1) “The Black Church,” 9-11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, PBS. Here is non-fiction TV at its best – joyful, passionate, yet willing to point out faults. Henry Louis Gates ranges from tiny churches with lay pastors to a 14,000-seat arena (shown here) with video screens and a band. He tells of slaves bringing religions – Christian, Muslim, more – from Africa, joining White churches, then breaking off. He points to flaws – biases against women, gays and uneducated – and strengths, rippling with music and warm memories.
2) “American Experience: Voice of Freedom,” 9-11 p.m. today, PBS. When a music school refused to let Blacks audition, Marian Anderson said, “my dreams were just shattered.” But later, when a concert hall banned her, she had power. By then, she was the world’s highest-paid singer; Arturo Toscanini had praised a “once in 100 years” voice. Her free, Lincoln Memorial concert drew 75,000 people and huge praise. This superb film links with the “Black Church” documentary, giving the week a splendid start.
3) “The Masked Dancer” finale, 8-10 p.m. Wednesday, Fox. This first season has seen some intriguing variety under those masks. There have been three musical people (Brian McKnight, Jordin Sparks and Ice-T) plus a boxer (Oscar De La Hoya), a science guy (Bill Nye), a former kidnap victim (Elizabeth Smart) and Vinny from “Jersey Shore.” The finale reviews what’s happened so far, followed by one more dance-off with Sloth, Tulip and Cotton Candy. “The Masked Singer” starts its season March 10.
4) “Clarice,” 10 p.m. Thursday, CBS. Last week’s debut focused on the young FBI agent from “Silence of the Lambs.” A year after she caught a serial killer, she was nudged into the field and told to keep quiet; she didn’t, propelling a story that will continue. Meanwhile, she’s working a new case – a murder inside a heavily armed cult. There are flaws here – a too-easy confession, the ongoing cliché of bosses who get in the way – but this is beautifully filmed, with strong work from Rebecca Breeds as Clarice.
5) “The Widower,” 10 p.m. Thursday, 9-11 p.m. Friday and Sunday, NBC. In 2009, Las Vegas police found two people dead. Thomas Randolph said he shot the masked intruder who had killed his wife. Detectives soon learned that she had a $360,000 life-insurance policy … and that he knew the other victim … and that three of his previous wives died, one with a $500,000 policy. Dan Slepian of “Dateline” looks back at the 10 years of this case – and at the others –for a true-crime documentary.
6) “The Long Island Serial Killer: A Mother’s Hunt for Justice,” 8-10:03 p.m. Saturday, Lifetime. True-crime tales, scripted and not, have been rampant. So on the eve of the “Widower” finale, Lifetime has its 400th original movie … the second in a string of five true-crime Saturdays. Kim Delaney (an Emmy-winner in “NYPD Blue”) plays Mari Gilbert, whose daughter went out as a paid escort in 2010 and never returned. Gilbert pushed police relentlessly; there was a much bigger probe and a bizarre ending.
7) “Young Rock” debut, 8 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. Let’s credit Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for trying something new – a fictionalized version of his life, bouncing between three phases. He narrates it all (indirectly) on-camera, but the key involves the three young Rocks. There’s a 10-year-old, awed by his dad (a wrestler) and his dad’s friends, including Andre the Giant. And a 15-year-old, shoplifting to get cool clothes. And an 18-year-old college football player. It’s refreshingly frank, if not terribly funny
8) “Kenan” debut, 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. Here, by comparison, is a thoroughly unoriginal show; it feels like a 1950s-’60s transplant, albeit with diversity. A widowed dad juggles life at home and at his goofy workplace, a morning TV show. The humor is mild, so the lone saving grace is the immense likability of Kenan Thompson. He scrambles to care for his daughters, with some help – but not much –from his brother (Chris Redd) and his late wife’s father (Don Johnson, trying too hard to seem funny).
9) Cable shows. “The Salisbury Poisonings” (10 p.m. today, AMC) ends powerfully, then briefly shows us the real people it portrayed. Also, several shows start their seasons. One (“Temptation Island,” 10 p.m. Tuesday on USA, rerunning at 1 a.m.) is a reality show with people who look fine in swimwear; the others are solid dramas. “Queen Sugar” is 8 and 11 p.m. Tuesday on the Oprah Winfrey Network; “Good Trouble,” adding Constance Zimmer as a tough lawyer, is 10 p.m. Wednesday on Freeform.
10) “All Creatures Great and Small” season-finale, 9 p.m.Sunday, PBS. A great PBS week ends with a busy Christmas episode. The widowed Siegfried worries about courtship … his brother wonders if the veterinary school has flunked him … their housekeeper hopes her son will visit … and James is forlorn: He never confessed his love for Helen; now she has a Christmas Day wedding. These are neatly nuanced stories, involving decent people who rarely admit their feelings, even to themselves.