1) “American Idol” season-opener, 8 p.m. Sunday, ABC. One of the reality-show giants is back for its 19th season – and its fourth on ABC. Last spring, “Idol” did an impressive job of adjusting to COVID, getting some strong at-home performances from winner (called Just Sam), shown here, and others. This year starts with auditions confined to three California locations – Los Angeles, San Diego and Ojai. Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie are again the judges, with Ryan Seacrest hosting … as he’s been doing since the opener, in the summer of 2002.
2) “Clarice” debut, 10 p.m. Thursday, CBS. Three decades after “Silence of the Lambs” won the best-picture Oscar, a sequel series arrives. Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster’s role in the movie) is the FBI agent who caught a serial killer. A year later, she wants to stick to a desk job, but is nudged into the field. Beautifully directed, with great work from Rebecca Breeds as Clarice, this has a quality-drama feel. Still, it has unneeded flashbacks (brief, but gory) and the cliché of higher-ups who just get in the way.
3) “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” 8 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. At times, this is bright, bouncy and fun. You get that, when the central character can hear people’s thoughts via pop songs. But it also takes serious detours; the best one started last week, when Simon (John Clarence Stewart) pointed to the systemic racism in his company. Now come the aftershocks. It’s a great hour, with all the songs by Black writers, performed superbly by Black (Stewart, Alex Newell as Mo) and Brown (Kapil Talwalkar) actors.
4) ”This Is Us” return, 9 p.m Tuesday., NBC. This show hit viewers with a jolt – then vanished for a month. In the Jan. 12 episode, Randall phoned Kevin to soothe their differences. Kevin couldn’t talk; he was driving frantically from Vancouver, to be with Madison, who had gone into labor with their twins. Then the hour ended … and a promo showed Kevin’s car crashed. Now TV’s best drama finally returns. We learn what happened to Kevin; also, in flashbacks, his dad takes him to football camp.
5) “Black Lightning” season-opener, 9 p.m. Monday, CW. Life is getting lonely for Jefferson Pierce, the former high school principal who uses his superpowers to become Black Lightning, battling villains. He and his ex-wife still disagree about the vigilantism that includes both their daughters. As last season ended, Bill Henderson, a cop and his friend, saved him from a sniper, then was killed. With Pierce in mourning, Peter Gambi – his foster father, who knew his late father – gets a fresh opportunity.
6) “Nature: Big Bend: The Wild Frontier of Texas,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, PBS. Sprawling over 800,000 acres of West Texas, the Big Bend National Park has vast vistas. Much of it is desert, including 118 miles of the Mexican border; the temperature can hit 100 in the spring, then plunge 60 degrees at night. This stark world offers gorgeous sights– towering bluebonnet flowers … beavers cavorting in the Rio Grande … and bighorn sheep: Seven were released in 1973; now more than 1,000 roam the mountains.
7) “Tough as Nails” season-opener, 8 p.m. Wednesday, CBS. A ratings success this summer, “Tough” again pits people in blue-collar tasks. The contestants range widely in size – from Scott Henry, a 6-foot-7 construction superintendent to Celi Garcia, a 5-foot-2 traveling nurse. There’s another construction worker, plus a welder, a mason and a bricklayer. Others repair tracks, work on a tugboat and drive a UPS truck. There’s also a retired combat pilot, a steelworker named Swifty and a lineman called Zeus.
8) Valentine movies. Sunday is Valentine’s Day, so CMT has upbeat musicals – “Mamma Mia” (2008) at noon and 7:30 p.m., “Grease” (1978) at 2:30 and 10. “Grease 2” at 5 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.. Also, Turner Classic Movies stuffs the weekend with romance – “Casablanca” (1942) and “West Side Story” (1961) at 8 and 10 p.m. PT Friday, “Roman Holiday” (1953) and “Pillow Talk” (1959) at 8 and 10:15 p.m. Saturday, “Age of Innocence” (1993) and “The Way We Were” (1973) at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
9) “Lincoln: Divided We Stand” debut, 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET Sunday, CNN. Abraham Lincoln was 10 when his widowed father remarried. The new stepmother brought furniture, cooking gear and books – which changed Abe’s life. He hated farmwork (despite his physical strength), but loved to read, write and tell stories. With virtually no education – and his father’s disdain for learning – he became a lawyer, a one-term congressman, a failed Senate candidate … and president. Here’s the start of a fascinating portrait.
10) ALSO: The “Hip Hop Uncovered” opener (10 p.m. Friday on FX) isn’t for everyone, with its harsh language and attitudes. Still, it’s a frank and fascinating look at the music’s roots in poverty and violence. Another non-fiction series, “Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy,” debuts at 9 p.m. and midnight ET Sunday on CNN. And at 10 p.m. Sunday, two mini-series – well-crafted and sometimes disturbing – have their finales. It’s “The Long Song” on PBS and Bryan Cranston’s “Your Honor” on Showtime.