Friday TV: ‘Whale Wars’ Returns, Magic Ends

The guys from “Whale Wars” (Animal Planet, 9 p.m.) return for a new season, energized. The problem is, so are the Japanese whaling fleet they’ve been following. Weather doesn’t cooperate either as the fifth season begins. A summary of their progress in previous seasons precedes the new episode at 8.

The problem with adding so many ambitious dramas to cable is that people can’t watch all of them apparently. So fairly good ones like “Magic City” (Starz, 10 p.m.), about Miami Beach in the 60s, don’t really find the traction they need. Anyway, the first season of the drama starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan comes to a conclusion tonight. So you have all day to catch up.

In the Friday night showcase of leftover episodes of cancelled series, there’s a double play of the not bad ”Best Friends Forever” (NBC, 8 and 8:30 p.m.) that represents its series finale.

The ruins of Detroit have been attraction to a number of creative young people, who have moved to the city to take advantage of low housing costs and boundless possibilities. The three part series “Motor City Rising” (Oxygen, 10 p.m.) examines a number of personalities in the city, including a deaf rapper who is pioneering the use fo sign language in hip hop videos, a young woman who matches discarded furniture with recently housed homless, a Russian artist and performer and a comic battling cancer. Next week, a more innovative person who designed a warm coat that doubles as sleeping bag.

After last week’s National Geographic Bee and the spelling bee earlier this week on ESPN, these televised tests are starting to swarm: The first National History Bee (National Geographic Channel, 8 p.m.) in Washington, D.C. is hosted by Al Roker. The winner gets a $50,000 scholarship.

“Real Time with Bill Maher” is off this week. So there’s another replay of that remarkable battle episode of “Game of Thrones” (HBO, 10 p.m.).

Seems like they save all the jail shows for the weekend. The new one is “Louisiana Lockdown” (Animal Planet, 10 p.m.), examining grim life at the maximum security facility in Angola. I’m sure it has something to do with animals — perhaps the prisoners act like them?

Two hours of vengeance stories fill a “20/20” (ABC, 9 p.m.).

The military reunion/prank show “Coming Home” (Lifetime, 10 p.m.), returns with new episodes.

In “My Yard Goes Disney” (HGTV, 8 p.m.), the property doesn’t go to the Magic Kingdom; the backyard turns into its own version of it. It’s followed by “House Hunters on Vacation” (HGTV, 8:30 p.m.) in which a family seeks a week’s rental in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Jason Mraz is the latest musician to take part in “VH1 Storytellers” (VH1, 11 p.m.).

The eccentric public access TV character at the center of “The Culinary Adventures of Baron Ambrosia” (Cooking, 10 p.m.) travels to find unusual fare. First stop is following the footsteps of P.T. Barnum in Bridgeport, Conn.

Stories by Erskine Caldwell were the basis of three films on Turner Classic Movies – “God’s Little Acre” (8 p.m.), “Tobacco Road” (10:15 p.m.) and “Claudelle Inglish” (midnight). Later it’s a couple of twisted holiday tales from the early 80s – “You Better Watch Out” (2 a.m.) and “New Year’s Evil” (3:45 a.m.).

Are you still getting up early for the French Open (ESPN, 5 a.m.)?

It’s game 3 of Heat at Celtics (ESPN, 8:30 p.m.). Miami leads the series 2-0.

Baseball includes Yankees at Tigers (MLB, 7 p.m.).

And the season finale of “The Ultimate Fighter Live” (FX, 10 p.m.) closes with a live three hour bout, capped by the championship between Mike Chiesa and Al Iaquinta.

Daytime Talk

Kelly Ripa: Chris Hemsworth, Joey Lawrence, Cirque du Soleil, Mike Greenberg. The View: Charlize Theron, Margaret Cho, Joe & Heather Nichols, Mario Cantone. The Talk: Randy Jackson, Agapi Stassinopoulos (rerun). Ellen DeGeneres: Steve Harvey, Gabriel Mann, Jason Mraz (rerun).

Late Talk

David Letterman: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Jim Gaffigan, Kaiser Chiefs (rerun). Jay Leno: Jack Black, Daniel Holzman & Michael Chernow, Beirut (rerun). Jimmy Kimmel: Josh Brolin, Bethenny Frankel, Kimbra (rerun). Jimmy Fallon: Stephen Colbert, Nick Cannon, Big K.R.I.T. (rerun). Craig Ferguson: Jeff Garlin, Sonya Walger. Tavis Smiley: Anna Quindlen (rerun). Chelsea Handler: Malin Akerman, Dan Maurio, Loni Love, Mo Mandel (rerun).

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