TV creator Marc Cherry has one story, and he’s sticking to it. While promoting his hit ABC series “Desperate Housewives,” Cherry recalled speaking with his mother about a ghastly news report of a mother drowning her children. While he couldn’t understand how anyone could do that, his mother, he recalled, understood too well.
Her insight into how seemingly placid domestic scenes could turn homicidal inspired “Housewives,” as well as the new drama-comedy “Why Women Kill,” streaming today on CBS All Access.
“Kill” offers three overlapping tales set in the same Pasadena mansion, decades apart, each resulting in a marriage ending in death. In 1963, Beth Ann (Ginnifer Goodwin, “Big Love”) discovers that her cold engineer husband (Jack Davenport) takes her for granted and has begun to stray. Dressed to the hilt in 1984 fashions, Lucy Liu plays Simone, a diva of a wife shocked to find out about her husband’s attraction to other men. Present-day lawyer Taylor (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) enjoys a bisexual open marriage with her screenwriter husband (Reid Scott) until he becomes a bit too familiar with her latest sapphic fling.
Nobody who has ever watched “Desperate Housewives” or Cherry’s Lifetime series “Devious Maids” should expect subtlety here. The emphasis is on the obvious, stylishly delivered with a bit of a wink. The producers had great fun evoking period fashion, accessories, cars, furniture and other details.
It’s refreshing to see Liu having fun in this over-the-top production. Her turn as Watson in “Elementary,” ending its run on CBS tonight, had become a tad too glum.
• On two helpings of “Two Sentence Horror Stories” (CW, TV-14), an abusive father returns from the grave (9 p.m.), a nanny drops the ball (9:30 p.m.).
This horror anthology, along with every other CW series, can be streamed on the CW app. Unlike apps for many network and cable channels, the CW app is an ad-supported streaming site that requires no password or proof of cable subscription. Simply download it to a smart TV device like Apple TV or a Roku or your tablet or PC, and you can watch CW series beginning the day after they are broadcast.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Little League World Series action (7 p.m., ESPN2) live from South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
• The Arizona Cardinals host the Oakland Raiders in NFL preseason action (8 p.m., ESPN).
• Anne Curry hosts “Chasing the Cure” (9 p.m., TBS, TNT, TV-14).
• Moriarty may return on the series finale of “Elementary” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
• A lawyer’s rape at a police banquet shocks Benson on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (10 p.m., NBC, R, TV-14).
• A women’s surfing competition turns deadly on “Reef Break” (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
• Christine suffers pie-baking-contest anxiety on “Baskets” (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA).
A daylong salute to the films of Rod Steiger sees him playing a Mexican revolutionary in the 1971 spaghetti Western “A Fistful of Dynamite” (10 p.m., TCM, TV-14), directed by Sergio Leone. The film was also released as “Once Upon A Time ... the Revolution” and “Duck, You Sucker!”
Donor anxiety on “The Big Bang Theory” (8 p.m., CBS, R, TV-PG) ... “The Wall” (8 p.m., NBC, R, TV-PG) ... Much ado about chorizo on “MasterChef” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14) ... “Holey Moley” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... A trip back in time on “The Outpost” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) ... Mary’s crisis of faith on “Young Sheldon” (8:30 p.m., CBS, R, TV-PG).
Julie Chen Moonves hosts “Big Brother” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... Jane Lynch hosts “Hollywood Game Night” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14) ... “Spin the Wheel” (9 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) ... The season ends for “Family Food Fight” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
Mark Sanford is booked on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” (11 p.m., Comedy Central) ... Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne are scheduled on “Conan” (11 p.m., TBS, R) ... Todd Glass, Robin Thede and Jeff Garlin appear on “Lights Out With David Spade” (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central) ... Kirsten Dunst, Adam Devine and Lee Pace are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (11:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes John Travolta, Marlon Wayans, Mary Beth Keane and Caroline Jones on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Gerard Butler, David Alan Grier and the Avett Brothers appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (11:35 p.m., ABC) ... Michael Douglas, Will Forte and Nicole Byer appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (12:35 a.m., CBS).