Crime does pay

Just as I was ready to concede network TV has lost its dramatic nerve, along comes the second season of “American Crime,” a series so thought-provoking you’d assume it was concocted during an HBO retreat — or a college psych class. Much of the cast has returned, but in different roles and a new setting: an Indiana town that begins to unravel when members of an all-state basketball team are accused of raping a male student. Creator John Ridley, who won an Oscar for his “12 Years a Slave” screenplay, uses the fictional case as a starting point for discussions of homophobia, bullying, sexual politics and educational disparities. The top-shelf cast includes Timothy Hutton, Regina King and Felicity Huffman, who continues to prove she was just slumming it on “Desperate Housewives.” The revelation is hip-hop star Andre Benjamin. As a conflicted parent, he quickly proves that as an actor, he’s anything but an Outkast. 9 p.m. Wednesday, KSTP, Ch. 5

Relatively speaking

In a new episode of “Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.,” Bill Maher and Bill O’Reilly learn they are distant relatives. Soledad O’Brien is also along for a genealogical adventure that sets out to prove Irish blood is thicker than Guinness. 7 p.m. Tuesday, TPT, Ch. 2

Lukewarm for teacher

You may seriously consider home schooling after the first episode of “Teachers,” a comedy that suggests elementary instructors are too self-centered to do little more than point their students toward the cafeteria. The six female members of the comedy troupe the Katydids try to lead an antibullying movement with clever bits that worked in short form on the Web but are little more than stretching exercises in a half-hour format. 10:02 p.m. Wednesday, TV Land

Cry freedom

If the producers of “Inside Out” create a sequel, they may want to explore the bustling brain of “Lost” co-creator Carlton Cuse. His latest series, “Colony,” is another original expedition, this time to an alien-occupied Earth, where a Gestapo-like force tries to appease the invaders by turning towns into prison camps. Josh Holloway is a former special agent who is so busy choosing sides between the kissing cousins of Stormtroopers and a group of ragtag renegades that he can’t find time to shave. The acting takes a back seat to the engaging plot, which hopefully won’t involve a visit from the Smoke Monster. 9 p.m. Thursday, USA

Neal Justin