TV column for Monday, June 1


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“So You Think You Can Dance” season-opener, 8-10 p.m., Fox.

One of TV's best
competition shows is back, with key changes. Each year, this offers
gifted dancers covering the full range – from hip-hop to ballet,
from jazz to tap to ballroom and beyond.

Nigel Lythgoe is in
charge, as usual, now with Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo joining him
as judges. A bigger change is having two brilliant (but opposite)
talents – each a former “Dance” runner-up -- as

coaches: Travis Wall
is studio-trained and contemporary; “tWitch” Boss is
street-trained and hip-hop. They'll guide opposite teams, in a
studio-vs.-street season.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “American Genius” debut, 9 and 10 p.m., National Geographic.

When minds are sharp
and stakes are big, explosive things can happen. Tonight's second
film gets fairly monotone, as the Wright Brothers blindly sue anyone
who flies; the first hour, however, is a dilly.

With computer
empires at stake, people take brash action. Bill Gates steals from
Steve Jobs who steals from Xerox. Gates claims he has an operating
system ... then buys one cheap. Jobs soars, flops, is fired from the
company he started, then leads its comeback. This is a great story,
told with re-enactments and sharp commentary, especially from Jobs'
colleague (Steve Wozniak) and biographer (Walter Isaacson).

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Whispers,” 10:01 p.m., ABC.

Strange things are
happening.. Kids, advised by disembodied voices, cause tragedy; a man
wanders, unaware of who he is. Then there's the plane-eating
monolith, in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

By the end of this
opener, we're hooked ... and worried. Like “Wayward Pines”
(Thursdays on Fox), this is a great summer series – if it really
has a plan for tying this all together. If not ... well, from “Twin
Peaks” to “The Killing,” we're used to great starts and weak
finishes.

Other choices
include:

“Mornings with
Maria Bartiromo” debut, 6-9 a.m., Fox Business Channel. One of the
stars of the business-reporting world, Bartiromo moves up three hours
from her “Morning Bell” show.

“Harry” debut,
any time, www.acorn.tv. Oscar
Kightley brings a fresh, distinctive voice to TV drama. A Samoan
native who has lived in New Zealand since he was 4, he wrote this
sharp, six-part mini-series and stars as a cop, recovering from
personal tragedy and trying to stop a skittish young gunman.

“The
Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. This hour includes snakes,
spiders, sumo wrestlers (really) ... and a guy who simply refuses to
leave. Ah, romance.

“Mike &
Molly,” 8:30, CBS. In this rerun, Molly has trouble finishing her
book. She keeps piling up drafts and annoying her family.

“Jane the Virgin,”
9 p.m., CW. Despite praise and awards, this show has never drawn
decent ratings. It will have a second season, though, so here's a
chance to catch up, starting with this charming opener.

“Devious Maids”
season-opener, 9 p.m., Lifetime. The second season ended with the
wedding of Spencer (Grant Show) and Rosie (Dania Ramirez). Except you
kind of knew it couldn't be that easy. Viewers learned that Rosie's
first husband is alive in Mexico. Also, Ty fired shots at the wedding
and hit someone, possibly the bride. Now we learn who's shot and
what's up.

“UnReal” debut,
10 p.m., Lifetime. Rachel (Shiri Appleby) is almost ideal for her job
at a “Bachelor”-style show. She's smart and manipulative, but
(alas) may have a conscience. That caused her to implode while
cameras were rolling; now, after rehab, her cunning boss (Consance
Zimmer) rehired her. Here is a hugely cynical hour, with occasional
comedy, dark drama and – at times – no one to root for.

TV column for Sunday, May 31


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” return, 10 p.m., CBS.

Back in 2000, CBS
was wheezing from old age; then two shows -- “CSI” and “Survivor”
-- changed everything. Sleekly edited, they brought a sense of
urgency to a tired network.

Now “Survivor”
and CBS are doing well, but “CSI” is leaving after 15 years,
tying it with “ER” as the fifth-longest-running primetime drama
in U.S. history. It gets a final movie in September, before Ted
Danson slides over to “CSI: Cyber.” First, we can catch its
return for summer rerun. Tonight, the spread of a deadly pathogen
causes Sara and Greg (Jorja Fox and Eric Szmana) to be quarantined.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Black-ish,” 10:30 p.m., ABC.

A fairly good first
season ended with this clever detour. Pops (Laurence Fishburne) spins
a story about his kin. Soon, we see a speakeasy, with roles for the
regulars, plus Alicia Keys, Sean Combs and more.

