Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Tuesday, April 19. All times are Eastern.
Frontline (PBS, 10 p.m.): As further proof of the fact that Frontline never, ever fucks around, tonight’s story took three whole years to film. The chosen topic? Four young refugees from war-torn Syria, who escaped the siege of Aleppo, survived the kidnapping of their father, and eventually made their way to Germany, where we’re guessing things only get marginally better. This is not going to be fun viewing, but it’s almost certainly going to be essential viewing, so go get some culture by staring into the abyss of humanity’s inhumanity. Still, if you’re really looking for something lighter, you might want to record Shakespeare’s Tomb, also airing on PBS in the preceding hour, and check that out after, as scientists investigate Shakespeare’s grave to discover what’s behind his warning: “Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,/And curst be he that moves my bones.” Never has the phrase “tempting fate” been quite so appropriate.
New Girl (Fox, 8 p.m./8:30 p.m.): It’s a New Girl double feature tonight, as Jess “invents a male alter ego” to deal with a sexist car salesman. Are we headed for Jess in unconvincing drag? Please say we’re headed for Jess in unconvincing drag. Meanwhile, guest reviewer Gwen Ihnat is transfixed by the blatant mixing of real and pun animals in this synopsis: “Schmidt dogs a talent agent for pets, hoping to get Winston’s cat and audition.”
The Flash (The CW, 8 p.m.): We’ve reached the point in the season’s story in which the evil Zoom gets to emerge from the shadows and receive his very own origin story. We’re going to guess it’s a mix of “tragic” and “fiendishly convoluted, because this is The Flash, and we mean that in the very best way.” Scott Von Doviak feels the first to those two descriptors was a bit more to the point.
Premieres and finales
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox, 9 p.m.): Out of nowhere, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has spun out a whole mini-arc about corruption in the FBI, Rosa’s scary yet undying love for Adrian Pimento, and an ingenious scheme to hide Melissa Fumero’s pregnancy by having Amy go undercover as a pregnant convict. Anyway, all that comes to a head tonight, as the precinct must band together to save a captured Captain Holt. LaToya Ferguson is deeply skeptical that a Samantha like Holt needs any rescuing.
Containment (The CW, 9 p.m.): Just six years after The Walking Dead, another show is looking at a deadly viral outbreak in Atlanta, so this is almost a trend now. In this case, the entire city is under quarantine, which leads us to ask any Atlantans reading: Would placing the ATL under armed quarantine make any appreciable difference to the approximately 75 percent of the city’s population currently stuck in traffic? We feel like … no. People who are also feeling like no include Joshua Alston—what a glorious segue that was!—who isn’t exactly fond of the show in his pre-air review.
The Night Manager (AMC, 10 p.m.): This six-part adaptation of a John Le Carré novel casts Tom Hiddleston as a former British soldier turned the titular night manager, who does what characters tend to do in Le Carré stories and gets himself caught up in the intricate dealings of shadowy intelligence operatives and some very bad people. In this case, the shadowy operatives include Broadchurch’s Olivia Colman, and the very bad people include Hugh Laurie, whom we refuse to identify as anything other than Blackadder’s Hugh Laurie, because House can go hang. Anyway, Zack Handlen’s pre-air review says the mini-series features “a cynical worldview, an understanding of the price the powerless pay for the sins of the rich, and a view of espionage that’s at once thrilling and brutally mundane,” which, oh goodness yes, that’s the Le Carré good stuff.
Outsiders (WGN, 9 p.m.): This show is wrapping up its first season, and the description simply says “The feud between the mountain and town reaches a climax.” Which… is that metaphorical, or has the mountain gained sentience? Because that would certainly be… different.
Limitless (CBS, 10 p.m.): We’re bending the rules a bit here, as the actual finale is next week, but when an episode is titled and punctuated “Finale: Part One!”, then What’s On Tonight has got to recognize. NZT has hit the streets and could become a full-blown epidemic any minute, because apparently Limitless just feels like casually blowing up Containment’s spot with the whole outbreak thing.
Murder Among Friends (ID, 10 p.m.): We’ve missed getting to rag on the lurid trash that is ID’s motley collection of true-crime offerings, but here’s a new one to stare at in knowing but admittedly self-righteous disgust: “Friends help a teen in Apex, N.C., who believes an unseen criminal wants him dead, lay low at an abandoned property. When he ends up dead, however, those same friends become suspects in his murder.” Oh, ID. You’re so gross.
Bonus top pick if it were still, like, 2009
Impact Wrestling (POP, 9 p.m.): TNA Wrestling is taking a short break from going utterly, riotously bankrupt to put on an “I Quit” match between two of its most notable WWE castoffs, the brothers Jeff and Matt Hardy. For those not in the know, there was a brief moment several years ago when Jeff Hardy looked like he could have even unseated John Cena himself as the face of WWE, before addiction got the better of him. And Matt Hardy was… well, Matt Hardy was no slouch either. In 2016, it’s a little harder to argue the merits of these two stepping into the ring together, but if you’re feeling generous and/or nostalgic… eh, maybe just watch this old clip of them taking on Edge and Christian with some ladders.
A Bit Of Fry And Laurie, “Season One, Episode Two” (Hulu): Because Hugh Laurie has been preparing for the role of “guy in a John Le Carré for damn near 30 years, here’s the first episode of his and Stephen Fry’s sketch show to feature the Le Carré-spoofing “Tony And Control” segments.” Yes, A Bit Of Fry And Laurie: For people who find That Mitchell And Webb Look much too dreadfully low-brow.