Here’s what’s up in the world of television for Tuesday, August 19. All times are Eastern.
A Young Doctor’s Notebook (Ovation, 10 p.m.): This show’s entire premise—namely, Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe, who don’t really look anything alike, play older and younger versions of the same Russian doctor in the early 20th century, and the former appears as a sort of imaginary friend to the latter—feels like some kind of high-concept goof on weird actors’ vanity projects that has gotten completely out of hand. And yet, the show and its four-episode second season are actually really damn good, as Sonia Saraiya is happy to share in her pre-air review. We still need Sonia to tell us whether they ever explain how this Russian doctor grows a full head taller between his young and mid adulthood, though.
Nathan For You (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.): The show’s excellent second season ends with Nathan Fielder working his particular brand of magic with a movie theater and a toy company. John Teti is prepared to start sabotaging local businesses if it means Nathan will have to keep churning out episodes, but in the meantime he’ll settle for watching and reviewing the finale.
K. Michelle: The Rebellious Soul Musical (VH1, 10 p.m.): Your humble What’s On Tonight correspondent isn’t even going to pretend that he knows the first thing about Atlanta-based R&B recording artist K. Michelle, or what a 30-minute musical special featuring songs from her 2013 album Rebellious Soul could potentially be like, mostly because your humble What’s On Tonight correspondent is aware of no modern music beyond certain Kevin Durant diss tracks. All that said, the one and only Idris Elba is directing this thing, so any incorrigible Idris Elba completists out there might want to check this out.
TV Club Classic
The Shield (11 a.m.): There’s plenty going on this week with “Man Inside” and “Kavanaugh,” but I’m partial to this aspect of the episode descriptions: “Emoila, sent by Mackey, infiltrates a Salvadoran gang that has been stockpiling grenades.” Stockpiling guns and bullets would be kind of old hat, but grenades? It’s just nice to see a little originality in what gangs are stockpiling, you know?
30 Rock (3 p.m.): Erik Adams wasn’t exactly a fan of the series premiere, but he promises things get a lot better with the show’s fifth episode, “Jack-Tor.” But since that’s not until next week, Erik will first examine “The Aftermath” and “Blind Date,” as the show still works to find its unique identity.
What else is on?
Doctor Who (BBC America, 5 p.m.): In anticipation of the show’s return this Saturday, BBC America is in the midst of a massive new series marathon. Today’s batch mostly comprises the somewhat bumpy third season, and the absolute best time to start watching is at 5 p.m., at which point the show reels off “42,” “Human Nature,” “The Family Of Blood,” “Blink,” and “Utopia,” all of which are good to all-time great. You may want to jump off before that season-ending two-parter, though.
King Of The Hill (Cartoon Network, 8 p.m.): Since we’re already listing reruns, we’d be remiss for not pointing out that two of the greatest episodes of this beloved if perennially underrated show are airing tonight. At the top of the hour is the one where Hank Hill inadvertently becomes a pimp—that’s something we’ll never get tired of writing—and after that is the one where exterminator and lone nut extraordinaire Dale Gribble is forced to take an office job.
Time Team America: The Bones Of Badger Hole (PBS, 9 p.m.): Because we are essentially overexcited 12-year-olds at heart, we’re deeply disappointed that something called The Bones Of Badger Hole isn’t an exposé about a bunch of murderous badgers. However, because we also have an archaeology degree, we’re almost as intrigued by the actual premise: “A bison kill site in western Oklahoma that dates to about 10,000 years ago is investigated. Included: the strategies hunters used; what the bison bones reveal about the ancient past.”
Evil Kin (ID, 9 p.m.): For those who are worried a PBS special about a 10,000-year-old Native American archaeological site might get a tad sensationalist, here’s ID to the rescue: “People with genetic birth defects become attractions in a carnival sideshow.” Well, I don’t see any way that that could be turned into something lurid or exploitative. Thanks, ID!
Shark Of Darkness: Wrath Of Submarine (Animal Planet, 9 p.m.): Yeah, there was pretty much no way we weren’t including a title that deliriously goofy. This is the two-hour conclusion to the hunt for a great white shark off the coast of South Africa. We suppose the South African connection is almost justification for the Heart Of Darkness-inspired title, although do you really need a reason to call something Shark Of Darkness: Wrath Of Submarine?
Drunk History (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.): While Nathan For You is wrapping up tonight, its primetime partner still has a couple more weeks left. Tonight’s Revolutionary War-themed episode features Stephen Merchant and John Lithgow as George Washington, which we can only hope will lead to a Young Doctor’s Notebook-style show in which both actors play the part on a weekly basis. Let’s make this a trend, people!
Half Baked (IFC, 8 p.m.): As his fellow fake newsman might well ask, “Half Baked: great random Jon Stewart cameo, or greatest random Jon Stewart cameo?” With whatever respect is due to Big Daddy, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, and of course Doogal, we’re pretty sure Half Baked gets the nod.
Quiz Show (Flix, 9:45 p.m.): Considering the other Best Picture nominees in 1994 included Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, and The Shawshank Redemption, does this one count as the forgotten 1994 nominee? It’s either this one or Four Weddings And A Funeral, we guess. Either way, this Robert Redford-directed exploration of the Twenty One game show scandal is quietly terrific, featuring some particularly nice work from John Turturro and Ralph Fiennes.
Spanish Super Cup Soccer: Real Madrid vs. Atlético Madrid (ESPN, 4:55 p.m.): One advantage of having so many different championships and tournaments to play for is that you can then have the winners of those various events square off in a series of additional match-ups. To wit, surprise La Liga champ Atlético Madrid takes on Copa del Rey victor Real Madrid in the first of two legs for the Super Cup championship.
In case you missed it
Switched At Birth/The Fosters: In just a single review, Carrie Raisler offers her thoughts on not one but two summer finales. Even allowing for the fact that every review is free, that’s great value!