Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, February 21. All times are Eastern.
Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute To James Burrows (NBC, 9 p.m.): In television direction most attention falls on dramas and the various talented auteurs, film directors, and movie stars behind the camera, but in the realm of comedy one director stands proud and tall over everyone else. James Burrows began his career all the way back in 1974 with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and has since gone on to be involved with many of the cornerstones of the modern sitcom. In addition to being a co-creator of Cheers and director of many of that show’s episodes, his portfolio covers every episode of Will And Grace, the majority of Taxi, early parts of Friends and Frasier, and over 50 (!) network pilots including The Big Bang Theory and Two And A Half Men. Last year Burrows directed his thousandth episode of television (the yet-to-be released Crowded), and NBC is honoring this achievement with a tribute featuring the majority of the surviving casts of the shows he directed. Regardless of whether or not you respect the multi-cam format (which you should, damn it) this is a remarkable collection of talent and an event sure to be of interest for fans of classic television. Plus, Andy Kaufman’s participation in Taxi makes this yet another likely occasion where he could pop up and reveal he faked his death.
Also noted (season premiere edition)
Girls (HBO, 10 p.m.): Lena Dunham’s ever-polarizing comedy about young adulthood in New York kicks off with Marnie’s wedding in upstate New York, where the matrimonial events are jeopardized by “an unhinged makeup artist.” We’re betting that Joshua Alston hired the artist because he’s upset about not getting an invitation to the wedding. C’mon Josh, you get to write season five coverage, isn’t that enough?
Togetherness (HBO, 10:30 p.m.): Also returning tonight, Mark and Jay Duplass’s look at a group of people whose seemingly banal lives are full of the conflicts that pull us apart and bring us together. In the second season premiere, “Brett vows to be a better husband, father and all-around human being.” Gwen Ihnat nods sagely at this noble promise, but points toward her Togetherness power rankings to remind him she’s keeping score. Also be sure to check out Gwen’s interview with Amanda Peet and Steve Zissis.
Bob’s Burgers (Fox, 7:30 p.m.): Bob slips on a crack and breaks his own back this week, which augurs the return of the super-muscular Jairo from all the way back in season one. Meanwhile, the kids decide to start their own law firm. Alasdair Wilkins has elected to retain Belcher, Belcher, and Belcher for a lawsuit against his fellow What’s On Tonight correspondent for character defamation related to that time we made fun of him for always putting wrestling clips in the Tuesday installments. (Sorry Alasdair, we know you explained it but we still think it’s weird.)
The Simpsons (Fox, 8 p.m.): There is so much going on in tonight’s Simpsons it hurts our heads. “Bart accidentally deposits a homeless woman’s cart into the river, and to make amends, he lets her move into his closet for a slight fee, and when Lisa discovers her there, she finds out the lady is a wonderful folk singer, but that she has some violence and substance-abuse skeletons in her closet.” Please, Dennis Perkins, make sense of all of this. Or at least help this woman get into the Betty Ford Clinic!
Vinyl (HBO, 9 p.m.): The acquisition of American Century is thrown into question when Richie shares a revelation with the Germans during an important meeting. And given that he violated Basil’s Law and mentioned the war in their last meeting, how much worse could he possibly make things? Dan Caffrey mentioned the war once, but he thinks he got away with it.
Downton Abbey (PBS, 9 p.m.): “Edith’s and Mary’s romances become complicated; Thomas has difficulties.” Seldom has an episode description ever been more all-encompassing as to what’s going on in the show, Downton Abbey. You might as well tell Emily L. Stephens that Lord Grantham fails to see the big picture, Carson blusters over a lack of decorum, and Bates gets into a circumstance that will drag on past the point of people wanting to watch.
The Good Wife (CBS, 9:30 p.m.): There’s only a few episodes of The Good Wife left, and Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is overjoyed that one of those episodes—tonight’s in fact—features the return of a fan favorite in Carrie Preston’s Elsbeth Tascioni, hired tonight by Eli to investigate why the FBI is looking into Peter. Based on her track record, we expect said investigation to skew ultra random but be charming as hell in the process and make perfect sense by the end.
Shameless (Showtime, 9 p.m.)
The Walking Dead (AMC, 9 p.m.)
Billions (Showtime, 10 p.m.)
The Venture Bros. (Adult Swim, 12 a.m.)
Tomorrow in TV Club
Love is still in the air at The A.V. Club, so if you haven’t gotten enough of Judd Apatow’s new show from either Erik Adams’ pre-air review or Shelby Fero’s binge-watch reviews, be sure to check out Molly Eichel’s episodic coverage. Elsewhere, Joshua Alston has a For Your Consideration on the sharpness of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s pop culture satire, Supergirl’s Laura Benanti sits down with Alex McCown for the latest installment of 11 Questions, and an Inventory collects the best TV title sequences from the last few years.
