YOU DON’T WATCH HGTV for the politics. In fact, basic cable has made a point of offering a refuge from the white heat of its “news” rivals. Its shows about house-flipping, storage locker auctions and adventures set farther and farther into the great white North offer consumer-friendly distractions that seem aggressively indifferent to current events.
For the most part, these shows do not rock any boats. It’s their job to get you to run to the local big-box hardware store. And maybe buy a pickup truck to haul the stuff and a new McMansion to store it.
So it’s interesting to watch “Jonathan Scott’s Power Trip” on “Independent Lens” (10 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings). Scott, one half of HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” makes his directorial debut here. “Trip” looks into the promise of solar power to make energy plentiful and cheap, and the roadblocks maintained by utilities and government regulators apparently married to fossil fuels, and Wall Street speculators hooked on the easy returns that come from government-backed energy monopolies.
Like many roads to radicalization, Scott’s experience was deeply personal. He had invested a lot of his own money to put solar panels on his Las Vegas property. After the initial investment, he found himself actually generating more power than he used. He wasn’t just saving money; he was making some, all thanks to our friend the sun.
Then, the state of Nevada, pushed by its energy companies, passed new laws changing how solar power was metered. Suddenly power companies were making money off his investment and charging him more for electricity. To Scott, this was theft. And he was hardly alone.
While making “Power Trip,” Scott traveled to various states and attended many public hearings filled with solar power advocates and angry consumers like himself. The film recalls how solar power was once seen as the province of “tree huggers.” A friend to the oil industry, President Reagan made an emphatic statement in 1981 when he had solar panels torn off the White House and thrown into the trash.
Two decades into a new century, Scott discovers a diverse coalition of pro-solar activists. He interviews Sen. Bernie Sanders and 2000 presidential popular vote winner Al Gore. We also meet actor Mark Ruffalo, a longtime energy activist. But he spends more time with Debbie Dooley, a gun-loving tea party activist who sees solar energy as empowering homeowners and businesses and getting state regulators out of the picture. In his talks with Dooley and visits with farmers, saddled with steep electric bills, he learns that many in rural “red” areas see solar power as an economic engine allowing farms and small businesses to survive.
“Trip” doesn’t pretend to be balanced. And don’t expect Scott to start the “Property Is Theft Brothers.” But when a benign cable TV host assembles a diverse coalition to take on vested interests and Wall Street, attention must be paid.
• An incident rattles “The Neighborhood” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
• Bob needs more than a ring on “Bob Hearts Abishola” (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
• An incident comes between Lola and Mark on “All Rise” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
• Coulter grills a heretic on “His Dark Materials” (9 p.m., HBO, TV-14).
• Remote proceedings require new strategies on “Bull” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
• The Chicago Bears host the Minnesota Vikings in NFL action (8 p.m., ESPN).
• McKenna’s dark past on “L.A.’s Finest” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• Fight night on “Filthy Rich” (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• Mentoring new recruits on “The Good Doctor” (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
After killing a preacher, a man assumes his identity and his flock in the 2020 drama “The Quarry” (8:55 p.m., Cinemax), starring Shea Whigham and Michael Shannon. Released in the thick of the pandemic, the film attracted few viewers and poor reviews. Its plot seems similar to the situation comedy “Impastor” that ran on TV Land in 2015-16.
“The Voice” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) ... “Dancing With the Stars” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... Improvisations on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) ... Illusionists audition on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (9 p.m., CW, TV-PG) ... Jane Lynch hosts “Weakest Link” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
Jimmy Fallon welcomes Erin Andrews, Chance the Rapper and G Herbo on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Kaley Cuoco, Cazzie David and Valerie Franco visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC).