Like a wreck on the highway, some things demand attention. I’m referring to “Hillbilly Handfishin”’ (9 p.m., Animal Planet). It invites viewers to spend 12 one-hour episodes in muddy creeks, rivers and swimmin’ holes where Oklahoma natives teach city slickers the lost art of “noodling.” Or is that “noodlin”’?
What’s noodling? It’s a process of sticking your entire arm or leg in an unseen hole in a river floor or muddy bank to coax giant catfish to bite you so you can catch them by hand. Our hosts attribute this skill to Native American secret lore. But it looks like it dates back to the Stone Age.
Every week, Oklahoma hand fishermen and self- proclaimed hillbillies Skipper Bivins and Trent Jackson invite clients from cities and suburbs to try something “different.” In episode one, two Chicago cops, a Boston barmaid and a personal trainer join a brother-sister team from California to try their hand (and feet) at noodlin.’ They can safely say that it’s an entirely new experience.
Viewers in search of the least glamorous, most un-Bravo-like vacation setting imaginable should check this out at least once. This dusty corner of Oklahoma makes the environs celebrated on “Truck Stop, Missouri” look like Versailles.
Members of the chambers of commerce in unloved and unvisited locations should study “Hillbilly Handfishin.’” If these guys can attract paying tourists to bleak, brown, snake-invested waters, then what’s your excuse?
• The new series “Curiosity” (7 p.m., Discovery) employs celebrity names to host one-hour installments that ponder big questions. Director Eli Roth (“Hostel”) will examine the nature of evil. Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal hosts an hour on the evolution of human sexuality. Morgan Freeman will be your guide to the notion of parallel worlds. Morgan Spurlock takes the “raw” diet craze to its extremes and examines the health impact of living like a caveman. Maybe he should go “Hillbilly Handfishin”’!
Things kick off with astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who asks, “Did God Create the Universe?” The one-hour episode uses computer graphics and scholarly interviews to discuss not only the nature and origins of the Big Bang, but the long and contentious relationship between faith and science.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): more housing woes; Paul Allen, the bitter billionaire; Eminem.
• Tom Brokaw interviews families of returning servicemen on “The Road Back” on “Dateline” (6 p.m., NBC).
• Kaley Cuoco hosts “Teen Choice 2011” (7 p.m., Fox).
• An over-moussed host crosses the pond on “Ty’s Great British Adventure” (7 p.m., ABC).
• Marnie summons dark powers on “True Blood” (8 p.m., HBO).
• The Cartel asserts itself on “Breaking Bad” (9 p.m., AMC).
• The rebels attempt to take the fight to the invaders on “Falling Skies” (9 p.m., TNT).
• A popular teacher doesn’t live to make tenure on “The Glades” (9 p.m., A&E).
• Larry draws a line in the sand at a buffet table on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (9 p.m., HBO).