Worth Watching: ‘Lenox Hill’ During the Pandemic, HGTV’s ‘Hot Mess House,’ ‘Time for Change’ on ESPN, Time-Dripping on ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
Lenox Hill (streaming on Netflix): In the eighth and (at the time) final episode of this immersive documentary series about the doctors and patients of the fabled New York City hospital, the annual Gay Pride Parade was working its way past the Greenwich Village facility. An especially poignant moment, considering that this weekend’s march is canceled because of COVID-19. This crisis prompted the producers to return to the hospital for a special episode that reveals the toll on the overwhelmed doctors, nurses and staff as they risk exposure while tending to patients, who are often separated from their loved ones as they suffer and sometimes die from the killer virus. In scenes that open in the first wave of the pandemic in March and carry through May, it’s all hands on deck during this unprecedented and emotionally wrenching time. As the powerful episode ends, a new type of procession is taking place on New York’s streets: Black Lives Matter protests, to which the caregivers respond: “You clap for us. We kneel for you.”
Hot Mess House (8/7, HGTV): A cluttered home is even more of a headache when months of quarantine keep you inside. So welcome Cassandra Aarssen to the rescue. The organization expert/coach hosts a new self-shot series in which she remotely advises clients in crowded houses on ways to declutter their impassable rooms and relieve the stress. In back-to-back episodes, Aarssen takes virtual tours of stuffed cabinets and closets, a basement that has become a dumping ground and a playroom stuffed with toys the kids have outgrown. As she advises the best way to clean up these hot messes, she also plays life coach to move them past their emotional attachments to what others might see as junk.
Time for Change: We Won’t Be Defeated (8/7c, ESPN): Sports and race have rarely been more intertwined than in today’s society, and ESPN’s The Undefeated reflects that in a one-hour special that’s the centerpiece of a 5½-hour evening devoted to issues of race and social justice. Time for Change features SportsCenter anchors Elle Duncan, Michael Eaves and Jay Harris, with college sports reporter and NBA studio host Maria Taylor, leading roundtable discussions about black athletes’ experience with injustice and how sports could play a role in healing the breach between people of color and law enforcement.
Other highlights include a replay of the 30 for 30 documentary The 16th Man (7/6c), about South Africa’s “Springbok” National Rugby Team. (It’s no coincidence that this is the 25th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s “Sport has the power to change the world” speech.) Also on the agenda are two U.S. premieres: Giants of Africa (9/8c), a profile of groundbreaking Masai Ujiri, the first African-born general manager of a major North American sports team (the Denver Nuggets) before taking his current position as president of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors; and The Australian Dream (10:30/9:30c), about indigenous former Australian Football League star Adam Goodes, now an activist for Aboriginal identity.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (10/9c, ABC): The time-tripping continues in the fantasy series’ final season with a crash landing in the disco 1970s, where the team keeps running into familiar faces while trying to figure out how to derail the evil Chronicoms’ latest dastardly plan. Another leap forward by the Zephyr lands them in a time that’s key to the future of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as that of director Mack (Henry Simmons).
Inside Wednesday TV: Netflix seasons food with fantasy in the British food competition Crazy Delicious, where amateur chefs prepare fanciful dishes using ingredients from an edible magic forest… On a more serious note, the streamer premieres the documentary Athlete A, tracking the reporters who broke the scandalous story about USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and his history of abuse… Preparing for a first date with a sketchy pen pal is the topic du jour on truTV’s perkily perverse At Home with Amy Sedaris (10/9c). What are the odds that when her unsavory beau (guest star Michael Shannon) arrives, her creaky new deluxe private elevator will create even more complications?