By Kevin McDonough
"The Cromarties" (10:30 p.m., USA, TV-14) becomes the latest fish-out-of-water reality series to pass itself off as a comedy. In this case, the slick, floundering object is former NFL Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie, who's forced to become Mr. Mom after more than a decade on the football field.
• Some feared that the proliferation of such family reality series - going back to "The Osbournes" - would force scripted comedies off the air. Yet nearly two decades into the reality television era, "The Big Bang Theory" still ranks as one of TV's favorites.
Will "The Big Bang" spinoff "Young Sheldon" (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) attract as large an audience? CBS introduced "Sheldon" to a sizable and eager audience in September, only to put it back on the shelf until last week. Fewer viewers greeted its return.
Perhaps the problem with "Sheldon" isn't intermittent scheduling. The comedy is simply all over the place. On tonight's episode, Annie Potts ("Designing Women") guest-stars as Sheldon's grandmother. She's a feisty Texan who spoils the kids and teaches Sheldon poker and the value of bluffing. The notion that somebody might be "lying" with facial expressions seems beyond the grasp of this socially awkward young character.
Sheldon (Iain Armitage) is first seen upstaging a minister at church, lecturing him and the congregation. By the end of the episode, Sheldon's dad has had a mild heart attack, and the little lad takes refuge in the hospital chapel.
This kind of hedging is at the core of the series' problems. It never comes down on one side of very basic questions. Is Sheldon a precocious and problematic skeptic in a town of true believers? Or is he merely "cute"? Is the show a dark, flippant, punchline-driven comedy like other Chuck Lorre sitcoms? Or a heart-tugging nostalgia-fest? Is the tone cool? Or warm? Until "Young Sheldon" figures itself out, viewers are going to be frustrated and confused.
• Acorn streams the eighth season finale of "Doc Martin," featuring returning guest star Sigourney Weaver, who plays a pesky American tourist in need of medical advice. "Doc Martin" has long been a favorite of American viewers, who have watched it on select PBS stations as well as Netflix.
TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
• An accident at a county fair fills the wards on the 300th episode of "Grey's Anatomy" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
• Five finalists return home to complete their collections on the first part of the season finale of "Project Runway" (9 p.m., Lifetime, TV-PG).
• A familiar face upsets a diplomatic mission on "The Orville" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• Quinn and Charlie celebrate their big day on "Scandal" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
• Convicts escape on "S.W.A.T." (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
Unexpected horrors emerge when a photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) spends the weekend at the home of his girlfriend's (Allison Williams) parents (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) in the 2017 shocker "Get Out" (8 p.m., HBO).
Sheldon keeps secrets on "The Big Bang Theory" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * A changed Billie returns on "Supernatural" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) * A joy ride takes a wrong turn on "Mom" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14) * Slade and Vigilante return on "Arrow" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14) * A misplaced name on "Life in Pieces" (9:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
Van Jones is booked on "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah" (11 p.m., Comedy Central) * Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, John Lithgow and Linda Cardellini appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS) * Josh Hutcherson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Dan Auerbach appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC) * Mark Wahlberg, Martin McDonagh and Nathan Davilmar visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC) * Gael Garcia Bernal and Jason Momoa appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
© 2017, United Feature Syndicate