1) “Country Music: Live at the Ryman,” 8-10 p.m., PBS. Next Sunday, Ken Burns’ brilliant “Country Music” begins. First, here’s a great concert — country’s best songs, done superbly. Many are jet-paced: Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Vince Gill and other gifted instrumentalists go high-octane. But there are also ballads, sung with heartbreaking passion – a Johnny Cash one by his daughter Roseanne … a Hank Williams one by his granddaughter Holly (shown here in a previous concert) … “Crazy,” sung with stunning power by Rhiannon Giddens.
2) “Black Girls Rock Awards,” 8-11 p.m., BET. It’s a night of musical overload, with rock and country concerts colliding; watch one, record the other. This one has music from India.Ari, Monica, Erykah Badu, Ari Lennox, Elle Varner, Kiana Lede and more, backed by an all-woman band. Presenters include Brandy, Issa Rae and both Miss America and Miss USA. Niecy Nash hosts, with special awards for Angela Bassett, Regina King, Ciara, H.E.R. and “mothers of the movement” activists.
3) Football, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC, with pre-game at 7. Most years, the Super Bowl champs get the Thursday season-opener. But this is the NFL’s 100th season, so that spot went to two of its eternal franchises – the Bears and Packers. Now the champion New England Patriots get their moment, hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last year, the Steelers were 9-6-1; the Patriots were 11-5, then boomed to Super success.
4) “Witness to Murder,” 9-11 p.m., Hallmark. The Darrow & Darrow duo is kind of tenuous: Claire (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) prefers criminal cases; Joanna (Wendie Malick), her mom, was great at corporate law … until colleagues stole her reputation and her job. Now comes a case for both of them – the murder trial of Joanna’s nemesis. That story is smart and scenes with a prosecutor (Tom Cavanagh) are excellent; they make up (partly) for some lame three-generation scenes at home.
5) “On Becoming a God in Central Florida,” 10 p.m., Showtime. For a while, Showtime seems to be repeating the mistake it made with the first season of Jim Carrey’s “Kidding” — robbing its lead character of any hope. Krystal (Kirsten Dunst) is a mom, widowed and homeless and drowning in her late husband’s pyramid-scheme debts. Then … well, there’s a surprise detour. Stick with this for a while.