Even terrible sitcoms can be interesting. Created by the prolific Chuck Lorre (“Big Bang Theory”), “United States of Al” (7:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) is painful to watch. And that might be the point.
Parker Young plays Riley, a troubled Marine vet with zero percent body fat who has arranged for his Afghan translator Awalmir (Adhir Kalyan) to be airlifted back to the states because of Taliban threats on his life.
Awalmir, who goes by Al, might hail from Afghanistan, but his punchline-driven dialogue is strictly Catskills. He delivers jokes about roadside bombings and American imperial misadventures such as Bob Hope reading cue cards at a USO show.
Al arrives to find Riley a bit of a mess. While in country, Riley had spoken of little else but his beloved wife Vanessa (Kelli Goss). Al discovers they now are headed to divorce court because of Riley’s PTSD-related mood swings, drinking and despondency.
Similar to any good Afghan translator, Al becomes a Jewish mother, meddling in his friend’s woes, arranging a “peace talk” with Vanessa and quipping that dealing with warlords was easier.
Elizabeth Alderfer plays Lizzie, Riley’s widowed sister, who goes out of her way to act like a shallow party girl. When Al and Riley discuss their time in Kabul, she thinks they are referring to the resort city of Cabo. That’s about as clever as the dialogue gets.
Both siblings live under the same roof as their dad, Art (Dean Norris), who really can’t wrap his head around the idea he can’t offer beers to his Muslim houseguest.
To be generous, perhaps the Cabo/Kabul confusion points to the fact American troops have been in Afghanistan for 20 years and few have bothered to notice or care. Or wonder about their mission.
Perhaps Lorre is using his status as a hitmaker to jump-start a conversation. That makes “Al” interesting, but it’s still more painful than funny. Even more painful than “B Positive” (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG), Lorre’s sitcom about kidney failure.
• If any one is busier than Chuck Lorre, it’s Dick Wolf. Soon, his “FBI” franchise on CBS will add a third hour, “FBI: International.” Tonight sees the premiere of Wolf’s “Law & Order: Organized Crime” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
• Returning series include “Manifest” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-14), the “Lost”-like mystery about passengers of a jetliner that landed years after its scheduled arrival.
• The ensemble comedy “The Moodys” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14) finds Chicago parents (Denis Leary and Elizabeth Perkins) hosting their adult children under the same roof again. This second season will feature four half-hour installments, with two running tonight and two during the next two Thursdays. Often padded and contrived, “Moodys” might work better as a single, 90-minute, made-for-TV movie. Remember them?
TONIGHT’S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
• The Washington Nationals host the New York Mets (6 p.m., ESPN). Returning to tradition, President Biden is expected to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
• The truth about Travis’ tragedy on “Station 19” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
• Stabler’s family receives threats on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
• Out of breath on “Grey’s Anatomy” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
• Social obligations on “Clarice” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
• Remote hazing on “A Million Little Things” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
A charming young woman’s (Katharine Hepburn) efforts to woo a wealthy man (Fred MacMurray) are scuttled by her awkward family in the 1935 adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s novel “Alice Adams” (5 p.m., TCM), directed by George Stevens.
Ahead of the curve on “Young Sheldon” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... Secret ingredients on “Hell’s Kitchen” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-14) ... April Fools shenanigans on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (7 p.m. and 8 p.m. CW, TV-PG) ... Bonnie gets protective on “Mom” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
“The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” is preempted ... Colin Quinn appears on “Conan” (10 p.m., TBS, TV-14) ... Nicolle Wallace, Michaela Coel and Kings of Leon are booked on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (10:35 p.m., CBS, r) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Michelle Obama, Guy Raz and Edie Brickell & New Bohemians on “The Tonight Show” (10:34 p.m., NBC, r) ... Octavia Spencer, Melissa McCarthy, Nasim Pedrad, Fitz and Bryce Vine appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (10:35 p.m., ABC) ... Regina King, Kathryn Hahn and Chang-rae Lee visit “Late Night with Seth Meyers” (11:37 p.m., NBC, r ... Rob Gronkowski, Elle Fanning and Sabrina Carpenter appear on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” (11:37 p.m., CBS, r).