The History Channel one-ups the New Testament with “Jesus: His Life” (8 p.m., History, TV-PG). While the good book reports on the story of Jesus with four synoptic accounts, the eight-part “Life” recounts his story from the perspective of those who knew him well, including Joseph, Mary, John the Baptist, Caiaphas, Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalene and Peter.
You know you’re in for some uninspired commentary when the first talking head describes this as “the greatest story ever told.”
Unlike most Easter-season offerings, this does not purport to be a Biblical epic, but a documentary exploration. As such, it’s much more of a Sunday School visual aid than bona-fide “history.”
It might be more entertaining, or convincing, as a full-fledged drama. Over the decades, Biblical epics employed the latest and greatest filmmaking techniques. The parting of the Red Sea in “The Ten Commandments” still packs a visual punch after some 60 years.
Some may find “Life” a little too heavy in the preaching department. Others may chafe at the sight of “prosperity gospel” pitchman Joel Osteen. But ultimately, the format is just too meager for the story’s epic scale.
When you’ve come to think of the Annunciation through the lens of some of the greatest allegorical paintings of all time, the sight of a mere actor “explaining” the miracle to Mary seems a tad underwhelming. “Jesus: His Life,” reduces the story to its medium. And basic cable rarely rises to the spectacular.
After “Life,” viewers can stick around for the second season of “Knightfall” (10 p.m., History, TV-14), the ultraviolent Knights Templar epic series.
— Speaking of ultraviolence, the martial arts series “Into the Badlands” (10 p.m., AMC, TV-14) resumes its Monday night slot after the Sunday premiere of its third season.
— “Women, War & Peace” (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG) also enters its second season with an account of how women on both sides of Ireland’s religious divide organized to shape the Good Friday Peace accords that ended the “Troubles” back in 1998. A second (10 p.m., TV-MA) profiles Egyptian women and their role in the Arab Spring uprisings.
— CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta narrates the 2019 documentary “One Nation Under Stress” (9 p.m., HBO). In a shocking reversal, life expectancy in the United States has declined and is declining faster than in any other developed nation. Suicide, opioid addiction and overdoses, and alcohol-related cirrhosis are all on the rise. This in spite of the fact that the United States spends more than any other nation on health care.
“Stress” argues that self-inflicted “deaths of despair” may be caused by inequality and a sense that whole regions and communities have been dismissed and ignored by a society defined by competition and success.
TONIGHT’S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
— Battles begin on “The Voice” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
— Chastain remains a calming force on “The Resident” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
— Auditions continue on “American Idol” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
— Chimney glances back on “9-1-1” (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
— Diana takes on a compromising dilemma on “Bull” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
— The mole hunt continues on “The Enemy Within” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
— A case against Sevvy emerges on “The Fix” (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
— Having all but conquered the feature cartoon world by the mid-20th century, Walt Disney launched a documentary division that brought kid-friendly nature movies to theaters and televisions, including “The African Lion” (8:15 p.m., TCM) from 1955 and “Charlie, the Lonesome Cougar” (9:30 p.m.) and “Yellowstone Cubs” (11 p.m.), released in 1967 and ‘63, respectively.
Dave’s pal shares secrets on “The Neighborhood” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) … Laurel and Oliver join forces on “Arrow” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) … Adam removes meat from the menu on “Man With a Plan” (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
Adrift on “Magnum P.I.” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14) … Illusionists audition on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (9 p.m., CW, r, TV-PG).
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are booked on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” (11 p.m., Comedy Central) … Pete Holmes appears on “Conan” (11 p.m., TBS).
Jimmy Fallon welcomes Conor McGregor, Michael Che, Rachel Feinstein and Frank Pellegrinon Jr. on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) … Max Greenfield, Maggie Siff and Dido appear on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” (12:37 a.m., CBS).