“The Employables” (9 p.m., A&E, TV-PG) puts the accent on the heartwarming. It follows job-seekers with autism and Tourette syndrome as they seek to overcome their social awkwardness and reveal often remarkable talents to would-be employers.
In the pilot, we meet a former pre-med student from Tennessee who went from the dean’s list to being expelled after he was overcome by Tourette’s syndrome. Seemingly overnight, a thoughtful, brilliant student would begin repeatedly blurting out odd phrases and jerk his head spasmodically. And the more he tried to control his condition, the more his anxieties would fuel his tics and outbursts.
We also meet a young man on the autism spectrum who lives with his supportive parents. Painfully slow to express himself verbally, he fills his notebooks with thoughts and drawings inspired by his meticulously catalogued collection of horror movies.
In the first act of “Employables,” we see both men looking for work, often on their own, with rather sad results. In the second, they meet with experts and doctors who test their intelligence and counsel them on how they can best present their skills. In the third act, they’re set up with potential employers.
Every aspect of this show, from the music, to the interstitial sound effects and its narrative structure, follows the reality TV playbook. Get ready for the big reveal! But the characters and their stories transcend the series’ predictable format.
- Dogs may be humankind’s best friends, but no animal has impacted civilization quite like the horse. So say the experts on tonight’s “NOVA” (8 p.m., PBS, TV-PG).
“First Horse Warriors” follows anthropologist Niobe Thompson as he travels throughout Europe and Central Asia to study prehistoric links between animals and humans, and to explore the mysteries of the first people who learned to use horses as transportation and not only as food.
How important were horses? They appear in cave drawings, the very first recorded works of human art. Scientists explore areas in France where thousands of horse bones point to a place where they were slaughtered for food. Discovering evidence of horse riding is more difficult, but scientists study horse teeth, thousands of years old, that suggest the use of bridles and bits.
One of the strangest things about our relationship with the horse is how quickly we “broke up.” It took less than a century to replace the horse as a transport and agricultural workhorse.
Only a generation ago, horses like “Mr. Ed” and “My Friend Flicka” were still TV stars. Today, so few viewers live with horses in their lives, we have to settle for “My Little Pony.”
- On a related note, Diane Lane and John Malkovich star in the 2010 profile of the champion thoroughbred “Secretariat” (7 p.m., Lifetime, TV-PG).
- A winner emerges and receives a cash prize on “Survivor” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG), followed by a season retrospective (9 p.m.).
- The gang confront the town’s past on “Riverdale” (7 p.m., CW, TV-14).
- Caroline confronts Dr. Charles on “Chicago Med” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
- “MasterChef Celebrity Family Showdown” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-14) features the kitchen antics of Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski, Lisa Vanderpump, Snooki, JWoww and their relatives.
- Buzz and the gang rescue Woody in the 1999 sequel “Toy Story 2” (7 p.m., ABC).
- The salon fire may be linked to a serial arsonist on “Chicago Fire” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
- A lover goes home on “Paradise Hotel” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
- “Breakthrough: Ideas That Changed the World” (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG) looks at advances in rocketry.
- Nadja mentors Jenna on “What We Do in the Shadows” (9 p.m., FX, TV-MA).
Hollywood geniuses took Edgar Rice Burroughs’ alluringly titled book “A Princess of Mars” and renamed it “John Carter” (6 p.m., Syfy). The 2012 adventure lost millions. Lesson: Don’t let the marketing department mess with a pulp classic!
Jane can’t handle Rafael’s cold shoulder on “Jane the Virgin” (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG) ... Antonio wrestles with his conscience on “Chicago P.D.” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14) ... Frankie’s tender side emerges on “Whiskey Cavalier” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
Ron Funches is booked on “Conan” (10 p.m., TBS) ... BTS appears on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (10:35, CBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Howard Stern and Of Monsters and Men on “The Tonight Show” (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... Margo Martindale, PKEW PKEW PKEW and Johnny Radelat visit “Late Night with Seth Meyers” (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Octavia Spencer, Henry Winkler and Sarah Tollemache appear on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” (11:37 p.m., CBS).