Tuesday 9pm, ABC
Let me see if I can explain this one adequately: “Downfall” is a new game show in which contestants stand on the “largest conveyor belt ever seen on TV” (oh my land, doesn’t that sound fancy?) on top of a skyscraper in downtown L.A. On the end of the belt are facsimiles of various prizes—a car, a grand piano, a jetski—and the contestant has to answer a series of trivia questions to get them. As time ticks by, the prizes drop off the roof of the building, plummeting to the street below. Should the contestant start to struggle, they can either surrender a personal possession or a family member or friend, who will be sent off the edge (with a tether harness) if they can’t help figure out the answers. Get all that? Doesn’t that sound like the stupidest thing ever? And won’t we all watch the first episode anyway?
Poor Jason Lee. Just over a year ago he lost a gig on an Emmy-nominated major-network sitcom (“My Name Is Earl”) and now he’s already in TV purgatory: a basic-cable procedural drama. “Memphis Beat” stars Lee as a laid-back Memphis cop/Elvis impersonator who loves his town as much as he loves blues music, which is quite a lot. Lee’s character will apparently perform music on the show, so thanks for that, “Glee.” His unconventional detective skills aren’t appreciated by his new boss (oh, Alfre Woodard, we need to get you a new agent…). Noted bluesman Keb’ Mo’ also contributes original music to the show.
Thursday 10pm, Comedy Central
This animated series started airing on Fox in the late ’90s, the creation of “The Simpsons’” Matt Groening and David X. Cohen. The show told the story of Fry, a 20th century loser who gets cryogenically frozen by accident and wakes up 1000 years later. He hooks up with interplanetary delivery service and explores fucked-up alien shit across the galaxy along with his coworkers, notably debauched robot Bender and comely lady cyclops Leela. The offbeat show was never a ratings bonanza and was cancelled nearly a decade ago. But like another primetime Fox ‘toon, “Family Guy,” it found a second life on DVD and reruns, and Comedy Central has brought it back—with the original voice cast—for 26 all-new episodes, which start airing tonight. It’ll be good to see the bottled head of Richard Nixon again.