TV column for Friday, Feb. 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Movies, 8 and 9
p.m., cable.

In olden days, people dismissed fantasy
and science fiction as Hollywood's toy department; talented directors
made serious movies. Then Steven Spielberg and his colleagues began
merging fanciful stories with splendid cinema skills; tonight, we get
three dazzling examples.

Spielberg's “Close Encounter of the
Third Kind” (1977) is 8 p.m. on Turner Classic Movies; his “Raiders
of the Lost Ark” (1981) is 9 p.m. on Bravo. And his “Raiders”
star, Harrison Ford, is in Ridley Scott's brilliant “Blade Runner”
(1982), at 8 p.m. on AMC. Watch one; record the others.

TONIGHT'S ODDITY: “Who Do You Think
You Are?” and “Grimm,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC.

Back in NBC's glory days, its chief
(Brandon Tartikoff) wouldn't schedule shows back-to-back unless he
could imagine someone enjoying both. This combination, alas, would
leave him perplexed.

“Who” is an interesting search
through family histories. Last week, Martin Sheen had an intriguing
journey to rebel roots in Ireland and Spain; now Marisa Tomei has her
turn. She heads to Italy, pursuing rumors that her great-grandfather
was murdered for being a gambler and womanizer.

And “Grimm”? This hour starts
stylishly, has a great guest turn by Amy Acker, but is mostly just a
series of searches and fights. It has no substance; maybe it thought
the previous show took care of that.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The
Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” season-finale, 10:30
p.m., Independent Film Channel.

For the first five episodes of this
perversely funny season, Todd (David Cross) has sunk deeper. A
transplanted American, he keeps lying and bungling in London; now
he's on trial.

His own witnesses just seem to get him
in more trouble. Alice hopes to gather key proof that she and Todd
are innocent; but can she get to the trial on time?

Other choices include:

– “A Gifted Man,” 8 p.m., CBS.
Michael testifies in defense of a former patient. That leaves a woman
so distraught that she holds the clinic staff hostage

– “CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. Two
deaths – one from an arrow, the other from a fall down the stairs –
seem unrelated. Then a connection is uncovered.

– “Michael Feinstein's American
Songbook,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Feinstein has a
couple chances to catch previously unheard songs from master
songwriters. Some stations will follow at 10 with a rerun of last
week's hour, including a fun look at “soundies” – visual
jukeboxes from the 1930s.

– “Fringe,” 9 p.m., Fox. Olivia,
Peter and Walter find themselves trapped in a town, unable to get
out.

– “Flashpoint,” 9 p.m., Ion. This
rerun is an example of the solid drama this Canadian cop show
delivers. Called to a phony bomb threat, the police find a bigger
crisis back at headquarters.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Timothy Busfield, the “thirtysomething” Emmy-winner, plays a
suspect who faces an imposing witness: His daughter says God told her
that her dad killed her mom.

– “Merlin,” 10 p.m., Syfy.
Morgana uses her magic to make Merlin an assassin aiming for Arthur.

– “Spartacus,” 10 p.m., Starz.
Yes, this has its usual violence, gore and more. This time, it also
brings a powerful emotional high and low. Both come late in the hour,
centering on the search for Naevia.