Hey gang, apparently old is “in.” Of the five new network series to debut tonight, three sitcoms feature characters well beyond the 18-to-49 demographic. Two are widowers!
Walton Goggins (“Justified”) stars in “The Unicorn” (7:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) as Wade, a loving dad who hasn’t gotten over the death of his wife. Comedy ensues when friends try to get him back in the dating pool and convince him that his status as a faithful husband, widower, good dad and handsome guy make him the perfect candidate (“unicorn”) for single ladies on the prowl.
“Perfect” and “too good to be true” may be nice on a dating app, but deadly in a character. Even on sitcoms. Goggins’ many fans may find this painful to watch.
- Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing”) stars as a suicidal widower in “Perfect Harmony” (7:30 p.m., NBC, TV-14). Having traveled to a rural Kentucky town to bury his beloved wife, Arthur (Whitford), a cranky former Princeton music professor, sees no reason to go on until he happens upon a struggling church choir filled with misfits and red-state stereotypes willing to endure his abuse to reach “Pitch Perfect” harmonies. Whitford’s tough-love rants are amusing, but the series is strenuously contrived and condescending to the red-state viewers it seeks to attract.
- Unabashedly old-fashioned, “Carol’s Second Act” (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) is the kind of show where the audience breaks into applause when Carol (Patricia Heaton of “Everybody Loves Raymond”) first walks on set. A former schoolteacher, divorced mom of adult children and a woman who could have retired, Carol is living out her dream of becoming an M.D. and spending time with fellow interns she’d rather mother.
Not to give too much away, but her last line in the pilot is: “Now put your napkin on your lap.”
Without a strong supporting ensemble, “Carol” allows the always-strident Heaton to dominate the proceedings.
- “Sunnyside” (8:30
- p.m., NBC, TV-14) stars Kal Penn (“House”) as a disgraced city councilman reduced to tutoring immigrants in the Queens community that gives the show its name. After “Bob Hearts Abishola,” this is the second sitcom of the season to champion the immigrant experience. Unfortunately, Penn’s character is given too many chances to deliver speeches.
- Michael Emerson (“Lost”) returns in creepy form in “Evil” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14) about a psychological profiler (Katja Herbers, “Westworld”) hired by the church to investigate possessions and other phenomena.
“Evil” creates palpable psychological tension in the first 20 minutes. Then an actual devil figure appears. While explained away as part of a dream, its mere presence ruins the mood and dispels much of the series’ mystery and power.
Acorn TV begins streaming the new ninth season of “Doc Martin.”
- Sheldon worries Mary on “Young Sheldon” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
- Amy offers solace on “Superstore” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
- Pink slipped on “Grey’s Anatomy” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
- A nervous honeymoon on “Mom” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
- A time to build on “The Good Place” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
- Delilah and child need affirmation on “A Million Little Things” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
- An actress accuses a famous mogul of rape on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
- Laurel and Christopher’s absence leaves a void on “How to Get Away With Murder” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
- The Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers meet in NFL Football action (7 p.m., Fox, NFL).
- Angie Martinez hosts “Untold Stories of Hip Hop” (9 p.m., WE, TV-14).
Kings of comedy concert movies Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor teamed up in the 1989 period gangster film “Harlem Nights” (8 p.m., BET, TV-14).
Talon and the Prime Order tangle on the two-hour finale of “The Outpost” (7 p.m., CW, TV-14).
Al Franken is booked on “Conan” (10 p.m., TBS, TV-14) ... Matt Walsh, Ian Edwards and Tim Dillon appear on “Lights Out With David Spade” (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central).
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Brittany Howard are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Michael Che, Colin Jost, Robert Irwin and Pusha T on “The Tonight Show” (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... Viola Davis, Christian Slater and Gary Clark Jr. appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (10:35 p.m., ABC).
Woody Harrelson, Kieran Culkin and Bobby Flay visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Sen. Kamala Harris and Mike Colter appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (11:37 p.m., CBS).
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(EDITORS: For editorial questions, please contact Reed Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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