What else is on?
The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60 (ABC, 8 p.m.): ABC bows to its corporate overlords tonight for a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Disneyland, ”celebrated with musical performances, tours of iconic locations in the park, and dazzling technology displays.” Will one of those technology displays be Walt Disney emerging from his cryogenic sleep as a head on a gigantic robot, Futurama Richard Nixon-style? One can only hope. But even if that doesn’t happen, enjoy performers including Elton John, Kermit the Frog, and Fall Out Boy.
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO, 11 p.m.): Last week, in his efforts to focus on process over personality in the 2016 presidential election, John Oliver excoriated the voter ID laws of the United States and the politicians who are making them ever more stringent. He singled out Wisconsin Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch for specific mockery, which cheers up your What’s On Tonight correspondent since Wisconsin Republicans are scumbags who every year make him less and less inclined to ever return to his home state.
Madam Secretary (CBS, 8 p.m.): “A shocking event occurs on U.S. soil, which sends Elizabeth scrambling for answers as President Dalton questions how this was able to happen in the first place.” It was able to happen because of bad voting laws, President Dalton! Sorry. We’re still full of righteous indignation after Last Week Tonight.
Cooper Barrett’s Guide To Surviving Life (Fox, 8:30 p.m): The group gets involved in Barry’s relationship when they think it’s progressing too quickly. Of course it’s progressing too quickly, it’s a relationship! Why yes, your What’s On Tonight correspondent is single. Why do you ask?
Bordertown (Fox, 9:30 p.m.): Bud decides that he and Janice need to have a baby to keep the white/Latino populations at an equal ratio. We’d like to hope that this show could move past “Bud is an idiot racist” for its plot points, but that feels like dreaming the impossible dream.
CSI: Cyber (CBS, 10 p.m.): “A jogger is murdered and the Cyber team use the victim’s fitness tracker to retrace her steps for the entire night leading up to her death.” Huh. This actually sounds like an idea that makes sense. Why are you only making sense now, CSI: Cyber?!
Mercy Street (PBS, 10:15 p.m.): The season one finale sees President Lincoln visit the hospital, spurring a rebel plot against him. The shocking twist however is that he’ll be thwarting that plot himself, Air Force One-style, with a gravelly direction to the lead Confederate: “Get off my steamboat.”
Talking Dead (AMC, 10 p.m.): Nathan Fillion was scheduled last week and failed to appear, but he’s on the docket tonight along with Austin Nichols and Danai Gurira. Don’t back out on Chris Hardwick for a second week, Mr. Fillion, or he swears by his pretty floral bonnet he will end you.
Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge (CMT, 8 p.m.): Yes, there is a show called Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge. We are incredibly ashamed that we haven’t let you know every week you could have been watching grown men engage in such activities Rip Off, Loaded, Dead Weight, and the Skullbuster. We have been remiss and apologize that this information was not brought to light sooner.
Guy’s Grocery Games (Food Network, 8 p.m.): “Dice determine the details of a poker night plate.” Some of your work’s already done, because there are already chips on the table! Right? Right? We’ll show ourselves out.
Hoarders (A&E, 9 p.m.): “A woman faces financial ruin after hoarding out her triplex and dance studio.” Is it us, or does “hoarding out” make her sound like a landlord or pimp, but for grossly misused storage space?
Underworld, Underworld: Evolution, and Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans (BBC America, 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m., and 11:30 p.m.): You’d think that a film series that essentially translates into Vampire: The Masquerade meets The Matrix with Kate Beckinsale as a gun-toting Nosferatu would be more fun than this.
Magic Mike XXL (HBO, 7 p.m.): The taglines for this film are “You’re welcome” and “Get back to the grind,” which pretty much say it all.
The Blind Side (TNT, 8 p.m): Sandra Bullock cures racism and wins an Oscar in the process. Or something like that.
John Wick (Cinemax, 8:15 p.m.): Speaking of The Matrix: who knew it would be possible to find an action vehicle that was an even better fit for Keanu Reeves, and one peppered with so many wonderful supporting players? Plus, any movie that can be summed up by “They killed my dog, I’m killing all these motherfuckers” is a film that has its head on straight.
NHL Hockey, Red Wings at Rangers (NBC Sports, 4 p.m.)
NBA Basketball, Lakers at Bulls (ESPN, 5 p.m.)
College Basketball, California at Washington State (ESPNU, 5:30 p.m.)
UFC Fight Night, Cerrone vs. Oliveira (Fox Sports, 6 p.m.)
In case you missed it
Sleepy Hollow: The Kindred walked the earth again after being absent and almost completely unmentioned for 26 episodes. In Zack Handlen’s humble opinion, if your show has a Frankenstein’s monster constructed by Ben Franklin with the head of the Horseman of War, you should be putting that in every goddamned episode.