Worth Watching: ‘Survivor’ Finale, ‘Nova’ Decodes Coronavirus, Margo Does Bella on ‘Mrs. America,’ Mark Hamill in ‘Shadows’
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
Survivor: Warriors at War (8/7c, CBS): Only one player, two-time champ Sandra, is out of the running to win the record $2 million prize at the end of the all-winners a season’s finale. (Sandra promptly left the “Edge of Extinction” island a while back after taking one look and realized her game was over.) As part of the three-hour grand finale, including a cast reunion conducted by remote video, one of the “Extinction” castaways will fight their way back into the game — wouldn’t it be awesome if Natalie, the first one sent into exile, won the challenge? Then whoever joins Ben, Denise, Michele, Sarah and front-runner Tony will have to keep fighting to make it to the final tribal council. And then it’s up to the jury to reward someone with the show’s largest prize to date.
Nova: Decoding COVID-19 (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): With facts and no sensationalism, TV’s most renowned science program examines the efforts of top experts to develop an experimental RNA vaccine to combat the coronavirus as well as researching the level of antibodies needed for immunity from the disease. The hour-long special also goes inside New York City hospitals at the pandemic’s epicenter and a level-4 bio-safety lab. Acknowledging the personal toll of the outbreak, producers intersperse stories from doctors, paramedics, recovering patients and families tragically effected by the virus.
Mrs. America (streaming on FX on Hulu): In one of the seminal scenes of this outstanding series about the battle over confirmation of the ERA, Bella Abzug (the great, Emmy-winning Margo Martindale) confronts protesters in advance of the inaugural National Women’s Conference for which she has been named presiding officer. Looking at their angry placards, she witheringly reacts: “So you’re not going for wit.” And when told their “queen,” Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett), is sitting out this particular protest, Bella enlightens her followers that Schlafly just “might be one of the most liberated women in America,” and that her troops are in every way the same sort of “working girls” they’re spending so much effort to fight. Couldn’t they all just get along? Not likely then — or now.
Prom Night Finales: ABC’s family comedies — The Goldbergs (8/7c), Schooled (8:30/7:30c) and American Housewife (9/8c) — all sign off for the season, with prom night prominent in each finale. (This was obviously before the pandemic canceled such events in the real world.) Single Parents also closes shop, with Poppy (Kimrie Lewis) encouraging Will (Taran Killam) to open up to Angie (Leighton Meester) before she heads off with Derek (Adam Brody). And we’re talking prom dates here.
What We Do in the Shadows (10/9c, FX): Star Wars icon Mark Hamill has a blast guesting on the vampire comedy as a ghoul who has a fang to pick with Laszlo (Matt Berry). In fear for his immortal soul, Laszlo goes into hiding, and his new persona of “Jackie Daytona,” a small-town Pennsylvania bartender, somehow suits his unusually well. Madeleine Martin (Californication) also guests as an admirer of the transformed vamp.
Inside Wednesday TV: David Spade in a romantic comedy? Stranger things have happened. The twist in Netflix’s The Wrong Missy is that when Tim (Spade) invites his new crush Missy (Molly Sims) to be his date on an exotic corporate weekend retreat, he mistakenly texts one of his disastrous dates, another Missy (Lauren Lapkus), instead… Comedian Jay Pharoah joins the panel for the semi-finals of Fox’s The Masked Singer (8/7c)… In Vice TV’s documentary Vice Versa: Bernie Blackout (8/7c), filmmaker Pat McGee looks at the role the mainstream media may have played in the recent failed presidential bid by Bernie Sanders… The late Jerry Stiller is featured in a Dick Cavett Show repeat from 1995 (9/8c, Decades) in which he reflects on his Ed Sullivan Show appearances with wife Anne Meara and his career comeback on Seinfeld. An interview with Meara follows at 9:30/8:30c.