You don’t have to be a Yankees fan to love “The Bronx Is Burning” (7 p.m., ESPN), an ambitious, intelligent and consistently rewarding miniseries debuting tonight, then airing weekly on Tuesday nights through Aug. 28.
Based on a nonfiction book of the same name by Jonathan Mahler, “Bronx” uses the 1977 Yankees season as the central story in a look at a tumultuous year in New York history, marked by a contentious election, blackouts, riots and a search for a serial killer that helped spawn a new tabloid culture.
At the heart of “The Bronx” is the tempestuous relationship between Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner (Oliver Platt), his manager Billy Martin (John Turturro) and slugger Reggie Jackson (Daniel Sunjata), a recently arrived superstar with a huge contract and matching ego.
The scenes involving these men are consistently wonderful.
But Turturro’s performance as the tortured Martin is one for the ages. He appears to have starved himself for the role to better affect Martin’s wiry, almost consumptive physique.
Turturro’s Martin is a man being eaten away from within – a doomed character plagued by insecurities, jealousy and a fatal need to live up to pinstripe traditions.
Set in the fraternity/sorority world of the fictional Cyprus Rhodes University, the new teen soap “Greek” (9 p.m., Family) concerns Rusty (Jacob Zachar), the sweet-but-dweeby freshman engineering student who wants to transcend his geek status by going Greek.
The Home Run Derby (5 p.m., ESPN) unfolds on the eve of the All-Star game.
The acclaimed director of films from “Jaws” to “Saving Private Ryan” looks back at his work and his influences on “Spielberg on Spielberg” (5 and 9 p.m., TCM).
Nicole’s new patient proves worrisome on “Kyle XY” (8 p.m., Family).
Artifacts and heirlooms on “History Detectives” (9:30 p.m., KSPS).
The documentary “In Pot We Trust” (8:30 p.m., Showtime) looks at medicinal marijuana.
Wayne’s new parochial school poses problems on “Big Love” (9 p.m., HBO).
“Simon Schama’s Power of Art” (10:30 p.m., KSPS) profiles Rembrandt van Rijn.
Brenda’s squad searches for an abducted teen on “The Closer” (9 p.m., TNT).
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