Tuesday, 9 p.m., The CW
‘Black Lightning” star Cress Williams says he’s the right guy for the role of a middle-age crusader with a real life. “To just play exactly who I am — a person in his 40s, a family man trying to do all these sizable things — it was tailor-made,” said Williams, 47. He portrays high-school principal Jefferson Pierce, a retired vigilante named Black Lightning, who fights off bad guys with bolts of electricity that shoot out from his hands. Pierce, a divorced father of two daughters, worries about returning to crime-fighting as a gang targets his community. It’s the first lead TV role for the actor, who has been on dozens of hits such as “Friday Night Lights,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “ER,” and even “Nash Bridges.”
Williams, a married father of two, spoke with The Post by phone from Atlanta, where the series is filmed.
How big a deal is your first headlining TV gig?
When you’re a kid, you go, “I’m gonna be the best actor ever! I’m gonna be a star!” At this point in my career, it’s kind of like, “Well, maybe it’s not gonna happen.” So, the fact that it’s happened is amazingly cool. I was at church and my pastor said, “I see you everywhere [laughs]. We’re just so happy for you!” I haven’t gotten used to it yet.
What made you think you could play a superhero now?
When I turned 40, I went through a big change in diet and became a huge workout buff just to get healthy. Once I started seeing positive changes, I also recognized this would give me career longevity.
How is it doing the fight scenes?
I’ve studied boxing, but Black Lightning has a martial-arts background; that’s a different skill set. Making that believable is a challenge. I am 47 and have a bad knee. My stunt double Eric [Mbanda] has been doing martial arts since he was 6; he helps to train me. All the fancy kicks he does make me look good.
What sets “Black Lightning” apart from other superhero series?
The family is an aspect we’ve never seen. I have a friend who’s a TV writer and huge comic-book fan. I was really honored when he said, “It’s the best superhero show right now. And it’s the best family show.”
Pierce’s older daughter, Anissa (Nafessa Williams), is starting to develop powers. How will he respond?
Pride and fear. Pride because his genes created it, similar to an athlete who sees their child following in their footsteps. Fear that she’s gonna experience the same things he has. It’s taken a toll on his life, his family, his body.
Is the setting more realistic than on other series?
It’s a fictional city, but rooted in reality that everybody can identify with. The ills of the neighborhood are the ills we see on the news every day.
The racism depicted is hard to watch, like when Pierce gets pulled over and harassed by a white cop in the first episode. Is it important to make viewers uncomfortable?
When I first read [the script], the hair on my neck was standing on end. When my wife and I watched the episode, she said it was still uncomfortable to watch, fully knowing that it’s fake. I take that as a win that we have accomplished what we set out to.
— Eric Hegedüs
Friday, 8 p.m., NBC
“Today” show veteran Katie Couric returns to the network where Matt Lauer used to work to cover the 23rd Winter Olympic Games from Pyeongchang, South Korea. Couric, who has anchored six Olympics broadcasts, will be in the booth with Mike Tirico. NBCUniversal will also stream the Olympics Opening Ceremony live.
Premiere. A brand-new Fab Five — Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness and Tan France — descends upon Atlanta in this new series, sharing grooming tips with men and women.
Wednesday, 9 p.m., Fox
On Valentine’s Day, Athena (Angela Bassett) attempts to help a desperate woman. Meanwhile, Bobby (Peter Krause) and Chimney (Kenneth Choi) take on holiday duty. Abby (Connie Britton) and Buck (Oliver Stark) go on a date.
Wednesday, 10 p.m., FX
With police trying to determine who murdered Jeff Trail (Finn Wittrock), Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) forces his friend David (Cody Fern) to go on the run with him. He tries to escape in Wisconsin.
Sunday, 9 p.m., PBS
Learning of the Irish potato famine, the queen (Jenna Coleman) wants to help, but is met with political opposition.
Wednesday, 8 p.m., NBC
When corpses are discovered in the woods, Red (James Spader, below far right, with Hisham Tawfiq, far left, and Lenny Venito) points the Task Force toward a group that targets people whose actions are amoral, yet fully legal.
Wednesday, 8 p.m., The CW
Betty (Lili Reinhart) turns to Jughead (Cole Sprouse) for help when the consequences of a hasty decision come back to haunt her. Archie (KJ Apa) is forced to make a tough choice when Agent Adams (John Behlmann) takes things one step too far.