Now in its second week, “The Men Who Built America” (8 p.m.) interrupts the History Channel’s “Pawn”- and “Picker”-filled lineup. “Built” profiles the visionary industrialists who transformed the continent in the decades following the Civil War. Tonight’s subject is Andrew Carnegie.
This show’s approach is as 19th-century as its subject matter. It’s the “Great Man” school of history, longer on anecdotes than concepts and all but devoid of dissenting voices.
In addition to gauzy re-enactments, “Men” is accompanied not by the insights of scholars, but by a Greek chorus of contemporary businessmen who cheer the audacity of historical figures unfettered by scruples or law.
The choice of some of these cheerleaders often drags down “Men” to the level of parody. Donny Deutsch and James Cramer are most famous for screaming on television. Two contributors, Donald Trump and Jack Welch, have gained recent notoriety for peddling conspiracy theories.
This isn’t history. It’s advertising — and bad advertising at that.
• Why do people kill? What drives individuals to the dark side? And what do convicted murderers think about when they reflect on their actions? Documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog directs and “stars” in “Into the Abyss” (7 p.m., ID), a thorough and uncompromising exploration of the criminal mind.
Herzog covered similar ground in his amazing film “On Death Row” that aired on ID in March. Those familiar with his work, including “Grizzly Man,” know that Herzog and his gentle, German-accented commentary can be hypnotic. His films often make for uncomfortable viewing. But they’re never forgettable.
Tonight’s other highlights:
• Baby-sitting Maw Maw on “Raising Hope” (7 p.m., Fox).
• Halloween gets out of hand on “Pretty Little Liars” (7 p.m., ABC Family).
• Dave and Alex date again on the season premiere of “Happy Endings” (8 p.m., ABC).
• Danny has a plan on “The Mindy Project” (8:30 p.m., Fox).
• A Dawson’s reunion on “Don’t Trust the B—— in Apartment 23” (8:30 p.m., ABC).
• Savino feels the pressure on “Vegas” (9 p.m.).
• Max disappoints Kristina on “Parenthood” (9 p.m., NBC).
• A young patient vanishes on “Private Practice” (9 p.m., ABC).
• Jax loses his grip on “Sons of Anarchy” (9 p.m., FX).