The new psychological thriller “Clarice” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14) explores the tortured character of Clarice Starling, popularized by Jodie Foster in the 1991 Oscar-winning adaptation of Thomas Harris’ grim novel “The Silence of the Lambs.”
The series, starring Rebecca Breeds in the title role, is set in the early ‘90s, a year after the capture of the serial killer Buffalo Bill depicted in the film. The period setting allows “Clarice” to unfold in a pre-digital age.
“Clarice” could just as well be titled “The World Against Clarice.” She’s first seen with an FBI therapist, who, rather than counsel her, appears to be intent on abusing her for having the temerity to have solved a high-profile case outside the agency’s norms. Drawn back into the mix after a number of bodies suggest the emergence of a new serial predator, she’s told by her boss “everyone hates you.” And the next 30 minutes go on to prove that right.
Breeds does a pretty good job of affecting the shellshock of a highly sensitive detective. Does her delicate nature stem from an abusive childhood? Or the jerks at the FBI? The latter get tiresome rather quickly.
At times, “Clarice” stands out as rather artfully crafted for a network procedural. Some of the camera work is stunning. But it also relies on a number of tiresome tricks. Clarice takes a lot of photos as an investigator and is subject to many news photographers as a high-profile profiler. So, it can get annoying when every snap of the shutter is amplified to sound like an incoming howitzer round. Equally formulaic is the depiction of newly discovered victims, presented with both graphic morbidity and faux reverence. A gospel choir erupts every time the cops zip up the tarp over a decomposing corpse.
Note: To popularize its new series, CBS will stream the debuts of both “Clarice” and “The Equalizer” on Pluto, the free ad-supported platform.
• Shudder, the streaming platform dedicated to horror, depicts the 2020 shocker “After Midnight,” about a recently jilted man who takes refuge in alcohol only to be beset with monsters that might not be much more than metaphors for loneliness and lost affection.
• Discovery+ debuts the 2020 documentary “They Call Me Dr. Miami,” a profile of a celebrated plastic surgeon.
TONIGHT’S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
• A high school senior falls for “The Wrong Valentine” (7 p.m., LMN, TV-14).
• College roommates become suspects when a friend vanishes on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
• Kat counts her chickens on “Call Me Kat” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• “Lovers’ Lane Murders” (8 p.m., Oxygen, TV-14) recalls a series of murders of canoodling couples during the 1980s.
• Vanessa discovers personal favors come at a cost on “Last Man Standing” (8:30 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).
George Murphy, Lucille Ball and Edmond O’Brien star in the 1941 love-triangle comedy “A Girl, a Guy and a Gob” (4 p.m., TCM, TV-G), produced by silent star Harold Lloyd. Two years before Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California, Murphy was elected senator from that state. Similar to Reagan, he had been president of the Screen Actors Guild.
A new teacher defies Sheldon’s expectations on “Young Sheldon” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... Holy guacamole on “Mr. Mayor” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) ... Gordon Ramsay seethes on “Hell’s Kitchen” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-14) ... “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... Micki shuns the spotlight on “Walker” (7 p.m., CW, TV-PG) ... Drew feels overwhelmed on “B Positive” (7:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... New policies are confusing on “Superstore” (7:30 p.m., NBC, TV-14) ... A sudden expense sparks a debate on “Mom” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14) ... “The Chase” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... The Necromancer outdoes himself on “Legacies” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) ... Wade says something he regrets on “The Unicorn” (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... “Dateline” (9 p.m., NBC) ... “The Hustler” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
Sienna Miller is booked on “Conan” (10 p.m., TBS, r) ... Blake Shelton appears on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Cardi B, Alex Moffat and Lang Lang on “The Tonight Show” (10:34 p.m., NBC) ... Kevin James, Kat Dennings and Mammoth WVH appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (10:35 p.m., ABC) ... Will Forte and Annie Mumolo visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (11:37 p.m., NBC) ... Mila Kunis and Robin Thicke appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (11:37 p.m., CBS).