At the end of the pilot episode of “Lost” in 2004, Charlie asks “Where are we?” Over six seasons, we’d get those answers. At the end of the cold open of “The Crossing,” which premieres at 10 p.m. Eastern Monday on TV and was available in advance on the ABC app, sheriff Jude Ellis (Steve Zahn) stares at the hundreds of corpses washing ashore in his coastal town and asks “What is this?”
In a case of perfect timing, the same night “The Alienist’s” 1890s serial-killer mystery wrapped, another atmospheric historical horror-thriller debuted. “The Terror” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays on AMC), though, closely hews to a real event: In 1845, British naval Captain John Franklin (Ciaran Hinds) led an expedition to find the last leg of the Northwest Passage, a (believed to be) 200-mile stretch linking up what had been mapped so far from the east with what had been mapped from the west.
If you watched the opening segment of “Superman: The Movie” (or “Man of Steel”) on Krypton (or Krypt’n, as Marlon Brando would say) and weren’t among the 95 percent of the audience thinking “C’mon, just get to the Superman part,” “Krypton” (10 p.m. Eastern Wednesdays on Syfy) is for you. The latest “Superman” project luxuriates in the ice planet, the peasant-class underground and the brutal maneuverings within the sparse governmental palace corridors – all while teasing a Superman connection that’s much further away than in the aforementioned films.
I was never involved in theater in school, but I learned to appreciate it during my years covering arts and entertainment for newspapers (even if my love of music, movies and TV was why I initially sought those jobs). Not to discount the pleasure of seeing a well-performed play or musical, but what I most remember is the theaters themselves and the groups of high school or college students or community members who performed in them.
“For the People” (10 p.m. Eastern Tuesdays on ABC) is competent at what it does, but personally, I’m not wired to enjoy what it does: Through a variety of cases each week, this courtroom drama illustrates the frustrating flaws of the American justice system. We get just enough of a window into the process to feel the same Sisyphean hopelessness as the losing lawyers. The agents, attorneys, judges, jurors – and of course the faceless state — responsible for unjust verdicts aren’t held accountable; we just move on to the next week and the next batch of cases, hoping for a better outcome. It’s real, and it’s frustrating. How enjoyable it is depends entirely on what you’re into.
“Life Sentence” (9 p.m. Eastern Wednesdays, CW) is notable for being a rare CW show not based on comic books or the supernatural, and unfortunately it’s also notable for being really bad. You’d think there’d be something special about it if the network is willing to push aside its DC superheroes for a whole hour, but the premiere episode plays like one of those unaired pilots you’d come across on YouTube and then say “Ah, so that’s why it wasn’t picked up.”
“Everything Sucks!” (Netflix), the first season of which includes 10 half-hour episodes, starts off like a second-rate “Freaks and Geeks” but eventually strikes painfully accurate notes about first love and high school crushes. By the time the strains of Spacehog’s “In the Meantime” play over the closing credits of episode 10, the show has learned to lean into its dramatic rather than comedic beats, and I was won over. (It’s still inferior to “F&G” – which I am now inspired to rewatch — but everything is.)
This week, “Atlanta” (10 p.m. Eastern Thursdays, FX) began its second season of being about nothing and everything. The episode “Alligator Man” opens with two ATL youths lounging around when one mentions that they can purchase drugs at a local drive-thru restaurant if they ask for the “No. 17.” We assume they are heading there to buy said drugs, only to find they are robbing the place at gunpoint. But the employee working the window is armed, too. Bullets fly, ending with a teen girl – unseen until that point — emerging from the backseat of the youths’ car, screaming. Cue the opening titles.
On Monday, the Diane Ruggiero/Rob Thomas show that started off as a sly way to get “Veronica Mars”-style witty mysteries back on the tube surpassed its more famous forebearer in number of seasons. While “iZombie” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays, The CW) strikes me as being less popular and less acclaimed than “Veronica,” it always finds a spot on my year-end top 10 lists and it’s getting to the point where the duo’s shorthand descriptor should be “the creators of ‘Veronica Mars’ AND ‘iZombie.’ ”
Geek culture is indisputably mainstream today (as evidenced by the 57 superhero shows on TV), but that wasn’t always the case. So when did the transition happen? It was a gradual process, but I like to point to the game show “Beat the Geeks” (2001-02, Comedy Central) as a fulcrum. Like many great geeky things, it didn’t last long, but it did signal that it was safe for geeks to come out of the woodwork, and safe for non-geeks to show their geek side.