1) “Van Helsing” season-opener, 10 p.m., Syfy. After four seasons with Vanessa Van Helsing (shown here) in a near-future world, this goes back to the roots of vampire-hunting: It starts its final season with three episodes set in old Romania. This opener was beautifully directed by Jonathan Scarfe, a gifted actor (and son of Canadian star Sara Botsford) who later will return to his role as Axel. Jack (Nicole Munoz) has been flung into the past, told only to “kill the Dark One.” That’s not easy, amid castle schemes.
2) “Great Performances: Beethoven in Beijing,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS. When the “cultural revolution” raced through China in 1966, classical music collapsed. Violins were smashed, violinists were beaten; only six operas and two ballets – all of them praising the government – were approved. Then the Philadelphia Orchestra was somehow invited in 1973. Disputes would follow (including whether to do Beethoven’s Fifth), but it was a triumphant tour, shown via old film and current comments.
3) “Big Shot,” any time, Disney+. Like Bobby Knight, Marvyn Korn (John Stamos) was a basketball coach with anger issues; in arage, he threw a chair. In this case, however, the chair injured a referee; now the only job Korn can get is at a private girls’ high school. This could have been a loopy comedy, but David E. Kelley (“Ally McBeal,” “Big Little Lies”) co-wrote the opener, helping craft a light drama about changing lives.
4) More streaming. When was the last time you saw a musical about a half-alligator guy? “Arlo, the Alligator Boy” debuts today on Netflix; it’s animated, saving someone a lot of make-up. Also today, Netflix adds “Frank of Ireland,” a broad comedy series. And fans of “Younger” can finally see the show conclude. Four episodes arrived Thursday on Paramount+ and Hulu; the other four will arrive weekly.
5) ALSO: It’s road-trip time at 8 p.m.: On NBC’s “The Blacklist,” Red visits a rural friend; CBS’ “MacGyver” visits Bozer’s hometown, where his aunt – who had been exposing a contaminated-water crisis – has died. And for truly great drama, catch “A Man For All Seasons” (1966), at 8 p.m. on Turner Classic Movies. The true story of an ethical man amid 16th-century corruption, it won Academy Awards for best picture, director, script, actor (Paul Scofield), costumes and cinematography.