“This is Us,” 1-11 p.m., USA.
In an era when new
shows draw shrugs, this has soared,. Ratings have been good, praise
has been high. The American Film Institute called it one of the
year's 10 best; the Critics Choice awards named it “most exciting
new series.” The latter also nominated it for best drama, as did
the Golden Globes.
We won't spoil any
surprises here. Watch the opener, with a doctor subtly transforming
lives. He's superbly played by Gerald McRaney, who comes back briefly
in the third episode (3 p.m.) and is key to the tenth (10 p.m.),
which has compelling moments that set up NBC's next new hour, at 9
“Ransom,” 8 p.m., CBS.
Let's credit CBS for
inserting a new, scripted series into a night that's been a profit
center for reruns and non-fiction. It does that by splitting the
costs between production companies in Canada (which makes excellent
TV), France, Germany and the U.S.
The show centers on
a hostage negotiator, but this hour – its first Saturday one, after
a Sunday debut – is different: A top baseball prospect needs a
specific bone marrow ... which is being ransomed.
Football, 4:35 p.m. ET ESPN, 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC.
The wild-card teams
get their shots today and Sunday, in games that will trim the Super
Bowl field to eight. First are the Oakland Raiders; they had a great
season (12-4), but their quarterback was injured and his back-up was
banged up last week. Suddenly, Connor Cook – who had never before
dressed for a pro game – was playing; he may now be facing the
Houston Texans (9-7).
Then it's the
Detroit Lions (9-7), whose quarterback has been playing with a
throwing finger in a splint. He's done well with it – but the Lions
have lost three straight; they visit the Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1).
“The River Wild”
(1994), 7:08 p.m., Starz; or “Julie & Julia” (2009), 8 p.m.,
Pop. Two first-rate movies offer opposite views of Meryl Streep. In
one, she's an action hero, saving her kids from nasties; in the
other, she's Julia Child in flashbacks, as a modern woman (Amy Adams)
tries to master her recipes.
special, 8 p.m., ABC. In a rerun of an hour that followed Monday's
“Bachelor” season-opener. Kimmel talks to Nick Viall (the new
bachelor) and others.
8 p.m., Fox. In an instant rerun of Friday's season-opener, Ichabod –
stunned by Abbie's death – is in Washington, D.C., with her sister,
searching for the next Witness.
“Now More Than
Ever,” 8 p.m. ET, CNN, rerunning at 10. If you missed this in its
debut Sunday, catch it now. With frankness and detail, we get a
history of Chicago, the band that's now in its 50th year.
“Star,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. This rerun of Wednesday's episode has great music, compelling
characters ... and an overheated plot that wants us to think someone
needs $30,000 to make a music demo for a festival.
9 p.m., CBS. Here's a rerun of the episode that brought Paget
Brewster back to the show, as Emily Prentiss. She helps probe the
disappearance of three women.
“World War Z”
(2013), 10 p.m., FX. Brad Pitt tries to save the world from a zombie
overload. Apparently, that's just one of our problems. This is
preceded at 8 p.m. by “Underworld Awakening” (2012), with
vampires and werewolves and such.