Whoopi (September 9; 8 to 8:30 p.m.; NBC) stars La Goldberg as a retired diva who owns both a hotel in Manhattan and the mouth to go with it. Among those she cracks wise about between puffs on cigarettes are her uptight brother (Wren T. Brown), unemployed since Enron; his white girlfriend (Elizabeth Regen), who is attempting to teach him how to act black; and an Iranian handyman (Omid Djalili) who is promoted to concierge in spite of his Middle East jokes. The second episode is funnier than the first.
Rita (September 9; 8 to 9 p.m.; TCM) tells us everything we used to know but have probably forgotten about Rita Hayworth, from her start as a hoofer to such films as Gilda and The Lady From Shanghai to such husbands as Orson Welles and Aly Aga Kahn. Between home movies, Kim Basinger, Nicole Kidman, Ann Miller, Tab Hunter, and Anthony Franciosa talk about her.
Living With Tigers (September 14; 8 to 10 p.m.; Discovery) spent several years following a pair of Bengal tiger cubs born in captivity as they were, oxymoronically, being trained to go wild (in a 90,000-acre wildlife sanctuary in South Africa). After a slow start, Ron and Julie have achieved more than 400 kills, including a porcupine.
All the Presidents’ Kids (September 14; 8 to 10 p.m.; A&E) feels sorry for, among others, Jenna and Barbara Bush, Chelsea Clinton, Michael Reagan, Amy Carter, Luci Johnson, John F. Kennedy Jr., Alice Roosevelt Longworth, and Warren G. Harding’s illegitimate daughter, Elizabeth.
Carnivàle (September 14; 9 to 10 p.m.; HBO) was described last week in these pages as The Seventh Seal meets La Strada. Since I was the one who did this describing, based on the first three episodes, I’m not about to admit to any sudden doubts. Good will meet evil somewhere in Texas during the Great Depression, although which is which—the evangelical church of migrant Okies versus the traveling circus of faith-healing freaks—remains up in the wounded air. Anyway, it’s so wonderful to look at, maybe we don’t have to think about it.