“Top Gear” (7:30 p.m., BBC) has always taken a cheeky look at car culture. But it has always offered criticism based on love and devotion. Tonight, “Top Gear” correspondent Richard Hammond genuflects before the altar of NASCAR.
He takes a driving lesson from Kyle Petty at the Texas Motor Speedway and discovers what it’s like to slide behind the wheel of a car powered by more than 800 horsepower. Along the way, Hammond touches on the long history and culture of NASCAR and the reasons it has become one of the most popular spectator sports in the United States.
• The high-stakes world of advertising has been part of the appeal of the retro-series “Mad Men” for years now. “The Pitch” (8 p.m., AMC) takes a documentary-style look at different ad agencies, some very far from Madison Avenue, as they compete against one other weekly to woo potential clients.
Look for a lot of swagger and Type-A behavior from folks who spout lines like, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.” “The Pitch” provides an inside look at a very cutthroat industry and a reminder that “Mad Men” has been wise to put the emphasis on melodrama and not process.
‘‘Mad Men” makes us believe in the myth of Don Draper types who can breeze into a meeting after a few bourbons and pull a slogan like “It’s Toasted” out of the air. “The Pitch” puts the emphasis on preparation, work and worry.
• Justin Bieber guest-stars on tonight’s season opener of “Ridiculousness” (9 p.m., MTV), hosted by Rob Dyrdek. “Ridiculousness” showcases recent Internet videos that strike Dyrdek as funny and bizarre. The boyish Bieber will share his thoughts on clips that include “Humanimals,” ‘‘Bieber Hair” and “Dodging Bullet.”
Tonight’s other highlights
• Live semifinals on “The Voice” (7 p.m., NBC).
• Ryan O’Neal guest-stars on “Bones” (7 p.m., Fox).
• An ailing girl’s mother happens to be a meddlesome doctor on “House” (8 p.m., Fox).
• “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” (8 p.m., Travel) visits Lisbon, Portugal.
• Weapons of mass destruction on “Hawaii Five-O” (9 p.m., CBS).
• Karen’s fateful choice on “Smash” (9 p.m., NBC).
• Evidence points to a possible zombie attack on “Castle” (9 p.m., ABC).