TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Downton Abbey” season-opener, 9-11
p.m., PBS (check local listings).
After savoring gentle joys and pains, viewers were jolted in
the final minutes of last season: There was a sudden car crash; Matthew – new
dad, reforming head of the estate – was dead.
Jumping ahead six months, his widow Mary is still distant
and despondent; his mom feels useless, his valet is jobless. And without
Matthew, the estate’s management wobbles between Mary, her father and her
brother-in-law. As usual, “Downton” nimbly juggles soap opera and elegant human
TODAY’S MUST-SEE: Football, 1:05 p.m., CBS, and 4:40 p.m.,
The pro play-offs wrap up their first weekend, with
division-winners hosting wild-card teams.
First, San Diego (9-7) visits Cincinnati (11-5). Then San
Francisco (11-5) visits an oft-frigid Green Bay. The Packers scraped in with an
8-7-1 record … but were 6-2 when quarterback Aaron Rodgers was healthy, which
he seems to be now. This weekend’s four winners join the four teams that had a
TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Muppets” (2011), 8 and 10 p.m.,
At times after Jim Henson’s death, it seemed like the
Muppets were going to fade away. Then Jason Segel, a long-time fan, brought
them back with this clever film.
Segel links with his Muppet brother and his girlfriend (Amy
Adams) to re-unite the Muppets and put on a show. Along the way, there are some
wonderfully witty songs.
Other choices include:
“Admission,” 6:55 p.m., and “Identity Thief,” 9 p.m. (both
2013), HBO. A week before its new Sunday line-up, HBO tosses in two fairly good
comedies, first with Tina Fey and then with Melissa McCarthy. Both strain belief,
but the first finds warmth and the second has big (but scattered) laughs.
“The Simpsons,” 8 p.m. (or later, with football overrun),
Fox. Annoyed by a movie theater, Homer takes lessons (from Bart, of course) in
the art of pirating films.
“The Bachelor” preview, 8 p.m., ABC. On the eve of a new
edition, this show introduces the bachelor (former Venezuelan soccer player
Juan Pablo Galavis) and peeks at the season ahead.
“Elementary,” 8 p.m., CBS. Here’s a rerun of the hour that
was filmed in London. Holmes returns there to track a former mentor; also, his
estranged brother reveals secrets.
“The Good Wife” and “The Mentalist,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. Both
shows are back to new episodes. First, Alicia faces trouble when Will – once her
boss and friend, now her enemy – joins the opposing side in a case. Then
Patrick Jane probes the murders of three drug agents; he dates a beauty linked
to the case.
“Revenge,” 9 p.m., ABC. In the aftermath of Emily’s wedding–day
disaster, everyone becomes a suspect.
“Betrayal,” 10 p.m., ABC. Two weeks from the show’s finale, Sara
is desperate to clear her jailed lover.