And why "Golden Boy," the network's latest police drama, is being served with a twist you might not expect from CBS.
I'd expect it, though, from Greg Berlanti, the producer whose tweak to "Golden Boy" creator Nicholas Wootton's show about an ambitious young detective (Theo James) was to have us see those ambitions realized from the very first episode, when we meet Walter William Clark Jr. as New York's new police commissioner, the youngest in department history.
This may perplex fans of CBS' "Blue Bloods," where Tom Selleck still occupies that post, without weekly flashbacks, much less trips to a seven-years-in-the-future New York City (where - spoiler alert - we still won't have jet packs).
But those fewer viewers who remember the WB's short-lived "Jack & Bobby," a teen drama about two (non-Kennedy) brothers, one of whom was destined to become president of the United States, will recognize what Berlanti's up to in showing us the story's ending first: investing "Golden Boy" with something he hopes will be "larger than life and epic."
I'm not sure "epic" is what most viewers are looking for in a cop show, but, fortunately for CBS, "Golden Boy" also has Chi McBride ("Boston Public"). McBride's role as veteran Detective Don Owen, Clark's first partner in homicide, brings with it a hint of sadness - he may be among the characters who'll be sacrificed along the way - but also grounds "Golden Boy" in the TV equivalent of reality.
James, a British actor known Stateside as the cad who died in Lady Mary's bed in the first season of "Downton Abbey," is at his best with McBride, whose character is both exasperated and energized by his young partner (whose utter lack of diplomacy makes his swift rise all the more surprising).
Other homicide detectives are played by Bonnie Somerville ("NYPD Blue"), Kevin Alejandro ("Southland") and Holt McAllany ("Lights Out"), and even if you don't give a lick what the New York skyline's going to look like in 2020, "Golden Boy" works as a decent cop show.
But an epic one? Not yet.
HBO's 'Parade's End'
"Downton Abbey" devotees may find HBO's miniseries "Parade's End" to be tougher sledding than PBS' period soap, but anyone who loves Benedict Cumberbatch as "Sherlock" - another popular "Masterpiece" import - should check him out, starting Tuesday, as Christopher Tietjens, a role he seems to have been born to play.
Based on a series of four novels by Ford Madox Ford that I feared might be hard to film, "Parade's End" has been adapted by Tom Stoppard in a more linear fashion. The five-hour miniseries focuses on the love triangle involving Tietjens, an 18th-century man trapped in the early 20th century; his unfaithful wife, Sylvia (Rebecca Hall), and a young suffragette with the unlikely name of Valentine Wallop (Michelle Williams look-alike Adelaide Clemens).
There's shockingly little sex - and a great deal of grimacing - and the story ends far more hurriedly than Ford's did. But beyond the costumes and the World War I trenches lurks a moving story, not just of star-crossed lovers, but of a star-crossed marriage that just might have been saved.
Women who made mark
Earnest and celebrity-laden, PBS' three-hour "Makers: Women Who Make America" is probably best left for the DVR and a slower night, but Tuesday's presentation is nevertheless a reasonably lively primer on the history of the women's movement.
Too bad it's likely to attract mostly true believers, rather than the generations who've come of age rejecting the label "feminist" while assuming that equal opportunity is something that no longer needs to be fought for.
(Note to self: Try not to sound so bitter. Or humorless. Because boys hate that.)
"Makers," by the way, is sponsored by the makers of "a new line of skin-care products," according to PBS.
'Bad' from the start
If your New Year's resolution involved catching up with TV's best drama before it winds up its run this summer, then Sundance Channel can help.
Starting at 11 p.m. Monday, Sundance will air two back-to-back episodes of AMC's "Breaking Bad" every week, starting from the beginning.
On Twitter: @elgray