TV column for Monday, Aug. 1


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Bachelorette” finale, 8 p.m., ABC.

At times, some fans
assumed JoJo Fletcher would choose Luke Pell – a West Point grad, a
former Army captain who fought in Afghanistan, a country-music singer
and (like Fletcher) a Texan.

Not so fast: Last
week, she sent him home, leaving three 27-year-olds – Chase McNary
and two athletes. Robby Hayes was a college swimming champion; Jordan
Rodgers was a college quarterback (like his brother, pro star Aaron),
who also had cracks at going pro. There's a follow-up hour at 10.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-TRY:
“Running Wild With Bear Grylls,” 10 p.m., NBC.

The new season
starts – and promptly pauses – in one big burst. On Tuesday, the
show takes Julianne Hough to the African Savanna ... then will take a
long Olympic break.

First, we see Grylls
taking pop star Nick Jonas to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. With a
blizzard closing in, they rappel down a steep cliff, then try an
avalanche-prone mountain. They build a camp, eat a frozen bird, swim
across a frozen lake and do other things rarely included in pop
stardom.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Supergirl,” 8 and 9 p.m., CW.

A year ago, CBS was
pushing this as its strongest new show. Now “Supergirl” retreats
to this mini-network, with two reruns each Monday until the second
season begins.

In the opener, the
title character (Melissa Benoist) is immensely likable. “Supergirl”
slides between some moments with great character touches and others
that seem too militaristic.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Agatha Raisin,” any time, www.acorn.tv.

As a supporting
actress in “Extras” (getting an Emmy nomination) and “Ugly
Betty,” Ashley Jensen has been a delight. Now she's the star, in a
mystery romp based on novels.

A flashy, frilly
public-relations person in London, Agatha has never had a real home.
Now she's bought a house in a small town, where she plans to fit in
... possibly by cheating in the local cooking contest. Then, of
course, a body is found. Eight episodes arrive next week, but first
here's the dandy opener.

Other choices
include:

“Charlie Wilson's
War” (2007), 7:15 p.m., HBO. It's a strong political night on HBO.
First is this above-average film, with Tom Hanks handling Aaron
Sorkin's smart dialog. At 9 p.m., Alexandra Pelosi looks at political
donors. She knows the subject; her mother used to be Speaker of the
House.

“So You Think You
Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. Eight young dancers remain, with
viewers getting another chance to trim the field.

“Mom,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In the first rerun, Violet's new boyfriend seems twice her age.
(He's played by David Krumholtz, 38; she's Sadie Calvano, 19.) Then
Bonnie is tempted by her pain-pill prescription.

“Rizzoli &
Isles,” 9 p.m., TNT. As Jane prepares to testify at a murder trial,
some key evidence goes missing. The team has only three days to keep
a killer from going free.

“The Odd Couple,”
9:30 p.m., CBS. After a three-month break, this above-average comedy
returns with Oscar and Charlotte (Matthew Perry and Teri Hatcher)
hesitant to advance their romance.

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. In a rerun, the team must learn who's the mole inside the
CIA, stealing deadly chemicals.

TV column for Sunday, July 31


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Sharknado: The 4th Awakens,” 8-10 p.m., Syfy.

If you want to
recall all the nuances, don't fret: The first three “Sharknado”
films rerun at 2, 4 and 6 p.m. Then again, there ARE no nuances –
just lots of sharks swirling out of the sky, while Fin (Ian Ziering),
April (Tara Reed) and others bash them with clubs, swords and
chainsaws.

Now we jump ahead
five years, when the world assumes tornadoes have been prevented and
April has been killed. Never assume: Soon, sharks are swirling anew,
heading to our prized places -- Mount Rushmore, the St. Louis arch
and the Las Vegas strip. The result is goofy, gory and kind of fun.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Celebrity Family Feud,” 8 p.m., ABC.

One game has drivers
(including Helio Castroneves, the “Dancing With the Stars”
winner) facing Sports Illustrated models. Another has men vs. women
in the “Bachelor/Bachelorette” world.

Kaitlyn Bristowe
will be there, facing Shawn Booth (whom she chose) and Ben Zorn and
Chris Strandburg (whom she didn't). The guys also have Ben Higgins of
“Bachelor” and Tanner Tolbert, who met Jade Roper in “Bachelor
in Paradise”; they're married and she's on the women's team, with
Andi Dorfman, Sara Herron, Ashley Ioconetti and Bristowe.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Teen Choice Awards,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

John Cena has become
the summer's designated award-show host. Three weeks after leading
the ESPYs, the wrestler-turned-actor co-hosts this with Victoria
Justice. There will reportedly be music from Charlie Puth, Serayah
(from “Empire”) and Flo Rida; Justin Timberlake gets a Decade
Award.

