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Nick introduces ‘The Barbarian and the Troll’ |


THERE’S NOTHING like a mythic quest that can laugh at itself. “The Barbarian and the Troll” (7:30 p.m., Nickelodeon, TV-G) arrives tonight. Set in a medieval world filled with wizards, spells and adventures right out of “The Lord of the Rings,” this puppet comedy is created by Mike Mitchell (“Shrek Forever After”) and Drew Massey, a veteran of the Jim Henson Company.

• An interesting tale of an artist overshadowed by his most popular gig, the “American Masters” (9 p.m., PBS, TV-14, check local listings) profile of trumpeter Doc Severinsen shows how he was and remains much more than Johnny Carson’s sidekick.

The band leader for “The Tonight Show” for three decades, Severinsen was a child musical prodigy. A diminutive dentist’s son from a small Oregon town still very much defined by the Wild West, Severinsen learned to use his fists at an early age and joined jazz big bands when many contemporaries were barely out of high school. It was an education for him as a musician and as a young man amidst a debauched jazz scene.

A wealth of vintage footage includes clips of him reflecting on those years with singer and talk show host Dinah Shore. He’s sly enough to state that such recollections cannot be shared on television, and with a wink, he insinuates that the wholesome Shore knows exactly what he’s talking about.

It’s a cliche to state that the film still finds Doc going strong at 93, but we’re shown clips of him working out at a Gold’s Gym three times a week. We also see him instructing young jazz musicians at the University of North Texas’ celebrated music program. To Severinsen, this is a must. If you have a gift, you have an obligation to pass it on.

• “WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn” begins streaming on HULU. A tale of a charismatic visionary who enticed investors into supporting his business of renting flexible shared workspaces, it shows how company co-founder Adam Neumann went from Wall Street darling to a cautionary tale.

He’s seen here rehearsing and delivering pitches for WeWork that combine the pomposity of TED Talks with New Age malarkey and televangelism. “WeWork” may remind some viewers of the spate of documentaries about the rise and fall of Theranos some years back.

Hulu also begins streaming “Zappa,” the 2020 musical biography of Frank Zappa directed by Alex Winter. Assembled from a wealth of unseen footage, it attempts to capture a paradoxical artist, both ambitious and caustic, a long-haired founder of the Laurel Canyon enclave who exuded contempt for the “hippie” drug scene, a disciplined artist and sophisticated composer who could also engage in the most puerile humor and adolescent misogyny.

• The 2021 documentary “Hysterical” (9 p.m., FX, TV-MA) showcases both familiar and emerging female stand-up talents who discuss the special challenges of succeeding in a field defined by abrasive masculinity. HULU streams “Hysterical” starting tomorrow.

Other highlights

• A Russian asset working for the U.S. government puts Red in the crosshairs on “The Blacklist” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

• A childhood filled with abuse inspires a member of the band MercyMe to write the bestselling Christian single of all time in the 2018 musical biopic “I Can Only Imagine” (8 p.m., Lifetime).

• Charlton Heston stars in the 1959 adaptation of Lew Wallace’s novel “Ben-Hur” (8 p.m., TCM, TV-PG), set at the time of the crucifixion.

• Erin runs interference on “Blue Bloods” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

Cult choice

A simple-minded gardener (Peter Sellers) is mistaken for a political oracle in the 1979 satire “Being There” (5:45 p.m., TCM, TV-14).

Series notes

Undercover at a wedding on “MacGyver” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) … “WWE Friday Night SmackDown” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) … Hygiene matters on “Shark Tank” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) … Obstacles galore on “Wipeout” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).

Carjacking and dognapping on “Magnum P.I.” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14) … “Dateline” (9 p.m., NBC) … “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC, r) … “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (9 p.m., CW, TV-PG).

Late night

Dana Carvey and Imagine Dragons are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (11:35 p.m., CBS, r) … Jimmy Fallon welcomes Matthew McConaughey and Megan Rapinoe on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC, r) … “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (11:35 p.m., ABC) is a repeat.

Jake Tapper and Glynn Turman visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) … Dan Stevens and Michael Kiwanuka appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (12:37 a.m., CBS, r).



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