Inspired by Stephen King’s short story “Jerusalem’s Lot,” the new series “Chapelwaite” (8 p.m. Sunday, Epix, TV-MA) offers a lurid, gothic take on the mid-19th century. As a boy, Charles Boone (Adrien Brody) saw his father reduced to grunts and possessed by some evil spirit, nearly killing him and his mother. Sent into hiding, he becomes captain of a whaling ship that takes him to Japan, where he finds a wife and raises daughters.
As his wife lays dying, he receives a letter from a distant cousin, leaving him a house and a business in Maine (where else?), where Boone decides to take refuge from his grief and raise the kids. As you might expect, the house is too scary for even the long-serving governess to stick around. She does leave him with some advice: Stay out of the basement.
Distraction arrives in the form of Rebecca Morgan (Emily Hampshire), a college-educated woman, a rare thing in Preacher’s Corners, Maine. She has an arrangement to publish a story in the prestigious Atlantic magazine, if her writer’s block ever lifts. Will Boone and his dark family legacy inspire her to write her gothic masterpiece? Is this a New England take on Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein”? Or “Little Women” with monsters? You’ll just have to tune in to find out.
• Streaming on Discovery+ beginning Saturday, “Children of the Cult” profiles three young British women who escaped from a controlling group that began in the late 1960s as a devout Christian sect but devolved into a criminal and abusive organization.
• The four-part docuseries “Gossip” (9 p.m. Sunday, Showtime, TV-14) examines how gossip columnists operate and how the currency of “dish” has been used by publishers to amass and use political power.
Each installment covers a different decade’s tawdry tales, beginning in the 1970s, when brash Australian publisher Rupert Murdoch purchased the New York Post.
In addition to profiling gossip veteran Cindy Adams, “Gossip” offers an insightful history lesson in the use of smears to bruise political enemies. In the late 1970s, when Studio 54’s owners were under investigation by the IRS, their thuggish lawyer, Roy Cohn, planted an item in the Post alleging then-President Jimmy Carter’s chief of staff had snorted cocaine at the disco. The charge was without substantiation, but it embroiled the administration in scandal, one of the thousand cuts that paved the way to the election of Ronald Reagan, a figure far friendlier to Rupert Murdoch and Roy Cohn’s ilk than Jimmy Carter.
Cohn mastered the politically destructive smear in the 1950s as Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s boy wonder. Murdoch and his media properties would continue the tradition well into the 21st century.
The lingering ghost of Roy Cohn and the presence in “Gossip” of Roger Stone underscores its unstated theme: the currency of gossip only moves in one direction. It only helps the ruthless, rich and powerful to become more so. It always is used to destroy those who would challenge a status quo that benefits the powerful. It is a sleazy, mob-adjacent part of the media food chain, where proximity to power is all-important, even if that powerful person is evil, or as journalist Ken Auletta says here of Cohn, “reptilian.” And it explains the triumph of Donald Trump.
• Anthony Anderson, Ken Jeong, Tran Ho and Sofia Vergara co-host the seventh annual “Stand Up to Cancer” (7 p.m., CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, E!, ESPN News, FYI, Destination America, HBO, IFC, Showtime, Starz, TV-14) charity special. Musical performances and comedy share time with informational segments about breakthroughs in cancer treatment and research. Additional performers include Common and Brittany Howard.
• The 2021 Little League World Series (7 p.m., ESPN) continues from South Williamsport, Pa.
• A student reels when the new kid in school has the same name as the one she created for a fake social media profile in the 2021 shocker “Do You Trust Your Boyfriend?” (7 p.m., Lifetime, TV-14).
• After falling for the fireman who rescued her from a highway accident, a woman finds his obsessive ways suffocating in the 2021 shocker “Burning Little Lies” (7 p.m., LMN, TV-PG).
• “Eden: Untamed Planet” (7 p.m., BBC America) visits Patagonia.
• A soap opera producer is willing to swallow her pride to welcome a former boyfriend back to the set of her floundering series in the 2021 romance “A Little Daytime Drama” (8 p.m., Hallmark, TV-G).
• Monsters clash, as they have before, in the 2021 epic “Godzilla vs. Kong (8 p.m., HBO and streaming on HBO Max).
• A young woman’s efforts to avenge her mother’s death and leave her stifling small town go awry and embroil her with some local misfits in the 2020 British thriller spoof “Pixie” (8 p.m., Showtime).
• Updates of previously aired segments scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): an acclaimed retired sportswriter covers high school girls’ basketball; Iceland’s latest unpronounceable volcano; racism in uniform.
• “History of the Sitcom” (8 p.m., CNN) concludes with a look at escapism.
• “The Walking Dead” (8 p.m., AMC, TV-MA) shuffles into its 11th and final season.
• Between the brothers on “Heels” (8 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).
• Abby runs through a number of therapists on her way to the realization she’s become “too busy to kill herself” in the second season premiere of “Work in Progress” (10 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).
The brainy research department manager (Katharine Hepburn) bristles at the arrival of an efficiency expert (Spencer Tracy) armed with newfangled computers in the 1957 romantic comedy “Desk Set” (7 p.m. Saturday, TCM, TV-G). The sets, costumes and decor are a must for “Mad Men” fans, as is the evocation of the office Christmas party as an occasion shot through with alcohol, melancholy and regret.
