‘Prodigal Son’ and ‘Big Sky’ Return, Martha Stewart Rules ‘Chopped,’ ‘Frontline’ on Insurrection
Two of network TV’s top thrillers return from a winter hiatus. Food Network’s popular Chopped gets a makeover with Martha Stewart. Documentaries include HBO’s look at America’s changing small towns and Frontline’s investigation into violent domestic extremism.
The twisted thriller returns in top form with the arrival of an over-the-top Alan Cumming as Europol profiler Simon Hoxley, a self-described “Mind Sleuth” who instantly crosses swords professionally with the NYPD’s damaged pro, Malcolm (Tom Payne). Hoxley suspects Malcolm’s family has everything to do with the murder of the evil Nicholas Endicott—and of course, he’s right—which keeps Malcolm scrambling to stay one step ahead of the foppish snoop while keeping his activities secret from the rest of his team. Back at the prison asylum, Malcolm’s serial-killer dad Martin “The Surgeon” Whitly (Michael Sheen) is none too pleased to see Hoxley endangering his family, but otherwise he only has eyes for the mysteriously alluring Dr. Capshaw (Catherine Zeta-Jones). What a wildly entertaining series.
Also back from an extended midseason hiatus, the Western-set mystery picks up with a two-hour opener, set three months after mad trucker Ronald Pergman (Brian Geraghty) drove out of view, leaving so much carnage in his wake. Private investigators Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury) and Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick) are now officially partners, and while they keep an eye out for any Pergman sightings, they embark on a new case (based on C.J. Box’s novel The Bitterroots) involving the powerful Kleinsasser ranching family. When the family’s black sheep is accused of a very dark deed, it’s up to Cassie and Jenny to weave through a web of corruption to get to the truth.
What Martha Stewart says goes in a special five-week iteration of the popular cooking competition, this time taking the kitchen outdoors in Kennebunkport, Maine. As 16 chefs compete with mystery ingredients for an ultimate $50,000 grand prize, Stewart adds challenges within challenges to throw the contestants off balance. In the opener, that includes limiting the chefs to 10 essential pantry staples to make their first impression.
In a collaboration with ProPublica and UC Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program, Frontline takes a deep, hard look at the rise of extremist and militia groups, often tied to white supremacy and anti-government movements. Some of this ground has been covered before on Frontline, but the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol gives this report extra urgency.
On a more hopeful note, this documentary from filmmakers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan is based on the book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America by journalist couple James and Deborah Fallows, who traveled the country to explore grass-roots activism and community improvement efforts in the sorts of cities often ignored by the national media. The itinerary for the documentary, filmed in 2018, includes Sioux Falls, S.D., Columbus, MS, Charleston, W.V., and Bend, Ore., as the Fallows encounter civic leaders, educators, artists, environmentalists, immigrants and students who find commonality in their desire to better their and others’ lives.
Inside Tuesday TV:
- My Love: Six Stories of True Love (streaming on Netflix): The moving six-part docuseries enlists filmmakers from six countries—Korea, Japan, Brazil, India, Spain and the U.S.—to tell the stories of elderly couples who’ve been together for 40-plus to 60 years, sharing their secrets for romantic longevity.
- Kate & Koji (streaming on BritBox): Brenda Blethyn (Vera) stars in an unconventional buddy comedy as working-class Kate, who runs a seaside café and begins a friendship with Koji (Jimmy Akingbola), an African doctor seeking asylum.
- Finding Your Roots (8/7c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): This week’s subjects include acclaimed actor John Lithgow and journalist Maria Hinojosa, whose search into their family pasts finds ancestors who were living in North America well before the USA came to be.
- This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love, and that had better be true when Kevin (Justin Hartley) heads East to clear the air with his recently estranged brother Randall (Sterling K. Brown), whom he’d like to be his best man at his forthcoming wedding.
- Skyville Live: Jerry Lee Lewis (10/9c, CMT): At 85, Jerry Lee Lewis is still rocking it. In this concert special, he performs alongside a starry group including George Strait, Kris Kristofferson, Chris Stapleton, Toby Keith and Lee Ann Womack.
- New Amsterdam (10/9c, NBC): Having tried to tackle systemic racism a week ago, Max (Ryan Eggold) moves on to his next idealistic cause on National HIV Testing Day, when he offers free care to all HIV+ patients who show up. Elsewhere in the hospital, Bloom (Janet Montgomery) and Reynolds (Jocko Sims) clash over their very different bedside manners. Hopefully not in front of their patients.