1) Pro football season-opener, 8:15 p.m. ET Thursday and Sunday, NBC. At a time when strikes have halted many shows, football is likely to dominate. Each year’s opener includes the Super Bowl champ; that’s Patrick Mahomes (shown here) and the Kansas City Chiefs, hosting the Detroit Lions, who were 9-8 last season. The pre-game fuss starts at 7. On Sunday, it will be the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants at night … and a flood of CBS and Fox games in the afternoon.
2) “The Masked Singer” season-opener, after football (about 8 p.m. ET) Sunday, Fox. With football ruling the TV world, Fox will use football as a springboard. On Sept. 24, it leads into the new “Krapopolis”; first, it sets up the 10th edition of “Masked Singer.” After that, the show will wait until Sept. 27 for the rest of its season. In the weeks ahead, it will have nights devoted to Elton John songs, to “Trolls” and (on Halloween week) to Harry Potter.
3) “American Masters,” 9-11 p.m. Friday, PBS. “I always had a decent sense of outrage,” Bella Abzug said. She used it powerfully in Congress, says former Rep. Charles Rangel; she “came there with a sledge hammer,” passing equal-opportunity legislation and stirring debates. She also made enemies; even friends admits she “had an ego the size of Montana” and would “scream at and charm” her aides. This beautifully captures a large life and a changing world.
4) “Secrets of Penthouse,” 9-11 p.m. today and Tuesday, A&E, with first half rerunning, 7-9 p.m. Tuesday. Here’s another large personality, but without the Bella idealism. Bob Guccione was an American artist, living in London with his wife and four kids, when he launched the explicit Penthouse magazine. It reportedly made him worth $300 million … which he blew. Here’s a portrait of a big thinker, a bad dad and a guy with a runaway ego.
5) “Inside the NFL” opener, 8 p.m. Tuesday, CW. After 46 years on cable and streaming, this makes its broadcast debut with a new panel … and new generation. One of its panelists is Chris Long, a two-time Super Bowl winner whose dad (Howie Long) does the same sort of work on Fox. Next week, this will be followed at 9 p.m. by “The Swarm,” an international thriller. This week, that hour goes to “Son of a Critch” reruns; the first is weak, the second is OK.
6) “MasterChef,” 8 and 9 p.m. Wednesday, Fox. This began with five-person teams from each of four regions. Alas, the Northeast soon lost four people. Teams were disbanded; last week, two Westerners were dumped and the lone Northeasterner (Brynn Weaver) won immunity. Now there are four from the South, two each from West and Midwest … and Weaver. Tonight’s first hour has barbecue grills; the second puts a wall between cooking partners.
7) “America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston” season-opener, 8 p.m. Wednesday, PBS. Wrapping through 246 miles of Georgia and Florida, the Suwannee River seems to bring extreme variety. Thurston canoes peacefully under a natural canopy … and roars with a jet-ski club. He meets cave divers, motorcycle riders and worshipers; he sees people who are fond of snakes, alligators and manatees. It’s a warm start to an upbeat season.
8) College football, Saturday. This is a first — primetime football on the five top commercial, broadcast networks. We sort of expect that from ABC (which has Wisconsin-Washington State at 7:30 p.m. ET), CBS (UCLA-San Diego State, 7:30) and Fox (Oregon-Texas Tech at 7). But now NBC, no longer confined to Notre Dame games, has Charlotte-Maryland art 7:30. And CW is doing Atlantic Coast Conference games; at 6:30, it has Cincinnati-Pittsburgh.
9) “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon” opener, 9 p.m. Sunday, AMC. France has gorgeous settings, but it can be a tough place if you don’t speak French … and there’s a thug trying to kill you … and zombies trying to chomp you. But Dixon (Norman Reedus) is the consummate survivor. In the start of this six-parter, he washes ashore, has some intriguing saviors and is given a mission he keeps trying to avoid. Brutal moments are alongside ones of quiet beauty.
10) ALSO: Sarah Drew gives an Emmy-worthy performance in “Guiding Emily,” a smartly layered drama at 9 p.m. Friday on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. This is also a big week for animated oddities: “American Dad” returns, at 10 p.m. today on TBS … On Wednesday, Disney+ has the second season of “I Am Groot,” the “Guardians of the Galaxy” spin-off … On Thursday, Paramount+ has the first two episodes of the “Star Trek: Lower Decks” season.