TV picks: 'American Idol,' 'Rise,' 'Timeless,' 'This Is Us' and more

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Susanna Thompson (left), Jonathan Stanley, and Abigail Spencer in a scene from Sunday’s season premiere of NBC’s “Timeless.”

American Idol. It’s back. In the reboot’s two-hour premiere, Luke Bryan describes himself and fellow judges Katy Perry and Lionel Richie as “peas in a pod,” and, although not one of those peas is as much fun to watch as Simon Cowell, the early auditions are much less of a freak show than Fox’s version often was. Lots of the kids are all right (some are more than all right), and there are even a few goose bump moments. Look for Langhorne’s Catie Turner to get things off to a highly original start. Stick around till the end on Sunday for West Philly’s Dennis Lorenzo. Mara Justine,  of Galloway, N.J, a 2014 finalist on America’s Got Talent, is expected to be on Monday’s show. 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday, ABC.

Timeless. If you howled when NBC canceled this  time-travel show and cheered when it uncanceled it, you should probably plan to watch its return — and rope in a few friends — lest history repeat itself. In the second-season premiere,  Wyatt (Matt Lanter) and Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) travel back to First World War France in search of Lucy (Abigail Spencer), who’s reluctantly working with the mysterious Rittenhouse group. The name should be familiar to Philadelphians, as the fictional organization that’s out to change history was founded,  in Timeless lore, by the real-life 18th-century astronomer and inventor David Rittenhouse, for whom Rittenhouse Square is named. 10 p.m. Sunday, NBC.

Deception. Miss Castle? The Mentalist? Like card tricks and cocky voiceovers? Then this drama about a superstar magician (Jack Cutmore-Scott) who sets out to work with the FBI could be your next far-fetched cop show. Ilfenesh Hadera stars as the agent who teams up with the magician in this new series from Chris Fedak (Chuck), whose fellow producers include illusionist David Kwong. 10 p.m. Sunday, ABC.

Jane. This extraordinary documentary makes its television debut after being unexpectedly snubbed by Oscar voters. Director Brett Morgen drew from more than a hundred hours of what was once thought to be lost footage of the young Jane Goodall for this portrait of the pioneering chimpanzee researcher and conservationist whose rejection of societal norms in pursuit of her passion made her a woman ahead of her time. 8 p.m. Monday, National Geographic.

Mary Kills People. Let’s hear if for titles that say what they mean. Caroline Dhavernas returns for a second season in this Canadian series in which she plays Mary Harris, an emergency room physician whose sideline is assisted suicides. 9 p.m. Monday, Lifetime.

This Is Us. Believe it or not, it’s the season finale for TV’s favorite weepfest, which won’t be back for many months. First, though, we’re expecting a wedding. 9 p.m. Tuesday, NBC.

Rise. Josh Radnor stars as high school teacher Lou Mazzuchelli in a new drama from Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights) that’s set somewhere near Pittsburgh but that was inspired by former Inquirer and Daily News reporter Michael Sokolove’s book Drama High, about Levittown’s Truman High School and its longtime drama teacher Lou Volpe. Rosie Perez plays the fictional Lou’s challenging — and more experienced — assistant. Standout performers on the student side include Auli’i Cravalho (Moana), and  Damon J. Gillespie. 10 p.m. Tuesday, NBC, moving to 9 p.m. the following week.

For the People. New legal drama from Paul William Davies and Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland company is set in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and focuses on young prosecutors and public defenders and their tangled personal and professional lives. (Think Grey’s Anatomy, but with lawyers. And I mean that in a good way.) Hope Davis, Anna Deavere Smith,  Vondie Curtis-Hall, and Ben Shenkman play the court’s grownups. Among those hoping to leave their mark on what’s known as “the mother court” are characters played by Britt Robertson  (Under the Dome), Jasmin Savoy Brown (The Leftovers), and Regé-Jean Page (Roots). Havertown’s Tom Verica, an executive producer, directed the pilot. 10 p.m. Tuesday, ABC.

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The Montiers: An American Story. Documentary focuses on the remarkable history of  the Montier family, African American descendants of  Philadelphia’s first mayor, Humphrey Morrey, who was appointed by William Penn in 1691. Hiram Montier’s 1841 portrait, along with that of his wife, Elizabeth, hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 8:30 p.m. March 16, WHYY12.

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