Sunday TV: Different Kind of Tiger King

After a year when Michael Jordan’s life warranted an acclaimed 10 part documentary, here’s one about the greatest in another field. “Tiger” (HBO,  9 p.m.) follows the astonishing golf career of Tiger Woods, the greatest of his field. This one takes two nights to tell, and it begins tonight with his start as a toddler golfer so notable he was on TV at two. His run of major tournament wins provides a lot of exhilaration, but below the surface is a difficult relationship with his parents. The sex scandal is saved until next week.

There have been past adaptations of James Herriot’s gentle book of English veterinary adventures — including one on PBS 40 years ago. But the new “All Creatures Great and Small” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) is so benign it seems like it was made in the 1940s. Nicholas Ralph stars as the young vet in the English countryside, Diana Rigg puts in one of her final performances in a small role. 

“The Circus:Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth” (Showtime, 8 p.m.) returns for its first episode following the election, with a whole lot to report, so they stretch it to an hour. It will be hard for them to beat having Nancy Pelosi, in the wreckage of the U.S. Capitol, talking to Leslie Stalh about the aftermath of the riot there, which occurs on “60 Minutes” (CBS, 8 p.m.).

Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” (Starz, 8 p.m.) returns for its third season of confusing surrealism, but Ian McShane is still in it. 

Kevin Smith and Dani Fernandez host a distanced award show for precisely the kind of movies that probably don’t deserve them — the superhero variety — in the new “Critics’ Choice Super Awards” (CW, 8 p.m.). (I am a recent member of the Critics Choice Association but can assure you I had nothing to do with this).

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Saturday TV: Football Playoffs Kick Off

NFL’s Wildcard Weekend begins with three games today — Indianapolis at Buffalo (CBS, 1:05 p.m.), Rams at Seattle (Fox, 4:40 p.m.) and Tampa Bay at Washington (NBC, 8:15 p.m.).

Yet another instant marriage series is on in “All or Nothing” (OWN, 8 p.m.) and followed by a couple more episodes. 

No new “Saturday Night Live” (NBC, 11:30 p.m.) tonight, but you can catch cast member Pete Davidson’s debut as a motion picture lead in “The King of Staten Island” (HBO, 8 p.m.), making its premium cable debut. The Judd Apatow comedy also stars Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr and Steve Buscemi.

Put your feet up and watch the three-part, three hour “Rise of Empires: Ottoman” (History, 9 p.m.). 

After way too many Christmas movies, they miss the time frame altogether for their single “New Year’s Resolution” (Hallmark, 9 p.m.) about romance at a morning TV show. 

In the other made-for-TV movie tonight, a psychologist goes after a woman in “Obsessed with the Babysitter” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.). 

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Friday TV: Further Excuse to Avoid Writing

Though she’s always been identified as a writer for decades, New Yorker Fran Leibowitz hasn’t turned anything out in 27 years — and that was a children’s book. Instead, she’s become a cranky personality and now turns her attention to a documentary series about her observations, “Pretend It’s a City” (Netflix, streaming), directed by no less than Martin Scorsese, who already made a documentary about her in 2010 for HBO, “Public Speaking.”

Attacks on the press were among the awful scenes of the Capitol sedition; the rate of physical attacks on U.S. reporters has spiked to 185 last year, up from 40 in 2019. It’s been bad in the Philippines as well, where President Rodrigo Duterte cracking down on journalists, with one in particular in his sights, Maria Ressa., currently facing jail time under a cyber libel law. A special report on a special night of “Frontline” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings), is titled “A Thousand Cuts.”

In the new Irish film “Herself” (Amazon Prime, streaming), Clare Dunne plays a woman who escapes her life as an abused partner and tries to rebuild her life with her two children.  

Wilmer Valderrama, Demi Lovato and Sia lend their voices in the animated “Charming” (Netflix, streaming), a fairy tale with music.

A second season starts for the fanciful series which takes a few flights of fancy in depicting the life of the poet Emily “Dickinson” (Apple+, streaming). 

With 10 new movies coming on its streaming service, “Marvel Studios: Legends” (Disney+, streaming) is a series that tries to parse the various superheroes.

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Thursday: Danson Returns as ‘Mr. Mayor’

If not completely wary of American politics, Ted Danson returns to TV in a new sitcom, “Mr. Mayor” (NBC, 8 and 8:30 p.m.) whose greatest assets may be producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Holly Hunter and Bobby Moynihan are also in the cast. It begins with two episodes. 

Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf star in the new movie “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix, streaming) about the aftermath of a pregnancy and a vilified midwife played by Molly Parker. Ellen Burstyn also stars. 

Craig Ferguson hosts the new game show “The Hustler” (ABC, 10 p.m.), a quiz show with a complicated twist. It follows a second U.S. version of “The Chase” (ABC, 9 p.m.), an adaptation of the British quiz show. 

“Hell’s Kitchen” (Fox, 8 p.m.) begins its 19th season with 16 hopeful chefs from Las Vegas. 

Another new game show begins as Pat Sajak and Vanna White host “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” (ABC, 8 p.m.) with the players Leslie Jones, Chandra Wilson and Tony Hawk. 

Former D.C. exotic dancer turned Kardashian- adjacent minor celebrity, “The Real Blac Chyna” (WEtv, 10 p.m.) begins her own reality show. 

“Last Man Standing” (Fox, 9:30 p.m.) has its “Tool Time” reunion. 

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Wednesday TV: Name That President Elect

Jane Krakowski hosts a revival of the old “Name That Tune” (Fox, 9 p.m.) game show, except this time Randy Jackson has been enlisted to plunk the notes out on a piano. 

More than the usual attention will be given to a Joint Session of Congress (CNN, CSPAN, 1 p.m.) to certify the already state-verified electoral college results, despite desperate theatrics, ensuring the new administration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. All this after the sorest loser in U.S. history will try to rev up visiting reality deniers.

A new six-episode series considers the end of life, “Surviving Death” (Netflix, streaming), based on Leslie Kean’s book.

Public television takes a familiar turn in a new series called “When Disaster Strikes” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings), starting with a cyclone in Mozambique. 

In the new series “Nature Gone Wild” (A&E, 10 and 10:30 p.m.), Greg Aiello covers oddities in the wild, starting with a massive crocodile and, in a second episode, a bull moose. 

You’d think there’d be better use for “The Big Interview with Dan Rather” (AXS Tv, 8 p.m.) than interviewing the guy from James Addiction. But the Perry Farrell interview begins his new season. 

“The Masked Dancer” (Fox, 8 p.m.) sees the second group of dancers, disguised as Cotton Candy, Moth, Sloth, Zebra, and Ice Cube, the thing not the rapper. Although it was Ice-T who was unmasked in last week’s series premiere as Disco Ball.

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Tuesday TV: Nicolas Cage on Cussing

Do we need Nic Cage to tell us about cussing? Apparently so, with the new six episode series “History of Swear Words” (Netflix, streaming) in which there is etymology from experts and wisecracks from comics that include Nikki Glaser, Sarah Silverman, Nick Offerman and Isiah Whitlock Jr., whose chosen word I can easily guess.

Swearing may well be a result of Election Night in America (CNN, 6 p.m.), focusing exclusively on the Senate runoffs in Georgia. 

Public television offers a crowd sourced American confessional that sounds an awful lot like public radio’s StoryCorps, “American Portrait” (PBS, 9 p.m.). The first episode centers around dreams. 

From South of the border comes the third season of the failed baking competition variant, “Nailed It! Mexico” (Netflix, streaming). 

He’s only got a half dozen shows with his name in the title, so how about another one in a two hour special, “Gordon Ramsay’s American Road Trip” (Fox, 8 p.m.), in which he accompanies a couple of pals across the country, tasting local cuisine along the way.

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Monday TV: Discovery’s New Streamer

Need some nonstop “BattleBots” “Gold Rush,” “Monster Garage” and “House Hunters”? A whole new streaming service starts today to offer all of those regular cable offerings. But the new Discovery+ also offers some titles not available on the original cable network, including “Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure,” to name one. Also, there is a new documentary, “JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened” (Discovery+, streaming) built around the audio diaries of the 1996 case that were left behind by Det. Lou Smit, who never thought the parents did it. 

Another documentary, “Onision: In Real Life” (Discovery+, streaming) looks at a more recent case, the odious YouTube personality Greg Jackson otherwise known as Onison who is accused of abuse by his former girlfriend, the Canadian pop star Shiloh. Also investigating these accusations, from out of nowhere, appears Chris Hansen, the guy from “To Catch a Predator.” 

Two weeks after the conclusion of “The Bachelorette,” here comes the new season of “The Bachelor” (ABC, 8 p.m.), with 28-year-old real estate broker Matt James, the first African American to ever be in that role, facing 32 prospective brides at a resort in Pennsylvania in sessions filmed in September and wrapping just before Thanksgiving. 

