TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Masterpiece Mystery,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).
For PBS viewers, this is the end of a splendid era. For 25
years, David Suchet has been perfect as Hercule Poirot, fastidious
crime-solver; now “Dead Man’s Folly” is his final PBS Poirot film. (Three more
will debut on consecutive Fridays on www.acorn.tv,
which then will have all 70 Suchet tales.)
Tonight’s chapter has the usual quirks: In one burst, Poirot
suddenly grasps a plot so tangled it would make a mortal’s head explode. Still,
it’s all done against the backdrop of a village picnic, an ideal place for colorful
characters – including Poirot – to collide.
TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: Football, 8 p.m. ET, NBC.
Yes, football. It’s a wildly insignificant game – pre-pre-season,
if you will. The Giants and the Bills play in Canton, Ohio (home of the Hall of
Fame), four days before what is (otherwise) the pre-season opener.
Still, even this game gets national, primetime focus because
… well, right now everything about pro football scores big. Last season, NBC’s
Sunday games topped the Nielsen ratings; this year, the NFL has added a
half-season of Thursday games for CBS. Everyone wants football … even when it
TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Urban Jungle,” 8-11 p.m., National
Geographic and NatGeo Wild.
The “wild,” it seems, isn’t merely in the jungle. There are
coyotes in Chicago, cougars in Los Angeles. In Tahoe, people find bears in
their vacation homes; in parts of Mumbai, leopards rule the night.
That’s traced in an ambitious, two-network simulcast. It
spans the globe, to show how animals have become increasingly skilled at living
among us, sometimes unnoticed.
Other choices include:
“The Simpsons,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., Fox. In the first rerun, Bart
wants to be named the best-behaved student (really). In the second, Lisa faces
her new best friend in the race for class representative.
“The Help” (2011), 8-11 p.m., TBS. Using a light touch, this
film skillfully re-visits the segregated South.
“Rising Star,” 9-11 p.m., ABC. After six weeks of auditions,
this show has its final 13. Tonight, they sing again and then are trimmed to
eight; three weeks later, we’ll have a winner.
“Unforgettable,” 9 p.m., CBS. A parolee has been killed, and
Al – who helped convict him – is the prime suspect. Now Carrie is on her own in
trying to clear him.
“Manhattan,” 10 p.m., WGN America. Like last week’s opener, this
has gifted actors delivering rich dialog; and like last week, it’s maddeningly
difficult. The subject – physicists planning a nuclear bomb – is hard enough.
Thrown into that is the tangled tale of simeone who snuck papers out of the
lab. And at times, the lead character’s stony approach begs us to quit
watching. We won’t, at least yet.
“The Strain,” 10 p.m., FX. For the first time, these two
Centers for Disease Control officers realize the ferocity of the beyond-death
demons … and ponder what they might have to do to try to stop them. The result
continues to be a strong drama, albeit a gory one.
“The Leftovers,” 10 p.m., HBO. Nora – whose husband and
their two children were among those who vanished instantly – heads to a big-city
conference. What follows is bizarre and involving.