Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Tuesday, October 20. All times are Eastern.
30 For 30 (ESPN, 9 p.m.): Right, so, here’s the deal. ESPN’s generally very good documentary series 30 For 30 made a movie, Down In The Valley, about the effort a couple years back to keep the Sacramento Kings from leaving for Seattle. The movie, by all accounts, painted an incredibly flattering portrait of Sacramento mayor and former NBA point guard Kevin Johnson, despite a number of allegations against him ranging from sexual misconduct to political corruption—go here for all you need to know, though be warned it’s going to take a while to get through everything. ESPN realized at pretty much the last possible moment how bad an idea it would be to air a borderline hagiography of Johnson, so the network pulled Down In The Valley and moved up The Prince Of Pennsylvania, which examines the real-life story that inspired last year’s Foxcatcher. The upshot of all this is that you nice people are getting a Noel Murray review a week earlier than expected, as The Prince Of Pennsylvania is one of the 30 For 30s he was planning on checking out. So that’s just about the one good thing to come out of this whole mess.
The Flash (The CW, 8 p.m.): Look, this episode probably has some plot or story or whatever. But all you really need to know is that Wentworth Miller is back as Captain Cold, and he’s pretty much the best supervillain on television (and honestly, he could give quite a few cinematic bad guys a run for their money, what with the whole easygoing, sociopathic charm thing he’s got going). And, just in case Wentworth Miller’s presence isn’t enough to convince, know this: Michael Ironside—Darkseid on Justice League, Richter in Total Recall, and key participant (along with fellow legend Clancy Brown) in one of the all-time Great Moments in Ownage—is guest starring as Captain Cold’s dad. Scott Von Doviak is not sure he can handle all the awesome about to be unleashed, but he’ll give it a shot.
The Grinder (Fox, 8:30 p.m.): Rob Lowe—yes, we realize his character has a name, but if he’s not Sam Seaborn or Chris Traeger, he’s just Rob Lowe—is confused about how little Claire seems to care about his celebrity. Well maybe she’s just distracted by the handsome to pay attention to the fame, Rob. (This message brought to you by the Committee to Ask Rob Lowe to Stop Being Quite So Handsome, Thanks. We’re still trying to get Molly Eichel to join, but she won’t answer our calls for some reason.)
Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC, 9 p.m.): It’s Halloween special week, so Fresh Off The Boat and The Muppets are making way for Charlie Brown and the Toy Story gang. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is left to hold down the fort, which this week involves looking for an Inhuman that kills other Inhumans. Also, May thinks Hunter is making his hunt for Ward too personal, which, yeah, probably. Don’t ask a man named Hunter to not take hunting personally! Oliver Sava is officially declaring that last sentence the nadir of What’s On Tonight puns. We’re very proud.
The Bastard Executioner (FX, 10 p.m.): Tonight’s episode goes until 11:30, which means it’s overrunning by 30 minutes. While you needn’t care what we think about all this, know this: Kyle Fowle is filing this review while on his damn honeymoon. So, we don’t know, at least maybe stop by the review to wish him all the best, because we’re pretty sure The Bastard Executioner isn’t going to. (Unless Kurt Sutter can get FX’s permission to go another 10 minutes long and throw in a Katey Sagal song about marriage, which we definitely can’t rule out.) UPDATE: Due to technical issues, this week’s episode of The Bastard Executioner will be reviewed next Tuesday, October 27, alongside episode eight. Just think of it this way: It’ll be as if this week’s episode is so long, it’s running over into next week.
James Brolin talks to Will Harris for the latest Random Roles, in which we find out he sort of understood what Community was all about. Erik Adams and Danette Chavez keep Unconventional Families Week rolling with a Family Feud between the blended families of The Brady Bunch and Step By Step. Bob’s Burgers voice actor Eugene Mirman talks Halloween costumes with Marah Eakin, and later today director Neil Marshall discusses Game Of Thrones with Alex McCown, among other topics.
Frontline (PBS, 9 p.m.): As a general principle, any night in which a new Frontline airs is not a total loss for television. (We mean, tonight is fine already, but even more shows could have taken the night off with Frontline here to pull its weight.) Tonight’s two-hour episode examines the current state of immigration reform, including a look at President Obama’s various policy proposals.
