“The Amazing Race” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) enters its 31st season. To celebrate its longevity, it invites “graduates” of other long-in-the-tooth CBS reality shows, “Survivor” and “Big Brother,” to participate in the globe-trotting, along with “Amazing” veterans.
The endurance of these hardy few reality series demonstrates how much reality TV mirrors the Darwinian nature of business. At the dawn of the automobile era, there were dozens of car manufacturers competing with each other. By the middle of the 20th century, they had consolidated to a “Big Three.” Numerous companies cobbled together personal computers in the early 1980s, but few were still around 15 years later when giants like Microsoft were gobbling up software makers. After that, web-browsing startups were assimilated into a single Borglike giant. You can “Google” that, using a predominant force in our lives that’s been around about as long as “The Amazing Race.”
If “Amazing Race” really wanted to invite old-timers, they’d find participants from their old defunct competitors. Before “Lost” was a 2004 ABC mystical mystery, it was the name of an “Amazing Race” knockoff series produced by Conan O’Brien, way back in 2001. How about inviting the original “Joe Millionaire” (2003)? Or that British lady from “The Weakest Link” (2001)? Are any players from “Chains of Love” (2001) ready for their second 15 minutes of fame?
- Patrick Stewart lends his powerful voice to “Breakthrough: The Ideas That Changed the World” (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings), an exploration of inventions and devices that transformed human life.
Part one, about the telescope, allows “Breakthrough” to discuss stargazers from Portugal, who built giant rock “observatories” thousands of years before the pyramids. It takes us to ninth-century Baghdad, where a convergence of Greek, Arabic and Persian scholars and mathematicians studied the very nature of light and invented the camera obscura.
No discussion of the telescope is complete without a history of glass-making and lenscraft that includes visits to Murano glassworks in Venice and the studies of the Dutch inventor of the telescope.
We return to Italy to visit Galileo’s Florence, explore a 19th-century real estate bubble in Manhattan that financed an astronomy lab at Harvard that in turn influenced an observatory in California run by the indefatigable Edwin Hubble, whose name was given to the first telescope to operate from outer space.
“Breakthrough” packs a lot of ideas, and travel, into a tidy hour. Later installments discuss cars, rockets, telephones and robots.
- A young woman (Anne Hathaway) adjusts to a monster boss (Meryl Streep) in the 2006 comedy “The Devil Wears Prada” (8 p.m., HBO Signature). “Prada” set a template for the theme of millennials as
- interns/doormats, explored
- in comedies from “Girls” to “Shrill” and “Special.”
- Legal worries mount on “Empire” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
- New clues about Nolan’s murder on “Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists” (7 p.m., Freeform, TV-14).
- Scouting for talent on “Star” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
- Frankie takes charge on “Whiskey Cavalier” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
A bomber pilot (Spencer Tracy) returns as his pal’s (Van Johnson) guardian angel, and even helps him woo his old flame (Irene Dunne) in the 1943 wartime fantasy “A Guy Named Joe” (8:45 p.m., TCM). “Joe” was remade by director Steven Spielberg in 1989 as “Always.”
Two tribal councils on “Survivor” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... Connor endures scrutiny on “Chicago Med” (7 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14) ... Uncle Marvin returns on “The Goldbergs” (7 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) ... Tainted fizzle rocks imperil “Riverdale” (7 p.m., CW, TV-14) ... A cheating scandal doesn’t add up on “Schooled” (7:30 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG).
An accident devastates a boys hockey team on “Chicago Fire” (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14) ... Infanticipating on “Modern Family” (8 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14)... Jane needs answers on “Jane the Virgin” (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG) ... Poppy’s ex has a new girlfriend on “Single Parents” (8:30 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) ... A bomb leaves the squad rattled on “SEAL Team” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14) ... Gun dealers trade in cop-killing firepower on “Chicago P.D.” (9 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
Lupita Nyong’o appears on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” (10 p.m., Comedy Central, r) ... Bill Hader is booked on “Conan” (10 p.m., TBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Kate Beckinsale, Ralph Macchio and Rudy Francisco on “The Tonight Show” (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... Hank Azaria, Melissa Fumero and Brandon Maxwell visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Seth MacFarlane, Linda Cardellini and the 1975 appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (11:35 p.m., CBS).