It's a fun episode,
wrapping up a rare Sunday of comedy reruns. “The Middle” (9 p.m.)
has Dick and Jerry Van Dyke as brothers (which they are) who are
feuding (they're not). “The Goldbergs” (9:30) has a scramble to
get Barry a date; “Modern Family” (10) has Haley's 21st
birthday party.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Halt and Catch Fire” season-opener, 10 p.m., AMC.

Things start with an
offbeat flashback, one likely to confuse us: It's 1985 and Joe is
still an intense compter pioneer; Cameron, his lover, just wants to
have fun.

Then we jump to '87,
where this season really begins. The company (Cardiff) was sold and
those two split. Joe wandered off; Cameron and Donna stayed to start
a videogame company (Mutiny) filled with chaotic energy. Now Gordon
(Donna's husband) and Joe wait to collect their share of the sale.
The Mutiny scenes flash with fun and frustration; other scenes are
pretty good, giving “Halt” a sharp start.

Other choices
include:

“Critics Choice
Television Awards” red-carpet (7 p.m. ET) and ceremony (8-10 p.m.
ET), A&E. Last year, Allison Janney was the only double winner
(for “Mom” and “Masters of Sex”) ... then did the same at the
Emmys. Now she's a presenter. Others include Johnny Galecki, Anna
Faris, Scott Bakula and more – with Charlize Theron giving a Genius
Award to “Family Guy” creator Scott MacFarlane.

“The Secret Life
of Marilyn Monroe” conclusion, 8-10 p.m., Lifetime. In the opener,
Marilyn (Kelli Garner) began telling her story to a therapist. Now
she's describing a peak – a soaring career and a love for baseball
great Joe Dimaggio. But her mother (Susan Sarandon) is shaky, her
foster mother is dying and her own perspective is warped. “Secret
Life” is a steep, downward slope, yet remains interesting.

“Texas Rising,”
8 and 10 p.m., History. Here are reruns of the first chapters,
showing the start of the Texas revolution. They'll also air at 5 and
7 p.m. Monday, leading into the third part at 9.

“A.D.,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. Last week brought good news -- the persecuting Saul of Tarsus
transformed into the future Saint Paul – and bad: The old emperor
is dead; his far-worse son Caligula takes over. Tonight, Caligula
demands his statue be in the temple; that cannot go well.

“Golan the
Insatiable” debut, 9:30 p.m., Fox. Like many kids, Dylan is goth
and grim, with dark make-up and darker outlook. That's not easy in
Minnesota, where most people – except a few mean kids – are
relentlessly nice. Then Dylan inadvertantly summons a dark spirit,
with the power to wreak havoc. Expanding on an “Animation
Domination” series, this is a clever cartoon for grownups.

“American
Odyssey,” 10 p.m., NBC. Odelle and her young friend confront
bandits; back in New York, her daughter is being spied on ... Bob
warns Harrison ... and Peter finds the elusive Yusef."

"The Greg Gutfeld Show" debut, 10 p.m., Fox News Channel. Here's an interesting detour in the cable-news world -- a humor-oriented hour. Gutfeld has monologs, parodies and conversations.

 “Veep,” 10:30
p.m., HBO. Even while ill, the president desperately pushes for her
key bill.

TV column for Saturday, May 30


(Please note that some stations will be replacing network shows with the Children's
Miracle Network telethon)

 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Grey's Anatomy” (8 p.m.) and “In an Instant” (9-11 p.m.),
ABC.

First is the famous
– infamous? -- episode that had “Grey's” fans buzzing or
growling. Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) responds to an
accident, leading to big events; the result is polarizing.

Then ABC has brought
back a well-made series that mixes re-enactments and first-person
accounts. Tonight's story involves a near-death experience in a silo.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe,” 8-10 p.m., Lifetime;
concludes Sunday.

Monroe's life had an
epic quality, with dizzying highs – superstardom, big-name husbands
and lovers – and lows. This mini-series barely skims the highs,
giving us few glimpses of the Marilyn people loved.

It does, however,
vividly view the lows. We see her mom (superbly played by Susan
Sarandon) as unable to grasp reality or parenthood. We see her
guardian (Emily Watson) as cold and stern. And we see Monroe (Kelli
Garner) as delusional, convinced that John Kennedy will leave his
wife for her.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962), 8 p.m. ET, Turner
Classic Movies.

Blending childhood
innocence and Southern rage, this has become one of Hollywood's most
esteemed films. In 1998, the American Film Institute listed it as the
34th-best American movie ever; nine years later, it upped
that to No. 25. There were Oscars for Gregory Peck and for Horton
Foote's script.