Pride fights corruption on “NCIS: New Orleans” (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) … “America’s Got Talent” (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG) … “Hell’s Kitchen” (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14) … Fishing lures on “Shark Tank” (8 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) … “48 Hours” (9 p.m., CBS, r) … Good-deed-doing abroad on “The Good Doctor” (9 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14).
Julie Chen hosts “Big Brother” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) … “America’s Got Talent” (7 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG) … Lisa defies her teacher on “The Simpsons” (7 p.m., Fox, r, TV-PG) … “Celebrity Family Feud” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-14) … High alert on “D.C.’s Legends of Tomorrow” (7 p.m., CW, TV-14) … Curling practice on “The Great North” (7:30 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14) … Human traffickers on “The Equalizer” (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) … Crime and punishment on “Bob’s Burgers” (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14) … “The Chase” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) … Teen witches on “Wellington Paranormal” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) … Acceptance letters on “Family Guy” (8:30 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14) … Rebooting an old game on “Dead Pixels” (8:30 p.m., CW, TV-14) … Kensi faces her stalker on “NCIS: Los Angeles” (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) … “To Tell the Truth” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
— OK, that was weird. The least expected story of the week was the scandal involving Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”) and Lori Loughlin, star of “When Calls the Heart” (7 p.m. Sunday, Hallmark, TV-G), in a bribery/cheating plot to get their respective daughters into elite universities.
This is obviously an ongoing case, and all sides must have their say, or day, in court. But the motivation at the center of this story is worth discussing. It involves some overwhelming need to do anything to get children into elite schools. As if anything “lesser” were unthinkable.
Television plays no small role in this insecurity. I can’t remember how many times I’ve had to describe an ABC legal drama where every single character hails from only the most exclusive Ivy and spends most of the pilot bragging about it.
There was a time, not that long ago, when John Grisham wrote best-selling books about young, barely accredited lawyers from no-name institutions who took on impossible cases against massive corporations and eventually won. And got the girl, to boot.
So, our current era’s neurotic obsession with elitism and inequality is hardly hard-wired.
If anything comes of this sordid affair, it’s an appreciation that shoddy efforts at snobbery are always essentially pathetic. Or on classic TV, comedic. Watching “Gilligan’s Island,” we identified with Mary Ann and the Skipper, and pitied the millionaire and his wife.
— CNN launches the four-hour documentary “Tricky Dick” (8 p.m., Sunday), profiling the life and times of Richard Nixon’s public career, which spanned the decades from the dawn of the Cold War to the Clinton years.
— An anxious new mother joins a group for solidarity and support, only to discover that it has darker plans on its agenda in the 2019 shocker “Mommy Group Murder” (7 p.m., Lifetime, TV-14).
— The Thunder and Warriors meet in NBA action (7:30 p.m., ABC).
— An old kidnapper returns to form on “Ransom” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
— Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): Embassy workers in China and Cuba complain of mysterious ailments; AOL founder Steve Case and his plans to invest in the future of overlooked American small towns and cities; a visit to Monaco.
— The duels begin on “World of Dance” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
— Auditions continue on “American Idol” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
— Lex Luthor is on the loose on “Supergirl” (7 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
— Mr. Wednesday prepares for battle on “American Gods” (7 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).
— After learning about her royal lineage, an adopted 10-year-old becomes a little tyrant in the 2019 shocker “Mommy’s Little Princess” (7 p.m., Lifetime, TV-14).
— A secret room holds dangers on “Charmed” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).
— Hidden secrets revealed on “The Walking Dead” (8 p.m., AMC, TV-MA).
— A new trial is pursued on “The Case Against Adnan Syed” (8 p.m., HBO, TV-14).
— Axe is determined to destroy Taylor on the fourth season premiere of “Billions” (8 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).
— Ulysses pursues a conspiracy theory on “Now Apocalypse” (8 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).
— “Unsung” (8 p.m., TVONE) profiles the Jets.
— Pacific overtures on “Madam Secretary” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
— Tensions rise on “Good Girls” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
— Mo’s past is revealed on “Black Monday” (9 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).
— St. Patrick’s Day inspires many traditions. Syfy offers a marathon of “Leprechaun” movies, from “Leprechaun 5: In the Hood” (4 p.m. Saturday, TV-14) to “Leprechaun 2” (8 p.m.). TCM takes the traditional approach, ladling out the Technicolor blarney of director John Ford’s 1952 romance “The Quiet Man” (7 p.m. Sunday, TV-PG).
“Dateline” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) … “NBA Countdown” (7 p.m., ABC) … The kids are all right on “MasterChef” (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-PG) … “48 Hours” (9 p.m., CBS) … A vintage helping of “Saturday Night Live” (9 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
A visit from an old friend inspires Miles on “God Friended Me” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) … Homer can’t leave Bart’s virtual realm on “The Simpsons” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-14) … Empathy for all things on “Bob’s Burgers” (7:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
A walk down the aisle on “NCIS: Los Angeles” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14) … On two episodes of “Family Guy” (Fox, TV-14), Meg’s winter Olympics (8 p.m.), fighting over a dowager (8:30 p.m., r) … Aches and pains on “Shark Tank” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).