TV column for Friday, Feb. 24


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Great
Performances,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Here's something big and rare – a TV
production of a Tony-winning musical. “Memphis” shimmers with
great voices and powerhouse songs, in the style of early rock 'n'
roll.

That said, “Memphis” also has huge
flaws. It's based loosely on Dewey Phillips, a real-life character
who went from spinning records at a department store to bringing
black music to a white radio audience. Fast-talking and hyper, he was
bizarre character; this version of him is merely cartoon-ish.

A fictional romance has been added,
with little benefit. Mostly, just savor the great sounds.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “A Gifted Man,”
9 p.m., CBS.

Things don't go well for Michael's
women. His wife Anna is dead (but keeps appearing to him); now his
high school girlfriend apparently has a terminal illness.

She's played by Maggie Siff, who is
great as Tara in “Sons of Anarchy.” Michael will go to extremes
for her – unless Anna (the dead one) can stop him.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Spartacus,”
10 p.m., Starz.

Amid all the usual elements – blood,
gore, dismemberment – this hour finds an epic situation.

Three men were captured and are
scheduled to die in gladiator games; Spartacus and his people try a
daring rescue. The result is as nasty as usual, but leads to a finish
that's worthy of a mega-movie.

Other choices include:

– “Who Do You Think You Are?” 8
p.m., NBC. Blair Underwood has had questions about both sides of his
family. He's had obstacles, but now there are some breaks and a
chance to meet a relative.

– “Ali” (2001), 8-11 p.m., BET.
This ambitious Michael Mann film portrays a decade in the chaotic
life of Muhammad Ali. There were Oscar nominations for Will Smith as
Ali and Jon Voight as Howard Cosell. The strong cast has Jamie Foxx,
Mario Van Peebles, Mykelti Williamson, Ron Silver and more.

– “Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. If you
think fight clubs are rough, imagine a ritualistic one in the
creature world. Nick finds one while investigating a double murder;
soon, he must defend Monroe.

– “Fringe,” 9 p.m., Fox. Peter
and the others go to extremes to stop life-threatening events.

– “Gold Rush,” 9 p.m., Discovery.
Todd, who can be stubborn, takes the bulldozer out on the ice; it
doesn't go well. That's preceded by an 8 p.m. rerun, filled with
equipment trouble.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. An
undercover cop has been killed. He was a friend of the Reagans; as
Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) searches for the killer, his wife worries
about his obsession.

– “Dateline,” 10 p.m., NBC.
Police said Bob Ward, a millionaire developer, shot his wife to death
in their Orlando, Fla., mansion; he says he was trying to stop her
from shooting herself. Complicating the issue was a bizarre video
showing him dancing in his jail cell, a few days later; Dennis Murphy
reports.

– “Portlandia,” 10 p.m., IFC.
Since this terrific comedy is set in Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge of
the Portland Trailblazers shows up. He plays the boyfriend of someone
(Penny Marshall) who disrupts the 10th anniversary of the
women's book store. Also, reruns are at 9:30 and 10:30 p.m.