Call me old-fashioned. We’re at least a quarter-century in to the CGI era of animation; “Toy Story” debuted in 1995. But I still prefer cartoons of the hand-drawn variety, two-dimensional works of art with graphic intensity.
Nobody better represents that genre than creator Genndy Tartakovsky, whose credits include “Dexter’s Laboratory” and the gorgeous “Samurai Jack,” as well as his helping hand on “The Powerpuff Girls.”
Tartakovsky returns in a big way with “Primal” (midnight, Cartoon Network), a series without dialogue about a prehistoric man and a dinosaur who form a strange bond as he goes about his hunting and gathering. This tale is as graphically powerful as “Samurai Jack,” and gathers a kind of energy from its abject wordlessness. This tale of kill or be killed is essentially pre-language. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t convey a great deal of emotion.
Intentionally or not, “Primal” also underscores something I’ve noticed for a long time. Old-fashioned 2D animation often puts the emphasis on visuals while CGI efforts have often sublimated the images to the script, most often the gag. CGI film franchises look and sound like they were written first and then computer-animated. In “Primal,” the powerful visuals retain their primacy.
• Echoes from the past reverberate on the new series “Retro Report” (9 p.m., PBS, check local listings), a series that examines contemporary news and trends from the vantage point of history.
Hosted by Celeste Headlee and Masud Olufani, the magazine-type show looks at contemporary concerns about the addictive nature of social media by flashing back to the 1940s and ‘50s, when behavioral scientist B.F. Skinner was studying ways to modify behavior through patterns of rewards and feedback. We see vintage clips of lab rats and pigeons being manipulated with positive seeds and treats. Some of Skinner’s theories also explained the addictive nature of “one-armed bandits” in casinos, another example of repetitive play with the anticipation of a positive payoff. Skinner’s studies were often criticized in his lifetime, but over the past two decades the creators of social media apps have put his findings to work.
Other segments recall protests by black athletes in the 1960s and their influence on contemporary controversies. Another story examines women on Wall Street in the 1980s and ‘90s who complained of harassment and abuse decades before the #MeToo movement.
• “Private Lives of the Windsors” (8 p.m., Smithsonian) focuses on the royal family’s publicity spin machine that continually works overtime to “protect” the public from news of royal misbehavior. The series begins with the brief reign of King Edward VII, whose unsuitable marriage and abdication overshadowed reports of drug abuse and Nazi sympathies.
Tonight’s season premieres
• The state championship leads to hard decisions on “All American” (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
• The family has few options on “Black Lightning” (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
• Blind auditions continue on “The Voice” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
• The tidal wave recedes on “9-1-1” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• Leah Remini guest-judges on “Dancing With The Stars” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
• A case involves online gaming on “All Rise” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
• The islanders return on “The Terror” (9 p.m., AMC, TV-14).
• A killer may have taken LSD on “Prodigal Son” (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• “Below Deck” (9 p.m., Bravo, TV-14) enters its seventh season off the coast of Thailand.
• A possible miscarriage of justice on “Bull” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
• An innocent man needs a miracle on “Bluff City Law” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
• Dr. Claire juggles worries both personal and professional on “The Good Doctor” (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
• The search for the grail continues on “Lodge 49” (10 p.m., AMC, TV-14).
• After a demotion, a crusading journalist (Paul Muni) finds a way to fight corruption through his lonely-hearts advice column in the 1934 comedy “Hi, Nellie!” (2:30 a.m., TCM).
Dave’s gesture irks Calvin on “The Neighborhood” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... Bob expands his horizons on “Bob Hearts Abishola” (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
Henry Winkler appears on “Conan” (11 p.m., TBS, r) ... Neil deGrasse Tyson and Susan Rice are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (11:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Lupita Nyong’o, Dane Cook and The Avett Brothers on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... David Harbour, Ryan Eggold, Lauren Daigle and Steve Gorman visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC) ... Ben Platt and Zoey Deutch appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (12:35 a.m., CBS).