Worth Watching: The Rockettes and Rock Center Tree Lighting, ‘SEAL Team’ Returns, HBO’s ‘Baby God,’ ‘Trafficked’
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes (10/9c, NBC): This time of year, there would typically be lines around the block, day and night, at New York’s Radio City Music Hall for the annual Christmas Spectacular. Like all other stages, Radio City’s is dark in 2020, but the high-kicking Rockettes are still in perfect form, and formation, in a previously recorded special that preserves the tradition for all to enjoy. Today‘s Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb host the event, which includes appearances and messages from the likes of John Legend, Josh Groban, Whoopi Goldberg, Jenna Dewan and Padma Lakshmi.
Christmas in Rockefeller Center (8/7c, NBC): But first, another annual ceremony that in any other year would be packed with spectators as a curtain-raiser for the holiday season. The lights will still go on, illuminating a 75-foot Norway Spruce, but as a TV spectacle that isn’t open to the public. The Today team, joined by Craig Melvin and Al Roker, once again hosts, with performances from New York and other locations around the country. The headliners include duets of Kelly Clarkson and Brett Eldridge, Dolly Parton and Jimmy Fallon, Meghan Trainor and Earth, Wind & Fire, plus Pentatonix, Dan + Shay, Leslie Odom Jr., Tori Kelly, Gwen Stefani and Goo Goo Dolls.
SEAL Team (9/8c, CBS): Series star David Boreanaz directs the first half of Season 4’s action-packed two-hour premiere, sending Bravo Team deep into enemy territory in a snowy mountain range to capture a terrorist leader who’s following in the footsteps of his father, who Jason (Boreonaz) felled early in his career. (It’s why he’s Bravo One.) During the melee, Jason and canine colleague Cerberus are separated from the pack, and in the second episode, the reunited team head underground through booby-trapped tunnels to capture their prey. And then it’s stateside for more upheaval.
Baby God (9/8c, HBO): Who’s your daddy? That question haunts HBO’s latest in a series of Wednesday night crime documentaries, this one focusing on the gynecological misdeeds of Dr. Quincy Fortier. Thought to be a miracle worker of a fertility specialist in his Las Vegas clinic, Fortier for years used his own sperm to impregnate clients, resulting in an unknown number of offspring who had no idea of their heritage — until a retired detective, Wendi Babst, began to look into her roots through a home DNA kit and discovered she had a surprising number of half-siblings. Her investigation uncovers a pattern of medical and ethical abuse that raises provocative questions about identity and genetic inheritance.
Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller (9/8c, National Geographic): An investigative journalist takes deep dives into a wide variety of smuggling and black-market operations in an eight-part docuseries. Van Zeller humanizes these reports by profiling not only the perpetrators but those in law enforcement, journalism as well as locals caught in the web of these covert economies. First up: back-to-back episodes dealing with international phone, lottery and financial scams, and the deadly Fentanyl drug crisis.
For Life (10/9c, ABC): The legal drama moves into a new phase as former jailhouse lawyer Aaron (Nicholas Pinnock) takes on his first case, defending a woman who turned a gun on hospital workers to demand treatment for her son. On the home front, Aaron is learning how to be intimate again with Marie (Joy Bryant). At work, Aaron and Roswell (Timothy Busfield) bring on a young social-justice activist to keep things interesting.
Inside Wednesday TV: CBS’s The Amazing Race (8/7c) is down to the final five teams, an alliance that must now start operating separately, especially considering that as they head into Cambodia, a final double U-turn awaits… The season finale of The CW’s Coroner (9/8c) promises startling discoveries for Jenny (Serinda Swan) and Detective McAvoy (Roger Cross)… ABC’s The Conners (9/8c) is in protest mode, with Harris’s (Emma Kenney) job on the line after she joins a public protest, and Becky (Lecy Goranson) leading an uprising at work when Wellman Plastics begins drug testing for employees… To prove he hasn’t entirely turned into a “valley dad,” Dre (Anthony Anderson) organizes a family trip to his hometown neighborhood of Compton on ABC’s black-ish (9:30/8:30c). While there, Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) inspires the twins to learn about giving back by volunteering… It was fun while it lasted. IFC’s Canadian sketch series Baroness von Sketch Show (midnight/11c) airs its final episode, with the talented female ensemble spoofing buffet lines and the very idea of a fragrance-free workspace.