Weekly Previews

Week’s top-10 for Oct. 26: “This Is Us” leads trio of openers

1) “This Is Us” season-opener, 9-11 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. Here’s a sign that TV is nudging back to normal: The best broadcast-network drama returns – sooner than first announced and with back-to-back episodes. Birthdays are big here – shared by Kevin, Kate and their adopted brother Randall. Now it’s their 40th, amid gloom. Their mom left to try an experimental Alzheimer’s treatment; as last season ended (shown here), Kevin blamed Randall for her decision and blurted out that he wishes his parents never adopted him. It could be tense. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Oct. 19: “Voice” and comedies return

1) “The Voice” season-opener, 8-10 p.m. today and Tuesday, NBC. A perennial ratings-leader returns, with its star and his loved-interest. The star is Blake Shelton; in 18 editions, he’s had seven winners and 11 runners-up – sometimes both at the same time. His life partner is Gwen Stefani (they’re shown here), with no winners in four previous seasons. The other two judges have started strong: Kelly Clarkson has had three wins in five seasons; John Legend has had one in three. The auditions begin, with Carson Daly as the host. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Oct. 12: Music stars, reality debuts and bad Bart

1) Billboard Music Awards,” 8-11 p.m. Wednesday, NBC. After a half-year delay, the awards finally arrive, with lots of top performers. They include Kelly Clarkson (shown here), the host; Garth Brooks, getting the Icon Award; and Post Malone, leading with 16 nominations. Songs will range from a premiere by Demi Lovato to En Vogue’s 30-year-old “Free Your Mind.” Also performing are BTS, Sia, Alicia Keys and Luke Combs, plus links – Deja Cat with Tyga; Khalid with Swae Lee and country’s Kane Brown. Read more…

Week’s top-10: The machines take control

1) “NeXt” debut, 9 p.m. Tuesday, Fox. For decades, science-fiction has fretted about robots taking over. In this solidly made series, that’s imminent. A driverless car refuses to take suggestions; an Alexa-type device whispers schemes to a little boy. What’s happening? A genius (John Slattery, shown here) knows: He wrote a code that lets computers educate themselves; it was too much, he realized – but he’s been fired and the program is unfettered. It’s a strong start to a 10-week tale that was set for spring/summer, then delayed. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Sept. 21: Fox starts its season; others come close

1) “L.A.’s Finest” opener, 8 p.m. today, Fox. This is important – not because of the show itself (which is pretty good), but what it represents: It’s the start of a makeshift TV season – full-scale on Fox (including “The Simpsons,” shown here), fairly full on the other broadcast networks. “Finest” has already been on the Spectrum cable system, but it’s new to most viewers. Gabrielle Union (reviving her “Bad Boys II” character) and Jessica Alba play police detectives. The opener has clever dialog, movie-quality chase scenes … and absurd plot twists. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Sept. 14: Country awards, Emmy awards

1) Academy of Country Music awards, 8-11 p.m. Wednesday, CBS. With a five-month delay, this found ways to do live, social-distanced music. Performers will be scattered over three spots – the Grand Ole Opry’s past and current home and a nightclub. And there will be plenty of them. Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani (shown here) do “Happy Anywhere”; Carrie Underwood does a medley of women’s hits. Also: host Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Trisha Underwood, Kane Brown, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, more. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Sept. 7: Chiefs and ninjas and putters and such

1) Football season-openers, 8:20 p.m. ET Thursday and Sunday, NBC. This is what we need now – the fun and zest of pro football. It starts with the champion Kansas City Chiefs, hosting the team (Houston Texans) they beat to get to the Super Bowl (shown here). On Sunday night, the Los Angeles Rams (9-7 last year) host the Dallas Cowboys (8-8). All the other teams play earlier on Sunday or in ESPN’s doubleheader on Monday. And after a slow first week, college football will have a fairly busy line-up on Saturday. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Aug. 31: This is non-fiction’s time

1) “Planet Earth: A Celebration” (shown here), 8-9:25 p.m. ET today, BBC America and IFC, 8-9:25 p.m. ET/PT AMC and Sundance. Consider this as an end-of-summer bonus. Picking through two great series (“Planet Earth II” and “Blue Planet II”), this chose eight gorgeous segments and added new music. There are hilarious moments, as pink flamingos parade … and horrifying ones, as racer snakes chase baby iguanas. And ones that let us marvel at leaping fish, gulping whales and a camouflaging octopus. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Aug. 24: Time for politics and/or sexy swimwear

1) Republican convention, 8-11 p.m. ET, PBS; 10 p.m., ABC, CBS and NBC; all night, news channels. For the second straight week, the fate of the nation should get our attention. Now it’s the Republicans’ turn. Donald Trump is expected to give his acceptance speech Thursday from the White House; Mike Pence is expected to talk Wednesday from Fort McHenry (shown here), where the National Anthem was born,. Other speakers this week will include Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Jodi Ernst, Kevin McCarthy and Kristi Noem. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Aug. 17: Love and politics in time of pandemic

1) Democratic convention, today through Thursday. For two weeks, this seizes attention – Democrats this week, Republicans next. The news networks are there all night, with PBS from 8-11 p.m. ET; ABC and others at 10. Main speakers (in the 9-11 p.m. ET slot) include Bernie Sanders (shown here), Andrew Cuomo and Michelle Obama on Monday; Bill Clinton and John Kerry, Tuesday; Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren, Wednesday; and Joe Biden, Cory Booker, and Tammy Duckworth on Thursday. Read more…