Worth Watching: ‘Tough as Nails’ Finale, ‘Chef’s Table’ Goes BBQ, Fosse-Mania on TCM
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
Tough as Nails (9/8c, CBS): The team competition ended last week in a nail-biter of a finish, requiring a grueling tie-breaker involving saws and axes. In the down-and-dirty reality competition’s two-hour season finale — the show has been renewed for a second season — the focus turns back to the individual competition, with $200,000 at stake for the five remaining tough guys and gals. The challenges are likely to be more rigorous than ever — but in a twist worthy of Survivor, they’ll get some extra encouragement when loved ones show up to cheer them on to the finish line.
Chef’s Table: BBQ (streaming on Netflix): The long-running docuseries for foodie fanatics returns with loving profiles of those who specialize in the fine art of barbecue. Among the masters featured: 85-year-old Tootsie Tomantez, fabled for shoveling the coals at her Texas restaurant; Australia’s Lennox Hastie, who gets all of his cooking essentials from the Outback; South Carolina’s Rodney Scott, maestro of the whole hog barbecue; and traditional Mayan chef Rosalia Chay Chuc, who serves her delicious dishes from her Mexican home.
All That Jazz (10:45/9:45c, Turner Classic Movies): By some weird cosmic toe-tapping coincidence, I rewatched director Bob Fosse’s bold and bizarre Oscar-winning quasi-self-portrait from 1979 a few nights ago, as part of the “movie night” weekend ritual my household initiated when sheltering at home became a thing. Roy Scheider stars as the Fosse-esque Joe Gideon, a driven and self-destructive Broadway/movie director whose bad habits catch up with him in a hallucinatory burst of creative self-flagellation. (The opening audition sequence, set to George Benson’s “On Broadway,” is unforgettable.) Jazz is the centerpiece of a “Directed by Bob Fosse” night that includes the frenetic 1969 adaptation of Sweet Charity (8/7c), starring Shirley MacLaine in the role Fosse’s wife and muse, Gwen Verdon, created; his Oscar-winning triumph in 1972’s Cabaret (1 am/12c), starring Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey; and the oddity of 1983’s grim Star 80 (3:15 am/2:15c), starring Mariel Hemingway as the ill-fated starlet Dorothy Stratten. (For more about this legendary choreographer/director, the terrific Fosse/Verdon miniseries is available for streaming on FX on Hulu.)
Inside Wednesday TV: BET doubles down on Tyler Perry sitcoms with back-to-back episodes of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne (9/8c), returning for its ninth season, followed by the new Tyler Perry’s Assisted Living (10/9c), starring Na’im Lynn as a father of teenagers who loses his job and decides to move back to rural Georgia to help his wacky Grandpa Vinny (J. Anthony Brown) run the ramshackle home for the elderly he just purchased… There’s no such thing as a Thanksgiving day off for The CW’s Coroner (9/8c). When Jenny (Serinda Swan) invites her dad and mother-in-law to join some friends at home for the holiday, the last thing she expects is to find a corpse on her property when the plumbing breaks down. Hunky handyman Liam (Éric Bruneau) to the rescue!… Social distancing adds a new dimension to MTV’s Ghosted: Love Gone Missing (9/8c), which returns for a self-shot season. First up: the case of Joanna, whose ride-share with Aaron turned into a beautiful relationship — until he suddenly vanished eight months later.