Tune in Tonight: Has TV replaced “The Movies” for good?

When did television eclipse the movies as the more thoughtful and influential medium? Many would argue that the arrival of “The Sopranos” in 1999 ushered in a peak TV era in which shows from “Breaking Bad” to “The Wire” became more talked-about than the average film.

The rise of streaming television after “House of Cards” arrived on Netflix in 2013 only accelerated this trend. Except for the so-called Oscar season touting “important” movies that quickly vanish from screens (and memory), for many grownups the moviegoing experience has become kid stuff, a dismissible jumble of franchises, sequels and comic book-inspired “tentpole” distractions.

Curiously, this isn’t the first time this has happened. When television moved from a novelty to the norm in the early 1950s, movie attendance plummeted. Studios reacted as corporations often do — with terror. Studios refused to create product for the small screen, hoping to “starve” it of content until audiences came to their senses.

As a result, dramas made for television often came out of the New York theater world, far from Hollywood. And while “stagey” by big-screen standards, they featured some of the best actors, directors and writers then working.

As a result, some of the most acclaimed movies to come out of the 1950s were merely remakes of teleplays that had already aired. Writer Paddy Chayefsky and star Ernest Borgnine would win Oscars for the 1955 drama “Marty” (8 p.m., TCM, TV-PG), about a lovelorn Bronx butcher adapted from a 1953 “Philco Television Playhouse” production.

Other TV originals including “Days of Wine and Roses” and “Twelve Angry Men” would inspire highly respected movie adaptations. Early TV was an incubator for writing and directing talent, including Chayefsky, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Sidney Lumet, Neil Simon and John Frankenheimer, among others, who would influence Hollywood for decades.

By the end of the 1950s the studios cried uncle and began producing fare for TV networks, flooding the airwaves with cowboy and detective shows that crowded out the more urbane fare. Writers like Rod Serling (“The Twilight Zone”) and Gene Rodenberry (“Star Trek”) continued to carry the torch for thoughtful scripts. But in many ways, TV became dumber and more disposable as it became more popular.

It wasn’t until the end of the 20th century that TV regained its status as the smarter and more influential medium.

— Apple TV+ streams the fourth season of the comedy “Trying,” a co-production with the BBC.

— “Nature” (8 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings) concludes its 42nd season with a visit to the rough limestone cliffs of West Ireland’s coast.


— The final five tangle before a winner emerges on a three-hour “Survivor” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).

— A dangerous criminal patient shows signs of dementia on “Chicago Med” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

— Two last celebrities perform before a winner’s face is uncovered on “The Masked Singer” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).

— A tense call dredges up bad memories on “Chicago Fire” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

— Janine rings out the school year with a party on “Abbott Elementary” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

— Mark takes multiple jobs to save for college on “The Conners” (9:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

— Cat and mouse with a serial killer on “Chicago P.D.” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).


— Teams of investigators unearth new finds and discover evidence of residents who may have escaped the volcanic eruption as “Pompeii: The New Dig” (10 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings) continues.


The 1997 thriller “Air Force One” (11 p.m., E!, TV-14) asked audiences to accept the President (Harrison Ford) as an action hero. Gary Oldman stars as the evil terrorist who hijacks the presidential plane, adding to his resume of sinister and misfit roles that includes Sid Vicious, Dracula and Lee Harvey Oswald, among assorted pimps, heavies and cannibal victims. He’s currently seen in “Slow Horses” streaming on Apple TV+. Playing the greasy, flatulent, filthy and abrasive (yet brilliantly intuitive) Jackson Lamb on that series, it may rank among his most enjoyable performances. It has been renewed for seasons four and five.


Amateur chefs vie for seven spots as “Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars” (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14) enters its second season.


Anya Taylor-Joy and Doug Emhoff are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (11:35 p.m., CBS) … Jimmy Fallon welcomes Jeremy Renner, Jay Pharoah and the Avett Brothers on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) … Liev Schreiber and Busy Philipps visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) … Taylor Tomlinson hosts Andy Richter, Penn Jillette and Aasif Mandvi on “After Midnight” (12:35 a.m., CBS).