TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Wonders of Mexico” conclusion, 9 p.m., PBS.

Like baseball and
the blues, cowboys seem like an all-American creation. Not at all,
this documentary reminds us: In the 16th century, long
before Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy, the Spanish brought cowboys
to Mexico. Today, they're key in a northern region that has 10
million feed cattle.

That's in the
conclusion to a three-week series that uses gorgeous pictures and
rich narration – from Arthur Mendez, the “Jane the Virgin”
voice – for a vivid portrait. Tonight ranges from soaring falcons
to bottom-feeding fish; in the sprawling desert, we see a 50-foot
cactus ... and the pygmy owls inside it.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“24 Hours to Hell and Back” season-finale, 9 p.m., Fox.

Gordon Ramsay's food
shows keep giving Fox a summertime boost. We see the skilled amateurs
– tonight, “MasterChef” has a dozen home chefs tackling halibut
– and the troubled professionals.

The latter involves
Sandra Dee's Bar-B-Que & Seafood, a laidback place in Sacramento.
(No, this isn't the movie-star Sandra Dee; she died in 2005, at 62).
Using hidden cameras, Ramsay decides that the owner lacks any
discipline with family members who work there. Now he has 24 hours to
fix it.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Born This Way,” 8 and 9 p.m., and “Raising
Tourette's,” 10:01, A&E.

First is the
season-opener of the much-praised series about young adults with Down
syndrome. It has already won three Emmys (including best unstructured
reality show) and is up for four more.

Then is a new series
following five families. Their children, ages 11 to 17, struggle with
Tourette Syndrome, which causes involuntary movements and
vocalizations. Tonight, among other things, we see one person return
to school after an injury and another try public school after being
home-schooled.

Other choices
include:

“800 Words”
return, any time, www.acorn.tv.
The first half of the season ended with George saying yes to someone,
but we weren't sure who. Was it the artist who wants a romance? Or
the EMT (and George's ex-girlfriend) who wants a baby? As he returns
from someone's house the next morning, we – and the townspeople –
still wonder. This series is much better at whimsy than at romance,
but over the next eight Wednesdays, we'll see lots of stories unfold.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8 p.m., NBC. On Tuesday, the season's first live episode
had 12 of the 36 surviving acts. Now we learn which seven will
advance, including an “instant save” via Google.

“Alone Together,”
8 and 8:31 p.m., Freeform. These sorta-friends manage to be
uncomfortable anywhere. In the second episode, Benji is back to his
old high school, to supervise play rehearsals, and promptly meets a
bully. In the first, he and Esther steal a day pass to his brother's
upscale gym.

“World of Dance,”
9-11p.m., NBC. It's the fourth and final round of duels. Next week,
the judges must trim to three finalists in each category.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, the family savors the lush life. It goes on
a wine-tasting trip and stays at the country home of Haley's boss.

“Queen Sugar,”
10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. Last week's episode (rerunning at 9)
saw Ralph Angel and Darla go through heated mediation; tonight, they
find some peace. Also, last week Charley faced trouble in her efforts
to block a prison; tonight, the council makes its decision.

“Thrift Haul,”
any time, YouTube or Facebook. Friday is National Thrift Day (who
knew?). This competition – assembling fashions on the cheap --
celebrates it two days early, with Rosario Dawson and Hannibal Buress
as guests.