Remarkably, Harper
Lee never published another novel; she wrote and abandoned one, which
is now set to reach stores in July. Also, star Mary Badham stopped
acting four years later, at 14. For others – Robert Duvall (in his
film debut), Brock Peters, Peck – this was a peak in long movie
careers.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, 8
p.m., HBO.

The starpower is
impressive. Ringo Starr (previously inducted with the Beatles) is
added individually, with Bill Withers, Green Day, Joan Jett and the
Paul Butterfield Blues Band, plus, posthumously, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray
Vaughn and the Royales. Beyond that are the night's performers.

There's Paul
McCartney with Starr, Dave Grohl and Miley Cyrus with Jett, Stevie
Wonder and John Legend singing to Withers. There's a big finish with
all of them, plus Beck, Zak Brown and more.

Other choices
include:

“Outlander,” 2
p.m. to 12:15 a.m., Starz. A seven-hour rerun marathon leads to the 9
p.m. season-finale (rerunning at 10:05 and 11:10), as friends try to
rescue Jamie and restore his shattered body and psyche.

“American Ninja
Warrior” and “The Island,” 8 and 10 p.m., NBC. The macho Monday
line-up gets a quick rerun. In the “Ninja” season-opener, people
tackle an obstacle course; in the “Island” debut, guys begin a
28-day ordeal, given no help with food or survival.

“Person of
Interest,” 8 p.m., CBS. This rerun catches team members at a tough
point. To avoid detection by Samaritan, they take new identities and
try to ignore the numbers from the machine.

“When Calls the
Heart,” 8 p.m., Hallmark. In their frontier town, Elizabeth gets
upsetting news from back home and Abigail tries to adjust to the fact
that Bill implied (incorrectly) that his wife is dead.

“Elementary,” 9
p.m., CBS. Sherlock hates the notion of anyone – or any thing –
being smarter than he is. In this rerun, he's suppsed to probe the
theft of artificial-intelligence software; instead, he seems to
obsess on proving it doesn't work.

“Animation
Domination,” 11 p.m. to midnight, Fox. On Sunday, Fox will debut a
clever half-hour series, “Golan the Insatiable.” Before that, you
can see the 15-minute films that came first. Here are four of them,
with Dylan – goth, grim and 9 years old – accidentally calling up
a fierce spirit.

TV column for Friday, May 29


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Competition reruns, 8-10 p.m., NBC and Fox.

This week, networks
launched many of their summertime reality shows; now they give them
instant reruns: NBC repeats Tuesday's opener of “America's Got
Talent”; Fox repeats one show (Tuesday's “Are You Smarter Than a
5th Grader?”) at 8 p.m. and another (Wednesday's
“Bullseye”) at 9.

Before grumbling
about reruns, keep this in mind: In the first eight days of TV's
summer season (through Thursday), NBC had 23 primetime hours of new
shows and two hours of repeats.

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

The focus shifts to
Jamie (Will Estes), a young street cop. After intervening in a thug's
abusive relationship with a woman, Jamie becomes the guy's new
target.

Also in this rerun,
his dad (the police commissioner, played by Tom Selleck) has trouble:
His own dad (the former commissioner, Len Cariou) was secretly taped
making insensitive comments.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Great Performances,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

Maybe this is what a
Latvian boy dreams of: It's his opening night as the Boston
Symphony's 15th music director. Five feet away is his wife
(a Latvian opera star), looking and singing splendidly.

That moment comes
early in this concert, with Kristine Opolais singing the love song
from Wagner's “Tristan and Isolde” as Andris Nelsons conducting.
The night starts fairly slowly, but ends powerfully, with two duets
(Opolais and tenor Jonas Kaufmann) and Respighi's “Pines of Rome.”

TONIGHT'S OPPOSITE
ALTERNATIVE: “Nightingale,” 9-10:30 p.m., HBO.

Sure, there were
complaints when David Oyelowo didn't get an Oscar nomination for
“Selma.” But that role was limited by Martin Luther King's
guarded public persona; here is a spectacular vehicle.

The early minutes
recall Billy Bob Thornton's dark “Slingblade.” Soon, we see
Oyelowo rage, crumble, revive, scheme, dream and collapse; it's a
stunningly perfect (albeit depressing) one-man movie.

Other choices
include:

“Harry Potter and
the Chamber of Secrets” (2002), 7 p.m., ABC Family. A strong movie
night starts with the second Potter film, nimbly directed by Chris
Columbus. Also fun (but for grown-ups) is “Forgetting Sarah
Marshall” (2008), at 7:18 p.m. on Bravo.

