Worth Watching: Halloween With ‘The Conners,’ ‘Archer’ Finale, the College Admissions ‘Con,’ Oprah With Matthew McConaughey
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
The Conners (9/8c, ABC): In another great Halloween TV tradition (this one still airing on broadcast TV), the Conners do their best to preserve the holiday for their youngest, Mark (Ames McNamara) and Mary (Jayden Rey), despite the mayor declaring treat-or-treating is out during the pandemic of 2020. For Mary, who’s been spending too much time alone while her dad, D.J. (Michael Fishman, the episode’s first-time director), furthers his career, this setback hurts enough that the family rallies to remedy her situation. But first, the grown-ups transform the house into a haunted playground with tricks or treats behind every door. Even Roseanne would be proud.
Archer (10/9c, FXX): It’s Archer on ice — Antarctic ice — for the 11th season finale, when the team heads to the South Pole to investigate a murder, fix a critical communications antenna and try not to do further damage to the earth’s melting icecaps. When one suspect suggests, “If we’re going to solve this, it’s not going to be by engaging in petty squabbles,” Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) snaps, “Man, you don’t know us at all.” We who know Archer are thrilled the animated spy spoof has already been renewed for a 12th season. As if to celebrate, stars from two of FX’s best series, Pamela Adlon (Better Things) and Kayvan Novak (What We Do in the Shadows), provide guest voices.
The Con (10/9c, ABC): The docuseries about notorious scams investigates one of last year’s biggest scandals: the efforts by deep-pocketed parents (including celebrities like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin) to game the system of college admissions to get their kids into elite universities. Host Whoopi Goldberg explains how mastermind Rick Singer pulled this off and pulled famous clients into his scheme, and how the FBI cracked the case, giving them all a failing grade with criminal charges. The episode includes audio recreations of the FBI wiretaps that helped nail Singer and his clients.
HOT AND COOL: As wildfires continue to rage in the American West, the HBO documentary Burning Ojai: Our Fire Story (7/6c) could hardly be more timely. Filmmaker Michael Milano, a resident of the California community, captured the devastation of the 2017 Thomas Fire that consumed 282,000 acres of land, whipped by the Santa Ana winds. He also reports on relief and repair efforts and the resilience of residents who continue to face this ongoing climactic threat… PBS’s Nature goes Down Under to survey the Australian Bushfire Rescue (8/7c, check local listings at pbs.org), helping koals, kangaroos and other local species recover from the country’s scorching natural disaster… All of which makes the latest installment of PBS’s Nova science series especially welcome. In Can We Cool the Planet? (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), scientists and engineers propose solutions from the controversial study of geo-engineering to try to adjust the planet’s thermostat while we still can.
Inside Wednesday TV: Alright, alright, alright… Oprah Winfrey digs Matthew McConaughey‘s upbeat new memoir Greenlights so much that she decided to make him the latest subject of The Oprah Conversation on Apple TV+… With her youngest now in high school, Beverly Goldberg (Wendi McLendon-Covey) needs a new pastime, so she decides to run for office as city comptroller on ABC’s The Goldbergs (8/7c)… A new season of HGTV’s Martha Knows Best (8/7c) opens with back-to-back episodes, and Martha Stewart is all about carving pumpkins and decomposing organic materials for Halloween, kicking back with Chelsea Handler for some bourbon apple cider, then sharing martinis with Kate Hudson… With CBS’s The Amazing Race (8/7c) now in Brazil, the first U-turn looms… Someone’s going to win this season of CBS’s Big Brother (9/8c) in a two-hour finale… Emma Roberts (American Horror Story) stars in the Netflix rom-com Holidate as Sloane, a misanthrope who shares her hatred of all holidays with Jackson (Luke Bracey), and they decide to un-celebrate together all year long. Will they be able to stand something as clichéd as a happy ending?