‘Dancing’ With Athletes, James Cameron on Sci-Fi, ‘Elementary’ Returns

An Infinite Capacity for Taking Pains
Jeff Neira /CBS
Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson in 'Elementary'

A selective critical checklist of notable Monday TV:

Dancing With the Stars: Athletes (8/7c, ABC): They’ll be dancing as fast as they can in a compressed season of the venerable ballroom competition, with only four weeks of play before a mirrorball trophy is bestowed upon one of 10 renowned athletes. The roster is heavy on Olympians, including breakout figure-skating personality Adam Rippon, who’s a likely front-runner, along with fellow figure skater Mirai Nagusu. As for Tonya Harding: good luck. Sports legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Johnny Damon will also give the dance floor a whirl, alongside snowboarder Jamie Anderson, luger Chris Mazdzer, softball gold medalist Jennie Finch Daigle, women’s basketball star Arike Ogunbowale and the NFL’s Josh Norman. The opening night will feature the foxtrot, salsa and cha cha, and by the end of the night, there will already be a live elimination based on judges’ scores and live votes from viewers in Eastern and Central time zones.

AMC Visionaries: James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction (10/9c, AMC): Like an all-star Comic Con, this wide-ranging six-part dissection of all things sci-fi is at its best when ringleader/host James Cameron geeks out with like-minded filmmaking legends in one-on-ones. The premiere deals with “Alien Life” in its most uplifting and terrifying forms, with guest Steven Spielberg giving thoughtful insights into Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. A discussion of his and others’ versions of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds is a reminder of how sci-fi can evoke the cultural anxieties of any era.

Elementary (10/9c, CBS): Off the air for nearly a year, the contemporary Sherlock Holmes procedural returns for a sixth season (continuing into the summer), as Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) grapples with a troubling medical condition that could threaten his career and ever-tenuous sobriety. Desmond Harrington (Dexter) joins the cast as a man who credits Sherlock with helping him conquer his own addition—but can he be trusted? The case of the week embroils Holmes and Watson (Lucy Liu) in the fallout over a leaked sex tape involving an heiress desperate to find her partner on the scandalous video.

Inside Monday TV: In a topical episode of CBS’s Superior Donuts (9/8c) inspired by events in the life of co-star Diane Guerrero, Sofia (Guerrero) asks Franco (Jermaine Fowler) for help when ICE raids imperil her brother with deportation to Colombia. … NBC’s Good Girls (10/9c) wraps its first season with the ladies of larceny committed to taking down Rio (Manny Montana). And when a kidney becomes available for Ruby’s (Retta) daughter, the cash-strapped women plot a caper that takes them back to the scene of their misbegotten first crime. … A new edition of PBS’s Independent Lens tells a story that could make a great movie or TV series. In True Conviction (10/9c, check local listings at pbs.org), documentarian Jamie Meltzer profiles three men who collectively spent 60 years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. Now exonerated and free, they form an investigative “dream team” in Dallas dedicated to help other wrongfully conflicted prisoners gain their freedom.