Worth Watching: Election Day on TV and Fictional Politics, Escape With National Geographic

Stephen Colbert Election Night 2020
Stephen Colbert's Election Night 2020: Democracy's Last Stand

A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:

Election Day and Night: Whatever your news outlet of choice — I gravitate towards the PBS NewsHour team for the sake of my pulse rate, not to mention brain cells (but that’s just me) — all eyes will be on the results and analysis of the final act of an exhausting and polarizing campaign season. Chances are the cliffhanger may not be resolved until another day, but you can get your fill with all major broadcast and cable news divisions.

If, however, you need to take an hour’s break and refresh yourself with some uplifting scripted politics…

A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote, the imaginatively staged presentation of a vintage West Wing episode, which reunited most of the original cast, is available for free viewing by HBO Max for non-subscribers at hbomax.com/votebecause. This inspiring special will remain free for all through the end of the year.

Election (Pop TV, starts at 1 pm/12c): One of the cleverest counter-programming stunts is Pop’s marathon showing of Alexander Payne’s acclaimed 1999 dark satire, airing back to back four times through 11 pm/10c. Reese Witherspoon stars in one of her most iconic roles as ruthlessly overachieving high-school class president candidate Tracy Flick, with Matthew Broderick the hapless civics teacher who secretly despises her and plots her downfall by urging a popular but none-too-sharp jock (Chris Klein) to run against her.

Late Night Laughter: With network coverage expected to go into the wee hours, a few late-night comics still get to have their say. Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah anchors the hour-long Votegasm 2020: What Could Go Wrong? (Again) at 11/10c, with commentary from The Daily Show‘s “election fallout shelter” including special guests and the News Team including Ronny Chieng, Michael Kosta, Desi Lydic, Dulcé Sloan, Jaboukie Young-White, Roy Wood Jr., and special reporting from Jordan Klepper.

Also going live for an hour, on CBS’s premium-cable partner Showtime, Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020: Democracy’s Last Stand: Building Back America Great Again Better 2020 (11/10c) features the Late Show host in a “virtual underground political bunker” fielding reaction from guests including Charlamagne Tha God and The Circus correspondents Alex Wagner, John Heilemann and Mark McKinnon.

Primal Survivor (9/8c, National Geographic): Putting politics aside altogether, there’s escapism to spare in back-to-back episodes launching the fifth season of the nature series in which wilderness guide Hazen Audel embeds with indigenous tribes to learn survival techniques. In the first hour, he hangs with the Mani tribe in the jungles of the Malay Peninsula. For a change of pace, the second hour finds Audel living alongside some of the planet’s wildest animals.

Inside Tuesday TV: In a bold crossover move, The Bold and the Beautiful spitfire Courtney Hope moves from L.A. to Genoa City, joining the cast of CBS stalwart The Young and the Restless (12:30 pm/11:30c and PT) as duplicitous fashion maven Sally Spectra… With baseball season over, ESPN presents the 10th Rawlings Gold Glove Awards Show (8/7c), hosted by baseball commentator Karl Ravech. The honors go to the best defensive player in the American and National Leagues at each of the nine positions, and all 18 winners will be eligible for the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award, voted on by fans… The Netflix comedy special Felix Lobrecht: Hype features the stand-up mining laughs from “woke” culture and the process of aging while never feeling grown-up.