Worth Watching: ‘One Day’ Gets Animated, ‘Frontline’ on Virus Response, Remembering Mae West
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
One Day at a Time (9:30/8:30c, Pop TV): Penelope Alvarez (Justina Machado), the single-mom heroine of this jubilant family sitcom, is as outspoken as ever as she goes on a timely rant: “Imagine something happening on a global scale, something so huge it completely shuts everything down. And we’re stuck waiting for someone to lead us while we watch episodes of our favorite TV shows, but now they have to be animated!” That’s right. Reflecting the can-do spirit and the Norman Lear origins of the reimagined sitcom classic, revived by Pop TV after being canceled by Netflix only to have the fourth season cut short by the COVID-19 shutdown, One Day returns in a very special animated format. Guest stars Gloria Estefan, Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda and Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Melissa Fumero lend their voices as relatives of the feisty Alvarez family, and their impending visit has everyone anticipating explosive political arguments and comically cartoonish catfights. Come back soon, and in person next time!
Mae West: Dirty Blonde (8/7c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): It makes sense that Bette Midler is an executive producer for this fascinating American Masters profile of the proudly provocative sex-symbol screen siren. Mae West’s gift for swagger, glamour and ahead-of-her-time innuendo (“Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?”) gave her the moxie to demand creative control — and top dollar — for her movies in the 1930s until censorship halted her momentum. She may be an object of camp parody today, but Dirty Blonde gives West the last laugh. (See the full review.)
The Virus: What Went Wrong? (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Anyone who thinks COVID-19 is behind us hasn’t been watching the real news — and no news program is more real than Frontline, which returns to the subject with a troubling 90-minute report from journalists Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria. With interviews of officials, scientists and first responders in China, Italy, South Korea, Iran and the U.S., the film looks at a progression of missteps from China, where authorities silenced dissent as the virus spread, to slow responses from the World Health Organization and Italian officials, to failures of the U.S. administration to heed warnings and contain the virus when that might have been possible.
Dirty John (10/9c, USA): One of the strongest episodes of the riveting docudrama provides a clinical month-by-month depiction of the disintegration of Betty Broderick’s (Amanda Peet) marriage to philandering lawyer husband Dan (Christian Slater), a juicier scandal than anything happening on her friends’ favorite prime-time soap, Knots Landing. As Betty’s vindictive actions become more and more extreme, Dan finally explodes: “I have no idea how to fix this!” adding, “I can’t prove that I’m not doing something that you seem to want me to be doing.” (Although he really is doing what she imagines.) But she makes a fateful error when, 18 months into their estrangement, she dumps their kids on his doorstep, snarling, “I’m not your babysitter.” It’s just one of many bad decisions that she’ll have trouble justifying later.
Inside Tuesday TV: MTV returns to Siesta Key (8/7c) for a third season of steamy secrets and lies. (Can’t they all just chill on the beach?)… Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles (9/8c) is back for a 12th season, with New York‘s Fredrik Eklund bringing his business to the opposite coast and stirring up conflict with old pal Josh Altman… NBC’s World of Dance (10/9c) moves from the end of the “Qualifiers” round to the “Callbacks,” where some acts get one last chance to showcase their skills in hopes of moving on to the “Duels.”