1) “American Idol” opener, 8-10 p.m., ABC. The bad news is that this gets monotonous, as judges pour out cascades of praise; we almost wish for a Simon Cowell interlude. And the good news? The praise is well-deserved; the talent is amazing. Watch one little teen (shown here) sit at the piano and give a whole new vibe to a Billy Joel tune … and another give a warm vibe to her own creation. There are even guys who look like a young Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. It’s a strong start.
2) “The Company You Keep” debut, 10 p.m., ABC. He (Milo Ventimiglia of “This is Us”) is in a family of masterful con artists; she (Catherine Haena Kim) is from an agency – the CIA – of masterful spies. Both are attractive and intelligent; both soon have a common enemy. That provides the start for a slick and, often, elegant adventure series.
3) “Magnum, P.I.,” all night, NBC. After four successful seasons, CBS dropped “Magnum.” It’s an expensive, Hawaii-based show … but it’s worth it to NBC, which has a big hole to fill on post-football Sundays. One of the CBS hours reruns at 7 p.m. today, with another (the season-finale) at 8. Then we get two new episodes, starting with a good one: A widow wants to know why her good-guy husband was killed, shortly after a mysterious blonde left.
4) “The Equalizer” return, 8 p.m., CBS. After just seven new episodes, drawing strong ratings, this took a three-month break. In the interim, its star (Queen Latifah) had a key spot at the Grammys and its co-star (Liza Lapira) had the best Christmas movie. Now Lapira gets the focus. She plays Mel, an ex-sniper, linking with her disapproving sister in an effort to rescue their brother.
5) “All Creatures Great and Small” season-finale, 9 p.m., PBS. The season had only seven episodes, including this Christmas one, but many of them were deeply moving. Under Siegfried’s stern facade, we’ve seen his unstated love of horses and of his younger brother; we’ve also seen his World War I agony. Now that collides as the new war nears. We also see his housekeeper’s unspoken romance. After a wobbly start in the first minutes, it’s a great hour.
— Mike Hughes, TV America