TV column for Sunday, April 27



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed,” 10 p.m.,
Comedy Central.

For centuries, Gaffigan says, people have disliked fruit.
Artists only painted it because they knew no one would steal it; donuts would
have been swiped during the first session.


Gaffigan thinks that way. On the surface, he’s an Everyman,
a beefy father-of-five from Indiana; beneath that is a David Letterman favorite
whose sharp wit focuses on everyday things. He distrusts kale and any food with
its own casing; oranges are bad, clams are worse. He also frowns at weddings; “when
I see someone cry, I say, ‘Don’t worry, it probably won’t last.’”


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Bletchley Circle,” 10 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).


Tall, confident and clever, Millie figures she can improvise
her way through any situation. It’s a perfect role for Rachael Stirling, the
daughter of PBS favorite Diana Rigg.


In 1950s London, Millie is dealing in the black-market … and
in a bigger, scarier mess than she can handle. In this two-parter, her friends
– all former wartime code-breakers – scramble to save her. Some things work out
way too conveniently, but it’s an involving story with a skilled actress at the
core.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Silicon Valley” and “Veep,” 10 and
10:30 p.m., HBO.


Each week, “Silicon” satirizes techno-zillionaires, as an
earnest chap creates a big-money product. Tonight, he wakes up with a hangover
and the news that he gave his loud landlord a key position.


That episode is fairly good, but ”Veep” promptly follows with
a brilliant Silicon satire. Preparing her presidential campaign, Selina visits
a young tech whiz; under the playful image, she finds cunning.


Other choices include:


“The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox. Bart gets his teacher pregnant?
Well, sort of; it involves a voodoo doll.


“Resurrection,” 9 p.m., ABC. After a one-week movie break,
this show returns with people trying to rescue Rachael. Also, doctors keep
searching for clues about the people who returned from the dead


“The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS. Alicia becomes a witness, when
a body is found in the home of her client, Colin Sweeney. The episode was
directed by Josh Charles, after he left his acting role as Will.


“Game of Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO. Last week saw Jaime have sex
with his sister, alongside Joffrey’s casket. Even among “Game” royalty, this is
poor form; now he discusses his honor with Brienne. Meanwhile Tyrian is in jail
and his wife has fled; Wildlings and Daenerys make aggressive moves.


“Nurse Jackie,” 9 p.m., Showtime. Jackie’s family continues
to crumble. At work, however, she makes a masterly move, after finding an
overmedicated patient.


“Californication,” 9:30, Showtime. Hank’s life gets more
complicated – in funny ways, mostly – when the adult son he just met becomes an
assistant on the overwrought cop show he writes for.


“The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS. For Patrick Jane, the cases
have been much larger since he started working with the FBI. Now he finds a
vast human-smuggling ring.


“Mad Men,” 10 p.m., AMC. While Don takes a sudden trip, the
ad-firm partners face a decision.


TV column for Saturday, April 26



TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Despicable Me” (2010), 8 p.m., ABC; “The
Little Mermaid” (1989), 8:30, Disney.

Two Disney-owned networks compete with each other, giving us
some good animated choices.


“Mermaid” is the sweet one, with romance, optimism and
gorgeous artwork; it also has terrific songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, including
the Oscar-winning “Under the Sea” and the nominated “Kiss the Girl.” By
comparison, “Despicable” goes for the laughs, complete with a villain (Steve
Carell) who has his own minions and a scheme to steal the moon.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE II: “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.


Here’s a rerun of Louis C.K.’s second hosting bit, with Sam Smith
as the music guest. It has some great moments when Kenan Thompson hosts “Black
Jeopardy,” with C.K. as the only white contestant, a black-history professor from
Brigham Young University.


That won’t match the brilliant bit they did previously, as
Lincoln and an ex-slave, but it brings some big laughs. When C.K. finally gets
a correct answer (to “things white people lie about”) he’s told: “Actually, we
would have accepted any answer.”


