Have there been too many documentaries about Muhammad Ali? Can there ever be enough?
HBO Sports presents “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali” (7 p.m. and 8:24 p.m., HBO) as a two-part documentary epic, charting his remarkable rise, controversy and the toll that hundreds of fights and thousands of rounds and punches took on one of the most quotable, beloved, feared, despised and discussed figures of 20th-century sport.
Sometimes it seems that Ali was born for television, if not on television. We learn here that he took up boxing after his bike was stolen and the police taught him to box so he could beat up the crook who robbed him. His rise as an amateur boxer was chronicled on a Louisville, Kentucky, show dedicated to local youth boxing. Even as a young man, he’s clearly cut out for the camera handsome, assured and quick-witted.
Rich in period footage and interviews, “Name” does not rely much on present-day expert overviews, letting Ali’s celebrated “motormouth” do the talking.
It transitions effortlessly and naturally from a film about his meteoric rise in the ring to his place at the center of controversy, when he embraced the Nation of Islam and refused to be inducted into the Army because of his religious objections to the Vietnam War.
- Another glance at the mid-20th century arrives with the Netflix comedy special “Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate.” Surviving cast members Lily Tomlin and Ruth Buzzi are joined by generations of admirers, including Neil Patrick Harris, Tiffany Haddish, Billy Crystal, Snoop Dogg, Chelsea Handler, Jay Leno, Cheri Oteri, Maria Bamford, Taye Diggs, Bobby Moynihan, Tony Hale, Jon Lovitz and others. Look for the crowd to pop out of doors in the wall, get splashed by water and ask viewers to “Sock it to me!”
The special puts the accent on the show’s frantic pace, but oversells “Laugh-in” as “revolutionary” television.
Viewers can stream original 1968 episodes on Netflix’s rival, Amazon Prime. For all of the commotion, the humor on “Laugh-In” is rather dated, toothless and non-confrontational. It’s still closer to the topicality of Bob Hope than the heat of the transformational “All in the Family.”
- “Frontline” (9 p.m., PBS) presents “One Day in Gaza,” exploring mass protests that turned deadly as well as the reactions of Gazans and Israelis a year after the uprising.
- She was a petite woman from an impoverished background who became a celebrity in the decades before Hollywood and mass media. “American Experience” (8 p.m., PBS, TV-PG) repeats a 2006 profile of sharpshooter Annie Oakley.
- Barry challenges Reverse Flash on “The Flash” (7 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
- A raid finds links to Maggie’s husband’s murder on “FBI” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
- Pride faces dangers in a war zone on “NCIS: New Orleans” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
- Sharpe helps Max on “New Amsterdam” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
- Tenants turn out for Ava on “The Village” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
- Peggy rattles the collection plates on “The Kids Are Alright” (7:30 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
- Semifinals results on “The Voice” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
- “1969” (9 p.m., ABC) recalls a musical gathering that attracted nearly half a million young people and became a media metaphor.
- Bob and Gwen collaborate on “Chicago” as Bob pursues multiple projects on “Fosse/Verdon” (9 p.m., FX, TV-MA).
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently invoked the 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day” (7 p.m., TMC) to close the case on the Mueller investigation. He seemed to miss the point of the film, which features a vain, arrogant and insulting jerk (Bill Murray) continually forced to face up to his faults in order to become a decent human being.
Gibbs suffers a rare meltdown on “NCIS” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... Corn sets the agenda on “MasterChef” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-PG)