TV column for Monday, Aug. 20


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney,” 8 p.m., CBS.

In June, James
Corden returned to his homeland for a week of London shows. He added
something special – driving around Liverpool with Paul McCartney,
who visited his childhood home and some of the places mentioned in
“Penny Lane.”

They also chatted
about McCartney's life and surprised locals with an instant pub
performance. Now those bits have been reassembled for prime time,
adding footage that wasn't included previously.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: Video Music Awards, 9 p.m., MTV, BET, VH1 and Paramount; reruns
at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. on MTV.

Jennifer Lopez gets
the “Video Vanguard” award and does a medley, but most of the
emphasis is on what's new. Cardi B and the Carters (that's Beyonce
and Jay-Z) lead with 10 and 8 nominations; both are up for video of
the year, but Cardi's is as a guest singer with Bruno Mars.

Cardi and Mars are
each up for artist of the year, facing Drake, Camila Cabela, Ariana
Grande and Post Malone. Those last two will also perform, as will
Shawn Mendes, Nicki Minaj (via remote), Travis Scott, Panic at the
Disco and Logic with Ryan Tedder.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Salvation” and “Elementary,” 9 and 10 p.m.,
CBS.

Maybe some of
tonight's Corden/McCartney viewers will stick around and notice what
too many people ignore: All summer, CBS has delivered two solid,
scripted hours on Mondays.

In tonight's first
one, Darius, Grace and Harris uncover the darkest secret yet; also,
Liam finally reconnects with Jillian, the sci-fi author he had fallen
for. In the second, a zoologist has been killed, leaving an abundance
of suspects, due to his research and his love affairs.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Mystery Road,” any time, www.acorn.tv.

There's another
Fargo, it seems, at the other end of the world. The opening images of
this six-hour mini-series have the spare, quiet beauty of “Fargo.”

We're in the
Australian Outback, not the American North, but the mood is the same.
Two men have disappeared; a detective joins a local cop (Judy Davis,
a two-time Oscar-nominee) to search for them.

Other choices
include:

“So You Think You
Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. We're down to the final eight now, with
two sent home tonight. Next week, the show will have its final four.

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. It's the Minneapolis city finals.

“Bachelor in
Paradise,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. There's a real storm heading toward
this resort, ABC says; that's alongside all the stormy relationships
on this sorta-reality show. One brainy woman, for instance, is
surprised to find she links with a pro wrestler ... and is unhappy to
find that two others want him.

VMA preview, 8 p.m.,
MTV. In addition to the red-carpet chit-chat, there will be music by
Bazzi, Bryce Vine and the Backsreet Boys.

“Better Call
Saul,” 9 p.m., AMC, rerunning at 11:04. Jimmy (who will become
“Saul” later) puts a risky plan into motion. Also, alliances
shift and Nacho finds himself in danger.

“America's Got
Talent,” 10 p.m., NBC. Coming is the middle of a three-week
process, to trim the 36 acts: Twelve perform on Tuesdays; seven
advance on Wednesdays. This reruns last Wednesday's hour.

“Lodge 49,” 10
p.m., AMC, rerunning at 12:04. Dud and his sister hold a memorial for
their father. Also, Ernie and Connie finally get a weekend alone
together.

TV column for Sunday, Aug. 19


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Last Sharknado: It's About Time,” 8 p.m., Syfy, rerunning at
10:02.

The last one?
Already? We've only had five “Sharknado” movies, plus perpetual
reruns; indeed, all five rerun today, starting at 10 a.m. But this
sixth one does act like a finale, throwing everything at us.

There's time-tavel
by train, boat, carriage and Cadillac. There are all the regulars –
Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, etc. -- and endless surprises. (Leslie Jordan
as a founding father?) This may be the first time that noted
scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson has said: “Who needs science when you
have a dragon?” The humor gets big and broad and silly, the action
gets repetitious, but the result, as usual, is kinda fun.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Gymnastics, 8-10 p.m., NBC.

The big, burly guys
will take over next week. That's when there will be pre-season
football games in prime time on four consecutive nights.