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Orphan Black” (BBC America) or “Da
Vinci’s Demons” (Starz), 9 p.m.


There’s something wrong with a world in which two of the
best and most imaginative dramas are at the same time. Fortunately, “Demons”
promptly reruns at 10.


Last week’s “Orphan” season-opener saw Sarah searching for
her daughter; now she’s shocked by where that leads. And last week’s “Demons”
(rerunning at 8), saw both Leonardo da Vinci and Prince Lorenzo Medici find
fresh trouble at the end of their journeys; tonight, the prince is in a bloody
game and the painter is at the Vault of Heaven … along with his enemy Riario.


Other choices include:


“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1” (2010) and “Part
2” (2011), 5:30 and 9 p.m., ABC Family. The epic tale concludes in this cable
double-feature.


Racing, 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox. NASCAR is in Richmond, Va.,
launching a night of sports overload. ESPN has the basketball play-offs at 7
and 9:30 p.m. ET and the NBC Sports Network has hockey playoffs at 7:30. In the
afternoon, there’s more of each – basketball at 2 and 4:30 on TNT, hockey at 3
on NBC,


“Two and a Half Men,” 8 p.m., CBS. This reruns the episode
that brought back Rose, Charlie’s old stalker. She has to help out, after Alan’s
affair with Lyndsey puts Walden in danger.


“Bad Teacher,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. In a quick rerun of Thursday’s
opener, we see Meredith (Ari Graynor) find herself divorced and -- due to a bad
pre-nuptial agreement -- broke. Her solution is to fake a resume and become a
teacher at a ritzy school, where she’ll find a rich dad to marry. The principal
(David Alan Grier) is gullible; colleagues are inspired (Sara Gilbert),
suspicious (Kristin Davis) or amused (Ryan Hanson).


“NCIS,” 9 p.m., CBS. This rerun has Gibbs re-examine a
hit-and-run case, after learning about a confidential alibi. Meanwhile, McGee
is suspicious of Tony’s odd behavior.


“Joan & Melissa,” 10 p.m., WE. Joan Rivers insists her
daughter be her magician’s assistant.


TV column for Friday, April 25



TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Last Man Standing,” 8 and 8:30 p.m.,
ABC.

This pleasant-enough series ends its season with a new
episode and then a rerun.


First, Boyd might try the “mutton-busting” contest; his mom
says no, but his grandfather (Tim Allen) and dad are all for it. Also, Eve’s
date dislikes her plan to wear her ROTC uniform to the prom. And in the rerun,
there’s trouble when the family’s little dog impregnates the neighbor’s German
shepherd.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE II: “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.


As a lawyer in a police family, Erin (Bridget Moynihan)
sometimes battles her kin.


Tonight, as an assistant district attorney, she probes a cop
accused of killing someone in custody; her dad (Tom Selleck), the police
commissioner, wants to avoid a publicity swirl. Meanwhile, her brother Jamie (Will
Estes) urges a fellow cop to forgive her father’s sins.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: Movies, 8 p.m., cable.


This is a good night for movies … and was a great one, until
CMT re-scheduled “Animal House.”


Still, there are two Oscar-winners for best-picture –
“Gladiator” (2000) on AMC and “No Country for Old Men” (2007) on IFC. There’s
also animated fun with “Cars 2” on Disney and a true baseball story –
“Moneyball” (2011) on FXX – with Brad Pitt handling a smart Aaron Sorkin
script. Also, rowdy John Wayne films -- “North to Alaska” (1960) and “McLintock”
(1963) -- are 8 and 10:15 p.m. ET on TCM.


Other choices include:


“Kitchen Nightmares,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. Some nightmares last
longer. A double episode is needed for a Colorado restaurant that apparently
had both bad food and bad feelings.


“Unforgettable,” 8 p.m., CBS. Don’t expect any gritty Queens
settings tonight: Carrie and Al borrow their boss’ house in the Hamptons, in
exchange for solving a mystery there.


