Last Thursday, I was honored to moderate a panel at the "Made in NY" PaleyFest at New York's Paley Center, celebrating the third season of CBS's terrific cyber-thriller Person of Interest. Before the discussion with many of the show's cast and executive producer Jonathan Nolan, there was a screening of this week's episode (Tuesday, 10/9c) — the best of the season to date, and a fairly pivotal one — that is especially enjoyable in how it showcases the series' fabulous femmes fatales. With the target du jour a chameleon Casanova, the women must act as nightclub and social-media bait: an off-duty and glammed-up Carter (Taraji P. Henson), the ferociously trigger-happy Shaw (Sarah Shahi, hilariously playing against her natural beauty) and Reese's favorite fixer, the alluring Zoe Morgan (recurring co-star Paige Turco). A CBS contact refers to them as "Finch's Angels," and if they want to spin themselves off, that would be fine by me. A scene where the three ladies of the evening compare their weaponry is a riot. So's a later scene in which Shaw reflects on her disdain for relationships. (When I asked Shahi if Shaw has a soft side, she wasted no time in barking a "No.")
Lest we forget the other new female regular, Amy Acker as the deliciously mad-for-the-Machine psycho Root informs her shrink that "God doesn't need AT&T" as she plots her escape from the mental ward. "Are you as excited about this as I am?" Root exults. I think it's fair to say that we are.
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WHAT PRICE GLORY: PBS's Frontline is known for its hard-hitting investigative journalism, and that's literally the case with the subject of this week's thoroughly compelling and disturbing two-hour installment League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis (check tvguide.com listings). It's based on the reporting (and book) by journalist brothers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru of ESPN, who are prominently featured despite ESPN having removed its name and association from this collaboration with Frontline, citing editorial control issues (and triggering speculation that pressure from the NFL, which refused to cooperate with this report, forced ESPN's hand, given their lucrative business relationship).
Thankfully, PBS's and Frontline's independence is in no way compromised in this often-heartbreaking account of star players who, after years of physical trauma and concussive collisions on the playing field, experienced mental, cognitive and physical declines resulting in death and in some cases suicide. Studies linking this most popular of contact sports to brain injury and neurological disease were rejected by the NFL, which set out to discredit the findings and the scientists. Even when the league recently settled a lawsuit by former players, they did so with no admission of guilt. And further studies finding evidence of neurological damage in college and high-school players cast a pall over the entire sport. Not that it's likely to keep fans from watching and cheering on their favorites as they butt heads for fame and fortune, despite the risks, for the foreseeable future.
On a less grim note, ESPN's 30 for 30 series continues with Free Spirits (8/7c), a look at the short but colorful run of the Spirits of St. Louis franchise of the defunct American Basketball Association.
COPPING A FEEL-GOOD: The ensemble strength of Fox's new police comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine is on fine display this week (8:30/7:30c), most notably in Andre Braugher's mighty deadpan as Capt. Holt, whose inscrutability becomes a great running joke as each of his minions frets over how impossible it is to read his mood. (Revel in his somber delivery of a line like "I've never been happier.") In other antics, cocky Jake (Andy Samberg) tries to demonstrate that he can let someone else — even hapless Detective Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) — take lead in a case, but when he falls for a striking if peculiar medical examiner (It's Always Funny in Philadelphia's Mary Elizabeth Ellis), so much for the autopsy paperwork.
HELL ON WHEELS: With the loathsome Lee Toric (Donal Logue in a rare mannered and unconvincing performance) thankfully out of the picture, FX's Sons of Anarchy (10/9c) can get back down to business, which in Jax's case means continuing to try to extricate the club from the gun business while averting a war with the Irish. Easier said than done, as Galen's crew reaches out to Clay in prison like last year never happened. Before another harrowing climactic turning point, prepare yourself for one of the most squirm-inducing conjugal visits in prison-drama history.
THE TUESDAY GUIDE: Now that Ziva is history, CBS's NCIS (8/7c) is welcoming a parade of new Special Agents for temporary duty, starting with Nip/Tuck's Roma Maffia. And before you can say #HashtagGibbs, the team is using Twitter to solve their latest case. ... The CW's new occult Tuesday lineup takes shape, with Rebekah (Claire Holt) joining her fractured vampire family in New Orleans on The Originals (8/7c), while Supernatural begins a ninth season with Dean (Jensen Ackles) reaching out to all available angels to save Sam (Jared Padalecki). Enter Tahmoh Penikett as Ezekiel. ... NBC's The Voice spends two hours recapping the best of the blind auditions (8/7c), before moving on to the battle rounds next week. ... On Fox's New Girl (9/8c), a spurned Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is out for karmic vengeance, vowing to wreck Jess and Nick's bliss. (Good luck spoiling the savory chemistry of Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson.) ... If you're looking for Syfy's Fangasm behind the marvelous Face Off, you'll have to stay up an hour later, as the docu-series has been pushed back to 11/10c. This week, mentor/boss Stan Lee shows up in the flesh to listen to the interns pitch their ideas for original superheroes. ... And if you're looking for ABC's Lucky 7, tough luck. It was the season's first cancellation, and is being replaced by repeats of Scandal (10/9c), starting with last week's outrageous season opener.