A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (8/7c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): You never know what skeletons lurk in someone's genealogical closet. In the seventh-season premiere of Harvard professor Gates' captivating series that explores celebrity guests’ ancestries, actress Glenn Close and cult director John Waters are dismayed to learn of slaveholders in their families' privileged pasts. "It makes me feel a sense of shame," says Close, who nevertheless feels "stronger" when told of Quaker and Puritan forebears who helped found the nation in its Colonial days. (She's also delighted to learn one of her ancestral lines connects with Princess Diana.) Waters loves hearing Gates declare, "Your family tree drips with drama," and blurts, "It sounds like a movie scene I'd write" when treated to a newspaper clipping of a forefather's bizarrely random death.
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist (8/7c, NBC): Why is Martha and the Vandellas' "Nowhere to Run" haunting Zoey's (Jane Levy) nightmares? Is the song telling her to move out after two months of bringing comfort to her widowed mom, Maggie (Mary Steenbergen)? Or that she moved too fast with Max (Skylar Astin)? Most of the rest of the episode's inner-thoughts soundtrack has more of an emo quality, with one delightful Broadway exception. In its second season, Zoey remains inordinately enjoyable.
NCIS (8/7c, CBS): It's two times the NCIS action in back-to-back episodes, as the top-rated crime drama brings to a climax the storyline of Gibbs' (Mark Harmon) and Fornell's (Joe Spano) search for the drug kingpin responsible for the overdose of Fornell's daughter. The hunt goes to the next level when Gibbs lets the rest of the team in on their off-the-books mission. And as if we ever doubted that there's no escaping the long reach of Gibbs, McGee (Sean Murray) and wife Delilah (Margo Harshman) can’t even get away to the Bahamas for some R&R without getting caught up in a case.
Inauguration Eve: The news doesn't rest on the night before Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in, during a ceremony that will be like no other. PBS’s Frontline presents a profile of "President Biden" (10/9c, check local listings at pbs.org), with an emphasis on the personal crises and tragedies that forged his character and how they may guide his agenda going forward.
Streaming on ABC News Live, The Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (8/7c and 10/9c) employs the network's news team for a report, anchored by T.J. Holmes, on the challenges and issues facing the new president in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, including the pandemic, the economy, healthcare and immigration — all while trying to unite a politically and racially divided nation. Biden's life and political career, in Congress and as President Obama's vice president, will also be examined, along with his approach to the American press and global affairs.
Inside Tuesday TV: Four-hanky tear-jerker alert: The entire four-season run of the emotional family drama Everwood lands on HBO Max… New to Amazon Prime Video: All nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother (skip the finale) and the fifth season of Masterpiece Mystery! favorite Grantchester… Also streaming, on Sundance Now: the four-part true-crime series The Night Caller, about the twisted road to justice — and injustice — in the wake of a serial killer’s crime spree in the 1960s in Perth, Australia… Two-time Tony winner Christian Borle (Smash) guests on Fox's baroque thriller Prodigal Son (9/8c) as Friar Pete, a fellow inmate in Martin's (Michael Sheen) prison. The crafty cleric's insights could come in handy when Malcolm (Tom Payne) investigates the grisly murder of an exorcist. In the precinct, JT (Frank Harts) debates whether to alert his union about the racial discrimination he's experiencing on the job… A new season of National Geographic Channel's Life Below Zero: Next Generation (8/7c) opens in late fall, with the young Alaskans preparing for the long winter ahead. Followed by the Canadian import Life Below Zero: Northern Territories (10/9c), about another rugged society of North American wilderness denizens, some from First Nation tribes.