inside So Strong (8/7c), when Rogers was joined by Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson at the Johnson Space Center in Rogers' hometown of Houston; and Kenny and Dolly: Real Love (9/8c), an HBO special from 1985. The specials will help support Kenny Cares benefiting MusiCares COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund… Abishola (Folake Olowofoyeku) must really ♥ Bob (Billy Gardell), given how willing she is to draw the line when Bob's ex, Lorraine (Nicole Sullivan), tries to muscle her way back into Bob's life on CBS's Bob ♥ Abishola (8:30/7:30c, CBS)… In advance of Wednesday's 20th-anniversary revival of the classic game show, ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Secrets & Surprises (10/9c) revisits the phenomenon with interviews of former hosts Regis Philbin and Meredith Vieira and new host Jimmy Kimmel, who previews the new version. The special also looks back at some of the show's biggest winners.