Sure, Sunday tends to be overcrowded with high-end TV, including “Downton Abbey,” “Shameless,” “Girls,” Californication,” “Enlightened” and more, but what to watch the rest of the time? Every Monday, we bring you five noteworthy highlights from the other six days of the week.
Effective and enraging, Alex Gibney’s documentary about the first known public protest of sex abuse in the Catholic Church comes to HBO after having received an Oscar-qualifying theatrical release in November. The case involves boys who were literally unable to speak out — they’re deaf and came of age at a time in which few others around them were able to sign — and Gibney allows their upsetting and deeply troubling testimonials to play out on screen as the film expands in its scope to include a larger, damning indictment of a cover-up that traces back to the Vatican.
PBS’ series on the history of TV closes out its third season with an episode focused on landmarked miniseries, from “Roots” to “Rich Man, Poor Man” and “The Thorn Birds.” LeVar Burton, Louis Gossett Jr., Peter Strauss, Susan Blakely, Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward are among the interviewees, with Ryan Seacrest narrating. (Check out a clip here.)
“New Girl”: “Table 34”
Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 9pm on Fox
Last week’s “New Girl” left the show poised on the edge of a potentially major change for central will-they-or-won’t-they couple Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson). This week’s episode, which finds the group accompanying Cece (Hannah Simone) to a marriage convention, will either push the relationship forward or (moon)walk it back for more tension. Meanwhile, Schmidt (Max Greenfield) tries to win Cece back while she explores the prospect of an arranged marriage.
“Smash”: Season Premiere
Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 9pm on NBC
“Smash,” NBC’s great hope turned hate-watching classic last year, returns for a sophomore season with two-hour premiere “On Broadway”/”The Fallout,” sans creator Theresa Rebeck and with “Gossip Girl” executive producer Joshua Safran newly at the helm as showrunner. Will NBC be able to bring the backstage Broadway drama around to the promise some say in its pilot? Early word suggests the show might be worse off in being neither good nor entertainingly awful. Either way, the generally disliked characters of Dev (Raza Jaffrey), Ellis (Jaime Cepero) and Julia’s husband Frank (Brian d’Arcy James) are being shed in favor of new faces like Jeremy Jordan, Andy Mients and Krysta Rodriguez, with Jennifer Hudson playing a guest spot.
“Community”: Season Premiere
Thursday, Feb. 7 at 8pm on NBC
First creator Dan Harmon, who while brilliant was not reported to always be the easiest person to work with, was forced into a messy departure as new showrunners Moses Port and David Guarascio were brought in to take over. Then the series was bumped from its planned fall premiere, ending up in a mid-season spot despite alleged seasonal episodes that will now be shown in the spring. Then Chevy Chase, himself not reported to be that easy to work with, left without closing out the season. So signs indicate it’s best to enjoy what’s left of the show as is, as it returns with “History 101,” a season premiere that finds the gang looking toward graduation as they approach their fourth year at Greendale, with Abed (Danny Pudi) fretting over the possibility of the study group breaking up as everyone moves on.
Also worth a look: TCM is in the midst of a month-long series of Oscar-nominated films, including Douglas Sirk’s “Imitation of Life” on Wednesday, February 6th at 10:30pm; “The Way We Get By” directors Gita Pullapilly and Aron Gaudet executive produced “Lifecasters,” an hour-long pilot that brings together filmmakers (including Adam McKay) to tell stories of unusual Amerians, airing on PBS on Thursday, February 7th at 9pm in most markets.