More movies, 8 p.m.,
cable. FX has action with “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012);
Lifetime has the Whitney Houston story with “Whitney” (2015).

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. You don't expect this amid Hawaiian beauty: One Detroit
hit man has killed another. Also in this rerun, Chin risks his career
to help Danny find money to save his brother.

“What Would You
Do?,” 9 p.m., ABC. Here's return of a smart hidden-camera series
that sets up intriguing ethical situations. John Quinones hosts.

“Marriage Boot
Camp: Reality Stars” opener, 9 p.m., WE. These people were envied
by reality fans. Mike Sorrentino partied on “Jersey Shore”;
Kendra Wilkinson, a former Hugh Hefner girlfriend, had three reality
series and married football pro Hank Baskett. And now? Baskett has
been accused of infidelity. Sorrentino went to rehab, faces tax-fraud
charges and is back with his college girlfriend. This edition also
has people from “Big Brother”, “Basketball Wives” and “Making
the Band.”

“Beyond the
Headlines,” 10:02 p.m., Lifetime. This looks at Whitney Houston's
life. In a way, that helps get us ready for the Saturday-Sunday debut
of the channel's Marilyn Monroe mini-series.

TV column for Thursday, May 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Wayward Pines,” 9 p.m., Fox.

Often enough, a
mini-series is superior to a series. It can surprise us, stun us; it
can build a character up, then dispose of him abruptly. We were
reminded of that last week when Ethan's only ally (played by Juliette
Lewis) was suddenly captured and executed; that won't be the last
such surprise.

Ethan (Matt Dillon),
a federal agent, is seemingly alone, facing a murderous sheriff
(Terrence Howard), a stern nurse and more. Elsewhere, his wife and
son try to find him; in the town, his former colleague and lover
(Carla Gugino) offers mixed messages. Stick around; more jolts are
coming.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Mom,” 9:01 p.m., CBS.

This reruns one of
the episodes that helped nudge “Mom” into the top tier of current
comedies.

In the
season-opener, we learned that Christy had lost all her money through
gambling (and a post-gambling robbery). Now she's in a motel room
with her mom and kids, trying to convince them that things are fine.
Her mom tries common sense, which is unfamiliar turf for either
person,

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Aquarius” opener, 9-11 p.m., NBC.

Fact and fiction
co-exist tenuously. We meet Charles Manson in 1967, two years before
his murder spree; a career criminal who's spent half his life in
prisons and such, he obsesses on being a rock star.

Tacked onto that is
the fictional Sam Hodiak (David Duchovney), a cop and a World War II
veteran, unhappy with this new world. A fragile-looking16-year-old
has wandered into Manson's lair; her mother (Hodiak's ex-lover) begs
him to help. The result has its moments, but these first two hours
seem terribly one-note. The same, seething attitude is assigned to
most cops, crooks, the girl's dad and more.

Other choices
include:

“Lip Sync Battle,”
7 p.m. to midnight. Amid a 10-episode marathon, a new 10 p.m. show
has Queen Latifah facing Marlon Wayans. It's surrounded by reruns,
from a 7 p.m. Stephen Merchant vs. Malin Akerman to sibling rivalry
at 11:32, with Derek and Julianne Hough. Jimmy Fallon, whose own show
launched “Battle,” faces Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at 9:30.

“500 Questions,”
8-10 p.m., ABC. Here's the finale of the nine-day, 11-hour quiz show.

“Bones,” 8 p.m.,
Fox. In a new episode, the team investigates malice and murder in the
world of cookie-jar collectors. Really. Also, Booth's gambling
addiction causes Brennan to make him move out.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Raj frets while waiting for results of a
space probe he helped launch. Also in this rerun, Leonard and Sheldon
find themselves dress-shopping with Penny and Amy.

“The Odd Couple,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. This reruns the episode that introduced Geoff Stults
as a retired baseball star. Felix is supposed to ghost-write his
autobiography; Oscar keeps trying to “help.”

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. Holmes and Watson are working together again, but there's
a problem: Kitty, his young assistant, keeps getting in the way.

“The Comedians”
and “Louie,” 10 and 10:30 p.m., FX. The short, odd (and sometimes
brilliant) “Louie” season ends with Louis CK on the road.
Fortunately, the clever “Comedians” has five more episodes after
today. Also, FX uses the 11:04 p.m. slot to debut CK's new stand-up
comedy special.