A frequently gorgeous comedy that pretty much amounts to nothing, “The Politician” is a brittle satire without a point of view. This lush production from Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan marks the “Glee” team’s return to high school and the first of many productions for Netflix.
Set in the stratospheric wealth of Santa Barbara, California, it stars Ben Platt as Payton Hobart, the adopted son of tycoons (Gwyneth Paltrow and Bob Balaban). He has known since age 7 that he’s going to be president of the United States. His first step is to get elected class president before graduating high school and going, naturally, to Harvard.
His election efforts are complicated by the presence of his former mentor and lover, River (David Corenswet), as his rival. Payton is surrounded by a staff of hyper-articulate “strategists” who speak in complete paragraphs. Everybody here seems 17-going-on-40 in all of the least interesting ways.
Payton’s precociousness never rises to the level of charming weirdness found in “Rushmore.” Nor is he a villain of the “American Psycho” variety. He’s neither likable, frightening nor terribly interesting.
A curious subplot features a mother figure (Jessica Lange) milking her child’s (Zoey Deutch) cancer for every ounce of sympathy, a subject well worked-over in Hulu’s “The Act.”
The Santa Barbara setting and opulent houses offer viewers nice things to look at. Sadly, “The Politician” seems too in love with all of the money and good taste on display to say much about it.
• One week in to the new network season, several patterns have emerged. Last Sunday’s Emmy Awards show on Fox demonstrated that creatively, networks are pretty much an afterthought.
New series presented this week featured a lot of familiar faces in lead and supporting roles, from Jimmy Smits (“West Wing”) and Kal Penn (“House”) to fleeting glimpses of old favorites like Marg Helgenberger (“CSI”) on “All Rise,” Christine Lahti (“Chicago Hope”) on “Evil” and Donald Faison (“Scrubs”) on “Emergence.”
In addition to familiar faces, we’ve seen efforts to reach out to audiences that networks have long ignored. CBS has debuted several new series with African American leads. There are at least two shows about the immigrant experience, and a new comedy (“Perfect Harmony”) set in Kentucky. And just last night, we had three shows (“Perfect Harmony,” “The Unicorn” and “Carol’s Second Act”) about older characters starting over.
After decades of yuppie characters, we’re seeing the old, rural and (gasp!) even the poor. Hemorrhaging ratings, network are reaching for every viewer they can get.
• Amazon Prime’s comedy “Transparent” concludes with a full-length movie musical. Nothing like whine and song.
Tonight’s season premiers
A killer targets mob big shots on “Hawaii Five-0” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
• One less minivan on “American Housewife” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
• World Cup madness on “Fresh Off the Boat” (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
• Awaiting word on “Magnum PI” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
• An old case gets colder every day on “Blue Bloods” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
• “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC) features an interview with Siegfried and Roy.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Charlotte Flair and The Miz host “WWE Smackdown’s Greatest Hits” (8 p.m., Fox). Fox’s fall schedule is heavy on sports and spectacles like this.
• “Great Performances” (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG) celebrates Bach.
• A “Voces” presentation, “Adios Amor: The Search For Maria Moreno” (10 p.m., PBS, TV-PG) recalls the largely forgotten story of a labor organizer and mother of 12 who paved the way for the farmworkers’ struggle associated with Cesar Chavez.
• A rape victim with a reputation for witchcraft leads a rebellion against medieval corruption in the hallucinatory 1973 Japanese animated erotic fantasy “Belladonna of Sadness” (2 a.m., TCM, TV-MA).
Jimmy Smits returns to prime time in “Bluff City Law” (8 p.m., NBC, R, TV-14) ... Dean Cain hosts the season finale of “Masters of Illusion” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) ... Variety acts perform on the season finale of “The Big Stage” (8:30 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
Michael Sheen (“The Queen”) stars as a serial killer with a profiler offspring on “Prodigal Son” (9 p.m., Fox, R, TV-14) ... Athletes recall challenges on “Peaking” (9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., CW, TV-PG) ... “Dateline” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
Jimmy Fallon welcomes Billie Eilish and Sebastian Maniscalco on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Anthony Anderson, Malcolm Gladwell, Melanie Martinez and Whitney Cummings appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (11:35 p.m., ABC, R).
Jennifer Lopez, Michael Sheen, Mika and Terri Lyne Carrington visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC, R) ... RuPaul, David Oyelowo and Alfie Allen appear on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” (12:35 a.m., CBS, R).