TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The
Abolitionists,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).
In a bold stroke, Frederick Douglass
leaped on a train and escaped from slavery. In a bolder one, he
risked his freedom in the North by becoming a speaker, author and
His story is at the center of this
compelling hour, the mid-section of a three-week “American
Experience.” We see John Brown fume, William Lloyd Garrison
struggle and Harriet Beecher Stowe triumph, as her “Uncle Tom's
Cabin” becomes the top-selling novel of her time.
TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Justified,”
10 p.m., FX.
In last week's season-opener, burglars
found a pouch hidden in the home of Raylan's father. Now Raylan heads
deep into the back country, to learn why people will kill for it.
There's much more, in an hour that
again mixes humor, drama and violence. In particular, a tough
stranger meets Raylan in the bar; stick around, because the final
moments bring a revelation.
TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Cougar Town,”
10 p.m., TBS.
“Pornography,” Laurie explains with
a sense of authority, “is named after the instrument used to
measure arousal, the pornograph.”
That's part of the odd quiltwork of
this show, which has just moved from ABC to cable. Some bits are
flat-out funny, some (Ellie trains her husband like a dog) are
stretched too far. Some are both.
That includes Jules (Courteney Cox)
trying to link with her 21-year-old son. Her attempts to grasp HBO's
“Game of Thrones” go totally awry.
Other choices include:
– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. When an
event strikes close to home, the team masses together.
– “Pioneers of Television,” 8
p.m., PBS (check local listings). This amiable series starts a new,
four-week season with this look at women in comedy. We see the
pioneers in stand-up (Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers), situation
comedies (Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore) and sketch comedy (Carol
– “Joe Schmo: The Full Bounty,” 8
p.m. to 3 a.m., Spike. First are reruns of the first two episodes, in
which one guy thinks he's on a reality show – unaware that it's a
fake, filled with actors. There are hilarious moments – especially
from Lorenzo Lamas, playing a perverse version of himself – and
then a surprise. A new hour, with a sudden injury, airs at 10 and
reruns at 11; all three rerun at midnight.
– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. A widow suspects a cover-up. Sam and Callen investigate.
– “Vegas,” 10 p.m., CBS. Frances
O'Connor, the star of movies (“A.I.,” “Madame Bovary”) and
“Cashmere Mafia,” plays Sheriff Lamb's ex-love, seeking the guy
who beat up her mom.
– “Private Practice,” 10 p.m.,
ABC. A week before the series finale, Charlotte goes into labor and a
judge has doubts about Jake's past.
– “Face Off” season-opener, 10
p.m., Syfy. Soap star McKenzie Westmore has been a smart host of this
competition for make-up people. Now she adds her dad, Michael
Westmore, who won an Oscar for “Mask” and nominations for “2010,”
“Star Trek: First Contact” and “Clan of the Cave Bear.” He's
the mentor to an interesting batch of contestants, as they design
looks for fictional kings and queens.