By Kevin McDonough
Some series are so contrived, "high-concept" and strange, you have to wonder how they were ever conceived, never mind produced. "Kevin (Probably) Saves the World" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14) comes to mind.
Kevin (Jason Ritter) is a recent would-be suicide who comes to live with twin sister Amy (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), whose husband has recently died, leaving her daughter, Reese (Chloe East), deeply depressed.
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Amy's a professor of astronomy, or something, tasked by the government with explaining a spate of meteorites. Coincidentally, one falls right by Amy's house, bringing Kevin in touch with a celestial messenger, Yvette (Kimberly Hebert Gregory), who tells him that he is now responsible for assembling a team of disciples to save the planet. Yvette's resemblance to Oprah Winfrey seems entirely intentional.
Kevin frequently bickers with Yvette, a figure that only he can see. To everybody else, including his grieving niece, he looks as if he's conducting heated and extended conversations with himself.
In short, "Kevin" trades in some bizarre themes that should limit its appeal. To secular viewers, this may seem contrived when not depressing. To the religiously inclined, Kevin's transcendent spiritual experience is too often depicted as a psychotic breakdown.
• The new sitcom "The Mayor" (9:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) takes a farfetched idea and leaves it rather half-baked. Would-be hip-hop star Courtney Rose (Brandon Micheal Hall) has a novel idea: run for office as a way to jump-start his music career. But after the engaging Rose has a better-than-expected debate performance against a political stiff (David Spade!), he is swept into office in spite of his cynical intentions.
That all takes place in the space of eight minutes. And the wheels come off "The Mayor" shortly thereafter.
Even after assuming office, Rose can't decide if he is a terminally immature, bling-obsessed, wannabe star or a noble young man serving his community. It doesn't help that he can't make a move without the prodding of his sassy mother, Dina (Yvette Nicole Brown), or his goody-two-shoes adviser, Valentina (Lea Michele, "Glee"). It's also a tad strange that Rose, said to be 27, is always riding a small bike from one crisis to another.
"The Mayor" continues in ABC's streak of "ethnic" or identity-based comedies, from "blackish," to "The Goldbergs," "Fresh Off the Boat" and "The Real O'Neals." It's just a little hard to find the comedy in "The Mayor," when it so often trades in the stereotype of a young black man as either a clown or a child.
TV on DVD
TV-themed DVDs available today include "iZombie" season three.
TONIGHT'S SEASON PREMIERES
• A changed Axl returns from Europe on "The Middle" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG). This is the series' ninth and final season.
• Larry David and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., appear on "Finding Your Roots" (8 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings).
• An urge to buy a vowel on "Fresh Off the Boat" (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
• Heritage matters on "blackish" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
• Blind auditions continue on "The Voice" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
• The American League Wild Card Game (8 p.m., ESPN).
• The staff takes on a euthanasia case on "Bull" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
• The family gathers around Kevin on "This Is Us" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
• Erik confides in his therapist on "Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
• "Cyberwar" (10 p.m., Viceland, TV-14) examines how the meme has become a weapon in the so-called culture wars.
Henry Fonda stars in the 1967 adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's novel "Welcome to Hard Times" (6:15 p.m., TCM).
The plot thickens on "NCIS" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Cosmetic surgery can be murder on "Lethal Weapon" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14) * Barry confronts Savitar on "The Flash" (8 p.m., CW, r, TV-PG) * A perfect playmate on "The Mick" (9 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14) * Undercover behind bars on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14) * Video-game players compete in "Machinima's Chasing the Cup: Injustice 2" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14) * A Russian asset goes missing on "NCIS: New Orleans" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
David Muir is booked on "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah" (11 p.m., Comedy Central) * Minnie Driver appears on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes Sarah Silverman, K.J. Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Madelaine Petsch and Miley Cyrus on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) * Kyra Sedgwick, Cecily Strong, Salman Rushdie and Gene Hoglan visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC) * Julia Roberts and Shania Twain appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
© 2017, United Feature Syndicate