• Free advice. Never have your obituary written by your rival and worst enemy. That’s the first lesson from the “American Masters” (9 p.m., PBS) profile “Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive.”
Apparently, nearly everything we think we know about Poe (1809-1849) is wrong. And that’s because the first obituary of the popular, if controversial, writer was penned by his one-time partner turned literary frenemy, Rufus W. Griswold. In Griswold’s words, Poe was reduced to a doomed, drug-addicted, gloomy caricature.
“Buried” reveals an ambitious, if embittered, figure who lost his mother at 2 and who had to make his way in the world as a writer at a time when there was no legal copyright protection and creators as prestigious as Charles Dickens had their work stolen and reprinted without permission or remuneration.
In spite of all that, Poe would work at several magazines and found several more. He made a name for himself as a brutally honest critic, wielding a savage pen that did not win him many friends in the small circles of 19th-century publishing. Poe would die at 40, yet crammed a brief botched military career into his resume, one that would take him to West Point, where he floundered and flunked out.
Poe saw himself as a poet foremost. “The Raven” remains memorized and popular to this day and won him so much contemporary fame that strangers would flap their “wings” when they saw him on the streets.
With his short tale “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Poe essentially invented the detective story. He also created elements (including C. Auguste Dupin, the brilliant deductionist, the astonished friend/sidekick/narrator, numerous red herrings and a final “reveal”) that have been copied down the decades, from Sherlock Holmes to Poirot to “House” and any number of TV sleuths.
As one literary expert observes, it was therefore fitting that Poe should disappear for days and suddenly die in a manner right out of a lurid mystery novel.
Narrated by Kathleen Turner, “Buried” features re-enactments starring Denis O’Hare (“This Is Us”) and readings of Poe’s work by Chris Sarandon and Ben Schnetzer.
Tonight’s other highlights
• The knockout rounds begin on “The Voice” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
• Murder’s on the menu on “Lucifer” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• Upon dying, a workaholic (Kristin Davis) becomes a Christmas angel in the 2016 romance “A Heavenly Christmas” (8 p.m., Hallmark), co-starring Eric McCormack and Shirley MacLaine. Followed by “Once Upon a Holiday” (10 p.m.), mashing up a reheated take on “Roman Holiday” with Christmas. Of course.
• The Chiefs host the Broncos in NFL action (8:15 p.m., ESPN).
• A trendy food truck blocks the street and gobbles up customers on the second season premiere of “Superior Donuts” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14). Diane Guerrero (“Orange Is the New Black”) has joined the cast.
• Sentinel targets the mutant way station on “The Gifted” (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• A search for spectral evidence on “Scorpion” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
• Spain yields evidence of terror operations on “The Brave” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
• The team helps a groom walk down the aisle on “The Good Doctor” (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14). This is the most-watched TV series airing right now.
• The dystopian view of Manhattan, reanimated for HBO’s “The Deuce,” is on full display in the 1981 adventure “Escape From New York” (10:30 p.m., Sundance), starring Kurt Russell, Ernest Borgnine, Adrienne Barbeau, Lee Van Cleef and Donald Pleasence.
Cookies crumble on “Kevin Can Wait” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... “Dancing With the Stars” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... Chad Lowe guest-stars on “Supergirl” (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG) ... A key conundrum on “9JKL” (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... Nora combats her issues on “Valor” (9 p.m., CW, TV-14) ... Breaking up on “Me, Myself & I” (9:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
Ta-Nehisi Coates is booked on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” (11 p.m., Comedy Central) ... Nathan Fielder and Dhani Harrison appear on “Conan” (11 p.m., TBS) ... Billy Eichner, Anna Camp and Weezer are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (11:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Blake Shelton and Andrea Martin on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC).
Heidi Klum, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Imagine Dragons and Anton Fig visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC) ... Miles Teller, Whitney Cummings and Fergie appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (12:35 a.m., CBS).
— Kevin McDonough