Late March tends to be a dead zone for TV, but sometimes it’s easier to launch a new show away from the noise of other big premiere periods (see Surviving Jack below). There’s also a bunch of new stuff on PBS this week.
Monday, March 24
Independent Lens (10-11 pm, PBS)
All of Me: A Story of Love, Loss, and Last Resorts examines the issues around obesity and eating while profiling three women going through the process of weight-loss surgery.
Also tonight: the first-season finale of The Fosters (9 pm, ABC Family)
Tuesday, March 25
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge (10-11 pm, Syfy)
Special-effects artists compete in design challenges in this new reality series. The creativity and inventiveness on display are truly inspiring.
Also tonight: The Story of the Jews, a five-part history hosted by Simon Schama, a historian who wrote the books on which the series is based (8 pm, PBS; two episodes tonight, three next Tuesday).
Wednesday, March 26
Psych (9-10:07 pm, USA)
The quirky crime-solving duo Shawn and Gus say goodbye after eight seasons. USA is going through a period of turnover as several of its older, established series reach the ends of their runs, but to the network’s credit it has allowed them all final seasons to conclude their storylines. It will be interesting to see which younger shows emerge as the channel’s new standard-bearers. (By the way, there is an “After-Pshow” following tonight’s finale.)
Thursday, March 27
Surviving Jack (9:30-10 pm, Fox)
Christopher Meloni returns to a regular TV role as a gruff, no-nonsense father who has to take a more active role in caring for his teenage children when his wife decides to attend law school. Set in the early 1990s (lately TV seems to have a lot of nostalgia for the pre-internet era), it’s based on the book I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern.
Also tonight: leading up to the series finale next Monday, the cast of How I Met Your Mother visits James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio (8 pm, Bravo)
Friday, March 28
It’s one of those nights when the regular TV offerings are just okay but the movie options are pretty good: Baby Mama with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (9-11 pm, FXM); Slap Shot, an excellent sports movie from the 1970s starring Paul Newman (8-10:45 pm, IFC); The Enforcer, the third Dirty Harry movie, co-starring Tyne Daly (8-10:30 pm, Reelz); and Deliverance, starring Burt Reynolds and still disturbing more than 40 years later (6:30-9 pm, Sundance).
Saturday, March 29
Saturday Night Live (11:29 pm-1:03 am, NBC)
Louis CK hosts for the second time, with musical guest Sam Smith.
Sunday, March 30
Call the Midwife (8-9 pm, PBS)/Mr. Selfridge (9-11 pm, PBS)
Neither of these shows draws as large or as fervent an audience as Downton Abbey, but either one should satisfy your desire for British period drama. Midwife is starting its third season, Selfridge its second.
The Job (2001-02)
Denis Leary’s first venture into series television, a comedy about NYPD detectives, lasted just two abbreviated seasons on ABC, but it introduced some of the key themes (the struggle for a work-life balance, the damaged people drawn to public-service jobs) he would continue to explore in subsequent shows Rescue Me and Sirens. Many of the cast members (Lenny Clarke, Adam Ferrara, Diane Farr, Bill Nunn) went on to regular or semi-regular roles on Rescue Me, Sirens, or both. (19 episodes total, not exactly a cliffhanger ending but not a definitive wrap-up either.)