Worth Watching: A ‘9-1-1’ Combo, an ‘Abishola’ Triangle, ‘How It Feels to Be Free’
A selective critical checklist of notable Monday TV:
9-1-1and 9-1-1: Lone Star (8/7c, Fox): It’s a double dose of high-octane heroism when Fox brings back its hit rescue series and the Texas-based spinoff in a two-hour block. As tradition demands, the original 9-1-1 opens its fourth season with a disaster-movie-worthy calamity: the collapse of the Hollywood Dam, a crisis complicated by life amid a pandemic for the first responders. While Bobby (Peter Krause) and his crew of the 118th deal with a city bus that crashed into a building’s upper floor, dispatcher Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) scrambles to locate a trapped cyclist and Athena (Angela Bassett) tries to urge an agoraphobic woman to evacuate her home.
The challenges are a bit less catastrophic on the second-season premiere of Lone Star, including a runaway military tank in downtown Austin and a body pile-up at the roller derby. The big news involves the arrival of a new paramedic captain, Tommy Vega (Suits‘ formidable Gina Torres), and Owen’s (Rob Lowe) reunion with his ex-wife, Gwyneth (House‘s Lisa Edelstein).
Bob ♥ Abishola (8:30/7:30c, CBS): Things are getting serious in the relationship of this very human comedy’s main characters, and not just because Bob (Billy Gardell) recently proposed to Abishola (Folake Olowofoyeku). Their journey of commitment becomes more complicated when her husband, Tayo (Dayo Ade), arrives from Nigeria, and even after an eight-year absence seems less keen on divorce than the wife who feels he abandoned her and son Dele (Travis Wolfe, Jr.). We also learn that the divorce rate in their native country is a miniscule 0.2%! When Bob confronts his rival, Abishola’s Uncle Tunde (Barry Shabaka Henley) muses, “This is like one of your soap operas.” And just like a soap opera, this fraught chapter in the unconventional romcom will be continued next week. (Stay tuned at 9/8 when the title stars participate in an edition of Let’s Make a Deal Primetime, playing for charity.)
How It Feels to Be Free (9/8c, PBS, check local listings ta pbs.org): Alicia Keys is among the executive producers of a very special installment of American Masters, well timed on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to celebrate the lives and activism of six pioneering Black female entertainers and activists who blazed new trails for performers of color during a pivotal period in the civil-rights movement. The subjects include Lena Horne, whose battles with Hollywood racism are legendary, plus fellow singer-actress Diahann Carroll (whose TV comedy Julia was a first in depicting a professional Black woman as the star of a sitcom), songwriter/actress Abbey Lincoln, folk/blues singer Nina Simone, the ever-inspiring Cicely Tyson and film star Pam Grier. Contemporary admirers including Keys, Halle Berry, and Lena Waithe weigh in on their accomplishments even as they continue to expand the boundaries of diversity in entertainment.
Unsung Presents: Music & the Movement (8/7c, TV One): Also featuring music in a chronicle of societal change, this two-part (airing back-to-back) documentary explores the ways Black music underscored political and social movements, from the Negro spirituals that raised spirits during the era of slavery to the anthems of the civil-rights movement and the driving backbeat of the Black Lives Matter revolt.
Inside Monday TV: The CW’s sports drama All American (8/7c) launches its third season with a rocky homecoming at South Crenshaw High for football star Spencer James (Daniel Ezra), whose interview about the switch riles his former Beverly Hills teammates… It doesn’t get much creepier than Investigation Discovery’s The Clown and the Candyman (9/8c), a four-hour (concluding Tuesday) true-crime rehash of the murder sprees of John Wayne Gacy in Chicago and Dean “The Candyman” Coril in Houston in the 1970s. Though theirs are considered two distinct reigns of terror, the documentary makes connections from their crimes to an underground pedophilia network… For fictional horror, Shudder streams four films “Starring Peter Cushing” in a salute to the British genre star, with thrillers from the 1960s and ’70s including And Now the Screaming Starts, Asylum, The Beast Must Die, and the grave-robbing docudrama The Flesh and the Fiends.