From FX, a provocative eight-part series brings Octavia E. Butler’s celebrated 1979 novel to TV, a bizarre blend of time-travel fantasy and historical drama of antebellum slavery. Newcomer Mallori Johnson is impressive as Dana, a contemporary Black woman who moves to L.A., where she hopes to write for TV, when she’s suddenly swept into a nightmarish alt-reality after being transported to an early 19th-century plantation that’s somehow connected to her family’s clouded past. Disoriented, Dana must learn to adapt to an enslaved culture while jumping back and forth in time, eventually ensnaring her new white boyfriend Kevin (Micah Stock), who’s just as confused though not as endangered. It’s an intriguing and compelling premise, but by turning Butler’s taut parable into an open-ended series, Kindred loses much of its urgency, and most of the changes from the source material aren’t an improvement.
Following an hour recap of Season 22 highlights (8/7c), the grand finale declares a winner from the top five finalists: bodie, Omar Jose Cardona, Brayden Lape, Bryce Leatherwood and Morgan Myles. As usual, the new talent will have to fight for attention against a starry roster of guest headliners, including country star Kane Brown, who’s joined by coach Blake Shelton. Former coach Kelly Clarkson, who’s returning to the show in March, performs a solo version of her Ariana Grande duet “Santa, Can’t You Hear Me.” Also on the playlist: OneRepublic, Maluma, Adam Lambert, BRELAND and last season’s winner, Girl Named Tom.
Pelosi in the House
Though a polarizing figure in national politics, there’s no denying the impact Nancy Pelosi has made during her long career in Congress. Her daughter, accomplished documentarian Alexandra Pelosi, delivers a personal look at the first female Speaker of the House’s with a cinema verité-style documentary filmed over three decades, following Pelosi’s public and private lives since being elected to Congress in 1987, becoming the first female Speaker in 2007 and including the events of Jan. 6, 2021, when Pelosi and other leading lawmakers took refuge from the insurrectionist mob.
Dr. Seuss Baking Challenge
Even if Green Eggs and Ham aren’t to your liking, you might find something to tempt your taste buds while watching this fanciful eight-part competition based on the classic children’s books by Dr. Seuss. Tamera Mowry-Housley hosts the eight-part contest, with nine teams of two baking whimsical creations for the approval of judges Clarice Lam and Joshua John Russell. Themed episodes include “The Cat and the Hat,” “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Lorax,” “Fox in Socks,” “Horton Hears a Who” and the aforementioned “Green Eggs and Ham.”
All three FBI series begin their holiday break (returning Jan. 3) after this week’s new episodes. On the mothership, a seemingly innocent teen shows up at headquarters with a large bag of fentanyl, seeking the team’s protection from the men who murdered his father. In a more personal subplot, pregnant agent Nina Chase (Shantel VanSanten) returns with a proposal for baby daddy Scola (John Boyd). Elsewhere, on FBI International (9/8c), the Fly Team investigates the death of an American model in Milan, which also captures the attention of legal attaché Ken Dandridge (Michael Torpey). Finishing the night, FBI: Most Wanted (10/9c) sends the team to find out what’s behind the assassination of three prosecutors in a small Arkansas burg.
Inside Tuesday TV:
- Around the Horn—20th Anniversary Special (7 pm/ET, ESPN): A supersized panel of 20 guests gathers to mark the roundtable show’s 20th anniversary with vintage clips, behind-the-scenes footage and spirited discussion moderated by host Tony Reali.
- Jeannette Lee Vs. (8/7c, ESPN): She was known as “The Black Widow” for her distinctive coal-colored outfits, and renowned for her mastery at billiards. A 30 for 30 profile of Jeannette Lee looks at her improbable, revolutionary rise in billiards and her much tougher battle with ovarian cancer.
- O Holy Night: Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir (8/7c, PBS): Smash and Broadway star Megan Hilty headlines with narrator Neal McDonough at the annual holiday concert, filmed in December 2021. The guests’ heritage will be celebrated in traditional Irish music, along with classic Christmas carols and hymns—and, naturally, the choir’s soaring rendition of “O Holy Night.”
- Avatar: The Deep Dive (10/9c, ABC): More synergy in action, as a special edition of 20/20 goes behind the scenes of James Cameron’s Avatar: Way of the Water sequel, being released later this week.
- Welcome to Chippendales (streaming on Hulu): In a pivotal episode of the gripping docudrama, Steve Banerjee (Kumail Nanjiani) is impressed by the Manhattan outpost of the male-stripper club conceived by choreographer-partner Nick De Noia (Murray Bartlett), but an ego war ignites when Nick starts making TV appearances on Phil Donahue and the like, branded “Mr. Chippendales” to Steve’s chagrin.
- More streaming highlights: a second season of the Netflix sports docuseries Last Chance U: Basketball, a new stand-up comedy special Tom Papa: What a Day!, also on Netflix; the travel series Sampled on Paramount+, with international cities seen through the eyes of touring musicians; and Peacock’s four-part docuseries The Battle for Justina Pelletier, about the legal battles that ensued between Boston Children’s Hospital, the family of an ailing 14-year-old girl with mysterious symptoms, and a computer hacker who stuck his digital nose into the messy situation.