Liev Schreiber narrates and hosts "Superher- oes: A Never-ending Battle" (8 p.m., PBS, TV-PG) a three-hour look at the role of comic book characters in the popular culture and beyond.
We see how the genre evolved from the fantastic storybooks of the Depression era to narratives that reflected shifting societal mores in the 1960s and '70s to a contemporary entertainment landscape where comic book characters dominate the Hollywood landscape.
Interviews include Marvel legend Stan Lee, Canadian
cartoonist Todd McFarlane and novelist Michael Chabon, whose 2000 novel "The Amaz ing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" offers a meditation on comic books and the Jewish experience in Europe and Amer-
ica in the 1930s. We also hear from Adam West and Lynda Carter, who have enjoyed decades of fame for their television depictions of Batman and Wonder Woman.
Taking comic books seriously is a rather recent phenomenon, dating, I suppose, back to the 1980s when the campy Adam West image of Batman gave way to the moody Dark Knight.
Back in 1979, director Francis Ford Coppola's "Apoca lypse Now" was finally released after years of production. Criticized in some quarters for its massive budget, the filmmaker snapped that it was more appropriate to make an expensive film about a grown-up subject like the Vietnam War than a movie about a guy flying around in tights and a cape. He was referring, deris-
ively, to the 1978 adaptation of "Superman." Now, every major movie seems to be about a guy flying around in tights.
---Speaking of Vietnam, the new series "Gem Hunt" (10 p.m., Travel) debuts with a trip to Vietnam to find priceless rubies. Along the way, our hosts are tailed by a government "minder," scour the local scene for dealers legit and less so, and sample local moonshine. Future installments will venture to Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Ethiopia and other places rich in gems.
---An illusionist risks death by walking an I-beam blindfolded on "Criss Angel Be LIEve" (10 p.m., Spike).
---Temporarily exiled by the transformation of the Style Network into the Esquire Network, "Tia & Tamara" (9 p.m., r) and "Giuliana & Bill" (10 p.m., r) find a new home on E!
---TV-themed DVDs available include two thought-provoking documentaries. "Music & Monarchy" features pieces composed for British royals performed in Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and the chapel of King's College at Cambridge. "The Dark Ages: An Age of Light" explores medieval advances in architecture.
---A female bank robber holds dangerous secrets on "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---The Dodgers host the Card-
inals in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. (8 p.m., TBS).
---Jake feels eclipsed by a brash newcomer on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" (8:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---Reasonable doubt on "Person of Interest" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Severide wants to push a button on the serial arsonist on "Chicago Fire" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
---A clip-filled "Scandal" (10 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14) glances back at Olivia's daddy issues. This replaces "Lucky 7," the first new show of the year to be canceled. CBS's "We Are Men" has also been removed from the schedule.
---Jax stands at a crossroads on "Sons of Anarchy" (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA).
Poet, philosopher and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini turns his eyes on the street life of Rome in the 1961 drama "Accatone" (9:45 p.m., TCM).
---Back to Afghanistan on "NCIS" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
---Let's get physicals on "Dads" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---A masquerade proves revealing on "The Originals" (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
---A suspect may be Callen's father on "NCIS: Los Angeles" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Inherit the windbag on "New Girl" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---Cable TV magic on "The Goldbergs" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---Junk in the trunk on "Super natural" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
---Mindy disappoints on "The Mindy Project" (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---A constructive Lego moment
on "Trophy Wife" (9:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---Samantha Gordon and Jake Owen appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS).
---Fortune Feimster hosts John Caparulo, Jen Kirkman and Jo Koy on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).
---Alison Stewart on "Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell" (11 p.m., FXX).
---Blair Underwood, Cheryl Hines, Rachael Harris and Nelly are booked on "The Arsenio Hall Show" (WPMT, WPHL)
---Sylvester Stallone, Anna Faris and Deltron 3030 appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS).
---Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Julianne Hough and Ariana Grande appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Michael C. Hall and Laura Bell Bundy on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.