Being Mary Jane (BET, 9 p.m.): Gabrielle Union returns for the third season of this drama about a TV news anchor. At least, it was about a news anchor, as the season opens with Mary Jane being rushed to hospital and dealing with the possibility of being replaced following an accident.
Below Deck (Bravo, 9 p.m.): Let’s assume Below Deck episode descriptions follow the classic newswriting principle of the inverted pyramid, where the most important information is given first and the least important information is given last. To wit: “Sightly charter guests arrive to celebrate a birthday. Meanwhile, Leon makes a culinary mistake; Connie impresses with her deckhand skills; Eddie questions a relationship; and a fire breaks out, putting the entire boat in danger.” That’s either not much of a fire then, or those are some seriously sightly charter guests. Our money’s on both!
Ben Carson: The Operation/Ben Carson: Separating Conjoined Twins (Discovery Life, 9 p.m./10 p.m.): So, this is a bit weird: Discovery Life is airing a pair of documentaries on the amazing work of retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, yet neither of the descriptions mentions that he’s, you know, currently running second in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. So, while we’re going to go out on a limb and assume this is thinly disguised propaganda for the Carson campaign, we’re not totally sure how overt it’s going to be. Either way, we can only hope this will lead to Donald Trump demanding equal time to have his own set of documentaries on him performing neurosurgery.
Sweat Inc. (Spike, 10 p.m.): “Three low-impact workouts are put to the test to open this Jillian Michaels-hosted reality competition searching for the next big thing in fitness.” Based on that description, we’re not totally sure whom Jillian Michaels is going to yell at. We’re kind of hoping she’s ready to move on to screaming at the actual workouts themselves. Personal trainers getting incensed at abstract concepts does feel like the logical progression of these kinds of shows.
The Faculty (HBO2, 7:45 p.m.): In the great list of “Past acting credits Jon Stewart would self-mockingly reference on The Daily Show,” this Robert Rodriguez high school horror movie comes in at best a distant third, behind Half Baked and Death To Smoochy. Which is a shame, because we’re sure he’s lovably awful in this, too.
Sideways (Encore, 9:45 p.m.): One of our best friends is from Solvang, California, where this movie was shot. We can speak from personal experience in saying that the locals are not cool with the liberties this movie takes with the town’s geography. (“Solvang isn’t laid out that way!” is an actual sentiment we’ve heard articulated more than once, which is amazing.) Compare this with Bruges, where the locals all seem to think In Bruges is the best possible depiction of their city, which is absolutely true. Anyway, yes, Sideways. Good movie. Thomas Haden Church cuts through an emu farm. Paul Giamatti does crosswords while driving. Also wine is discussed, if we recall correctly.
MLB Playoff: National League Championship Series Game 3: Mets at Cubs (TBS, 8 p.m.): Since we’ve officially passed the point where “Fuck the Cardinals” is a relevant sentiment—well, “Fuck the Cardinals” is always a relevant sentiment, but just less so right this second—it falls to us to diversify our nuanced baseball analysis. So then, the Cubs are down 0-2 in the NLCS to the Mets, so it would really be a good idea for them to win tonight’s game if they want to have a chance to rally. On the other hand, the last time a team with a legendary championship drought went down 0-3 in a league championship series to a New York team, we seem to recall things working out pretty well. (Especially since it then led to the Cardinals being unceremoniously swept in the World Series, which … well, you can reread the first sentence.)
In case you missed it AKA Austin 3:16 says “Here comes another Attitude Era clip for no gosh darn reason”
Fargo: Based on our exhaustive YouTube research, we’re given to understand that there was a time in WWE’s proud history in which about half of all programming involved Stone Cold Steve Austin driving vehicles into arenas in order to piss off Mr. McMahon. This is one of those occasions.
While the sight of Stone Cold hauling ass through Joe Louis Arena in a Zamboni is a thing of beauty, we do have to wonder what exactly his plan was upon actually reaching the ring. Whatever else the virtues of a Zamboni might be, it doesn’t seem to afford him many tactical options beyond “jumping off the Zamboni” and “pummeling Mr. McMahon until a bunch of cops pretty much instantly wrestle him to the ground, all while Kane stands around doing nothing, thanks very much Kane.” We question the wisdom of Austin’s larger plan, but then we guess it’s true what they say: When you have a Zamboni, all problems start to look like driving Zambonis into places.