PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET
Part 2 of 3. This is the central night of a three-night experiment in which cameras, reporters and scientists are dispatched around Monterey Bay to capture live TV shots of the marine wildlife gathering there at this time of year. Last night’s opener relied a bit too much on pre-packaged features, but this PBS-BBC co-production was quite lucky with some of its live photography, especially at the end, when whale watchers everywhere must have been thrilled. (BBC viewers were even luckier: Their Big Blue Live series started a day earlier, and captured the first-ever live footage of a giant blue whale, pictured.) The quest, and supposedly the good luck, continues tonight. My only hope is that, whenever a live camera image captures something exciting, the director drops the interview in progress into a smaller picture-in-picture frame, rather than relegating the valuable live nature footage to that tinier rectangle. Check local listings.
El Rey, 9:00 p.m. ET
Last week’s Season 2 premiere set up the new traveling teams, the new plot lines, and the new conflicts – and did it all with enough creativity to warrant continued viewing.
Sundance, 9:00 p.m. ET
Simply put, Goodfellas is a Greatmovie. It’s one of Martin Scorsese’s best works as a director, which is about as high a praise as you can generate. Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci – all of them are fantastic here, in a Who’s Who gallery of tough-guy character actors. It’s hard to believe how well everything gels in this film about New York mobsters – and harder still to believe that this year is the movie’s golden anniversary.
TNT, 10:00 p.m. ET
Last week’s series premiere set up the characters, the premise and the era – and wasted no time in killing off one of its central characters. This week, Muldoon (Ed Burns) investigates that character’s murder – which is a family affair from start to grisly finish.
Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m. ET
SEASON PREMIERE: I always feel a little guilty recommending this series, because there’s something basically wrong about it: Get people drunk enough to slur their way through some historical narrative they know well, then re-enact the story, digressions and belches and all, using costumed celebrity actors. But it works, it’s funny, and sometimes – believe it or not – it’s even instructive. Among tonight’s “reenactments”: Abraham Lincoln (played by Stephen Merchant) enlists a balloonist (Greg Kinnear) on a secret mission. Just don’t try this at home, kids. Or adults.