“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. What starts as simply the
murder of a pool cleaner soon leads to the discovery of a possible terrorist
plot.


“Great Performances,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).
Matthew Bourne says he was watching “True Blood” while pondering fairy tales. That
led to this interesting hybrid; it uses Tchaikovsky’s original music for the “Sleeping
Beauty” ballet, but adds vampires, fairies, warm romance and a 100-year time
jump.


“Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. Portland already had plenty of
troubles without this: A new woman has arrived, promptly leaving a trail of
dead creatures.


 “Mountain Monsters,”
10 p.m., Destination America. Back in the 1770s, we’re told, Shawnees were
massacred in Webster County, W. Va.  People
talked of a “Webster werewolf,” triple the size of a wolf. Centuries later, the
stories persist; now the team builds another of its wildly unlikely traps.


“Hannibal,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. When Will meets a woman who is
another of Hannibal’s patients, they compare notes on the odd advice they’ve
been given. Soon, Will is sent on a precarious test.


TV column for Thursday, April 24



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Parks and Recreation” season-finale, 8
and 8:30 p.m., NBC.

For six seasons, “Parks” has delivered quietly clever episodes.
It has received 10 Emmy nominations (including one for best comedy series),
without ever winning … or making much of a ratings splash.


Now it ends its season with a busy hour. The unity concert (planned
by Leslie and Ben) lets Andy realize a rock-and-roller’s dream. Tom opens his
restaurant, Leslie makes a life-changing decision … and Ron (Nick Offerman)
again confronts ex-wife Tammy 2 (Megan Mullally, Offerman’s real-life wife).


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “SNL Digital Shorts,” 9-11 p.m., NBC.


The quality of “Saturday Night Live” varies wildly. Through
it all, however, the “digital shorts” have been fresh and (usually) funny. For
this special, there were plenty to choose from.


Over eight years, subjects have ranged from Chuck Norris and
Batman to flags, lettuce and a French-kissing dog, plus the famed “(Bleep) in a
Box” and the ragged “Laser Cats” tales. Stars have included Tom Hanks, Steve
Martin, Robert De Niro and Scarlett Johansson, plus athletes (Peyton Manning,
Michael Phelps) and musicians (Bono, Gaga, Bon Jovi, Rihana, Katy Perry, Miley
Cyrus, Justin Bieber and more).


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Black Box” debut, 10 p.m., ABC.


ABC keeps trying (foolishly, perhaps) to insert brains into
a broadcast-network show. First was “Mind Games,” with brilliant work from
Steve Zahn; audiences promptly ignored it. Now Kelly Reilly – a British
actress, unknown to Americans – is equally good, in another show that’s a tough
sell.


She plays a brilliant neurologist who is also bi-polar. When
she ditches her medicine, it makes bad drama (self-destructive characters are rarely
interesting), but flashy and highly sexual scenes. Oscar-winner Vanessa
Redgrave plays her therapist, in a show that is superbly acted and hard to
like.


Other choices include:


“Grey’s Anatomy,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC. First is a rerun of
last week’s episode, with Cristina seeking help with a possible acceptance speech.
Then a new episode sees the return of Derek’s oft-troubled sister Amanda
(Caterina Scorsone); also, Richard pays a surprise visit to Catherine (Debbie
Allen) in Boston.


“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Leonard re-instates “anything
can happen Thursday,” hoping it will help Sheldon free his mind. Alas, a
spontaneous Sheldon brings trouble for everyone.


“The Millers,” 8:31 p.m., CBS. Nate pitches a children’s
show based on his dad’s imaginary comic-book world. His dad, however, won’t
tolerate any changes.


“Life Below Zero,” 9 p.m., National Geographic. Last week’s
season-opener re-introduced some sturdy Alaskans. Tonight, many of them are
hunting – for moose, mountain goats and caribou.


