TV column for Sunday, Jan. 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Valley of the Boom” opener, 9 and 9:58 p.m. ET, National
Geographic, rerunning at 11 and 11:58.

For a wild and weird
time in the 1990s, Silicon Valley was full of money and short of
logic. Geeks, earnest and idealistic, created new internet ideas;
financiers descended.

This six-part tale
follows two good ideas (Netscape and TheGlobe) and a scam (Pixelon).
It's mainly a standard drama, including Steve Zahn's delightful
portrayal of the scam guy. But there are also talking-head moments
from the real people ... or an actor playing a real person ... or an
actor playing an unreal person. There are rappers, a young math whiz
and more; an odd story is told in oddly delightful ways.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Victoria” season-opener, 9 p.m., PBS.

You think we have
crises? Try this: Revolution is surging through the continent. Mobs
are at the gate, demanding changes from the leader ... who chooses
this moment to go into labor with her sixth child.

It's a tense time in
1848, beautifully captured. And we meet two newcomers, each complex:
Feodora is the queen's older sister, fleeing from her marriage to a
penniless prince in Germany. Lord Palmerston is a charismatic
politician who would go on to be prime minister (twice). It's a
splashy role for Laurence Fox, who was given little to do during all
his years as the “Inspector Lewis” sergeant.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “American Style,” 9 and 10 p.m. ET, CNN (barring
breaking news).

The 1940s and '50s,
profiled in the first hour, had comfortable conformity and Eisenhower
efficiency. Then the '60s began. Jacqueline Kennedy “knew who the
French designers were,” historian Douglas Brinkley says in the
second hour. “I promise you, Mamie Eisenhower didn't.”

And then the French
didn't matter as much. Dennis Christopher – then a fashion
assistant and later the “Breaking Away” star – leads a fun
account of Americans' triumph in France. With a dizzying number of
clips, stills and experts, this series opener offers little depth,
but offers a fun ride through history. TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE II:
“True Detective” season-opener, 9 p.m., HBO.

The first “True
Detective,” back in 2014, was a triumph; the second, a year later,
was not. That led to a long pause and now – almost three-and-a-half
years later – a reboot.

Mahershala Ali, 44 –
who already has an Oscar (“Moonlight”) and a Golden Globe (“The
Green Book”) -- plays an old cop whose memory is fading as he
recalls a case for a true-crime documentary. We flash back to 1980
and '90, with Ali probing the case in small-town Alabama. Carmen
Elojo is his wife, with Stephen Dorff as his police partner and Sarah
Gadon as the reporter.

Other choices
include:

“Critics Choice
Awards,” 7-10 p.m., CW. Fresh from finally getting a major award (a
Golden Globe for “The Kominsky Method”), TV's best comedy
producer, Chuck Lorre, gets a career prize. The cast of his “Big
Bang Theory” will present it. There are tons of other awards, for
movies and TV.

“God Friended Me,”
8 p.m., CBS. Miles receives two jolts: The “God account” sends
him 76 friend

suggestions. Also,
his sister moves in with him, when her apartment is being fumigated.

“A League of Their
Own” (1992), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. Penny Marshall, who
died last month at 75, was a gifted comedy actress and a talented
director who peaked with “Big” in 1988 and then this terrific
film, capturing the wartime era of professional women's baseball.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. A Syrian, delivering evidence that chemical
weapons were used on civilians, is brutally attacked. Kensi stays at
the crime scene when he's pinned behind a vehicle.

“Rel,” 9:30
p.m., Fox. After his daughter has trouble at school, Rel drives from
Chicago to Cleveland.

“Dirty John”
finale, 10 p.m., Bravo. For seven weeks, this true-crime miniseries
has shown John Meehan seducing and then terrorizing his wife and her
daughters. This has been too drawn-out, but fascinating; now comes a
fierce finish that viewers will find was worth the long ride.