A new Spanish-language horror series “30 Coins” (HBO, 9 p.m.) concerning an exorcist in Spain facing demonic events, begins with a pair of episodes.

Another knock on the NFL comes from the women who have to dance for them, as explained in the documentary “A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem” on “Independent Lens” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings). 

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Film Review: ‘Effigy — Poison and the City’

In the early 19th century northern Germany, so many bodies were dying around the widow Gosche Gottfried, she earned a measure of sympathy. Men were also attracted to her even as they, too, began to drop or feel a little ill. 

Nobody had a word for serial killing back then; instead they termed it “murderous monomania.” And in Udo Flohr’s stately film about the still-fascinating case, “Effigy — Poison and the City,” there is an effort to try and understand the motivations of the enigmatic suspect, played with sly flirtatious allure by Suzan Anbeh. 

A prize winner at festivals and short listed for best foreign movie Oscar, “Effigy” is based on Peer Meter’s play on the subject. Therefore Flohr’s directorial debut can be a little talky. It’s certainly very different than the kind of serial killer movie set in modern times. 

And yet that cerebral, methodical approach is very well suited to the time so well reflected in the film — specifically 1828 Germany, when city fathers of Breman were considering creating a new port and weighing the possibilities of something new called the railroad.  

The politics and corruption of getting train or port approval is an underlying story to that of the poisonings — which were accomplished surprisingly easily by using little store-bought jars of something called “mouse butter” — lard mixed with flakes of arsenic. Added to lunch or tea, it causes more than rodents to drop.

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Sunday: Glenda Jackson on ‘Masterpiece’

Glenda Jackson turns in a brilliant performance as a woman descending into dementia even as she tries to figure out mysteries of earlier in her life in “Elizabeth is Missing,” an adaptation of Emma Healey’s novel on “Masterpiece” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings).

The Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson all had a hand in boosting “Jimmy Carter, Rock & Roll President” (CNN, 9 p.m.), according to the documentary by Mary Wharton making its cable debut. 

Mayim Bialik stars in the new comedy “Call Me Kat” (Fox, 8 p.m.) about a woman running a cat cafe, whose supporting cast is packed with Swoosie Kurtz, Leslie Jordan and Leslie Jordan. It’s amusing enough, but is based on a more vivid British original, “Miranda” (Amazon Prime, streaming) created by and for Miranda Hart of “Call the Midwife” fame. 

In the new series “The Watch” (BBC America, 8 p.m.), misfit cops try to try to fight corruption in a fantasy series inspired by Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” novels. 

“The Rookie” (ABC, 10 p.m.) returns for its third season, to resolve a cliffhanger so long ago you can’t remember what happened, with Nathan Fillion’s character surrounded by cops. 

Also back for its ninth and final season is the Tim Allen sitcom “Last Man Standing” (Fox, 8:30 p.m.), jumping a bit ahead in time. Its regular night will be Thursday. 

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Saturday TV: Football’s Final Bowl Games

The last of the bowl games before the college championship between Ohio State and Alabama Jan. 11 are played today, including Texas A&M vs. North Carolina (ESPN, 8 p.m.) in the Orange Bowl. Earlier games have North Carolina State vs. Kentucky (ESPN, noon) in the Gator Bowl, Mississippi vs. Indiana (ABC, 12:30 p.m.) in the Outback Bowl, and Oregon vs. Iowa State (ESPN, 4 p.m.) in the Fiesta Bowl.

Tracee Ellis Ross and Dakota Johnson star in the comedy set in the L.A. music scene,  “The High Note” (HBO, 8 p.m.), making its premium cable debut. 

Third in a series of racing movies from Norway is “Asphalt Burning” (Netflix, streaming). 

“Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” (CNN, 9 p.m.) gets a replay. 

There’s no Christmas in tonight’s Hallmark romance, but there’s still a romance, in this case between a ballet teacher and a hockey player. Aexa PenaVega and Luke Mcfarlane star in “Taking a Shot at Love” (Hallmark, 9 p.m.). 

In the other made-for-TV movie “Kidnapped in Paradise” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.) a woman brings her family to Australia only to have their daughter go missing. Claire van der Boom and Todd Lasance star. 4

Drug trafficking is covered in the series “Drug Lords: The Next Generation” (National Geographic, 9 and 10 p.m.).

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