And yes, there are
lots of awards. “Pretty Little Liars” leads with six TV
nominations. Selena Gomez and her ex-love Justin Bieber lead music.
Even “Scream Queens” is nominated. Really.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Preacher” season-finale, 9 p.m., AMC.

OK, this one won't
be getting any Teen Choice Awards. Last week's episode (rerunning at
7:55) was very gory, and not in a fun “Sharknado” way; it even
felt a beheading needed to be rerun two more times. As usual, it was
also wildly fragmented ... but many of its fragments were beautifully
crafted.

After escaping from
the sheriff, Jesse now plans to bring God to Sunday's service; he's
found a phone with a direct line to Heaven. Alas, a cowboy gunman has
been summoned from Hell to kill Jesse.

Other choices
include:

“The Simpsons,”
7 p.m., Fox. In a rerun, Lisa becomes a child star; her parents try
to retrieve her.

“Hollywood Game
Night,” 8 p.m., NBC. Contestants include Mario Lopez, Nicole
Scherzinger and lots of comedians and comedy actors – Bill Engvall,
Marlon Wayans, Kevin Nealon and Miranda Cosgrove.

“Masterpiece:
Inspector Lewis,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Next
Sunday, “Lewis” starts its final season. First, here's last
year's season-finale: Lewis' first case is being re-opened as similar
murders appear.

“BrainDead,”10
p.m., CBS. Juggling satire, sci-fi, drama and more, this is the
summer's best show. Now the Centers for Disease Control has lost its
funding, just as it's needed most – what with alien bugs invading
minds in Washington. Laurel begs her brother, a senator, to help;
Sen. Wheatus (Tony Shalhoub), one of the brain-infested, stops him.
Also, Laurel finds herself closer to Wheatus' aide.

“Match Game,” 10
p.m., ABC. Host Alec Baldwin again has Jack McBrayer, his “30 Rock”
colleague, on the panel. Also: Niecy Nash, Kal Penn, Cheryl Hines,
Mario Cantone and Alexandra Wentworth.

“Ozzy and Jack's
World Detour,” 10 p.m., History. Back in 1982, Ozzy Osbourne was
arrested for relieving himself on a statue honoring Texans who died
at the Alamo. Now he returns there, with his son Jack. They also
visit the Johnson Space Center and the Museum of Funeral History.

TV column for Saturday, July 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The American West” season-finale, 10 p.m., AMC, rerunning at 11.

With a skillful
blend of re-enactments, old photos and talking heads, this first
season has delivered a nuanced view of the cowboy days. It has traced
a post-war time, when former Confederate soldiers combined rage and
military skills. Outlaws thrived; tonight, Jesse James confronts the
Fords.

There's more here,
including Sitting Bull facing charges of stirring a rebellion. And
Wyatt Earp moves on, yet again; a former railroad worker, brothel
bouncer and more, he became a lawman in Dodge City and Tombstone. But
the latter brought fresh enemies; giving up on the law, he seeks
vengeance.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29, NBC.

In its final
Saturday before the Olympics takes over, “SNL” reruns one of its
biggest draws,with Amy Schumer hosting and The Weeknd as music guest.

Schumer arrived on a
roll: Her “Trainwreck” movie was a hit, her stand-up career was
strong and her sketch-comedy series was returning. Each brought
Schumer's rare blend of intelligence and raunch, both of which she
includes here, with sketches ranging from a baby shower to a
porn-film class.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “In an Instant” and “Boston EMS,” 9 and 10 p.m.,
ABC.

Under various names
-- “Hopkins,” “Boston Med,” “New York Med,” “Save My
Life, Boston Trauma” -- ABC has made this an art form, capturing
the non-fiction drama in hospitals. Now it starts the second season
of an edition that follows doctors and nurses in three Boston
hospitals.

First, ABC plans to
rerun an hour tracing a Utah hospital's worst nightmare: A gunman
roared into the maternity ward, ready to kill the doctor who had done
tubal ligation surgery on his wife. Two nurses reacted heroically:
One delivered a baby during the tumult; another died trying to
wrestle the gun away.

