| Times Herald-Record
— The best futuristic science fiction offers smart speculation about the present. In concept, “Soulmates” (10 p.m., AMC, TV-14) passes that test. But is it worth watching?
It’s the near future, and the technology behind “Soulmates” is all anybody can talk about. A tech firm has isolated some kind of “soul” molecule that allows it to match people with their perfect partner. The first episode opens with a commercial for the product with couples extolling its life-changing benefits.
With so many people falling in “true” love and gushing like members of some secret society, what are the merely married to think?
Every episode of “Soulmates” features a different cast and separate story. The first stars Sarah Snook (“Succession”) and Kingsley Ben-Adir (“The OA”) as a married couple with two spirited kids. Their lives seem like a normal balance of work and child-raising until everyone around them starts gushing about their “soulmates.” Their weekends become consumed with the weddings of rapturously happy couples tying the knot after knowing each other for scant weeks. Sometimes after ditching former spouses and partners on short notice.
The episode does a good job of showing what it might be like if all of your friends and family suddenly joined a religious cult. It also plays with some serious ideas of how Americans tend to consider themselves religious or spiritual, but talk about these matters in the most superficial manner. “Soulmates” dares to speculate that our real religion might be technology, or our ability to channel technology in pursuit of the ultimate American faith: self-absorption.
Despite such thought-provoking material, too much of the pilot episode bogs down in mundane melodrama. How many times can two people ask each other if “they’re good,” before you know that they’re not? Snook does a great job when she’s cynical about the soulmate hustle and downright dull when she has doubts about what she’s missing. At the end of the day, this is “The Stepford Wives” meets “30something,” in all the worst ways. It’s just interesting how these Stepford couples inflict the technology on themselves.
Through Nov. 9, “Soulmates” will offer six permutations on this high-concept notion. It’s the first anthology series to appear on AMC.
— The revived series “One Day at a Time” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) begins its fourth season on a new network. Is this the first time a show moved from a streaming service to a network? Time was, shows went to streaming services when they didn’t attract enough viewers to satisfy networks’ advertisers. The Fox-originated series “The Orville” will appear on Hulu when its third season is completed.
In some ways, this marks a return. The original “One Day at a Time” ran on CBS from 1975 to 1984 and was revived by Netflix in 2017.
TONIGHT’S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
— Lester Holt hosts “Decision 2020: Joe Biden Town Hall” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
— It came out of the sky on “L.A.’s Finest” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
— Somebody goes home on “Dancing With the Stars” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
— The Green Bay Packers host the Atlanta Falcons in NFL football (8 p.m., ESPN) action.
— Samuel L. Jackson visits Africatown, Alabama, founded by liberated slaves on “Enslaved” (9 p.m., Epix, TV-MA).
“Big Brother” (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-PG) … Improvisations on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14), followed by a repeat episode (8:30 p.m.) … “American Ninja Warrior” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
Illusionists audition on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (9 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
“The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” (11 p.m., Comedy Central) practices social distancing … Rory Scovel appears on “Conan” (12:30 a.m., r, TBS) … Jimmy Fallon welcomes Daniel Craig, Billie Eilish and Finneas on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) … Jessica Chastain and John Slattery visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC).