Mother's Day arrives early as comic Ralph Harris ("On Our Own") hosts the premiere of "My Momma Throws Down" (8 p.m., TV One). Each episode will pit two matriarchs against each other in a race to create their signature dishes. Contestants will be
assisted (or distracted) by family members and judged by a rotating panel of chefs, restaurateurs and celebrities.
This celebration of mothers and their recipes was created by the makers of "Iron Chef."
---For all of its fancy production values and extreme sex and violence, the action on "Magic City" (10 p.m., Starz, TV-MA) seems increasingly lifeless and unbelievable. Sometimes it seems more like a fashion shoot or a showcase for vintage cars than a compelling drama.
---Looking for something smart, adult and compelling, with a welcome absence of extreme sex and violence? "Lily hammer" isn't a television show in the traditional sense. It is the first drama made available exclusively to subscribers of the Netflix streaming service. It's not available to all, but neither is "Damages," now seen only on DirecTV.
"Lilyhammer" stars musician and actor Steven Van Zandt ("The Sopranos" and the E Street Band) as Frank Tagliano, a New York gangster who chooses the unlikely Norwegian city of Lillehammer for his stint in the witness protection program. He really enjoyed watching the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Made on a small budget for Norwegian television, "Lily hammer" moves quickly to become "The Sopranos" meets "Fargo," with a little "Northern Exposure" thrown in. Frank finds the residents to be reserved and set in their ways. But before long, he shakes them up by opening a swinging nightclub, "investing" in local enterprises and settling down with a young local single mother (Marian Saastad Ottesen).
Van Zandt is not an accomplished actor and rarely deviates from his Silvio Dante "Sopranos" character, a man equipped with 31/2 expressions. Still, it's fun to see him react to local characters, including his neighbor, a middle-aged woman who is captain of the police force, and her dim deputy, who fancies himself Norway's best Elvis impersonator. The music scene at Frank's bar, the Flamingo, is always amusing.
Not to give too much away, but five episodes into this eight-part series, Frank channels his inner Sinatra and belts out "My Kind of Town (Lilyhammer Is)"!
On one level, "Lilyham mer" offers a satire of Northern European society, where citizens, particularly men, seem nearly neutered by cradle-to-grave socialism. At the same time, it presents Frank's impulsive nature as a cartoon parody of American culture and capitalism as embodied by a self-serving gangster. Sending up divergent world views is just one of the delights of this en-
gaging and subversively smart little comedy.
All eight episodes of "Lily hammer" can be streamed on Netflix. About a third of the dialogue is in English, with the remainder in subtitled Norwegian. Consider it part of the evolution of what we call television -- a show that is never "on" but always available.
---A corporate sign-maker toils as an "Undercover Boss" (8 p.m., CBS).
---Rashida Jones ("Parks and Recreation") appears on "Who Do You Think You Are?" (8 p.m., NBC).
---The father of Rollerblades has a new idea on "Shark Tank" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---Mobsters ask Walter to locate a voodoo doll on "The Finder" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---Residents of a whaling community threaten action on "Whale Wars: Viking Shores" (9 p.m., Animal Planet).
---A business big shot's murder may be linked to a housing project on "CSI: NY" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---A grim end for a family restaurant on "The Dead Files" (10 p.m., Travel, TV-PG).
Manhattan isn't a fun place to be trapped in the 1981 shocker "Escape From New York" (3:45 a.m., TCM), starring Kurt Russell and Lee Van Cleef.
---Percy's plan runs amok on "Nikita" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).
---Castiel is up and around on "Supernatural" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
---A posh family falls for a Ponzi schemer with gruesome results on "Grimm" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
---Walter revisits his past on a new episode of "Fringe" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14). This series has just been renewed.
---An investor's death evokes suspicions on "Blue Bloods" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Alison Brie, Chris Franjola, and Matt Braunger appear on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!, r).
---Electric Guest appears on "Late Show With David Letter man" (11:35 p.m., CBS).
---Jay Leno welcomes Kristen Stewart and James Morrison on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).
---Nathan Fillion, Taran Killam, Retta and Kathleen Edwards visit "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Zooey Deschanel and Patrick Warburton on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.