1) “Abby’s” debut, 9:30 p.m. Thursday, NBC. A quarter-century after “Cheers” closed its doors, NBC has a new Thursday bar. It’s outdoors and probably illegal. Its proprietor (Natalie Morales) is a foot shorter than her best customer (Neil Flynn) or her worst obstacle (Neil Franklin), but she’s an ex-Marine and people obey her. Be warned that many critics dislike “Abby’s”; we disagree and find two of the barflies (played by Jessica Chaffin and the massive Leonard Ouzts) hilarious. See what you think.
2) “What We Do in the Shadows” debut, 10 p.m. Wednesday, FX. Now for a comedy that many critics find brilliant. It’s from the deep, droll wit of Jemaine Clement of “Flight of the Conchords.” He and fellow New Zealander Taika Waititi made a micro-budgeted movie about vampires who live among us in eccentric obscurity. Five years later, it’s a series with two great additions – an ever-hopeful assistant and an “energy vampire,” so dull that he sucks energy from the room. The result is an odd delight.
3) “Jane the Virgin” season-opener, 9 p.m. Wednesday, CW. As a variation on a telenovela, “Jane” delights in silly, soapy plot twists. And in the final minute of last season, it topped itself: Michael – the late husband Jane has mourned for years – is alive. That takes some explaining … which this hour does skillfully. The result has a big impact, especially on Jane. Gina Rodriguez — already a Golden Globe-winner – has a seven-minute monolog that’s simultaneously funny, forlorn and Emmy-worthy.
4) “Into the Badlands” and more, AMC. “Badlands” only has eight episodes to wrap up its sprawling story. The first aired Sunday and reruns at 8:59 p.m. today; the second follows at 10. Both have the “Badlands” touch – epic action scenes that dazzle us, despite being gory and impossible to believe. That’s in a big week for AMC. At 9 p.m. Sunday, it has the “Walking Dead” season-finale, then reruns an “enhanced” version of the pilot film for “Killing Eve,” which starts its second season a week later.
5) Sports collision, Thursday. Here’s the kind of day that keeps fans busy or dizzy. Yes, Thursday starts the second week of the college basketball tournament; CBS has games at 7 and 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT at 7:15 and 9:45. But that’s also opening day of the baseball season, always a big deal. All 30 teams have games and ESPN offers a tripleheader, featuring vintage franchises: The Yankees host the Orioles at 1 p.m. ET … the Dodgers host the Diamondbacks at 4 p.m. and the Red Sox visit the Mariners at 7.
5) “American Idol,” 8-10 p.m. today, ABC. The two music powerhouses have finally wrapped up their auditions. Tonight, NBC’s “The Voice” starts its “battle rounds,” while “Idol” continues its “Hollywood Week,” which started Sunday. That’s the stretch that packs young singers into the Orpheum Theatre, where they must try group and solo numbers. It sets up a key phase: “Idol” will start its live episodes on Monday, April 15 and will have coast-to-coast voting via ET/PT simulcasts on five Sundays.
6) “Miracle Workers” finale, 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, TBS, rerunning at 11:30. So you want high stakes? Try this: Unless our heroes prevail, mankind will be destroyed. That wraps up a series that isn’t for everyone, but ripples with wit. God (Steve Buscemi) is disenchanted with Earth. He’ll destroy it unless some minions (led by Daniel Radcliffe) pull a true miracle, getting shy strangers to kiss. So far, their efforts have failed badly … and have caused deaths. Now they only have an hour left to save the world.
7) “The Blacklist,” 8 and 9 p.m. Friday, NBC. It was easy to forget this smart show, when it was exiled to Fridays. But on a night when CBS dramas are on a basketball break, “Blacklist” gets two hours; the first has an intriguing a plot: In real life, Robert Vesco was a fugitive con man. He reportedly died in Cuba in 2007, at 71; some, however, claimed he faked his death. Now “Blacklist” has Stacy Keach, 77, playing Vesco, being hunted by Red. In the second hour, Liz investigates an organization of assassins.
8) NAACP Image Awards, 9 p.m. ET Saturday, TV One, rerunning at 11:30. This is the 50th year for the awards and the sixth straight with Anthony Anderson as host. That’s been friendly turf for him; for four straight years, “Black-ish” has been named best comedy, with Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross as best comedy actor and actress. This year, the best-movie category is especially strong, with “Black Panther,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “The Hate U Give,” “Crazy Rich Asians” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
9) “Masterpiece: Mrs. Wilson,” 9 and 10 p.m. Sunday, PBS. Ruth Wilson always knew her grandfather was no ordinary chap. He wrote 24 spy novels; he was a wounded World War I veteran, a professor and more. And when he died in 1963, his wife of 20-plus years learned of another wife and family … and then another … and then more deceptions. Fortunately, Ruth is a gifted actress; she produced this film and stars as her grandmother. It’s a fascinaing story that will be told in three hours on two Sundays.
10) “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” (2018) and more, HBO. Here’s a rare sequel that’s much better than the original. “Mamma Mia” used the scant Broadway plot — barely enough to support the ABBA songs — and let non-singers do them. This sequel has a rich, multi-generation plot and gifted singers – Lily James, Meryl Streep, even Cher. It’s 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday – leading to the “Case Against Adnan Syed” finale at 9 and the season-openers of “Barry” and “Veep” at 10 and 10:30.
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