What’s Worth Watching: ‘The Choice’, ‘This is Us’, ‘New Girl’, ‘Atlanta’ and more for Tuesday, September 27.
The Choice 2016 (9/8c, PBS; check local listings at pbs.org): Oh, for an informed electorate that would follow up watching a national debate by performing their civic duty and doing even a little homework. First on the syllabus should be The Choice, a special edition of the essential documentary series Frontline that has aired during every presidential campaign year since 1988, providing critical side-by-side biographical portraits of the top candidates.
Never has the choice been so stark, between two such unprecedented players with mountains of baggage: Hillary Rodham Clinton, a former First Lady and controversial career politician who has never not been embattled; and Donald J. Trump, a pugnacious, outrageous businessman whose reputation and career was salvaged by a reality-TV show. As in past years, The Choice presents their personal histories side by side, mapping the influences that shaped their character and ambitions, but rarely has it played out like something out of epic fantastical fiction. Watching The Choice may not change the minds of the politically entrenched, and yet it should give anyone pause when Donald Trump’s The Apprentice acolyte Omarosa Manigault says, “Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump.” What a tool. Even the most ideological zealot should know that no matter who occupies the Oval Office, we the people do not kneel. That’s why we call it democracy. But we do have a choice, and before you make it, you should watch.
This Is Us (10/9c, NBC): All of the warmth and humor that made the pilot episode so special are on display in a terrific second hour, which visits the family when the “Big Three” kids were just 8 years old, with sibling rivalries and marital tension between Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore). In the present day, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) struggle with welcoming his birth father William (Ron Cephas Jones) into their home, while Kevin (Justin Hartley) deals with the fallout from his impulsive decision to torpedo his TV career. The smartly chosen guest cast includes Katey Sagal and Brad Garrett.
Atlanta (10/9c, FX): Another brilliant episode of this pungently authentic comedy is set at a charity basketball game media event, where rising-star Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) gets schooled on image in a clash with a local Justin Bieber clone, while Earn (Donald Glover) hobnobs with agents, informing them, “My client is interested in anything that pays money.” The biggest laughs are reserved for iconoclast Darius (Lakeith Stanfield), who goes off to a firing range and comes under fire.
Inside Tuesday TV: While MTV aims to heighten voter awareness with a one-night reboot of TRL rebranded as Total Registration Live (6/5c), targeting Millennials to register to vote, Fox’s New Girl (8:30/7:30c) also develops a social conscience, as Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Cece (Hannah Simone) bet Schmidt (Max Greenfield) that they can successfully recruit new voters. … A new edition of HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (10/9c) examines the history and tradition of the National Anthem being performed at sporting events, in light of the controversy over Colin Kaepernick’s sit-in protest. … Comedy Central’s Drunk History is back for a fourth season of inebriated revisionism, retelling stories of “Great Escapes” with the help of guests Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley), Chris Parnell (Archer) and Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!). All of which is much funnier if you’ve tied one on yourself.