Worth Watching: A ‘Modern Family’ Farewell, ‘Millionaire’ Revived, ‘Little Fires’ Flashback, ‘Parasite’ on Hulu
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
A Modern Farewell (8/7c, ABC): In advance of the two-part series finale (9/8c), an unusually revealing retrospective tribute takes viewers behind the scenes of the much-honored Modern Family from its earliest days — including an arduous screen test to convince the network Ty Burrell would be the perfect Phil (which he was) — to the final table read. While everyone reflects on how the child actors have grown, it’s also clear how close they’ve grown together over 11 seasons, with testimonials from off-camera workers providing glimpses of life on the backlot and historic soundstage. There’s laughter, also tears, and the same is likely to be true in the back-to-back episodes that follow.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (10/9c, ABC): Capping what’s likely to be a big night for the network, ABC marks the 20th anniversary (!) of the once-ubiquitous quiz show with a special prime-time run of celebrity episodes, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. Modern Family‘s Eric Stonestreet and comedian Will Forte are the first contestants, with twists in the game including a new lifeline (“Ask the Host”) and a play-along app, “Millionaire Live,” for viewers to participate in a live game five minutes after the show ends, competing for the same amount of money the celebrities raised for charity during the episode.
Little Fires Everywhere (streaming on Hulu): The addictive drama flashes back to 1981 for an emotionally powerful episode shedding new light on sworn rivals Mia and Elena at earlier pivotal moments of their maternal lives. Young Mia (Tiffany Boone) leaves for art school in New York City and meets the mentor (Anika Noni Rose) who will shape her vision, but financial pressures lead her to make a decision that changes everything. Back in Shaker Heights, young Elena (AnnaSophia Robb) is overwhelmed and emotionally devastated by a fourth child — Izzy, who was difficult from the start — and considers how things could have been different, prompting an irrational and impulsive act of her own.
Inside Wednesday TV: The sensational South Korean movie that made Oscar history, Parasite, begins streaming on Hulu… The first season of SundanceTV’s gripping thriller Liar (11/10c) is available for free streaming on Sundance Now — which should whet your appetite for the second season, which picks up three weeks later [Spoiler Alert], when the body of serial rapist Andrew Earlham (Ioan Gruffudd) is found in the marshes. Among the key suspects: one of his latest victims, schoolteacher Laura Nielson (Downton Abbey‘s Joanne Froggatt)… Need a laugh? (The answer is yes.) USA is presenting weekly binges of fan-favorite Psych. The first marathon, comprising seasons 1 and 2 (starting at 10/9c), airs through Friday… The wonderful Yvette Nicole Brown (Community) joins the panel on Fox’s The Masked Singer (8/7c) during the smackdown stage, as four of the remaining singers pair off… PBS’s Nova science series delivers The Truth About Fat (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org) in a special hour, narrated by Hope Davis, that demystifies the biology of fat and reveals how fat in the body influences a number of biological processes… A&E doubles down on ghost hunting, with a two-hour “Terror Town” premiere of Ghost Hunters (8/7c), followed by the launch of Celebrity Ghost Hunters (10/9c), in which psychic/medium Kim Russo leads Ice-T and wife Coco through a spooky New Jersey factory.