Thursday TV: Life of a Mexican Circus

There’s something inherently photogenic about the circus, especially the unsung, small family operations that cross the countryside.

The film “Circo” has even more going for it, since it occurs across the landscape of Mexico. There, filmmaker Aaron Schock follows the Gran Circo Mexico, trying to keep the traditions alive by pulling their rickety trucks and exotic animals into the smallest villages, erecting tents and rounding up locals to see their acts.

Children are raised to learn an acrobatic skill, and the troubles of the circus take their toll on relationships. Despite the hardship, the modest circus is photographed so evocatively, it will still make you want to run away with it.

“Circo” makes its TV debut on “Independent Lens” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings)

Coldplay and Carrie Underwood perform on the “American Idol” (Fox, 8 p.m.) results night, which ends by unveiling the show’s final four.

The campaign bus trip does not go as planned on “Parks and Recreation” (NBC, 9:30 p.m.).

Andy Bernard has been something of a loose cannon since he was fired on “The Office” (NBC, 9 p.m.); now he’s plotting his comeback.

Because it’s “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS, 8 p.m.), only something from NASA would interrupt Howard’s wedding.

Tonight’s “Pauly D Project” (MTV, 10 p.m.) proves that DJ Pauly D is not an embarrassment to Jersey; he’s an embarrassment to Rhode Island.

It’s not enough to have a special needs son; the character on “Touch” (Fox, 9 p.m.) has to reunite a French woman with her mother and twin sister.

Kenny Johnson guest stars on “The Mentalist” (CBS, 10 p.m.).

After a couple of great live episodes last week (from the East and West Coast), “30 Rock” (NBC, 8:30 p.m.) turns to a different genre of TV: reality, in an episode where there is some possibility of the  return of Jack’s wife Avery from North Korea.

Britta becomes grief counselor on “Community” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

Somebody doesn’t pass boards on “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, 9 p.m.).

Lady Gaga, Rita Wilson, Portia de Rossi and Leslie Bennetts join “The Conversation with Amanda De Cadenet” (Lifetime, 11 p.m.).

A 25-film, month-long Thursday night showcase on Turner Classic Movies concentrates on true crime movies. It begins tonight with “In Cold Blood” (8 p.m.), “The Boston Strangler” (10:30 p.m.), “10 Rillington Place” (12:15 a.m.), “The Onion Field” (2:15 a.m.) and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” (5 a.m.).

Stanley Cup playoff games tonight have Phillies at Devils (NBC Sports Network, 7:30 p.m.) and Blues at Kings (NBC Sports Netork, 10 p.m.).

NBA playoffs have Heat at Knicks (TNT, 7 p.m.) and Thunder at Mavericks (TNT, 9:30 p.m.).

In baseball, it’s Yankees at Royals (NBC Sports, 7 p.m.).

Daytime Talk

Kelly Ripa: Sissy Spacek, Beth Behrs, Josh Groban. The View: Tracy Morgan. The Talk: Ellen DeGeneres: Bill Clinton.

Late Talk

David Letterman: Stephen Colbert, Chloe Grace Moretz, cast of “Nice Work if You Can Get It.” Jay Leno: Robert Downey Jr., Katharine McPhee, Toast to Freedom. Jimmy Kimmel: Scarlett Johansson, Roger Daltrey. Jimmy Fallon: Martha Stewart, Carson Daly. Craig Ferguson: Julie Andrews, Michael Emerson. Tavis Smiley: Anna Quindlen. Carson Daly: Michael Ian Black, Father John Misty, Rachael Yamagata. Jon Stewart: Peter Bergen. Stephen Colbert: Lena Dunham. Conan O’Brien: Zach Galifianakis, Aaron Paul, Switchfoot (rerun). Chelsea Handler: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jeff Wild, Kerri Keney-Silver, Ross Mathews.

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