Worth Watching: Musical Tribute to Prince, ‘Empire’ Finale, ‘For Life’ Flashback
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince (9/8c, CBS): Remember actual concerts? And audiences? This all-star tribute special, filmed in January shortly after the Grammys, airs four years to the date of the superstar musician’s untimely death. Maya Rudolph hosts, performing with her Prince cover band, Princess. (Is there anything she can’t do?) Among others celebrating Prince’s catalogue of hits: Earth, Wind & Fire, Foo Fighters, Common, John Legend, Chris Martin, Sheila E., Morris Day and the Time, H.E.R., Beck, Gary Clark Jr., Mavis Staples and Usher.
Empire (9/8c, Fox): Stopped short of filming its intended final episode by the virus outbreak, the hip-hop musical-dynasty drama presents what is now its last chapter. It’s a reflective outing for the outrageous Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), who looks back on her life and career as Bossyfest launches while she fights to regain control of Empire. As for her combative soul mate Lucious (Terrence Howard), as always preparing for battle, he once again learns to appreciate the importance of family. Which, Jussie Smollett scandal aside, is what Empire has always been about.
Frontline (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): One of TV’s most essential news programs begins a two-part special report, “Coronavirus Pandemic,” with correspondent Miles O’Brien presenting an on-the-ground tick-tock account of the outbreak’s beginnings, as Frontline‘s investigation contrasts the federal response in Washington D.C. with the initial efforts to contain the virus in Washington State. The special will also look at how the pandemic affects poor children in the Midwest.
For Life (10/9c, ABC): In a special flashback episode of the absorbing prison drama, Aaron (Nicholas Pinnock) reflects on the nine years of his incarceration. His journey from a terrified and wrongly convicted new inmate to a criminal defense attorney and crusader for justice is one for the law books.
Or if your taste runs more toward true crime, A&E’s new docuseries Accused: Guilty or Innocent? (10/9) is told entirely from the perspective of an accused person, their family and legal team. Each episode takes viewers through the process of mounting a legal defense, the trial and the verdict, revealing the system’s high and personal stakes. In the opener, a man is on trial for killing his wife in a shooting that was caught on their home-security camera. The question presented to jurors: Was it self-defense or murder?
Inside Tuesday TV: Comic actors Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) and Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation) demonstrate their prowess at improvisation in a trio of off-the-cuff comedy specials for Netflix, Middleditch & Schwartz… In anticipation of Wednesday’s Earth Day, BBC America presents The Best of Seven Worlds, One Planet (9/8c), featuring the most spectacular sights from the glorious recent series that unveiled the diversity of wildlife on each of the Earth’s continents… In the season finale of National Geographic’s spinoff Life Below Zero: Port Protection (9/8c), the locals drill down on safety measures while scouting for resources to get them through another brutal Alaskan winter… Marla Gibbs gets around. The sitcom legend popped up on One Day at a Time last week, and now she appears on TBS’s The Last O.G. (10:30/9:30c) as a beloved Brooklyn fixture, Mama Jarvis. She kicks off an episode that also features cameos by former NBA star Chris Bosh and Karrueche Tran (Claws), when Tray (Tracy Morgan) treats son Shahzad (Dante Hoagland) to an Icons basketball game, scamming their way into courtside seats.