Stars of sitcoms past appear in something new that feels very old.
“How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)” (9:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) stars Sarah Chalke (“Roseanne,” “Scrubs”) as Polly, a sensible wife and mother who abandons her goofy, irresponsible husband, Julian (Jon Dore), to move back with her middle-aged but free-spirited parents, Max and Elaine (Brad Garrett, “Every body Loves Raymond,” and Elizabeth Perkins, “Weeds”).
Polly’s parents’ eccentricities are told in a series of flashbacks narrated by their exasperated daughter. Hedonists who never left the 1970s, they speak freely about the “key party” orgies of their youth. Elaine describes her youthful promiscuity as a point of pride. The habit of sharing too much information reaches a dreadful extreme when Elaine describes the aesthetic effects of Max’s testicular cancer surgery.
Max and Elaine’s loopy escapades and their “let it be” attitude regarding parenting stand in stark contrast to Polly’s far-too-controlling behavior toward her own daughter, Natalie (Rachel Eggleston).
Will valuable life lessons be learned?
It’s hardly surprising that Garrett proves less than convincing as a hedonist. Even here, his penchant for self-expression rarely transcends mere grumpiness. Much of that is directed at the well-meaning and useless Julian, who continually tries to re-insinuate himself into their lives with sweet, but ultimately annoying, gestures. Perkins’ character is equally unconvincing.
The notion of parents from the free-love generation raising a slightly stiffer offspring is at least as old as “Family Ties,” a comedy that debuted 31 years ago. “Absolutely Fabulous,” the British comedy that perfected the art of lampooning delusional, middle-aged ex-
hippies, debuted more than 20 years ago. Even “Dharma Greg” is from another century.
There are reasons why doomed shows like “Parents” debut at the end of the television season. It’s not clear if we should recoil from its abject waste of talent, its paucity of fresh ideas or the fact that it debuts after “Modern Family,” a successful series that proves there is still life in the sitcom genre.
—The new reality series “Forever Young” (10 p.m., TV Land, TV-PG) features groups of 20-somethings and septua-
genarians learning to collab-
orate during a scavenger hunt.
—Fans of “Doctor Who” star David Tennant can catch him in the costume-drama
espionage-thriller miniseries “Spies of Warsaw” (9 p.m., BBC America, concludes next Wednesday). He’s an aristocrat, wounded veteran and French diplomat who falls madly for a married Parisian lawyer (Janet Montgomery) on the eve of World War II. Their complex efforts to ferret out secrets from German informants take a back seat to romantic melodrama and fancy clothes.
—Finalists sing from the classic rock songbook on “American Idol” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
—Down for the count on “Arrow” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).
—A vision of the future on “Modern Family” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
—“NOVA” (9 p.m., PBS, TV-G) examines the discovery of a 2,000-
year-old astronomical calculator, considered the earliest “computer.”
—A SWAT team arrives on “Boston’s Finest” (9 p.m., TNT, TV-14).
—Prisoners escape, sending the city into turmoil, on “Bomb Girls” (9 p.m., Reelz, TV-PG).
—A killer in the forest on “CSI” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
—A rookie to train on “Chicago Fire” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
—Rayna learns that life on tour is not for her daughters on “Nash ville” (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
—A drug dealer’s funeral is attended by rival gangs on “South land” (10 p.m., TNT, TV-MA).
—A botched mission puts Elizabeth and Philip on edge on “The Americans” (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA).
—Pet rats and a Raggedy Ann doll collection are featured on “My Crazy Obsession” (10 p.m., TLC, TV-PG).
Laurence Olivier stars in two Shakespeare adaptations, “Henry V” (8 p.m., TCM) and “Hamlet” (10:30 p.m., TCM), from 1944 and 1948.
—Frankie frets about a reality show on “The Middle” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
—George’s vanity irks Dallas on “Suburgatory” (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
—Middle age is a killer on “Criminal Minds” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
—A singer’s boyfriend abuses her on “Law Order: Special Victims Unit” (9 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
—Kevin hears voices on
“Supernatural” (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
—Sheryl Sandberg is scheduled on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” (11 p.m., Comedy Central).
—Steven Yeun and Darius Rucker appear on “Conan” (11 p.m., TBS, broadcast from Atlanta).
—Brad Wollack, Chris Franjola, Sarah Colonna and Jen Kirkman are booked on “Chelsea Lately” (11 p.m., E!).
—A.C. Grayling sits down on “The Colbert Report” (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central).
—Louis CK, Rachel Maddow and the Flaming Lips appear on “Late Show With David Letter man” (11:35 p.m., CBS).
—Jay Leno welcomes Rosario Dawson, Max Greenfield and Glor-
iana on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC).
—Russell Brand, Bob Costas and Gary Allan appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (11:35 p.m., ABC).
—Sarah Silverman, Hugh Dancy and Gordon Lightfoot visit “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” (12:35 a.m., NBC).
—Craig Ferguson hosts Lisa Kudrow and Bonnie Raitt on “The Late Late Show” (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at email@example.com.