Among last week's more encouraging TV signs: On the first Tuesday of the official fall season, it felt a bit like a return to the good (or at least simpler) old days when network TV was the dominant game in town, and crowded time periods could support more than one hit. In prime time's starting position of 8/7c, there appear to be three blockbusters duking it out: NBC's The Voice, with its irresistible blind auditions still in progress; ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., attracting all the right demographics; and CBS's big-tent crowd-pleaser NCIS, which commands extra attention this week as a fan favorite takes a final bow. All did well and are hoping for repeat business this week.
The payoff teased in the NCIS episode titled "Past, Present and Future" is all about Ziva (Cote de Pablo) and Tony (Michael Weatherly), as he goes to Israel in search of his partner — and longtime combatant in the ever-popular game of Unrelieved Sexual Tension — while the rest of the reunited team stays stateside to hunt for terrorists. I wouldn't give spoilers even if I'd seen the episode, but here's a link to TV Guide Magazine's exclusive interview with Cote de Pablo in case you missed it. And if we're to believe the promos, this core couple will get to say a very affectionate goodbye. Which only seems right.
Meanwhile, on S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his crew jet to Peru to track an object known only as "0-8-4," but he may succumb to a little Love Potion No. 9 of his own when he encounters the lovely Commandante Camilla Reyes (Leonor Varela, who may be familiar as the ill-fated Marta Del Sol/Victoria Martinez on the Dallas reboot).
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COMEDY TONIGHT: Schmidt (Max Greenfield) stringing along both of his girlfriends was not only an unlikely scenario, it was a disaster waiting to happen, and when BFF Nick (Jake Johnson) learns his secret on a pivotal episode of Fox's New Girl (9/8c), the complications are both hilarious and brutal in the night's best comedy episode. ... On Fox's promising new police comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine (8:30/7:30c), the relationship between Jake (Andy Samberg) and inscrutable Capt. Holt (Andre Braugher) takes an interesting twist when the star detective hits a slump. The biggest laughs come as brown-nosing Amy (Melissa Fumero) and the awesomely intimidating Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) try to win over a class of at-risk youths. ... And having disposed of James Franco, Fox's The Mindy Project (9:30/8:30c) introduces yet another doctor who rubs Mindy the wrong way: a frat boy living life "to the bro-ist," played by new cast regular Adam Pally (a standout on Happy Endings). But Mindy's even more perplexed about what's up with her holier-than-thou fiancé Casey (Anders Holm), back form Haiti and considering a new calling — as a DJ? ... As a contrast to the idealized TV dads of the '80s, Jeff Garlin is already getting tiresome, incessantly bellowing as he walks around the house in his underwear, by the second episode of ABC's The Goldbergs (9:01/8:01c), where everyone's a "moron." And while papa Murray awkwardly tries to reconnect with his sullen adolescent daughter (Hayley Orrantia), mom Beverly (the terrific Wendi McLendon-Covey) has her own issues with growing pains, when baby of the family Adam (Sean Giambrone) rebels against the "adorable" results of her 7th-grade back-to-school shopping spree. Once again, it's Pops (George Segal) to the rescue.
THE TUESDAY GUIDE: Original NCIS: LA cast member Peter Cambor returns again this week (9/8c, CBS) as Operational Psychologist Nate Getz, called in to help Sam and Deeks get over their torture trauma. ... A demoted Carter (Taraji P. Henson) is yoked to a new rookie partner (Brian Wiles) on CBS's Person of Interest (10/9c), while Team Machine is sent to help an Internet data broker who gets a taste of his own medicine when his privacy is invaded. ... Another busy Tuesday night for Sarah Shahi, who's on the aforementioned case as POI series regular Shaw, while returning to her recurring role on NBC's Chicago Fire (10:01/9:01c) as Renee, who's about to be confronted by Severide (Taylor Kinney) on matters related to paternity. I think we can see where this is headed. ... ESPN's acclaimed 30 for 30 documentary series returns with Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau (8/7c), about the triumphant life and tragic death of the renowned big-wave surfer.