House, a/k/a Hugh Laurie, performs with Tom Jones, Irma Thomas, and Dr. John Steven Spielberg brings dinosaurs to sci-fi and TV The Wired’s Idris Elba returns as Luther Clare Danes plays a CIA agent in a post-9/11-inspired series, Homeland... just a few of the shows otherwise lost in the grid of TV offerings this week.
And if you missed Pan Am last night, the pilot airs again Friday. This throwback to the '60s features smart clothes, Cold War politics, and Christina Ricci. But it’s really all about the outfits, right? Will Banana Republic follow their Mad Man collection with a Pan Am line?
Monday, September 26
Terra Nova Premiere at 8 pm on Fox
Special two-hour premiere of executive producer Steven Spielberg’s version of Lost, like Jurassic Park meets Close Encounters of a Sixth Kind, Terra Nova sends the future into the past. Dinosaurs, global warming, time travel, oh my. It’s 2149, Earth is dying - polluted and overdeveloped (really, 2149?). A fracture in the space-time continuum creates a portal to prehistoric Earth and a last-ditch effort to redo and save life as we knew it. No strangers to sci-fi-ishness, Jason O’Mara from Life On Mars and Stephen Lang of Avatar appropriately star.
Tuesday, September 27
Dreamliner: Inside the World’s Most Anticipated Airliner at 9 pm on CNBC
Boeing scrambles to deliver its groundbreaking new airliner, the 787 Dreamliner, which could reinvent the airline industry. This is the kind of show that gets lost in the grid of programming that could be revelatory. Repeats at 10 pm.
Wednesday, September 28
Luther at 10 pm on BBC America
The Wired’s Idris Elba stars as Luther, a brilliant and self-destructive detective tormented by the dark side of humanity and caught in a psychological duel between predator and prey. Premiere of second season.
Other premieres: Rocket City Rednecks, Suburgatory, Happy Ending, and the 26th season of MTV’s The Real World, which started the parade of reality shows, also airs.
Thursday, September 29
How to Be a Gentleman at 8:30 on CBS
One of this season’s man shows, Kevin Dillon exits Entourage for this sitcom: An etiquette columnist for a lad rag and gym trainer’s worlds collide. With David Hornsby, Dave Foley, and Mary Lynn Rajskub (who we love from Gary Shandling’s show).
The Coffee Addiction at 10 pm on CNBC
The global supply chain trail of coffee, from the fields of Peru to the bottom of the cup. And at 9 pm, Supermarkets Inc: Inside a $500 Billion Money Machine, this repeat exposes the industry’s devices for dissecting shoppers.
Friday, September 30
Great Performances Presents Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk - A Celebration of New Orleans Blues at 9 pm on PBS
When Hugh Laurie isn’t playing doctor on House, he’s playing music. He dives into his love of New Orleans, performing jazz ’n’ blues with legends Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Dr. John, and Tom Jones from his new album and shows us around the Crescent City on bike.
The Contenders: They Ran & Lost But Changed Political History at 9 pm on CSPAN
CSPAN wakes up with a 14-week live series with lessons from election losers. Explores the impact that losing presidential candidates have had on American politics, spotlighting Dewey, Goldwater, George Wallace, Ross Perot, and more.
Saturday, October 1
Austin City Limits at 8 pm on PBS
Premiere of new season with the UK’s Mumford & Songs and Flogging Molly.
Weird Al Yankovic Live! The Alpocalypse Tour at 9 pm on Comedy Central
"Weird Al'' brings new beats with an old twist and send-ups on pop tunes.
Sunday, October 2
Prohibition at 8-10 pm on PBS
“A Nation of Drunks”: This lively three-part documentary series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick tells of the rise and fall of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which banned alcohol in the U.S. and the wild era that spawned speakeasies, gave voice to suffragettes, money to gangsters, and questioned government vs. individual rights.
Homeland at 10 pm on Showtime
Buzz-alert: Clare Danes plays CIA case officer who is suspicious of war hero Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody, played by Damian Lewis from the short-lived but intriguing Life.
Plus premieres of Making Monsters on Travel Channel, Around the World in 80 Ways on History, How Hard Can It Be? on National Geographic, Hung on HBO, and Dexter on Showtime at 9 pm.