There are several worthwhile programs from PBS this week, along with a reboot of a classic sitcom and a few other odds and ends.
Monday, February 16
Independent Lens (10-11 pm, PBS)
African-American photographers and their work from the 19th century to today are highlighted in “Through a Lens Darkly.”
Also tonight: Stevie Wonder gets a musical tribute in Songs in the Key of Life—An All-Star Grammy Salute (9-11 pm, CBS).
Tuesday, February 17
The Italian Americans (9-11 pm, PBS)
I think it’s a little strange to air this during Black History Month, but learning about other cultures and ethnicities is always a good thing regardless of when or how it occurs. This four-hour special examining the Italian-American experience, which airs in two parts, begins in the late 19th century. (Conclusion airs next week at the same time)
Wednesday, February 18
The Apartment (8-10:15 pm, Turner Classic Movies)
Slow TV nights often lead me to see what movies are on, and this one is outstanding. Jack Lemmon plays an insurance company employee who lets his bosses use his apartment for their extramarital activities and finds that it benefits his career. Directed by Billy Wilder and also starring Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray, the movie won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.
Thursday, February 19
The Odd Couple (8:30-9 pm, CBS)
Matthew Perry is Oscar and Thomas Lennon is Felix, but really, how can this be any good? I genuinely hope that eventually TV networks will tire of this needless recycling of old shows. Just watch some episodes of the original, they must be on the internet somewhere.
Also tonight: the season three premiere of Vikings (10-11 pm, History); good riddance to Two and a Half Men (9-10 pm, CBS).
Friday, February 20
American Masters (9-10:30 pm, PBS)
Tonight’s subject is playwright August Wilson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for drama and wrote a cycle of ten plays chronicling the African-American experience decade by decade through the 20th century.
Saturday, February 21
That Metal Show (9-10 pm, VH1 Classic)
I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I did not know this exists. I guess it’s a metal-tinged talk show and it’s returning for its second season; tonight’s guest is Geddy Lee. Also: VH1 Classic still exists?
Also tonight: the 30th Film Independent Spirit Awards (10 pm-12:30 am, IFC), hosted this year by Kristen Bell and Fred Armisen.
Sunday, February 22
87th Academy Awards (8:30-11:30ish pm, ABC)
Neil Patrick Harris continues his quest to host every major awards show.
This intense, gripping mystery series about the death of a child in a small town aired on BBCA in 2013, and unless you’re a TV superfan it’s more likely that you’ve heard someone else talk about it than that you actually saw it yourself. Fox remade it this past fall as Gracepoint, with David Tennant once again playing the role of the lead detective (with an American accent), but even though it was well made it couldn’t escape from the shadow of its far superior predecessor. Season two is approaching (it begins March 4th) so this is an ideal time to marathon season one. (Eight episodes)
(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.)