A selective critical checklist of notable Monday TV:
Biography: Kenny Rogers (9/8c, A&E): The country-music star, who passed away last month at 81, is remembered in a two-hour special tracing his musical roots from The First Edition to The Gambler and beyond. With performances and behind-the-scenes footage from Rogers' 2017 "All in for The Gambler" farewell concert in Nashville as context, Biography includes tributes from his frequent partner Dolly Parton, plus Lionel Richie, Reba McEntire, Chris Stapleton, Lady Antebellum and more.
The Voice (8/7c, NBC): As the singing competition moves into the Knockout Rounds, the remaining contestants will glean wisdom and encouragement from a true legend: James Taylor, who comes aboard as the "Mega Mentor" to coach alongside team captains Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Nick Jonas. In a new twist, the four singers who were saved during the Battle Rounds will now compete in a "Four-Way Knockout," in which viewers from home will decide which of the four ultimately moves on to the first Live Show (whenever that may be).
Songland (10/9c, NBC): Sticking with the musical theme, one of the better skill-based unscripted series returns for a new season, with fledgling songwriters pitching their material, and the winner getting their song recorded by the guest artist — in the season opener, country-pop trio Lady Antebellum. As the panel of seasoned producers work with the writers to tailor their songs for the marketplace, the result is an illuminating look at the creative process.
The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart (8/7c, ABC): Or you could wallow in the guilty pleasure of the latest Bachelor spinoff, which gathers 20 young music-oriented singles to see who can make beautiful, and perhaps passionate, music together. Expect more than a few sour notes of emotional discord along the way. In the intro, host Chris Harrison and others keep talking about this as a real-life Star Is Born. This is all certainly shallow enough, but didn't make it to the end of the movie? Things did not end well.
The Baker and the Beauty (10/9c, ABC): A happy ending is much more likely in this agreeable fairy-tale rom-com, with shades of Ugly Betty, in which Cuban-American Daniel (Victor Rasuk), who toils in his loving family's Little Havana bakery in Miami, is whisked into the fast-lane life of international model-mogul Noa Hamilton (Nathalie Kelley). Their meet-cute takes place on the same night Daniel's relationship with the needy Vanessa (Michelle Veintimilla) falls apart — though she's not giving up on him just yet. (As he walks in shirtless confusion through the streets of Miami, you understand why.) Silly and corny but sweet and refreshingly diverse, Baker is like one of those pastries you know aren't good for you — but as an escape from reality, these empty calories go down easy.
Better Call Saul (9/8c, AMC): If it's substance you're seeking, this increasingly suspenseful Breaking Bad spinoff delivers. After last week's harrowing ambush and trek through the New Mexico desert, a traumatized Jimmy/Saul (Bob Odenkirk) and fretful Kim (Rhea Seehorn) each have epiphanies on what matters most to them. But will cartel boss Lalo (Tony Dalton) buy Saul's story, even after he delivered the $7 million in bail money?
Inside Monday TV: Who to call on Fox's 9-1-1 (8/7c) when Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and her call-center co-workers are taken hostage?… Cheers' John Ratzenberger guests on CBS's Bob Abishola (8:30/7:30c) as Hank, who hits it off with fellow stroke survivor Dottie (Christine Ebersole) when they meet at physical therapy… The pop-culture phenomenon continues to spiral, as Fox presents TMZ Investigates: Tiger King — What Really Happened? (9/8c), the next natural evolution for this tawdry story… HGTV's Celebrity IOU (9/8c) pairs Property Brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott with show-biz superstars who want to surprise a cherished friend or love one with a surprise home renovation. First up: Brad Pitt, who gifts his longtime makeup artist with a new guest suite — and he even wields a mean sledgehammer!… TBS's American Dad! (10/9c) returns for a 15th anniversary season, which the network will mark with afternoon mini-marathons this week and next (Tuesday-Friday) focusing on different characters each day… USA's offbeat thriller Briarpatch (10/9c) comes to an end with the fierce Allegra (Rosario Dawson) taking on her many quirky foes in a crusade for justice.
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