1) “This Is Us,” 9 p.m., NBC. TV’s best drama series is in top form when using flashbacks to tell a story. Now it has a big one: Randall (Sterling K. Brown, shown here) grew up without knowing his birth parents. He later found his dad (now deceased), who believed that the mom had died shortly after giving birth. Last week brought news that she lived a full life before dying in Louisiana; now he goes there. That’s surrounded by the amiable “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” at 8 p.m. and an OK episode of “Nurses” at 10.
2) “The Resident” season-opener, 8 p.m., Fox. The season will be set in a post-pandemic era, sometime in the near (one hopes) future. First, however, this terrific opener straddles both eras: Post-pandemic, there’s joy (the wedding of Conrad and Nicolette) and the aftermath of tragedy. But we also flash back to the virus first taking hold. The hospital CEO, a one-dimensional villain until now, gets new depth. Dr. Cain remains constant – overconfident, under-ethical, skilled. The result is potent and well-crafted.
3) “Prodigal Son” season-opener, 9 p.m., Fox. Late in the hour, there’s a sudden, strong look at systemic racism. Mostly, though, “Prodigal” stays in its universe – over-the-top murder stories that require the suspension of disbelief. It opens on a building ledge; it closes its main story with a duel involving medieval weapons. In between is a heightened (but well-acted) tale, complete with guillotine.
4) “American Portrait,” 9 p.m., PBS. Jessica Macias has wanted to be a teacher almost forever. At 5, she would come home and have parents and siblings be her students. But after three years, her job vanished amid cuts by the Chula Vista, Cal., schools. This views a lonely job search, plus other people dealing with their work. It’s an excellent hour, as are the ones around it: At 8 p.m., “Finding Your Roots” follows Nancy Pelosi and others; at 10, “Frontline” reruns a superb look at conspiracy sites.
5) “Two Sentence Horror Stories” season-opener and “Trickster” debut, 8-10 p.m., CW. The long-delayed CW season will finally start Sunday, but the Tuesday shows (“Flash” and “Superman & Lois”) will wait until Feb. 23. That leaves room for this makeshift night of teen woes: A detention room (8 p.m.) and a basement janitor (8:30) turn nasty; then “Trickster” (9 p.m.) has an indigenous Canadian teen face disaster. The “Horror Stories” are filmed and acted with subtle skill; “Trickster” is not.
– Mike Hughes, TV America