Worth Watching: 'This Is Us, 'Price' and 'Deal' in Prime Time, Kids Pick the President, Sarah Cooper on Netflix
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): For crying out loud. No, seriously. This hit domestic drama, TV's premiere tear-jerker, kicks off its fifth season with back-to-back episodes. As the "Big Three" sibs mark their 40th birthday, the Pearsons look four decades into the past to the fateful day when Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) welcomed the offspring into their turbulent lives. In the present day, however, what will it take for bros Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) to reconcile after their brutal blow-up?
The Price Is Right at Night and Let's Make a Deal Primetime (8/7c and 9/8c, CBS): The games people play in daytime move to the evening for a special back-to-back event, several weeks before the shows return with new episodes in their daily rotation (on Nov. 16). On newly redesigned, socially distanced sets, The Price Is Right host Drew Carey welcomes front-line workers to play fan-favorite games, while Let's Make a Deal's Wayne Brady conducts business in front of a virtual wall with essential workers from across the country. Brady opens his episode with a special musical number, and traders throughout the show vie to win $100K in golden envelopes.
Nick News: Kids Pick the President (7/6c, Nickelodeon): It's never too early to inspire citizens to vote, and this civic-minded Nick News special, hosted by Keke Palmer, furthers the "Kids' Vote" initiative the network has conducted for 36 years and the last nine presidential election cycles. (Note: the informal poll has predicted the correct winner of the presidential race six out of the last eight times.) Though the target audience won’t be able to cast a ballot for some time, the special gives young viewers an overview of voting procedures, while spotlighting junior activists and their views on hot-button issues including the pandemic, racial equality and the environment.
The Campaigns That Made History (9/9c, History): A timely two-hour special looks back at some of the last half-century's most memorable or notorious presidential races, focusing on colorful personalities and the shocking twists and missteps that either sunk or elevated a candidate. Some broke the color and gender barriers, including Shirley Chisholm (who did both) and Barack Obama, while others made headlines their own way, including Gary Hart, Ross Perot, Barry Goldwater, winners (Ronald Reagan) and also-rans (John McCain and Sarah Palin).
The Soul of America (9/8c, HBO): We've heard this phrase quite frequently during the current campaign, and historian/biographer Jon Meacham coined it as well for his 2018 best-seller The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels. It's the basis of a stirring documentary that looks back at pivotal turning points in history when the nation had to face and overcome its darker impulses, in women's fight for suffrage 100 years ago, the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II, Joseph McCarthy's reign of persecution and the civil-rights struggles and triumphs of the 1960s. Needless to say, there are plenty of opportunities to make comparisons with today's polarized and divided populace.
Sarah Cooper: Everything's Fine (streaming on Netflix): The comedian whose satirical and uncanny lip-sync videos made her a viral TikTok sensation during lockdown emerges with her own comedy-variety special. Nothing's off limits in this collection of sketches and celebrity cameos, poking the bears of politics, race, gender and class. The impressive guest list includes Jon Hamm, Helen Mirren, Ben Stiller, Megan Thee Stallion, Whoopi Goldberg, Winona Ryder, Fred Armisen, Marisa Tomei, Jane Lynch and Connie Chung.
Inside Tuesday TV: The PBS documentary Not Done: Women Remaking America (8/7c, check local listings at pbs.org) profiles the current generation of women crusading for social change and equality, including the founders of the "MeToo" and Black Lives Matter movements, and celebrities like America Ferrera, producer Shonda Rhimes and Natalie Portman… HGTV’s Fixer to Fabulous (9/8c) is back with a new season, as husband-wife renovators Dave and Jenny Mars transform an Arkansas lake house into a Nantucket-style waterfront getaway… Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Andy Samberg appears on the finale of Freeform's Kal Penn Approves This Message (10:30/9:30c) as part of one last push to inspire people to vote.