Years ago, a colleague with a 3-year-old boy happened upon the greatest pacifier: a videotape of a little film called “Road Construction Ahead.” No tyke could resist its simple scenes of dump trucks and steam shovels at work. It was a mesmerizing tonic for him and, as such, mother’s little helper.
Proof that men don’t grow up can be found on “Richard Hammond’s Crash Course” (9 p.m., BBC America). The “Top Gear” favorite departs from highways and test-drive facilities to take the wheels of some of America’s biggest, most imposing and most dangerous vehicles.
Over the course of the season, he’ll learn, or at least try to learn, how to operate the most powerful fire engine, run a mammoth garbage compactor and attempt to swing a wrecking ball during the demolition of a five-story building. In the season opener, he discovers the joys of driving the M1A2 Abrams tank.
Look for plenty of crushing, smashing and blowing up of things on season one of “Richard Hammond’s Crash Course.” It’s just a pity it airs well beyond the bedtime of its target audience.
• “Eureka” (8 p.m., Syfy) enters its fifth and final season with a wayward spaceflight and a time-travel mystery that leapfrogs the action five years into the future, where a major management change of the brainy company is only one of many jarring adjustments.
• A classroom becomes a game show on “The Substitute” (6 p.m., MTV), hosted by comedian Jon Gabrus. Students are divided into traditional cliques (jocks vs. geeks, class leaders vs. class clowns, etc.) and answer questions about pop culture in the hopes of winning up to $5,000.
Gabrus comes on like Jack Black in “The School of Rock,” but the show’s emphasis on gimmickry, gadgetry and slime makes “The Substitute” resemble “Double Dare” from Nickelodeon’s golden age.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Competition on “The Voice” (7 p.m., NBC).
• Evidence links a cadaver to hair-salon chemicals on “Bones” (7 p.m., Fox).
• Bloody tears defy diagnosis on “House” (8 p.m., Fox).
• A creepy film gets a touch of realism on “Hawaii Five-O” (9 p.m., CBS).
• “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” (8 p.m., Travel) samples the barbecue and cuisine of Kansas City.