1) “Mr. Mayor” debut, 8 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday, NBC. Neil (Ted Danson, shown here) looks like a mayor; he’s tall and silver-haired. But when it comes to government, he has no experience or goals; he ran to impress his teen daughter, who remains unimpressed. This is a slickly written comedy from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” duo. The first episode is good, the second is big, broad and very funny; both get strong support from Holly Hunter and Bobby Moynihan.
2) “All Creatures Great and Small” debut, 9 p.m. Sunday, PBS. This began in 1970, with the first of eight semi-autobiographical novels about a Yorkshire veterinarian. That became a movie and 90 episodes of a TV series; now it’s retold from the start. Fresh from school, James is home and jobless; then he gets to work with a demanding vet, his undemanding brother and a diligent housekeeper. The tone is light, the settings are attractive and the locals (including a possible love interest) are interesting.
3) “The Bachelor” opener, 8-10 p.m. today, ABC. Seven months after ABC announced its first Black “Bachelor,” we finally meet him. Matt James, 29. was a Wake Forest receiver (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) who had injuries and then a strong senior year – 40 catches, 401 yards and a brief pro try-out. He got an economics degree, works in New York and in his spare time started a project teaching kids about food and exercise. In the opener, he meets 32 women, including two lawyers, a pharmacist and a ballerina.
4) “Zoe’s Extraordinary Playlist” season-opener, 8 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. In mourning after her dad’s death, Zoey is reluctant to return to work or to see the two guys in her love life. Also, she isn’t sure if her mind will continue its trick – imagining that people reveal their deepest emotions via pop songs. That will continue, of course; it gives the show immense zest, charm and humor. And now “Zoey” leads into the 9 p.m. return of “This Is Us,” with Randall wondering if his birth mother is still alive.
5) “The Price is Right,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, CBS. This is a week when ancient game shows reacn prime time. “Price” has been around since 1956 and has been a staple of CBS’ daytime since 1972 – first with Bob Barker hosting and now with Drew Carey. For three of the next four Wednesdays, there will also be primetime editions, including celebrity guests. That starts with actor Adam DeVine, who will play for the Children’s Miracle Network, a logical link: After a childhood accident, he had 26 surgeries.
6) “Name That Tune” return, 9 p.m. Wednesday, Fox. Here’s another game that’s been around almost forever. “Tune” began on radio in 1952, moved to primetime TV (NBC and then CBS) the next year, then did daytime and two syndicated runs – one with the future Kathie Lee Gifford as vocalist. Now it has been revived with Jane Krakowski as host and Randy Jackson as the producer and bandleader. That follows “The Masked Dancer,” which in its opener (rerunning twice) unmasked rapper/actor Ice-T.
7) “The Chase” debut, 9 p.m. Thursday, ABC. This is the week “Jeopardy” airs the final Alex Trbek episodes (concluding Friday); it’s also when his three best contestants start a new show. Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter will take turns as “the chaser,” trying to catch contestants who get a head start in answering questions. That’s part of a temporary game night, resting “Grey’s Anatomy” and others. “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” will be at 8 p.m., with Craig Ferguson’s “The Hustler” at 10.
8) “Last Man Standing,” 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Fox. Tim Allen’s “Home Improvement” spent its entire, eight-year run in the Nielsen top-10 – half of it in the top four. Allen quit the show, but returned a decade later with the pleasant-enough “Last Man.” Now – in its ninth and final season – the show has
Tim (from the old show) meet Mike (from this one). There’s technical wizardry and clever writing … making up for the fact that a second plotline is awful. That follows a fun “Call Me Kat” episode at 9.
9) “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” season-opener, 9 p.m. Friday, CW. When COVID began, CW shelved its entire line-up – “Flash,: “Batwoman,” etc. – until mid-season. Those shows start returning on Jan. 17, but the unscripted Friday line-up starts early. First is improv comedy (“Whose Line Is it Anyway?”) — a new episode at 8 p.m. and rerun at 8:30. Then “Fool Us” starts its eighth year. Talented pros do magic tricks; if Penn and Teller can’t figure out how it was done, the magician gets a spot in their stage show.
10) Football play-offs, 1:05 a.m., 4:40 and 8:15 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday. After dominating the ratings this fall, pro football reaches its peak. The new format throws 14 teams into the play-offs and gives only two of them a bye. The others collide in six games this weekend, split between ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. Some of the teams clinched their play-off spots early – the Chiefs, Bills, Steelers, Packers, Saints, Seahawks and Bucs. The other seven spots were determined by Sunday’s games.