Golden Boy" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) becomes the latest television drama set in the New York Police Department. After airing tonight and on March 5 in the "Vegas" slot, it will move to Fridays on March 8, right before "Blue Bloods," taking the place of "CSI: NY." "Golden Boy" unfolds in a series of flashbacks, telling the story of how Walter Clark Jr. (Theo James) became the youngest police commissioner in the city's history. Along the way, we discover he wasn't always the nicest guy.

We watch the flashbacks knowing that some of his mentors (including partner Donald Owen, played by Chi McBride) will die along the way. We just don't know how or when. I suspect that should keep us returning.

It's unclear how long any series can operate in retrospective mode. It seems better suited to a character-driven British series, limited to six or eight episodes.

"Golden Boy" suffers from clunky visual gimmicks and some cop genre cliches. Does Owen have to complain that his retirement is right around the corner? Still, James is convincing as the lean and hungry young man. And it's interesting to see how little his colleagues like or respect him on his rapid way up the ladder.

---Speaking of character-driven British series, "Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch appears in the BBC-HBO miniseries "Parade's End" (9 p.m. and 10 p.m., HBO, TV-MA). The gorgeously produced and flawlessly performed period piece will air in five hours over three nights.


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Aristocrat Christopher Tietjens (Cumberbatch) chooses the wrong woman at the wrong time and suffers on an epic scale. Seduced on a train, Tietjens marries Sylvia (Rebecca Hall), fully aware the child she's bearing may not be his. Shameless and adulterous, Sylvia is eventually bowled over by her husband's rectitude, but not before he has developed a strong, if entirely chaste, bond with a young suffragette, Valentine Wannop (Adelaide Clemens).

World War I breaks out and sends Tietjens to the trenches. Rumors of his wife's adultery (and her many German connections) haunt Tietjens and destroy his reputation among the military high command and gossipy ruling class.

Don't go looking for "Downton Abbey." In this modern tragedy, the many nasty characters get all the best lines, and the good ones often end up doing, and saying, nothing at all. "Parade's End" is based on a novel by Ford Madox Ford and adapted for the screen by Tom Stoppard.

---Also debuting: "Ro- bot Combat League" (10 p.m., Syfy) and "Armed & Ready" (10 p.m., Travel), about a thrill seeker, Michael Connolly, born without legs.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

---Familiar cable stars on "Celebrity Wife Swap" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

---The cast of "My Name Is Earl" cameos on "Raising Hope" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

---Skye's warning goes unheeded on "Cult" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).

---A wedding to forget on "The Lying Game" (9 p.m., ABC Family, TV-14).

---Seth Rogen guest stars on "The Mindy Project" (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

---Peter pushes Julia to work harder on "Smash" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

---Megan must stay mum to save Lacey on "Body of Proof" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14).

---The search for Drew reaches a dangerous stage on "Justified" (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA).

CULT CHOICE

While in Europe, an American businessman (Walter Huston) loses his social-climbing wife to shallow aristocrats in the 1936 adaptation of Sinclair Lewis' novel

"Dodsworth" (8 p.m, TCM).

SERIES NOTES

---Two men and a body on "NCIS" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).

---Avoiding the obvious on "Hart of Dixie" (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG).

---The Afghan war comes home on "NCIS: Los Ange les" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

---Lords of the ring on "Go On" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

---The big score on "New Girl" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

---A chance of showers on "The New Normal" (9:30 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

LATE NIGHT

---Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson are scheduled on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (11 p.m., Comedy Central).

---Kevin Nealon and

Nicholas Hoult appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS).

---Jordana Brewster, Greg Fitzsimmons, Sarah Colonna and Ross Mathews are booked on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).

---Joan Rivers and Kendrick Lamar appear on "Late Show With David Letter man" (11:35 p.m., CBS).

---Jay Leno welcomes Colin Farrell and Boz Scaggs on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).

---Terrence Howard, the cast of "Duck Dynasty" and Morrissey appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC).

---Craig Ferguson hosts Sharon Osbourne on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).

Kevin McDonough can be reached at kevin.tvguy@g mail.com.