There’s only one new show debuting this week, but it’s been getting promoted heavily for months now. Also this week: a do-over for a Starz show I overlooked last week, a new installment of American Experience, and a deliciously bad movie from the ‘90s.
Monday, November 17
State of Affairs (10-11 pm, NBC)
All the negative stuff said about Katherine Heigl over the past several years is irrelevant; what viewers want to know is, can she carry a show? (and second to that, I suppose, is this show any good?) Heigl plays CIA analyst Charleston “Charlie” Tucker, who is responsible for briefing the President (Alfre Woodard) each day on threats to national security. It’s not my type of show at all, but YMMV.
Tuesday, November 18
American Experience (9-10 pm, PBS)
“Cold War Roadshow” chronicles Soviet Union premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 1959 visit to the United States, during a tense period in Cold War history.
Wednesday, November 19
To Catch a Comet (10-11 pm, PBS)
It’s possible you didn’t hear about it because you were distracted by the naked ass of a certain “celebrity” (speaking of objects viewable from space…), but the European Space Agency landed a probe on a comet this past week, and this show details those efforts.
Thursday, November 20
The Colbert Report (11:30 pm-12 am, Comedy Central)
Stephen interviews Jon Stewart.
Friday, November 21
Barb Wire (9:30-11:10 pm, Flix)
This week’s bad-movie “highlight” happens to be one of the most gloriously awful movies of the past two decades. It stars Pamela Anderson as a mercenary/bar owner in a dystopian near-future and, believe it or not, it’s more or less a retelling of Casablanca. Yeah, let that sink in for a moment.
Saturday, November 22
The Missing (7:55-10:05 pm, Starz)
This one slipped by me last week: it’s an eight-part miniseries about a man’s relentless search for his son, who went missing years before. The story is told in flashbacks around the man’s present-day attempt to get the case reopened. The first episode re-airs at 7:55 pm followed by the second; subsequent new episodes will air Saturdays at 9.
Sunday, November 23
Comedians’ Night on PBS
Jay Leno and Richard Pryor aren’t usually mentioned in the same sentence, except for the fact that both were working standups performing in the 1970s. Leno may not have been an outstanding host on The Tonight Show, but his performing work, which is what got him that hosting gig, has remained strong. Tonight he is honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (8-9:30 pm), with guests including Jerry Seinfeld, Robert Klein, Chelsea Handler, Wanda Sykes, Jimmy Fallon, and others. Following is the special Richard Pryor: Icon (10:30-11:30 pm), which is a bit less of a biography than last year’s documentary Omit the Logic and a bit more of a look at how Pryor’s work has influenced other standups.
The Rockford Files (1974-80)
The 1970s and ‘80s were something of a golden era for private-eye shows (Mannix, Cannon, Magnum, P.I.). The Rockford Files remains one of the best of the genre, largely due to the writing and the ease with which James Garner inhabited the character of Jim Rockford, who lived in a trailer at the beach in Malibu. Not all TV shows from the era hold up, but this one is still fun to watch. (Six seasons, 123 episodes total)
(Note: this information is accurate as of publication time, but programming is subject to change at the discretion of channels and networks. All times listed are Eastern time.)