Other choices
include:

“The Lord of the
Rings” films, 2 p.m. (2001), 6 p.m. (2002) and 10 p.m. (2003). Here
is the entire trilogy in one splendid, 12-hour swoop, mixing stunning
visuals with a rich story.

“The Bourne
Identity” (2002) and “The Bourne Supremacy” (2004), 6 and 8:30
p.m., FX. It's tough keeping up of the “Bourne” films. Here are
the first two; the third (2007) airs at 1:05 p.m. today on HBO. The
fourth airs Sunday on FX ... and the fifth just reached movie
theaters.

“Heaven Sent,”
8-9 p.m., Fox. Luke Aikins first skydived at 16; in the 26 years
since then, he says, he's done it about 18,000 times. But those were
with parachutes, the preferred way. Now Aikins – a safety
consultant, actually -- plans to jump from a plane at 25,000 feet,
with no 'chute or wing suit. For the next two minutes, on live TV,
he'll try to guide himself down to a net. DON'T try this at home.

“Rush Hour,” 8
p.m., CBS. A young woman has disappeared from a hotel – mirroring
events from five years ago. The captain (Wendie Malick) fears a
serial killer may be back.

“Last Man
Standing” and “Dr. Ken,” 8 and 8:31 p.m., ABC. Here are the
reruns that were scheduled for last Saturday, then delayed. Mike
obsesses on a miniature tank collection; Ken is supposed to speak at
a dinner honoring the handsome and successful man his wife used to
date.

“Wayward Pines,”
9 p.m., Fox. Three days after this intriguing show finished its
second season, Fox puts it on rewind. Here's the season-opener, with
Dr. Theo Yedlin (Jason Patric) not yet aware that he and others were
frozen for thousands of years, then brought back after the Earth
healed itself.

“Turbo” (2013),
10 p.m., FXX. Yes, it's odd to have an animated movie late at night.
But grown-ups can enjoy (and/or record) this fun tale of a racing
snail.

TV column for Friday, July 29


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Daily Show,” 11 p.m., Comedy Central.

The conventions are
done now, but the satirists are just getting started. Now we get new
rounds of clever shows that usually skip Fridays: “Daily” has
Trevor Noah and “The Nightly Show” has Larry Willmore, two guys
whose sharp wits are concealed under amiable visages.

Comedy Central has
these extra episodes, following “Liar, Liar” 1997 at 7 p.m. and
“Roast Battle” at 8:55 and 10. Cynics will say the first title
sums up the two conventions ... and the campaigns ahead are looking
like one long roast battle.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.

It's really not wise
to steal a car from Danny (Scott Caan). That happens here, while he's
out with his kids; he promptly commandeers a bus and gives chase.

Also, a man has been
left for dead off the coast of Oahu. That leads the team to a slave
trade that's been operating out of an illegal fishing boat.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Librarian” triology, 7 (2004), 9 (2006) and 11
p.m. (2008), TNT.

This may be the
ultimate fantasy for a perpetual grad student: Suddenly, you're hired
for a job that involves retrieving priceless relics; there will be
travel, adventure and, of course, romance.

That's what happens
to Flynn (Noah Wyle). He's working for wise old souls (Bob Newhart,
Jane Curtin); also, he's with Sonya Walger in the first film,
Gabrielle Anwar in the second and Stana Katic (prior to “Castle”)
in the third. These are mildy entertaining tales, leading into the
“Librarians” season that will return this fall, with Wyle taking
an increased role.

Other choices
include:

“Avengers: Age of
Ultron” (2015), 7:35 p.m., Starz. This sort of rich broth has
propelled Marvel films. It has the Chrises (Hemsworth, Evans) plus
Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey
Jr., and more, plus occasional laughs and persistent action.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. After taking a week off, this offers a rerun
with the team protecting an officer of the Pacific Command. That
brings it a chance to search for a North Korean spy.

“Masters of
Illusion,” 8 p.m., CW. This new episode has bursts of magic from
Nathan Burton, Bill Cook, Chipper Lowell, Greg Gleason, Greg Frewin,
Jason Bishop and Titou. A rerun follows at 8:30.

“Bones,” 8 p.m.,
Fox. Here's a second chance to see the season-finale. It's a good
one, but be warned: This is way darker than usual, with the search
for the “Puppeteer” serial-killer. Also, it's a cliffhanger ...
for a show that won't return (for its final season) until next
winter.

