Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars
ABC, CTV, 8 p.m. ET/PT
Who says there are no second acts in American television? Back tonight for its 15th season, ABC’s glitzy dance competition breaks tradition by bringing back popular celebrity contestants from years past. Back for a second chance at the mirror-ball trophy: Semi-working actresses Kirstie Alley, Pamela Anderson and Kelly Monaco; former boy-band members Joey Fatone and Drew Lachey; ex-Olympians Apolo Anton Ohno and Shawn Johnson; retired NFL star Emmitt Smith; and Bristol Palin, daughter of you-know-who. Tonight’s two-hour opener will capsulize each participant’s previous appearances and then pair each star-hoofer with a professional dancer for the competition ahead. Tom Bergeron returns to host.
CBS, CITY-TV, 8:30 p.m. ET/PT
Last season, CBS claimed to break new ground by putting plus-sized people on TV with the hit sitcom Mike & Molly; this fall, it’s breaking down gay stereotypes in this new comedy. Launching tonight, Partners is allegedly based on the real-life experiences of best-buddy TV producers Max Mutchnik (he’s gay) and David Kohan (he’s straight), best known for creating and running the sitcom Will & Grace for several seasons. In this setup, their personalities are morphed into the characters of the successful and painfully straight architect Joe (David Krumholtz) and his best pal and co-worker Louis (Michael Urie), who is outrageously gay. The odd-couple principals are there for each other in tonight’s opener as Joe proposes to his gorgeous girlfriend Ali (Sophia Bush) while Louis navigates his own relationship hiccups with nurse boyfriend Wyatt (Brandon Routh). Isn’t it bromantic?
2 Broke Girls
CBS, CITY-TV, 9 p.m. ET/PT
In more conventional TV comedy scenarios, this sitcom about two single ladies trying to make it in the Big Apple was a breakout hit last season. For those new to the party, the premise stars Kat Dennings as the streetwise Max, who regards her waitressing job at a grubby diner as a stepping stone to her larger dream of opening her own cupcake business. Signed on for Max’s big dream is her fellow waitress Caroline (Beth Behrs), a former rich kid reduced to hard times after her father is imprisoned in a Bernie Madoff-like investment scandal. All of which factors significantly into tonight’s second-season opener when Max accompanies Caroline on her visit to see her father, Martin, played for ex-Wings regular Steven Weber. The old crook’s insistence that Caroline buy a specific family keepsake at an estate sale rouses Max’s suspicions.
American Masters: The Day Carl Sandburg Died
PBS, 10 p.m. ET/PT
For a good chunk of the 20
century, Carl Sandburg was the people’s poet. Beyond his popularizing free-verse prose and winning three Pulitzer Prizes, Sandburg was an authentic folk figure whose rustic upbringing and warm personality made him one of the most beloved figures in U.S. culture; he would even read poetry on The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show. Strangely, following his death in 1967, Sandburg’s works were removed almost overnight from school curriculums all over America. This profile includes rare footage of the poet laureate in his prime and features perspective from contemporaries like Pete Seeger, Studs Terkel and fellow poets Ted Kooser and Yevgeny Yevtushenko on why Sandburg’s literary legacy has faded.
The Diary of Anne Frank
TCM, 10 p.m. ET; 7 p.m. PT
A direct adaptation of a successful 1950s stage play, which in turn was based on the bestselling book, this 1959 film is a faithful retelling of the tragic true-life wartime story. The fresh-faced Millie Perkins assumed the titular role of the teen daughter of a Jewish family living in German-occupied Holland, circa 1942. When her sister Margot (Diane Baker) is summoned by the Nazi authorities, Anne and her terrified family move into a hidden section – the “Secret Annex” – in her father’s office building, where they spend the next two years. Veteran character player Shelley Winters earned an Oscar for her portrayal of a supportive Dutch housewife sharing the cramped quarters.