Worth Watching: ‘Good Doctor,’ a ‘Codebreaker,’ ‘Jeopardy!’ in Transition, HGTV’s ‘Ty Breaker’
A selective critical checklist of notable Monday TV:
The Good Doctor (10/9c, ABC): The medical drama was one of the first to leapfrog into a post-pandemic world after just two episodes, but in the winter premiere, Dr. Lim (Christina Chang) is still coping with the emotional fallout of the devastating outbreak. She empathizes with the case of a young war veteran struggling with PTSD, who inspires Claire (Antonia Thomas) to propose a radical treatment. Shaun (Freddie Highmore) could use a little of Dr. Browne’s can-do spirit, because after a recent setback with one of his resident mentees, he decides he doesn’t want to teach them anymore.
Codebreaker (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): A movie waiting to happen, this American Experience documentary unveils the secret and amazing history of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, a pioneering cryptanalyst whose ability to decode ciphers, recognize patterns and break encrypted codes in radio messages made her an invaluable counter-intelligence asset during WWII. She was also an important resource for breaking up organized crime rings during Prohibition. After the war ended, she signed a secrecy oath that lasted until her death in 1980. Thankfully, her story can now be told, including by San Francisco Chronicle journalist Jason Fagone, who authored The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies.
Jeopardy! (Syndicated, check local listings): A new era begins when the revered quiz show resumes without its legendary host, Alex Trebek, who died in November. In the first new episode since his passing, longest-tenured record-holding player-turned-consulting producer Ken Jennings (and champion of the Greatest of All Time tournament) takes a turn at the podium as the initial interim guest host. More will follow before the show settles on a full-time replacement. Until then, the game — which is the best reason to watch — goes on.
Ty Breaker (9/8c, HGTV): Should they stay or should they go? That’s the question in a new series led by fan-fave TV carpenter Ty Pennington, who advises stymied homeowners on how to proceed on much-needed home renovations. On the flip side, guest design experts from the HGTV family — including Windy City Rehab‘s Alison Victoria, One of a King‘s Grace Mitchell and the High Low Project‘s Sabrina Sota — counter Ty’s proposal with their own pitch to create custom-designed new dwellings. Given the talent involved, it’s hard to see how the clients could go wrong, whichever route they choose.
Inside Monday TV: New to streaming: a second season of Acorn TV’s acclaimed Irish comedy Finding Joy, about a lifestyle vlogger (Amy Huberman) whose viewers find her offbeat life choices rather addicting… The Netflix documentary Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy, from filmmaker Stanley Nelson, is like a real-life Snowfall, exploring the origins and impact of the drug epidemic that ravaged urban communities in the 1980s… ESPN star Stephen A. Smith launches a new weeknight talk series, Stephen A’s World, streaming on ESPN+, that looks beyond the games of the week with segments including an “Honorable Mentions” Q&A with fans, advice from the “Love Doctor,” appearances from “Baby Stephen A” and celebrities picking winners in “Bet On It.”… Ovation presents the U.S. cable TV premiere of the second and third seasons of Crossing Lines (7/6c), the international thriller that aired on NBC for a single season in 2013. Episodes air in three-hour blocks, with the third season expected to premiere in February… #1 Crimson Tide from Alabama faces #3 Ohio State in the College Football Championship game (8/7c, ESPN) from Miami… The CW’s All American Stories (8/7c), the first of several planned special, profiles athletes who overcame significant challenges to triumph in their sport… NBC’s wee-hours comedy/talk show A Little Late with Lilly Singh (1:35 am/12:35c) returns with a new look (no desk) and behind-the-scenes segments to reveal Singh’s creative process.