It’s pretty clear-cut with most people: either you look forward to the Super Bowl, or you’d rather watch anything else. When the hometown team plays in the championship game it’s always extra special. The rest of the week has plenty happening, with several season premieres and a new show on an obscure channel vying for your attention.
Monday, January 26
Night Will Fall (9-10:30 pm, HBO)
It’s a documentary about a documentary: at the end of World War II the British and American governments commissioned a film about the Holocaust and the Nazis’ concentration camps, utilizing a team of directors supervised by Alfred Hitchcock. But the project was left incomplete and rarely seen, and the final reel was missing until a few years ago. Tonight’s presentation includes footage from the film alongside interviews with camp survivors, liberating soldiers, and the filmmakers including Hitchcock, project leader Sidney Bernstein, and Billy Wilder.
Also tonight: another new season of Top Gear (the 22nd, but who’s counting? 8:30-10 pm, BBC America) followed at 10 by new companion show Mud, Sweat & Gears; part one of a difficult to watch but worthy three-part series on human trafficking, A Path Appears (10-11:30 pm, PBS); and the series premiere of Ellen’s Design Challenge (9-10 pm, HGTV).
Tuesday, January 27
Sirens (10-11:02 pm, USA)
This comedy about Chicago EMTs was co-created and is co-executive produced by Denis Leary, but he does not appear on camera. The show is a lot closer in tone to his first series, The Job, than to Rescue Me. (Leary will be appearing in a new FX series later this year.) Season two starts tonight with back-to-back episodes, and it looks like USA is planning to continue airing two per week.
Wednesday, January 28
The Americans (10-11 pm, FX)
The Reagan-era Cold War spy drama, absolutely one of the best shows currently on TV, returns tonight for its third season. Frank Langella guest stars as the Jennings’ new handler.
Thursday, January 29
Fortitude (10 pm-12 am, Pivot)
Pivot is a channel I hadn’t heard of until now. I also didn’t know it was on my cable system. (If you have Comcast it’s channel 231.) Its first original drama is a mystery-thriller about a murder in a remote Arctic village that stars Stanley Tucci, Christopher Eccleston, Michael Gambon, and Richard Dormer. (Two-episode premiere)
Friday, January 30
Key & Peele (10-11 pm, Comedy Central)
A K&P Super Bowl special seems like it was predestined. Is a pro championship version of the East-West Bowl sketch too much to hope for?
Saturday, January 31
NFL Honors (9-11 pm, NBC)
It’s a slow night, folks, otherwise I wouldn’t bother to mention this self-congratulatory awards show (MVP, Coach of the Year, that sort of thing) hosted by Seth Meyers. (Meyers is also host of an SNL clip show of sports-themed sketches airing from 8-9 pm.)
Sunday, February 1
What could be happening tonight that’s worth watching? I know that for many “football game” is not the answer, so as I did last year I’m offering some suggested alternatives: the major networks are all going with repeats, but there is a new episode of Downton Abbey on PBS from 9-10 pm; Comedy Central has alternating two-hour blocks of Key & Peele and Futurama repeats; AMC has its now-customary Walking Dead marathon; Puppy Bowl XI airs from 3-5 pm on Animal Planet, then repeats every two hours; Kitten Bowl II does the same thing, but in three-hour blocks on Hallmark starting at noon.
For those who do care, kickoff is at 6:30 pm on NBC, and in case you hadn’t heard Katy Perry is performing at halftime with Lenny Kravitz. And a reminder: The Blacklist returns after the game, scheduled to start at 10:30 pm but subject to change.
This one’s been on my personal want-to-see list for a while. For whatever reason I didn’t start watching it when it first came on, and each year I would intend to get caught up but it never happened. Chuck is an ordinary guy who accidentally gets a mass of critical government information implanted into his mind, making him an extremely valuable asset in need of protection and the target of numerous nefarious people and organizations. The show managed to blend sci-fi, action, and laughs, and had a Community-esque number of near-cancellations but got to craft an ending to its story. (Five seasons, 91 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.)