The Tuesday Playlist: Family Affairs on New Girl and NCIS
Margo Martindale and Jake Johnson
What kind of family must it be where slacker bartender Nick Miller (Jake Johnson) is seen as the responsible one? That answer becomes clear in a sporadically amusing road-trip episode of Fox's New Girl (9/8c) that takes the roomies to Chicago to lay Nick's scoundrel of a dad (former guest star Dennis Farina) to rest. The formidable Margo Martindale (Justified, The Americans) presides over the ridiculous antics as Nick's gruff but needy mom, and cable clown Nick Kroll hams it up as his emotionally volatile brother. As usual, Schmidt (Max Greenberg) hijacks the proceedings with his death neuroses, and while he wonders "What's with this open casket thing?" it's his encounter with said coffin and its contents that provides the episode's biggest laughs.
In a comedy casting stunt worthy of a sweeps month, NBC's Go On (9:01/8:01c) reunites Matthew Perry with his Friends soulmate Courteney Cox. Their date — she's a new widow, he's a widower — is complicated when Anne (Julie White), who set them up, comes along and it's unclear who's flirting with whom. ... Cox and her co-stars over at TBS' Cougar Town (10/9c) have cause to celebrate, as their show just got picked up for another year. As the first cable season winds down, Shirley Jones guests as one of the new neighbors who bought Grayson's old house. ... And one week before its season (and possibly series) finale, NBC's The New Normal (9:31/8:31) gets topical with a touching storyline that reveals David's (Justin Bartha) passion for scouting. The "Eagle Scout for life" is thrilled to don the neckerchief and knee socks again to help chaperone a troop's camping trip, despite the Boy Scout organization's current policies about homosexuality. While Bryan snarks, "Maybe you can earn your hypocrisy badge," David learns much about the values of perseverance and courage when initial acceptance turns to ostracism. He won't give up without a fight, and I'd like to think the same is true of this unique little series.
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NCIS: THE NEXT GENERATIONS: If you think you recognize McGee's dad, a Navy Admiral implicated in a murder at sea on CBS' NCIS (8/7c), it's because Jamey Sheridan has been around the TV block quite a few times — including as the boss on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and most recently as Homeland's ill-fated vice president (and, in flashbacks, as Arrow's dad). ... The two-part "backdoor pilot" concludes on NCIS: LA (9/8c) as the "Red" team hits the road in their mobile units, nicknamed "Laverne and Shirley," to chase a terrorist. Odds are we'll be seeing these folks again in the fall.
AFTER THE MANHUNT: It's time for a woman-hunt on the penultimate episode of another great season for FX's Justified (10/9c), as all eyes turn toward reformed party girl Ellen May (poignantly played by Abby Miller) when the captured Drew Thompson refuses to cooperate until she's brought in to safety. Easier said than done, as forces of good and not-so-good converge on Limehouse's digs in Noble's Holler (with Mykelti Williamson savoring every moment of these showdowns), because as an agitated Boyd Crowder puts it, "A man who speaks out of both sides of his mouth deserves to have it permanently shut." Our favorite marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) won't let a little thing like suspension keep him from joining the chase, and as he goads his fellow travelers Tim and Rachel, "Did you not wake up this morning thinking today was another opportunity to mess up some bad guy's day? I did." Which may be my favorite line of the season. Plenty of folks' days will be messed up by the end of this tense but enjoyable hour.
SONG AND DANCE: While the blind auditions continue on NBC's The Voice (8/7c), Josh Groban performs with an 18-piece band as the first celebrity is eliminated on ABC's Dancing With the Stars (9/8c). ... And here's something new: On NBC's Smash (10:01/9:01c), low-rent Jimmy clashes with new director Derek over the direction of their indie-pop musical "Hit List." Who didn't see that coming? And how soon before it ends up in Michael Riedel's column?
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