TV column for Tuesday, Nov. 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Experience,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

This had the making
of grand theater ... or disaster. In 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita
Kruschev toured the U.S. for two weeks, ranging from an Iowa corn
farm to the Hollywood set of “Can-Can.”

On one hand, this
uneducated man struck many Americans as “a warm, funny, vital
person,” historian William Taubman says. On the other, he angrily
warned that his people were “turning out missiles like sausages.”
It was a wild exaggeration, his son Sergei (now an Ivy Leaguer an and
American citizen) says in this fascinating film. “He said,
'Americans have to believe we have enough.'”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“MasterChef Junior,” 8 p.m., Fox.

Gordon Ramsay, it
seems, actually has a mother ... and a seemingly pleasant one, at
that. Ramsay – who spends TV time cursing at grown-ups –
introduces his mum; then the kids make one of her favorites –
shepherd's pie, a meat/mashed potatoes dish that some of them had
never tried.

That's preceded by
goofy fun involving tied ankles and three-legged cooking. Then 10
chefs (ages 8-13) meet Ramsay's mom Helen, a young-ish woman (she
married at 17, had four kids by 22 and has said she faced years of
spousal abuse), who tells them Gordon didn't start cooking until he
was 17.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
Mickey Mouse, 9 a.m. to 8:05 p.m., Disney Channel.

It was 86 years ago
today that “Steamboat Willie” debuted. The black-and-white
cartoon (with scattered sounds) introduced Mickey Mouse. In recent
decades, the Disney monolith has mostly ignored its classic cartoons
... but has offered a slick, new computer-animated Mickey.

That's what we get
today. A “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” marathon starts at 9. Regulars
shows take over at 2 – but with a new-style, three-minute cartoon
every half-hour; there's a new Minnie Mouse one at 2:25 p.m., then
Mickey reruns at 2:55, 3:25, etc. That concludes with a new Mickey
short at 8.

Other choices
include:

“Shark Tank,” 8
p.m., ABC. Things are rough for comedy fans. Fresh from dumping the
so-so “Manhattan Love Story,” ABC also cancelled its Tuesday
companion, the fresh and witty “Selfie.”

Reality reruns fill
in -- “Shark Tank” tonight, “Dancing With the Stars” in some
other weeks.

“The Voice,” 8
p.m., NBC. Two people will be ousted, giving the show its top 10.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. A Navy corpsman who served two Afghanistant tours is charged
with illegally providing medical aid, after she helps victims of a
crash.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. A slain sailor has bought a wedding ring and
planned to propose ... but a probe can find no evidence his
girlfriend exists.

“Agents of
SHIELD,” 9 p.m., ABC. The team has a face-off with Hydra. Also, the
terrific Hayley Atwell returns as Peggy Carter, a role she's played
in two Captain America movies, two upcoming Marvel movies, a couple
“SHIELD” episodes ... and the upcoming “Agent Carter” series.

“Marry Me,” 9
p.m., NBC. Here's the start of the annual rush of Thanksgiving comedy
episodes. This one has Annie (Casey Wilson) insisting she do the
feast – usually the province of her fiance's mom (JoBeth Williams).
Much of this is too heavy-handed, but the final minutes are quite
funny.

“About a Boy,”
9:30 p.m., NBC. Will's ex-girlfriend (Aimee Garciin a) has sued him,
insisting she co-wrote his song. And now Fiona (Minnie Driver) is
starting to sympathize with her.

“Chicago Fire,”
10 p.m., NBC. A helicopter crash fills a city block with wreckage and
injuries. Soon, Brett finds herseslf cornered by a dangerous man and
Dawson learns why the crash happened.