“MIKE JUDGE Presents: Tales From the Tour Bus” (10 p.m., Cinemax, TV-MA) just may be the most underappreciated series around. Few other shows point to a whole new genre; in this case, the cartoon documentary. Cartoons solve the greatest problem in making historical documentaries — the absence of available (or affordable) footage. I can’t believe this hasn’t become a well-established artform.
Now in its second season, “Tour Bus” offers profiles of legendary musicians, blending animation, vintage footage and extensive interviews with surviving sidemen, backup singers, friends, colleagues and lovers, all animated in glorious two-dimensional color. Season one concentrated on country; season two covers funk.
We’ve already seen an animated George Clinton and Bootsy Collins describe the Parliament-Funkadelic experience. Tonight, Collins recalls his work with James Brown. Hearing (and seeing) his remarkable descriptions of the mercurial King of Soul cavorting with African dictators is enhanced by the fact that Collins was only 19 at the time, an impressionable (and often stoned) youth receptive to weird experiences. Tonight’s profile of Brown concludes next Friday.
One of the real joys of “Tour Bus” is the onscreen presence of an animated Judge, who narrates every episode. He was also the voice of Hank Hill on “King of the Hill,” so the whole thing takes on a pretty cross-referential cartoon vibe, I tell you what.
• Netflix presents “Death by Magic” (TV-14). It stars a magician who calls himself “DMC,” short for Drummond Money-Coutts. A prim, over-groomed and understated fellow, he travels from one city to another re-creating famous, or rather, infamous, magic tricks that claimed the lives of other magicians.
It’s an outlandish idea presented in a pedestrian fashion. DMC’s first seen on the streets of Detroit, where he amazes two young men by procuring a pair of sneakers out of thin air. Later, he visits a group of backup singers in a Motown studio and asks one woman to name the song running through her head. When she does, he presents her with a music box twinkling away to just that tune.
Every episode concludes with a death-defying stunt accompanied by a score that sounds like music from every reality show ever made. Even some of the options he presents his “assistants” — to choose from doors or ropes Nos. 1, 2 or 3 — sound a little like “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Perhaps the makers of this series thought DMC was wild and crazy enough to animate “Death by Magic.” But everything about it is as underwhelming as it is familiar.
• Over on Amazon Prime, the documentary series “Inside Jokes” presents yet another showcase for rising stand-up talent. It’s not enough to show comedians being funny or failing to amuse, we have to get inside their heads and their “process.” Since when did comedians’ material take on life-or-death significance?
• Utah and Washington meet in the Pac-12 football championship (8 p.m., Fox).
• Weller and the Jane who isn’t Jane work together on “Blindspot” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
• Olivia’s past returns with a vengeance on “Midnight, Texas” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
• Rebecca visits her mother (Tovah Feldshuh) back east on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
• Frank orders a crackdown on an anti-police group on “Blue Bloods” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
Kristen Bell (“The Good Place”) stars in the 2014 update of the UPN teen detective series “Veronica Mars” (7:10 p.m., MoMax), a film financed by fans via Kickstarter. Bell also stars in the 2010 comedy “You Again” (8 p.m., Pop) with Jamie Lee Curtis.
A vial’s toxins threaten a global pandemic on “MacGyver” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... A juvenile jury lends a hand on two helpings of “Child Support” (8 p.m. and 9 p.m., r, ABC, TV-PG) ... The Carringtons rebound after a tough Thanksgiving on “Dynasty” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).
A costumed vigilante is killed on “Hawaii Five-0” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14) ... “Dateline” (10 p.m., NBC) ... “20/20” (10 p.m., ABC).
Michelle Obama is booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (11:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Dolly Parton and Nick Kroll on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Bono, Chris Rock, Will Ferrell, Kristen Bell, Channing Tatum, Snoop Dogg, Mila Kunis, Pharrell, Brad Paisley and Zoe Saldana appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (11:35 p.m., ABC, r).
Martin Short, Brian Tyree Henry and Amir Obe sit down on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) ... Jeff Bridges, Jenny Slate and Arctic Monkeys appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).