Worth Watching: Celebrating John Lewis, Jeff Foxworthy Asks ‘What’s It Worth?’ and HBO Enters D.C.’s ‘Swamp’

John Lewis
John Lewis: Celebrating a Hero

A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:

John Lewis: Celebrating a Hero (10/9c, CBS): TV isn’t, nor should it be, finished with marking the passage of civil-rights warrior and longtime congressman John Lewis and the work yet to be done in his name. His journey to his resting place and memorials since his passing July 17 at 80 have made for inspiring viewing, and CBS adds to the tributes with a prime-time special hosted by Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Gayle King and Brad Pitt (an executive producer of Selma). Hero looks back at Lewis’s life of activism with interviews and stirring music, including performances by Yolanda Adams, Common, Jennifer Hudson (who blew the roof off of his funeral service), John Legend, Jon Batiste, Trevor Noah, Billy Porter and Wynonna. The special will later by shown on ViacomCBS networks BET, MTV and Smithsonian, as well as Winfrey’s OWN network.

What’s It Worth? (9/8c, A&E): Are you smarter than an appraiser, luckier than the average collector? Comedian Jeff Foxworthy, whose own trove of offbeat treasures includes a butter churn in a jar, hosts this new addition to the Antiques Roadshow genre. In back-to-back episodes, he remotely visits folks across the country — in the pilot, from Texas and California to New Jersey — who show off their prized possessions: a giant statue of St. Gabriel, a newspaper front page announcing Lincoln’s assassination, authentic Woodstock security jackets. Foxworthy calls in experts, many with backgrounds in auctioneering, to assess the worth of these objects, although we soon discover the sentimental value of these oddities may mean more than money. My favorite moment: when one of the experts finishes her assessment, then demands to know: “Can we talk about the skeleton in the room?” Yes, there’s a skeleton in the room, though not of an elephant.

This is paired with Extreme Unboxing (10/9c), also airing back-to-back episodes, a Storage Wars clone in which business owners bid on mystery boxes of liquidated merchandise, hoping to find pricey contents within.

The Swamp (9/8c, HBO): A documentary following three maverick Republican congressmen through 2019 suggests that whatever one’s politics, draining the swamp isn’t as easy as the slogan sounds when the system still rewards fundraising as a top priority. Directors Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme (Get Me Roger Stone) were given broad access to Florida’s outspoken Matt Gaetz, Kentucky’s Thomas “Mr. No” Massie and Colorado’s Ken Buck, a founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, during a turbulent year highlighted by the Mueller hearings and impeachment proceedings. Throughout, lobbying and special interests loom large, because Congress members’ ability to land on key committees is often dependent on the amount of money they rake in for their party.

Inside Tuesday TV: Saturday Night Live writer Sam Jay takes the stand-up stage in Atlanta for her first hour-long solo comedy special for Netflix, 3 in the Morning… NBC’s America’s Got Talent (8/7c) celebrates the best of the best over its long history in a 15th-anniversary special, featuring past winners Kodi Lee, Shin Lim and Grace Vanderwaal among many others… NBC’s World of Dance (10/9c) moves into the first of two semi-final episodes, with six of the top 12 performing, and the top two moving on to the World Final… Food Network spins off one of its most popular franchises in Chopped: Sweets (10/9c), where pastry chefs race to make something delicious in the mystery-basket competition. In the opener, challenges include a nutty version of a doughnut, a hybrid meat and a climax involving a twist on tacos… A team of grandmas takes on young “spice studs” as they sample tongue-torturing spices on a demographically diverse episode of truTV’s Hot Ones: The Game Show (10/9).