By Kevin McDonough
With so much sameness in cable programming, it's fun to stumble upon something that breaks the mold. Or at least mixes things up while sticking to the tried and true.
There's nothing more traditional in television than the faux "party," the contrived gathering, where celebrity guests pretend to let their hair down and just "hang out." It takes a lot of talent and practice to project the appearance of relaxation and fun.
Dean Martin's variety shows and his many celebrity roasts projected the aura of rowdy spontaneity. The recent passing of Hugh Hefner reminded us of his "Playboy After Dark" series, inviting viewers to a swinging cocktail party attended by athletes, Bunnies, musicians and writers. At its best, "Hollywood Squares" could ascend to partylike banter. More recently, "The Graham Norton Show" and "Hollywood Game Night" offer the illusion of A-listers at play.
Now entering its second season, "Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party" (10 p.m., VH1, TV-14) must be added to this list.
Casting Martha Stewart, who has always projected a brand of brittle perfectionism, with Snoop Dogg, famous for his strenuously mellow vibe, is an idea so crazy that it often works.
The morning show element of menu preparation adds another odd ingredient. "Potluck Dinner Party" demonstrates how people of wildly different backgrounds and sensibilities can come together for a good time — or at least the appearance of one. Particularly when there's food involved.
Tonight's guests include Jamie Foxx, Patti LaBelle and Charlie Wilson. In the clip made available for review, Foxx seems to be having a whole lot more fun on this show than his own new Showtime series, "White Famous."
• The armchair mechanic series has been one of the more endurable and imitated reality genres. Want proof? "Fast N' Loud" (10 p.m., Discovery, TV-14) is entering its 13th season. Tonight, the gang at the Gas Monkey Garage will try to convert a 1973 Chevy P30 Step Van into a hot rod.
• Acorn begins streaming the thriller series "Acceptable Risk," starring Elaine Cassidy ("The Paradise") as the widow of a murdered man who falls deeper into conspiracies as she begins to explore his secret life. Angeline Ball ("Doc Martin") co-stars.
• "Horror at the Cecil Hotel" (10 p.m., ID, TV-14) surveys a history of dark doings at a Los Angeles hotel dating back to its opening in 1924.
TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
• Rascal Flatts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Joe Jonas and Kelly Rowland appear as the Battles begin on "The Voice" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
• A run for the border on "Lucifer" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• Adam Sandler and Kevin James star in the 2015 animated comedy "Pixels" (8 p.m., FX). Not to be confused with "The Emoji Movie."
• The Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans meet in "Monday Night Football" (8:15 p.m., ESPN).
• Reed bends the rules on "The Gifted" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• An aging nuke proves unstable on "Scorpion" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
• A homegrown traitor may be a key to avoiding disaster on "The Brave" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
• Parents of an unborn baby mull a crucial decision on "The Good Doctor" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
• The "POV" documentary "Motherland" (10 p.m., PBS, TV-14, check local listings) presents a cinema verite glance at a maternity hospital in Manila, the busiest on Earth.
A jilted wife (Kay Johnson) dons a devil costume to woo her husband (Reginald Denny) away from his mistress (Lillian Roth) aboard a doomed zeppelin in the pre-code 1930 musical comedy "Madam Satan" (8 p.m., TCM). The film was a real departure for MGM as well as its director, Cecil B. DeMille. Kay Johnson (1904-75) is the mother of actor James Cromwell.
Leonard's mother befriends Penny on "The Big Bang Theory" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Disney films inspire on "Dancing With the Stars" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) * Yael Grobglas ("Jane the Virgin") guest-stars as Psi, a thief with psychic powers, on "Supergirl" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) * Leaky pipes on "9JKL" (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Running interference on "Kevin Can Wait" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Nora and Gallo seek more answers on "Valor" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14) * Upstaged on "Me, Myself & I" (9:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
Bryan Cranston, Sebastian Maniscalco and Aimee Mann appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS, r) * Hillary Clinton and Emma Stone are booked on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes Demi Lovato and John Cleese on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC, r) * Jeffrey Tambor, Walton Goggins, Action Bronson and Elaine Bradley visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) * Jim Gaffigan, James Van Der Beek and Liam Payne appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).
© 2017 United Feature Syndicate