A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
Young Rock and Kenan (8/7c and 8:30/7:30c, NBC): An all-new star-driven sitcom hour begins with Young Rock, featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson relating a quasi-autobiographical origin story that depicts his rites of passage at ages 10, 15 and 18. It’s followed by Kenan, a warm family comedy starring longtime Saturday Night Live star Kenan Thompson as a widowed dad juggling his morning-show TV gig and raising two adorable daughters with the help of his father-in-law (a winning Don Johnson) and rascally brother (SNL co-star Chris Redd). (See the full review.)
The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Over two nights and four hours (concluding Wednesday), public-TV fixture Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Finding Your Roots) tells the fascinating story of an ever-changing institution at the nexus of race, religion and politics. “I don’t know how we could have survived as a people without it,” says Oprah Winfrey, one of many voices testifying to the power and uplifting influence of the Black church through slavery and Reconstruction to Jim Crow, the civil-rights era and the current social-justice movement. (See the full review.)
Queen Sugar (8/7c, OWN): Ava DuVernay and her writing team revamped the Season 5 storyline during last year’s production shutdown to reflect the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement on the Bordelon family. As the new season begins, Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) faces some tough choices immediately amid bad news for the local farmers, while siblings Nova (Rutina Wesley) and Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) work to strengthen their personal relationships.
Honour (streaming on BritBox): The versatile Keeley Hawes (Bodyguard, The Durrells in Corfu) is tough and terrific in this taut 90-minute fact-based crime drama. As recently promoted DCI Caroline Goode, Hawes seethes with rage and frustration when she discovers that a female Muslim murder victim had come to the police multiple times in fear for her life. Goode hits a cultural brick wall while investigating the so-called “honor killing” of Banaz Mahmod, whose family marked her for death because she chose to love the wrong man. “What can you do for me?” we see Banaz asking in a police video. The best Goode can hope for is to honor her memory with posthumous justice.
This Is Us (9/8c, NBC): Many of the virtues of this moving family drama are on display in an episode that promises to bring new life to the expanding and extended Pearson family. While Kevin (Justin Hartley) desperately races to get to Madison’s (Caitlin Thompson) side before she delivers her twins, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) are doing their best to distract the mother-to-be on the phone while they head home from Louisiana. Meanwhile, Kate (Chrissy Metz) is attending to the birth of her adopted daughter while Toby (Chris Sullivan) and grandma Rebecca (Mandy Moore) anxiously await word from afar. Those lumps in the throat? They’re earned this week.
Prodigal Son (9/8c, Fox): Is ignorance bliss? That question has haunted Malcolm (Tom Payne) all season as he and his parents — socialite Jessica (Bellamy Young) and unrepentant serial killer Martin (Michael Sheen) — continue weighing whether to let his sister Ainsley (Halston Sage) in on the fact that she murdered the despicable Nicholas Endicott during a blackout. This may help explain why, when Malcolm is thrown into an elevator shaft while investigating a case and knocked unconscious, he begins to dream about what life would have been like if he’d never discovered his father was “The Surgeon.” Amid the funky hallucinations, Malcolm’s subconscious also helps him solve the case of the week. His psychopathic father would be so proud.
Big Sky (10/9c, ABC): Hard to believe, but this action/mystery finds a way to go even more over the top than usual as the net tightens around deranged trucker/kidnapper Ronald Pergman (Brian Geraghty), who’s currently keeping a nosy paperboy prisoner in his corpse-strewn basement. When Cassie (Kylie Bunbury) and Jenny (Katheryn Winnick) finally connect the dots to Ronald’s house of horrors, the stage is set for one of the most unpredictable high-speed car chases in recent TV memory. Back at the hospital, Merilee (Brooke Smith) is pretty sure her trooper husband Rick Legarski (John Carroll Lynch) is faking his brain injury and is none too pleased to think he could get away with his many crimes. But what to do?
Inside Tuesday TV: Bear Grylls stars in Netflix’s interactive Animals on the Loose: A You Vs. Wild Movie, where you get to decide how Bear tackles a crisis when there’s a breach in the protective fence around an animal sanctuary… Topics du jour on ABC’s black-ish (9/8c) and mixed-ish (9:30/8:30c) include recreational pot smoking on the former, when Dre (Anthony Anderson) catches Junior (Marcus Scribner) and Olivia (Katlyn Nichol) partaking in weed; and religion on the latter, when Bow’s (Arica Himmel) curiosity to start attending church with her friends upsets her parents… Presented without commercials, the MTV documentary Each and Every Day (9/8c) profiles nine young people who have struggled with thoughts of suicide during the pandemic… A third season of USA’s beyond-guilty pleasure Temptation Island (10/9c) sends four couples to Maui, Hawaii, to see if they can withstand the allure of 24 sexy singles. Stay strong, people!