Worth Watching: Top 10 on 'Talent,' Frontline's 'Choice,' Get Coached in 'Playbook,' 'Kal Penn Approves'
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
America's Got Talent (8/7c, NBC): No surer sign that summer is over than the performance finale of TV's top-rated summer reality contest. Which means the Top 10 will perform one last time for the judges and for America's vote — a field once again top-heavy with singers, comprising more than half of the list, with a spoken-word artist bringing some variety, along with dance, acrobatic and aerial specialists. The winner will be named Wednesday.
Dancing with the Stars (8/7c, ABC): In related competition news, the first elimination (do they have to stop with one?) will be announced as the entire cast returns to perform either the jive, foxtrot, samba, tango, rumba, cha-cha or Viennese waltz. Viewers will vote live (in Eastern and Central time zones as they watch; others can vote within that window, sight unseen), and those scores will be tallied with the combined judges' scores of the first two nights. If anyone's confused about the sudden move to Tuesday, after making way for football the night before, Dancing will be back on Mondays starting next week. And because, if talent is any gauge (it isn't always), this may be the last we see of Tiger King's Carole Baskin, her second cat-related dance will be a waltz to "What's New Pussycat." You've been warned.
The Choice 2020 (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): An election-year tradition since 1988, Frontline's two-hour The Choice special presents compelling side-by-side investigative biographies of the presidential candidates — incumbent Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden — while shining light on a divided country in economic turmoil during a pandemic. The Choice looks at the events that shaped each candidate's lives and their visions for the future, providing one of the most essential tools for voters to be able to make their own informed choice.
The Playbook (streaming on Netflix): They became famous guiding the careers of professional athletes, but it turns out they're pretty good life coaches as well. This inspirational five-part series from executive producers LeBron James and Maverick Carter asks five renowned pro-sports coaches to reflect on the turning points in their lives that helped them develop winning philosophies for themselves, their teams and players. Those sharing their rules for success in the game of life include the L.A. Clippers' Doc Rivers, U.S. women's soccer coach Jill Ellis, Premiere League's José Mourinho, Serena William's tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou and women's basketball Hall of Fame player and coach Dawn Staley.
Transplant (10/9c, NBC): In the best and most gripping episode to date of the Canadian medical drama, Bash (Hamza Haq) is drawn back into the Syrian conflict as a long-distance triage consultant when a friend and volunteer medic from back in the homeland calls him for advice on a risky procedure after an explosion in the war-torn country. Bash turns to Theo (Jim Watson) when juggling hospital duties and avoiding critical scrutiny from Dr. Bishop (John Hannah) becomes too much. When's Bash going to realize that Bishop's on his side, even though he warns the transplanted doc, "I need you to be above reproach, sharper than everyone else."
Kal Penn Approves This Message (10:30/9:30c, Freeform): As part of Freeform's nonpartisan get-out-the-vote initiative to its millennial and GenZ viewer base, actor/activist Kal Penn hosts a topical six-part series featuring comical field pieces amid serious discussions of voter basics, engagement and empowerment. In the first episode, "Kal Penn Approves Our Democracy," Penn provides tools for young voters to make their voices heard.
Inside Tuesday TV: The season finale of Discovery's Deadliest Catch (8/7c) finds the crab fishing fleet facing a new challenge: the early spread of the coronavirus as word of a looming pandemic spreads in February… Seen earlier this year on National Geographic, Neil deGrasse Tyson's mind-expanding science docuseries Cosmos: Possible Worlds moves to Fox (8/7c) for a fall run with a two-hour premiere… The CW's British comedy Dead Pixels (8/7c) ends its first season with the obsessive gaming buddies reaching the final level of the Kingdom Scrolls video game, just in time for them to each face turning points in their actual lives… HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (10/9c) features correspondent David Scott's report on Mixed Martial Arts fighters who dehydrate themselves to dangerous levels to fight at a lower weight class. Bernard Goldberg looks into the debate over transgender athletes, and Gumbel interviews former NFL star turned America's Got Talent magician Jon Dorenbos.