This is it for “This is Us.”
The program that NBC has promoted as a hit after two strong episodes moves back an hour to 9 p.m. to go head-to-head with the freshman program that CBS calls the top new drama, Michael Weatherly’s “Bull.”
This is what DVRs are made for.
So far, “Bull” has had twice the live local audience at 9 p.m. than “This is Us” had at 10 p.m., though I suspect the NBC series is closer in the demographic battle for advertisers.
I’ve been on board with “This is Us” from the start, giving the pilot 3 and a half stars out of 4 in my season preview and saying that it is for the “Parenthood” crowd of family show lovers of which I was a big member.
Entertainment Weekly already gave the five key cast members the cover of its Oct. 14th episode with the headline” Fall’s Best New Show.”
NBC sent along a preview DVD of the third episode to critics. It led me to tweet this after an NBC promo ran on Oct. 1: “I previewed 3rd episode of ‘This Is Us,’ which is delayed until Oct 11 because of VP debate. Another very strong episode.”
You can’t say much more than that in a 140-character tweet.
But I will add now that the episode is warm, romantic and moving as it gives more of the back story of the three siblings that includes another big surprise about the family dynamic. So far, every episode has had a surprise.
Like “Parenthood,” each of the three episodes has moved me to tears -- or near it. The highlight in the pilot was the speech made by the doctor (played by Gerald McRaney) to the father (Milo Ventimiglia) after his wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore) lost one of her three babies at birth almost four decades ago.
My favorite relationship in the series is between the highly-successful Randall (Sterling K. Brown, who played Christopher Darden in the “People v. O.J. Simpson”) and the struggling and ailing biological father he found after 36 years, William (Ron Cephas Jones).
Tonight’s episode explores that relationship deeper, starting with a flashback of William’s decision to drop his son off at a firehouse after his birth. The episode concludes with a beautiful moment. Well, actually a couple of beautiful moments, I just can’t explain much more without giving away a secret revealed in the episode.
There also are nice moments involving the twin brother who has become an actor, Kevin (Justin Hartley) and the sister Kate (Chrissy Metz) that he relies on for emotional support even if it means potentially sacrificing her own happiness.
This is my advice tonight: Don’t miss “This is Us.” You can always DVR “Bull.”
ABC also is premiering a new comedy at 8: 30 tonight, “American Housewife,” sandwiched in between “The Middle” and “Fresh off the Boat.” I wasn't in love with the pilot.
Here is my mini-review from the season preview:
“American Housewife”: Katy Mixon stars as a woman who declares herself “the second fattest housewife” in Westport, Conn., where almost all other of the rich women are obsessed with their toned-up bodies. The best compliment they can give her is “you are so real.” Cute, but just not really funny. 2 stars