Wizards and warriors on the cheap
August 18. 2014 9:55PM
“WIZARD WARS” (10 p.m., Syfy, TV-PG) debuts tonight. It offers proof of how the Internet and cable influence each other. Hosted by famed illusionists Penn & Teller, “Wizard” features famed magicians who submit to challenges from unknown challengers.
Each team has to create a magic act of routines based on a random assortment of ordinary objects. Like many of Syfy’s competition series, including “Face Off” (9 p.m., TV-14), this seems very inspired by “Project Runway” competitions where aspiring designers have to make outfits out of materials not of their choosing. Tonight’s players have to make magic out of Spam and a Super Soaker.
“Wizard Wars” gained fame on YouTube, where challengers received materials fresh from a dollar store. The first “act” had a budget of $15.
• On a related note, “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” (9 p.m., HBO, TV-MA) profiles the Philadelphia Eagles’ long snapper Jon Dorenbos. When not playing professional football, Dorenbos enjoys dabbling in magic acts. He picked up his love of illusion and sleight of hand as a child, as a refuge from the emotional pain of domestic violence and rage that took his mother’s life.• If “Wizard Wars” was based on a series of YouTube clips, “Idiotest” (9 p.m., GSN), now in its second week, is based on a popular smartphone app.
Contestants face a series of rapid-fire questions about a scene before them, questions easily answered only if they are looking at the tableau from the right perspective. Comedian Ben Gleib hosts.
• Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm return for a second season of “A Young Doctor’s Notebook” (10 p.m., Ovation), a British series based on autobiographical Russian novels by Mikhail Bulgakov set during the Stalin era and flashing back to 1917.
TV-themed DVDs available today include The fourth season of “Boardwalk Empire.” The fifth and final season begins Sept. 7.
• Paul Newman stars as Billy the Kid in the 1958 Western “The Left Handed Gun” (8 p.m., TCM), part of a 24-hour marathon of his films.
• Divya and Jeremiah put their differences aside on “Royal Pains” (9 p.m., USA, TV-PG).
• “America’s Got Talent” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) showcases 12 acts at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
• Jane gets antsy on “Rizzoli & Isles” (9 p.m., TNT, TV-14).
• Reese impersonates a Secret Service agent on “Person of Interest” (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
• Jamal shows no mercy on “Tyrant” (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA).
• Annie flies solo on “Covert Affairs” (10 p.m., USA, TV-PG).
• A repeat “Frontline” (10 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings) examines hidden fees in retirement accounts.
• Donnie needs help on “Perception” (10 p.m., TNT, TV-14).
The year 1984 would see Tom Hanks graduate from “Bosom Buddies” sitcom fame to big screen stardom in Ron Howard’s comedy “Splash” and the rather sophomoric romp “Bachelor Party” (8 p.m., VH1 Classic).
A suspect’s alibi unravels on “NCIS” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... “Food Fighters” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) ... Italian adventures on “Family Guy” (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14) ... A participant gets the boot on “Extreme Weight Loss” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... A battle between Arrow and Slade sends many to the hospital on “Arrow” (8 p.m., CW, r, TV-14) ... A formal affair on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (8:30 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14).
Terrorists seek a Marine embezzler on “NCIS: Los Angeles” (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) ... Jamie Lee Curtis guest-stars on “New Girl” (9 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14) ... Residents of a sleepy town turn deadly on “Supernatural” (9 p.m., CW, r, TV-14) ... Tim Daly guest-stars on “The Mindy Project” (9:30 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14).
From hell on “20/20” (10 p.m., ABC).
“The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” are pre-empted until Aug. 26 ... Jessica Alba, Marcus Haney and Tove Lo appear on “Conan” (11 p.m., TBS) ... Chloe Grace Moretz, Jeff Wild, Jen Kirkman and Brad Wollack are booked on “Chelsea Lately” (11 p.m., E!).
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Novak Djokovic and Robby Johnson appear on “Late Show With David Letterman” (11:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Pierce Brosnan, Tavi Gevinson and The Madden Brothers on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Chloe Grace Moretz, Jon “Bones” Jones and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (11:35 p.m., ABC, r).
Anna Paquin, Marc Maron and Elizabeth Karmel visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) ... Craig Ferguson hosts Susan Sarandon and Garrison Keillor on “The Late Late Show” (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).