Nostalgia is in the air. Several of the most notable shows of the fall season hearken back to the mid-’60s “Mad Men” era by imitating a show called “Mad Men.” Tonight, NBC takes a flyer on the romantic-comedy anthology series, a wonderfully cheesy and dependable genre that ruled the airwaves from the early 1970s to the mid-80s, roughly the time between “Love American Style” to “The Love Boat.” This is one act of creative recycling I am looking forward to.
“Love Bites” (9 p.m., NBC) was not available for review when this column was filed, so suffice it say that like “Love American Style,” each “Bite” will feature three loosely connected story about love, marriage, bedroom farce or drama and the vicissitudes of dating. Unlike “American,” this series will feature a recurring cast of regulars, including Becki Newton (“Ugly Betty”), Constance Zimmer (“Entourage”) and Greg Grunberg (“Heroes”).
The real treat on shows like this is the appearance of guest stars, well-known faces from series past and present. In the very first helping, look for Jennifer Love Hewitt (“Ghost Whisperer”), Craig Robinson (“The Office”), Kyle Howard (“My Boys”), Steve Howey (“Bride Wars”), Lindsay Price (“Eastwick”), Larry Wilmore (“The Daily Show”), Guillermo Diaz (“Mercy”), Krysten Ritter (“Breaking Bad”), David Giuntoli (“Privileged”) and Charlyne Yi (“Knocked Up”).
• “Sons of Perdition” (8 p.m., OWN) is the first film to air in the network’s summer-long “Documentary Club.” An intimate and heartbreaking film, “Sons” follows teens and adolescents who have escaped a fundamentalist Latter Day Saints compound on the Arizona/Utah border. Raised in polygamist households, they grew to chafe at the restrictions on their education and careers, and rebelled against a leader or “prophet” who would break up marriages on a whim, reassigning wives to other men in his inner cirle.
Captivating on many levels, “Sons” chronicles the social and emotional dislocation of formerly isolated teens raised with scant schooling. One teen was taught that Bill Clinton was the head of Nazi Germany during World War II. Many boys complain of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of their fathers. Girls as young as 12 took a wary eye towards the elderly men who could be assigned them as a heavenly husband.
The prophet’s power knew no bounds or rationality. One day he had all the dogs taken from their families and shot. The compound emerges like some religious dictatorship, a miniature North Korea on American soil. The film raises but does not answer fundamental questions about the limits of religious tolerance and the ability of the state to protect its citizens — mostly children — from such abuse.
Tonight’s other highlights
• “So You Think You Can Dance” (7 p.m., Fox) continues.
• A serial killer doesn’t stint on preparation on “CSI” (8 p.m., CBS).
• 2011 NBA Finals (8 p.m., ABC).
• The true crime spinoff “The First 48: Missing Persons” (9 p.m., A&E;) debuts.
• The ensemble comedy “Childrens Hospital” starring Rob Corddry, Henry Winkler, Megan Mullally, Lake Bell and Malin Akerman, among others moves from the web to “Adult Swim” (11 p.m., Cartoon Network).