“American Experience,” 9 p.m., PBS.
The new machine age
was ruled by people like Edison and Ford – men with a cunning knack
for adding other people's ideas to their own. Lost in the process
were geniuses like Nikola Tesla.
When Tesla arrived
from Serbia in 1884, he was 28, tall, thin and rather regal. He
perfected the use of alternating current (AC), topping Edison's use
of DC. He kept trying new ideas – wind power, radio signals,
X-rays, wireless communication, even contacting aliens. Some of his
ideas were great, a few were wacky; he died broke, but now draws deep
respect, including this fascinating documentary.
“This is Us,” 9 p.m., NBC.
After three superb
episodes, we get one that is merely very good. In flashbacks, we see
the parents head to the pool with their three kids – twins, plus an
adopted son who was born the same day. Nowadays, all three face
troubles, one trying the difficult transition from TV star to New
York theater actor.
This time, the usual
realism slips a bit. Problems arise too arbitrarily; jobs appear too
easily. Still, there are spurts of great dialog delivered skillfully
– expecially by Sterling Brown. Fresh from his Emmy for “The
People vs. O.J. Simpson,” he captures another man who's wairly
juggling black and white worlds.
II: “American Housewife,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.
Like Billy Crystal
in “City Slickers,” Katie (Katy Mixon) manages to have a personal
crisis in the middle of a grade-school class. Reading a cat book, she
begins to ramble about roads not taken.
Moments like that
give this show extra oomph; so does a wayward Skype to her husband's
History 101 class. Alas, “Housewife” often loses its balance;
Katie's parenting is so dreadful – and her former job so enticing
– that it's tough to empathize with her, At least, we can enjoy the
ALTERNATIVE: “Scream” (MTV) and “Scream Queens” (Fox), both 9
You know Halloween
is near when screamers fill two networks. The “Scream” season
ended two months ago, but here's a holiday special; Noah and Stavo
create graphic novel about the murders.
original “scream queen” (Jamie Lee Curtis) runs a hospital and
plans to lure the killer by holding a Halloween party. Also hunky
doctors (John Stamos, Taylor Lautner) face a crisis.
(2012), 7-10 p.m., FX; and/or “Jerry Maguire” (1996), 9 p.m. and
midnight, Pop. Choose your Tom Cruise film tonight. He's a tough
detective in “Reacher,” which will have a sequel in theaters
Friday; he's a sports agent in “Maguire,” beautifully written and
directed by Cameron Crowe.
“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. This is slowly absorbing new cast members. Duane Henry is as a
British agent, searching for a colleague. Also, Quinn (Jennifer
Esposito) painfully tells why she left field work.
“The Middle,” 8
p.m., ABC. Axl's new girlfriend, we learned last week, is both
beautiful and empty-headed. That's fine enough for him; he keeps
driving to see her, giving Orson no way to get to class
“No Tomorrow,” 9
p.m., CW. Xavier keeps trying to convince other people that a meteor
will destroy the Earth. When his latest attempt gets him arrested,
Evie wonders if he's really crazy?
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. Don't you hate it when you're trying to
have a nice chat with your mom and people kidnap you and force you to
aid a prison break? That happenns to Sebastian.
p.m., PBS (check local listings). On the eve of the second
presidential debate, we're reminded that security problems are much
worse in Europe. Nations link poorly; until recently, they didn't
even share don't-fly lists. Borders are porous and sentences are
light: One man, convicted of promoting terrorism, was given 18
months; afterward, he led the massacre at a Paris satiric magazine.