TV column for Tuesday, March 20


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Switched at
Birth” season-finale, 8 p.m., ABC Family.

The first season of this surprisingly
good series has come in two batches – 10 episodes last summer, a
dozen more wrapping up now.

Bay grew up rich; Daphne, who is deaf,
grew up with a struggling single mom. Then they learned they'd been
switched at birth; they're beautifully played by Vanessa Marano and
Katie Leclerc.

Now it's their prom night. Also, Angelo
(Giles Marini) is back; he's the one who abandoned Daphne, but is the
biologic father of Bay.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Fashion Star,”
10 p.m., NBC.

Yes, we have doubts about this
overwrought reality competition. Still, it has interesting people.

Watch Nzimiro Oputa, 28, a Detroit
native who quit his engineering job to design clothes. Or Kara
Laricks, 38, a former 4th-grade teacher. Or Oscar Fierro, 37, the
tiny Texan who grew up in an impoverished El Salvador town; he clowns
often, weeps often.

It's an emotional night for them and
others; maybe “Star” will grow on us.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “American
Experience,” 8-10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Massachusetts was a primitive colony
when people began harvesting beached whales. Soon, boats were built;
in Nantucket, pacifist Quakers became skilled whale-killers.

America's first global industry grew,
By 1840, 735 of the world's 900 whaling ships were American.

This superb rerun by Ric Burns (Ken's
brother) eyes two stories: The Essex was rammed by a giant whale in
1820. Twenty years later, deckhand Herman Melville met the son of one
of its eight survivors and read an account. He would write “Moby
Dick,” considered the first great American novel.

Other choices include:

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. When
classified information is leaked, Samantha Ryan (Jamie Lee Curtis) is
brought back to work with Gibbs. Sean Astin is a guest star.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. There's been a shooting outside the Vietnamese consulate, which
was about to be the site of an international conference.

– “The River,” 9 p.m., ABC. The
trial run ends, with “Dancing With the Stars” taking the slot
next week for its results show. Tonight, there's chaos when a crew
member is shot by an unknown killer.

– “New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox. Jess
(Zooey Deschanel) hesitantly dates the wealthy dad (Dermot Mulroney)
of one of her students. That's the start of a two-part episode.

– “Make It or Break It,” 9 p.m.,
ABC Family. On Monday, “Make It” starts its third season –
starting the Olympic push of its character (teen gymnasts) during
this Olympic year. First, here's the second-season finale; we're at
the world championship, with Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner guesting.

– “Body of Proof,” 10 p.m., ABC.
This rerun takes a nasty twist on real life: A mother, considered
guilty by many, is killed after she was acquitted. Marcia Gay Harden
and Rita Wilson are guest stars.

– “Justified,” 10 p.m., FX.
Tonight wraps up the fierce (and nasty) race for sheriff. That's
fairly anti-climactic, but there are a couple other potent scenes,
centering on Quarles (Neal McDonough). He's confronted by a gunman,
then confronts Raylan; at those points, “Justified” is a great
show.