1) “This Is Us” season-opener, 9 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. One of TV’s best shows starts its sixth and final season. It has already drawn 38 Emmy nominations, including four for best drama series. It has won four Emmys, for Sterling K. Brown (shown here) as Randall, the businessman-turned-councilman, and for guest stars. Now Randall, Kevin and Kate – their lives in flux – celebrate their 41st birthday. That’s followed by an exceptionally good “New Amsterdam,” partly set in London, where Helen and Max have their clinic.
2) “Black-ish” season-opener, 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, ABC. Another much-lauded show starts its final season. “Black-ish” has 25 Emmy nominations, including three for best comedy series; its only win is for hair-styling. Now the opener has a major guest star – Michelle Obama. She’s coming to dinner with Dre and Bow … but other family members try to crash the party. That follows “Abbott Elementary,” starring and written by the terrific Quinta Brunson; this time, her fix-it effort goes wildly astray.
3) “Good Sam” debut, 10 p.m. Wednesday, CBS. A while back, good shows (“Prime Suspect,” for instance) generated conflict simply by having a female boss. Now it takes more: Samantha (Sophia Bush) is young … and one of her underlings (Jason Isaacs) is the former chief … and he’s her father. That sets the groundwork for what could become an excellent series. The opener has way too much medical jargon, but Sam is both smart and likable; her dad has a mix of competence and crankimess.
4) “9-1-1: Lone Star” season-opener, 8 p.m. today, Fox. The problems keep getting bigger for these folks in Austin, Texas. Last season ended with a dust storm; this one starts with a fierce blizzard … at a time when the inter-department battles leave Owen (Rob Lowe) and his people in flux. He tries to separate himself from the world … which, of course, soon shows up. Sprawling over several weeks, this is a story that skillfully mixes large action scenes with some quietly moving personal moments.
5) “The Cleaning Lady” debut, 9:01 p.m. today, Fox. Thony isn’t your typical cleaning lady. She was a doctor in Cambodia and the Philippines; now she’s in the U.S., trying to get her son a transplant. With no medical license, she works as a cleaning lady alongside her Filipino sister-in-law; then, in twists of fate, she meets the Mob. Elodie Yung, who grew up in France, with Cambodian and Chinese roots, is fine as Thony; Adan Canto and Oliver Hudson are key as a sympathetic mobster and an FBI agent.
6) “The Amazing Race,” 8-10 p.m. Wednesday, CBS. This race began almost two years ago, then was shut down by COVID for 19 months. Now it has a two-hour opener, before settling into the 9 p.m. slot. That’s in a busy reality-show week. ABC’s new “Bachelor” is 8 p.m. Monday … Fox has “I Can See Your Voice” and “Next Level Chef” at 8 and 9 p.m. Wednesday, then “Joe Millionaire” (two guys, one rich and one not) at 8 p.m. Thursday. Then CBS starts the “Undercover Boss” season at 8 p.m. Friday.
7) January 6 specials. On the anniversary of the Capitol breach, networks plan special coverage. There are documentary movies, one a rerun (“Four Hours at the Capitol,” 5:30 p.m. Thursday, HBO2 and any time on HBO Max) and two new: “Homegrown: Standoff to Rebellion” reaches Hulu on Wednesday and ABC Live on Thursday; “Preserving Democracy” is 9 p.m. Thursday on PBS. ABC interviews Capitol guards Wednesday in its newscast and “Nightline,” and has features in Thursday news shows.
8) “Women of the Movement” debut, 8-10 p.m. Thursday, ABC. Once a star student, Mamie Till had settled into being a young mother in Chicago. In the summer of 1955, she reluctantly agreed to let her son Emmett, 14, visit his cousins in Mississippi; he was abducted and killed, in a case that spurred the civil rights movement. His mother became a teacher (with bachelor and master degrees) and an activist; her story is told in this six-hour, three-week mini-series and in a documentary at 10:01 p.m. Thursday.
9) “Call Me Kat” season-opener, after football (about 8 p.m. ET) Sunday, Fox. In its first season, this Mayim Bialik show was light and loose and fun. Now it returns with an especially good episode. It starts with clever nods to “Blossom,” which began 30 years ago with Joey Lawrence and Michael Stoyanov as Bialik’s brothers and Jenna Van Oy as her friend; then it has an oddity for Kat – a choice of boyfriends. That’s followed by the fairly funny “Pivoting,” with three women pondering changes.
10) “All Creatures Great and Small” season-opener, 9 p.m. Sunday, PBS. The first season ended with lives tattered. James worried that Helen would marry; she didn’t, but he was still afraid to mention his feelings for her. Tristan flunked his vet-school exam, but his brother hid the letter and told him he’d passed. Now the season starts with some big laughs (involving a dead bird) and warmth (involving Helen’s sister). It’s an excellent hour – much better than the “Vienna Blood” two-parter that starts at 10.