TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Masterpiece Mystery,” 9 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).
Separated by almost a century, two wonderfully eccentric
writers combine for a tangled tale.
One is Agatha Christie, whose 1927 “The Big Four” is full of
odd twists, including (it seems) the death of Hercule Poirot, the master crime-solver.
The other is Mark Gatiss, who has written some terrific episodes of “Sherlock”
(in which he plays the detective’s brother) and “Doctor Who.” He’s adapted Christie’s
tale into a story that’s often overwrought, yet always interesting.
TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Manhattan” debut, 9-10:15 p.m., WGN
In the 1940s, some of America’s smartest people have moved
to a sad stretch of New Mexican desert. They’ve brought spouses, kids and idealism.
They know their work has something to do with the world war; most don’t know
it’s a race to build a super bomb before the Nazis do.
This is a complex story for casual TV viewing, but stick
with it. There are human stories about the scientists – all fictional, except
for Robert Oppenheimer – and their families. And there’s the rich direction of
Thomas Schlamme (“West Wing”), who brings a bleak-but-optimistic world to life.
TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Strain,” 10 p.m., FX.
This intriguing hybrid juggles two forms: It’s partly a
global thriller, a medical mystery that could see humanity destroyed; and it’s
partly just a gruesome and gory horror tale.
Originally, only four people had survived whatever virus
rippled through an airliner. One was the pilot, but he’s deteriorating; now Centers
for Disease Control doctors try desperately to keep him alive. Meanwhile, a
Holocaust survivor, familiar with devastation, tries to stop this from
Other choices include:
“The Simpsons,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., Fox. The first rerun finds
Bart cheating to win a school race. The second sees Homer the hero, delivering
a baby in an elevator.
“Unforgettable,” 9 p.m., CBS. A Coast Guard officer was
killed after being thrown out of a restaurant by a celebrity chef. Also, some
explosives are missing. Carrie tries to link these mismatched events.
“Reckless,” 10 p.m., CBS. The show’s primary story – the
firing of a policewoman who says she was drugged before appearing in a sex tape
– continues; tonight, the case creates a moral dilemma for Knox, who may run
for mayor. Meanwhile, Jamie and Roy, opponents on that case, link on another.
“Gunslingers,” 10 p.m., American Heroes Channel. Billy the
Kid’s story has been told – and mis-told – often, including in the movie “The
Left Handed Gun.” (The Kid wasn’t left-handed, this interesting hour says; the
only photo of him was a reversed image.) He was befriended by a rancher whose
horse he tried to steal. When the rancher was killed by a corrupt sheriff,
retaliation began; so did some epic escapes.
“Falling Skies,” 10:01 p.m., TNT. At last, Tom is back with
his family and his rebel unit. Then he faces fresh trouble, when Lexi has a
“The Lottery,” 10:01 p.m., Lifetime. Last week’s opener
found the government taking control in a world that’s suddenly unable to re-produce.
A scientist saw her breakthrough project seized; a widower saw his son Elvis –
one of few surviving children – taken. Now Elvis faces a medical crisis.