“Bad Teacher” debut, 9:31 p.m., CBS. Freshly divorced, with
a bad pre-nuptial agreement, Meredith (Ari Graynor) has no money or skills. She
lies to a gullible principal (David Alan Grier), landing a teaching job. Her
colleagues are suspicious (Kristin Davis), impressed (Sara Gilbert) or merely
amused (Ryan Hansen).


“Chicagoland,” 10 p.m., CNN. As Mayor Rahm Emanuel gives his
budget address, problems range from the pension crisis to security at the Chicago
marathon. Also, Fenger High holds a fund-raiser.


TV column for Wednesday, April 23



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “American Idol,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

With six singers left, “Idol” tries something new: Each person
does two songs, one rock and one country.


It has the right voices for it, with hints of Southern-based
country and blues. Jessica Meuse and C.J. Harris are from the Alabama towns of
Slapout and Jasper; Caleb Johnson (usually a rock belter) and Sam Woolf (who
does intimate pop) are from North Carolina and Florida. The country part may be
more of a stretch for Alex Preston, from New Hampshire, and Jena Irene, a
powerhouse from suburban Detroit.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Nashville on the Record,” 10 p.m.,
ABC.


Late in its first episode, “Nashville” showed that it wasn’t
your standard music drama. The song was “If I Didn’t Know Better,” co-written
by John Paul White of the duo The Civil Wars; it was sung with extraordinary
passion by Clare Bowen, in her Scarlett O’Connor character.


Now this concert special has Bowen singing that one plus
another great duet (“This Town”) and the gorgeous “Black Roses.” There’s strong
work from others, including Sam Palladio, Charles Esten, Chris Carmack and
Hayden Panettiere. (Connie Britton, who stars with Panettiere, isn’t included).
There are also conversations, filled with hollow praise; ignore them and wait
for the music to resume. 


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The 100,” 9 p.m., CW.


For once, CW ha a first-rate show, written with intelligence
and acted with quiet skill.


Tonight, we learn the full story behind Bellamy’s obsession
with protecting his sister, Octavia. That has led to big problems among teens
testing life on a ravaged Earth; now he leads a perilous mission to rescue her.
Also, the newly arrived Raven realizes her lover (Finn) had an Earthly fling with
Clarke


Other choices include:                                                          


“Nature,” 8 p.m., PBS. In the Japanese highlands, snow
monkeys lead troubled lives … eased because humans turned the swimming hole
into a hot tub. Beautifully filmed, this has some cruelty, plus genuine warmth:
An exhausted mother raises an orphan; a cheery youth bonds with a grumpy
leader.


“Nova,” 9 p.m., PBS. Wrapping up the three-week “Inside
Animal Minds,” this asks which animal is the smartest. It focuses on ones that
form complex societies – dolphins, apes and elephants.


“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC. Phil brings everyone to Australia,
where he was conceived. Alas, he finds rejection; his wife and father-in-law
are overworked. Rhys Darby – the New Zealander who co-starred in “Flight of the
Conchords” and “How to Be a Gentleman” – plays an annoying celebrity


“Mixology,” 9:31 p.m., ABC. The link between the bartender and
the waitress has been based solely (and cheerfully) on sex. Now she wants a
real relationship … and he has to find out what that is. Also, Liv is getting
drunker and funnier. It’s a dandy episode, marred a little (as usual) by the
unfunny Bruce.


“Your Inner Fish,” 10 p.m., PBS. This three-week series
started with fish evolving into land creatures, 375 million years ago. Now the
finale has monkey-like tree-dwellers becoming … well, us.


“The Americans,” 10-11:11 p.m., FX. Oliver North, who helped
plan the secret Nicaraguan Contra schemes 30 years ago, co-wrote the story for
this deeply emotional episode. Philip and Elizabeth – Russian spies, planted
here long ago – sneak in to photograph Contra training; things go so wrong that
he’s off-kilter everywhere. Also, FBI guys find things crumbling at work (Gaad)
and in marriage (Stan).