Period dramas haven’t done so well on broadcast Tv after the failures in recent years of “The Playboy Club” and “Pan Am.” The latest window into the 60s is “Vegas” (CBS, 10 p.m.), purporting to show the early days of the gambling mecca and how one sheriff better suited for the Wild West tried to tame the mob influx.
The setting is played down by the personalities involved. Dennis Quaid makes his TV debut as a sheriff that brings to mind Dennis Weaver in “McCloud.” Michael Chiklis looks like he’s having fun donning a porkpie hat to play the mob kingpin. But tonight’s pilot isn’t so different than many other previous series set in the city.
It benefits from the lead in of the popular “NCIS” (CBS, 8 p.m.) and “NCIS: Los Angeles” (CBS, 9 p.m.), both returning for new seasons.
Of the fall season’s many new comedies, two of the best are on tonight. “Ben and Kate” (Fox, 8:30 p.m.) is kind of a skewed family comedy about a bumbling but well meaning brother who invades his sister’s household. Creator Dana Fox bases the work on her own manic brother, and allows her talented cast, Nat Faxon and Dakota Johnson the room to do some funny comic business of their own.
Though she comes from an NBC franchise, “The Mindy Project” (Fox, 9:30 p.m.) is a natural for the network of “New Girl” (Fox, 8 and 9 p.m.), with Mindy Kahling playing a lovesick doctor trying to achieve the kind of happiness she’s seen in romantic comedy. The pilot plays it cool, though, hinting that the funnier stuff will happen naturally later when the characters are more established.
The fall season has begun on public television as well, with a couple of strong hows tonight on two of the biggest problems in America hitting like a one two punch. A two hour “Frontline” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) focuses on the heroic efforts of a Houston high school to do something to help slow its astounding dropout rate. Educators with an understanding of the deep problems outside that prevent students from concentrating on studies makes in the difference in some students, but not everyone. To say the teachers and principal goes the extra mile, though, is an understatement.
The more succinct ‘Money and Medicine” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings) is an eye-opening look at the runaway health care costs that will bankrupt the country if it continues on its current rate in a system that costs a fortune while not providing very good health care.
“Brickleberry” (Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m.) may be the worst cartoon ever produced for TV, a kind of infected version of “Family Guy.” The show about a national park tries to throw in every vile and inappropriate joke in the seventh grade style that is starting to take over the rest of Comedy Central, thanks to the involvement of Daniel Tosh, who also begins a new season of his often equally crass “Tosh 2.0” (Comedy Central, 9:30 and 10 p.m.). Not only are the jokes not funny, I feel bad for the artists who have to spend time drawing, painting and animating it.
There’s more internal problems in the motorcycle club on “Sons of Anarchy” (FX, 10 p.m.).
The cancer diagnosis causes deep repercussions on “Parenthood” (NBC, 10 p.m.).
Does the season’s first results show for “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC, 8 p.m.) really need to be two hours?
The reunion show for “Dance Moms” (Lifetime, 9 p.m.) reaches its conclusion. Part one reruns at 8.
Characters with exaggerated features is the task on “Face Off” (Syfy, 9 p.m.). On “Hot Set” (Syfy, 10 p.m.), contestants have to build a throne room for an alien queen.
Brooklyn is the place on Turner Classic Movies tonight with “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (8 p.m.), “It Happened in Brooklyn” (10:15 p.m.), “The Lords of Flatbush” (12:15 a.m.), “The Landlord” (2 a.m.) and “The Last Angry Man” (4 a.m.).
Kelly & Michael: Jimmy Fallon, Nene Leakes. Katie Couric: Barbra Streisand. The View: President and Michelle Obama. The Talk: Benjamin Bratt, Antonia Lofaso. Ellen DeGeneres: Zooey Deschanel, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, No Doubt.
David Letterman: Kaley Cuoco, the Whigs. Jay Leno: Ann Romney, Seth MacFarlane, Bettye LaVette. Jimmy Kimmel: Melanie Griffith, Kerry Washington, Green Day. Jimmy Fallon: Jerry Seinfeld, Anthony Anderson, Zach Cregger, Jesse Bradford, Two Door Cinema Club. Craig Ferguson: Tom Selleck, June Diane Raphael. Carson Daly: Chris Hayes, Regina Spektor, Rob Delaney. Tavis Smiley: Wyclef Jean. Jon Stewart: King Abdullah II. Stephen Colbert: Claressa Shields. Conan O’Brien: Nathan Fillion, Bill Burr, Band of Horses. Chelsea Handler: Wyclef Jean, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Loni Love, Rob Delaney.