TV column for Friday, Sept. 26

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The Amazing Race” season-opener, 8
p.m., CBS.

For its 25th season, “Race” slides from one of
the highest-viewership nights (Sundays), to one of the lowest. Still, we can expect
the skill that has brought 10 best-reality-competition Emmys in 12 years.

This edition has plenty of couples – three dating, one
engaged and two married; that includes Bethany Hamilton (who returned to
surfing after losing an arm to a shark at age 13) and her husband. There are
also sisters, friends and a mother-daughter duo. They’ll try to race 26,000
miles in eight countries.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Live From Lincoln Center,” 9 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings).

Other networks avoid stage performances, unless there’s a
prize involved. PBS savors them; over the next 11 Fridays, it will include two
theater events (“Porgy and Bess” and “The Nance”), several concerts (Tony
Bennett and Lady Gaga, Kristin Chenoweth, an “Austin City Limits” anniversary)
and more.

First is this hybrid -- the New York Philharmonic’s semi-staged
concert production of Stephen Sondheim’s powerful “Sweeney Todd.” Bryn Terfel,
an operatic bass-baritone, sings the title role of the demon barber; Emma
Thompson is his pie-baking companion

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Shark Tank” season-opener, 8 and 9
p.m., ABC.

The new season quickly hits the extremes. One notion has
several investors tossing around big-money offers; another is proclaimed by
Kevin O’Leary as “one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard.”

During that first hour, we hear such phrases as “re-engineering
the athletic sock” and “pre-revenue” (in short, they’ve made zero so far) and “put
the ‘man’ in ‘manicure.’” And yes, these sometimes work; an update shows six
products (including dog food created by a 10-year-old) that have soared.

Other choices include:

 “The Mysteries of
Laura,” 8 p.m., NBC. In a rerun of Wednesday’s episode, a woman has been killed
after making a date Online. Now Laura (Debra Messing) must go undercover.

“Gotham,” 9 p.m., Fox. If you missed Monday’s debut, here
(after an 8 p.m. “Utopia”) is a second chance to enter Gotham City at its low
point, before Batman emerged. The story gets a bit monotone, heavy on the
darkness and torture; still, the visuals are gorgeous as “Gotham” creates its
own world.

“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. While other networks are
content to include Friday reruns, CBS has a full night of season-openers. This
one offers a scheme that also spiced this summer’s “24”: Terrorists have seized
control of armed drones; now they’re using them against regular people.

“Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. Two police detectives, Danny
Reagan and Maria Baez, are escorting drugs to a remote incineration spot. Then
they’re attacked; she’s seriously injured, he seeks revenge.

“The Knick,” 10 p.m., Cinemax. After a flashback preamble, “Knick”
quickly hits overdrive. Irishmen are convinced a black man has killed an Irish
cop; soon, a race war erupts. Most intriguing is how far some of the characters
have gone. When “Knick” started, the chief surgeon (Clive Owen) was a bigot and
the ambulance driver was a rude oaf; now both have their heroic moments. It’s a
big, tough episode that leads to some small, tender moments.