“MasterChef,” 9
p.m., Fox. In a rerun, the 12 survivors split into teams, feeding
“sweet 16” parties.

“MadTV,” 9 p.m.,
CW. Here's a rerun of the opener, with alumni (Nicole Sullivan and
Will Sasso) introducing a new crew. They're talented people, but the
show has no knack for political satire; two of its political sketches
are awful, but others – particularly involving “Game of Thrones”
-- are excellent,

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds Frank (Tom Selleck) and the mayor
battling over his reappointment as police commissioner. His kids also
have crises: Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), a police detective, searches
for a missing cop; Erin (Bridget Moynahan), an assistant district
attorney, feels guilty when a man she set free is accused of murder.

TV column for Thursday, July 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Democratic convention, 10 p.m. ET, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and cable.

Now the race reaches
full-speed, as Hillary Clinton becomes the first major-party female
nominee for president. Cable news channels will pay attention all
day; PBS jumps in at 8 p.m. ET.

Still, the big
networks will wait until 10, when the Democrats are expected to have
Chelsea Clinton and then her mom. Afterward, Comedy Central's “The
Daily Show” has a rare live episode at 11 p.m. and CBS' Stephen
Colbert continues his two-week stretch of live shows at 11:35.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Reality show overload, 8 and 9 p.m.

While waiting for
the sorta-reality of politics, we can catch some semi-sorta-reality.
At 8, “Running Wild With Bear Grylls” has a rerun – Zac Efron
in an Appalachian mountain range – before its new season starts
Monday and Tuesday; at 9. CBS' “Big Brother” has an eviction.

Spanning both is a
two-hour edition of Fox's “Home Free,” with three people left.
This is the good-hearted show that lets each contestant win a new
home for a personal hero. The difference is that the homes get better
each week; the winner (next Thursday) gets $100,000 AND the best one
for the hero.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” 10 p.m., FX,
rerunning at 11:03.

At first, this was
mainly the story of Johnny Rock (Denis Leary), a one-hit star,
suddenly backing Gigi (Elizabeth Gillies), the talented daughter he'd
never met. But now it's branching out.

There's the new
career of Ava (Elaine Hendrix), his back-up singer and lover; Hendrix
is terrific, but Leary's jealousy funk soon becomes one-note. There's
the Broadway show written by Rehab; in a great scene last week
(rerunning at 10:31), it was co-opted by Campbell Scott. And there's
the mismatched romance of Flash (John Corbett, 55) and Gigi (Gillies,
23); tonight, they have a pivotal scene.

Other choices
include:

“Jurassic Park”
(1993) and “Men in Black” (1997), 5:30 and 8:45 p.m., FX. Here's
an entertaining double-feature for convention-skippers. Other movies
range from “The Big Year” (2011, 8 p.m., CMT) – a quietly
charming comedy-drama, with Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black
as bird-watchers – to “Our Brand is Crisis” (2015, 9 p.m, HBO),
a well-made but relentlessly cynical political tale.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. This terrific show thrives when splitting off
an odd duo. In this rerun, Bernadette and Sheldon skip a
wine-tasting, because she's pregnant and ... well, he's Sheldon.

“Life in Pieces,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. John (James Brolin, 76) had seemed content with his
white hair and grandpa goofiness; tonight, he tries to look young and
hip. Also in this rerun, Heather frets about her daughter's piano
reccital and Matt meets Coleen's mother (Mercedes Ruehl).

“Greatest Hits,”
9 p.m., ABC. Kelsea Ballerini, the show's co-host, does a medley of
songs first done by Shania Twain, Bridney Spears and Maroon 5. Also,
Fifth Harmony does a Destiny's Child medley; duets link the hits of
Lee Ann Womack and Rachel Platten, Pat Monahan and Kenny Loggins.

“Hollywood Game
Night,” 9 p.m., NBC. Here's a “ladies night” with Meredith
Vieira, Julia Stiles, Bellamy Young, Natalie Morales, Hannah Davis
and Raven-Symone.

“Beauty and the
Beast,” 9 p.m., CW. Despite a “beast bounty” and a hunt,
Vincent and Cat try to return some nomralcy to their lives. Also,
Tess takes a big risk to protect Vincent.

“Queen of the
South,” 10 p.m., USA. Teresa's drug-dealing had prospered under
Camila. Now, however, Camila is short on supply, long on debt and
tempted to give her up.