Reef Break

ABC’s “Reef Break,” airing at 9 p.m., stars Poppy Montgomery as a former thief who fights crime amidst lots of water-based action.

On a night that introduces two new game shows, ABC launches a new series with a familiar face and story. “Reef Break” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) stars Poppy Montgomery as Cat Chambers, a former thief who returns to her old stomping grounds. Or is that surfing grounds?

There, she’s immediately embroiled in any number of jewel heists and kidnappings, but this time on the right side of the law. Who better to catch a bad guy than a girl with a past?

Only Cat is hardly a girl. Casting Montgomery, an actress closer to 50 than 30, is a deliberate move, an appeal to an audience that wants to see a woman of a certain age who still looks good in a bathing suit and who can surf, jet ski and frolic with the best of them.

In the snippets of this “Baywatch” meets “Magnum” series made available for review, Cat does most of the talking. Make that fast-talking. She nervously spews out paragraphs of contrived verbiage at a rapid pace. Luckily, most of the action takes place in the water, with little need for dialogue.

  • The summer theme continues as “Bunk’d” (7 p.m., Disney, TV-G) returns to Camp Kikiwaka in Moose Rump, Maine, for a fourth season.
  • Other summer series premiering tonight include “Holey Moley” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG), a game of skill and distraction set on a golf putting green. “Family Food Fight” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) asks parents and siblings to impress celebrity judges as they advance in a cooking challenge. Over on Fox, “Spin the Wheel” (8 p.m., TV-PG) offers a new(ish) variation on the quiz show offering large cash prizes. In a break from current custom, it dares to invite non-celebrities to play. Not to be
  • outdone, NBC invites viewers to the third season premiere of “The Wall” (7 p.m., TV-PG).

Is this distraction-heavy schedule a smart idea? Time was, networks offered lighter fare to spare viewers an onslaught of repeats. But that was when networks were the only game in town. Now, shows like “Spin the Wheel” seem like a good excuse to see what’s on Netflix, Hulu or Prime.

Some time back, CBS used the summer months to expose viewers to some of its underwatched fare. I’ve been reviewing long enough to remember when they put a show named “NCIS” in heavy summer rotation, building it from a modest “JAG” spin-off to one of the most-watched series on television. If networks want people to get into the habit of watching their series, they ought to give them the chance.

Other highlights

  • Tastes like chicken on “MasterChef” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
  • Told mostly in the late comedian’s own words, “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind” (7 p.m., HBO2, TV-MA) includes loads of unseen footage.
  • CBS burns off two episodes of its just-canceled comedy “Life in Pieces” (CBS, TV-PG): thanks for nothing (8 p.m.) and dirty habits (8:30 p.m.).
  • A tech mogul fears an enemy from within his ranks on “Elementary” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
  • “AFI Life Achievement Award” (9 p.m., TNT, TV-14) salutes Denzel Washington.
  • Chip shops for Pedialyte on “Baskets” (9 p.m., FX, TV-MA).
  • Pooch Hall and Dash Mihok contend on “Lip Sync Battle” (9 p.m., Paramount, TV-PG).

Cult choice

Directed by Zoltan Korda, starring Paul Muni and based on a 1943 stage play, the 1945 war movie “Counter-Attack” (1:15 p.m., TCM) follows two Russian soldiers as they fight off Germans with whom they are trapped in a destroyed building. Among the last Hollywood movies to depict the Soviets as heroes and allies.

Series notes

Penny stands behind Leonard on “The Big Bang Theory” (7 p.m., CBS, r, TV-PG) ... A used car salesman’s brain tastes slippery on “iZombie” (7 p.m., CW, TV-14) ... String theory on “Young Sheldon” (7:30 p.m., CBS, r, TV-PG).

On two helpings of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (NBC, r, TV-14), cosmetic surgery (8 p.m.), a serial predator returns (9 p.m.) ... No place like home on “In the Dark” (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG).

Late night

Lindsey Vonn is booked on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” (10 p.m., Comedy Central) ... Taylor Schilling appears on “Conan” (10 p.m., TBS, r) ... Russell Crowe, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Raconteurs are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Madonna and Ari Lennox on “The Tonight Show” (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... Kumail Nanjiani, Jim Acosta and Himesh Patel sit down on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” ... (10:35 p.m., ABC) ... Michael Sheen, Paul Giamatti and Mumford & Sons appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (11:35 p.m., CBS).

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