1) “This Is Us” season-opener, 9-11 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. Here’s a sign that TV is nudging back to normal: The best broadcast-network drama returns – sooner than first announced and with back-to-back episodes. Birthdays are big here – shared by Kevin, Kate and their adopted brother Randall. Now it’s their 40th, amid gloom. Their mom left to try an experimental Alzheimer’s treatment; as last season ended (shown here), Kevin blamed Randall for her decision and blurted out that he wishes his parents never adopted him. It could be tense.
2) “American Housewife” season-opener, 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, ABC. This is another, lighter sign of normalcy: All four ABC comedies are now in place. This episode was supposed to be last season’s finale; Kate goes to extremes to make sure Taylor graduates from high school. That’s followed at 9 by “The Conners,” which is full-circle: Darlene and Becky work at the same factory their mom and aunt did, 32 years ago. Also, the Conner family must adjust quickly, when the city discourages Halloween.
3) “Superstore” season-opener, 8 p.m. Thursday, NBC. And one more opener, this one greeting the pandemic head-on. We’re back in its early days, when the employees are startled to be considered essential. In some fairly funny scenes, they deal with the early confusion over masks, lines and hoarding; an attempt to hide away some items for themselves ends hilariously. Meanwhile, America Ferrera, who stars as Amy, is leaving. Her final episode, next week, is bleak, but this one is mostly fun.
4) “City So Real,” 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET Thursday, National Geographic. Many of Steve James’ best films have been shot in Chicago. There was “Hoop Dreams” (“the great American documentary,” Roger Ebert said) and “America to Me” and “Life Itself” and more. Now he tackles the entire city, with a sweeping film shot during the 2019 mayoral race and the trial of a Chicago cop who shot a Black teen. Vivid contrasts start with two barber shops, one popular with Blacks, the other with retired cops.
5) “A Swingin’ Sesame Street Celebration,” 9 p.m. Friday, PBS. “Sesame” began, 51-plus years ago, with the best of everything – sharp humor, vibrant visuals and snappy music. “I grew up loving the show,” says Wynton Marsalis, 59. Now his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra plays “Sesame” songs, often with fresh arrangements. We get the expected hits (“Sing,” “Sunny Day,” “Rubber Duckie”) and stars (Ernie, Elmo) and more. The longer version we saw included a festive “Put Down the Duckie.”
6) “Filthy Rich,” 9 p.m. today, Fox. It’s Mardi Gras time, which should be perfect for these characters – brash people who mask their real feelings. The guys are determined to steal control of the evangelism-TV empire run by the widowed Margaret. But Margaret (Kim Cattrall) is crafty … and isn’t a widow. Her husband (Gerald McRaney) survived a plane crash and is lurking nearby. Also, a sex scandal could scuttle the governor’s election campaign. It’s a silly, soapy hour … but sometimes an entertaining one.
7) “Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event,” 9 p.m. today; “Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy,” 9 p.m. Thursday, CBS. Both hours have celebrities – Lin-Manuel Miranda and Wilber Valderrama are in both – and music. Tonight’s performers are Pitbull, Juanes, Luis Fonsi, Kelsea Ballerini and Gloria Estefan, who hosts with Ricky Martin and Eva Longoria; Thursday has Shawn Mendes, Offset, Dan + Shay and Alicia Keys, who hosts with America Ferrera and Kerry Washington.
8) “Connecting,” 8:30 p.m. Thursday, NBC. At first, this was mostly fun – seven mismatched friends, communicating online during the pandemic. Then the George Floyd video surfaced. Last week, Michelle tried to multi-task her work, while fielding well-meaning calls from white colleagues. Now her brother Ben has ominous symptoms, just before taking her husband Garrett to a protest rally. This is a comedy-drama that’s (temporarily) short on comedy; still, the likable characters hold our interest.
9) “Masterpiece: Roadkill” opener, 9 p.m. Sunday, PBS. Peter (Hugh Laurie) is a British politician with a common-man touch. He’s just won a suit against a newspaper that accused him of foul deeds … but does he have bigger things to hide? By the end of the first week, we’ll know that secrets (sexual, mostly) abound. By the end of the second, we’re hooked. The political people are interestingly enigmatic, but others – especially a reporter and Peter’s three daughters – are easy to root for.
10) Much more. “Big Brother” has just two episodes left – 8 p.m. today and 9-11 p.m. Wednesday on CBS. PBS has strong documentaries, led by a rerun of “Frontline: The Choice” (compelling Trump-Biden profiles) from 9-11 p.m. Tuesday and a “Nature” look at the Australian wildfires at 8 p.m. Wednesday. And on Halloween (Saturday), FXX reruns all 31 previous “Simpsons” episodes of “Treehouse of Horror.” The 32nd one – a good one, delayed by baseball – is 8 p.m. Sunday on Fox.