But for now, the
tiny people have their moment, with the finals of the U.S. Gymnastics
Championships, in Boston. The men had their turn Saturday afternoon;
now it's the women.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Finding Nemo” (2003), 6 p.m., Disney; and more.

Here's one of the
all-time great cartoons, with humor, heart and gorgeous visuals. Its
sequel -- “Finding Dory,” at 7:30 -- is set six months later (but
arrived 13 years later), with Dory searching for her family.

If you prefer
all-day animation, switch to a sister network, Freeform. It has the
wonderful “Lego Movie” (2014), at 9 a.m., and follows with “Cars”
and “Cars 2” (2006, 20011), at 11:05 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Then it
has “Big Hero 6” (2014) at 4:20 p.m., “The Incredibles”
(2004) at 6:35, “Ratatouille” (2007) at 9:15 and “Tarzan”
(1999) at 11:55.

Other choices
include:

Judy Garland
marathon, 6 a.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. This 24-hour spree
focuses on her lighter films, including the musical “In the Good
Old Summertime” (1949) at 6 p.m. But alert your recording device,
because it ends with her Oscar-nominated work -- “A Star is Born”
(1954) at 11:45 p.m. and “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961) at 3 a.m.

“The Simpsons,”
7:30 and 8 p.m., Fox. In the first rerun, Homer gets Ned Flanders a
job at the plant ... then regrets it when Ned proposes carpools and
diligent work. In the second, the Simpsons get an insurance payout
and take Grandpa to Denmark to take advantage of its free health
care.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., ABC. Tentative plans call for having Ziering ... on
the same night that he battles sharks. In a rerun, his family faces
Sherri Shepherd's family.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. When an important suspect escapes by foot,
Sebastian is put on administrative leave. In this rerun, the team
must clear him, while searching for the suspect.

“Garage Sale
Mysteries: Picture a Murder,” 9-11 p.m., Hallmark Movies &
Mysteries. Jennifer (Lori Loughlin) keeps finding mysteries along
with her antiques. This one involves cameras – and even finds a way
to make photography a key plot point. The side plots are lame, but
the main one is OK.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun of the show's 200th
episode, the team searches for people who crossed the border and
attacked California Highway Patrol officers. Homeland Security sends
Nell's older and bossier sister to help with the case.

“Shades of Blue”
season-finale, 10 p.m., NBC. This is the part that was previewed in
the season-opener: Harlee (Jennifer Lopez), suspected of being a
dirty cop, is grilled by the police commission.

 

TV column for Saturday, Aug. 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Ghostbusters” (2016), 8-11 p.m., FX; “Saturday Night Live,”
11:29, NBC.

We can spend the
night with “SNL” people. The show's rerun has Chance the Rapper
hosting and Eminem (also a rapper) as music guest. Before that is a
movie with strong “SNL” roots.

Two of the show's
stars (Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd) did the first “Ghostbusters”;
they appear briefly, in a remake that stars two current “SNL”
people (Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones), an alumna (Kristen Wiig) and
a frequent host or guest (Melissa McCarthy). Then result mixes
clever dialog, great sight gags and a bonus -- Chris Hemsworth's a
variation on the cliche of a dim-but-attractive secretary.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Pink Collar Crimes,” 8 p.m., CBS.

In Laguna Beach,
Cal., Lizzie Mulder was an accountant with a personal touch. She
befriended businessmen, CBS says, attending weddings and baptism.

Actually, she wasn't
a financial expert at all; she was a saleswoman for a soil and
fertilizer company. She used her clients' money for a luxury rental
home, vacations, cosmetic surgery and an Araian horse. Last year she
pled guilt and was sentenced to five years in prison and $1.5 million
in compensation.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Dunkirk” and “Darkest Hour,” 6:10 and 8 p.m.,
HBO.

In some ways, these
films will be forever linked. Both came out in 2017, just five months
apart. Both caught a grim World War II moment, when British troops
barely escaped total devastation. Both drew Oscar nominations for
best picture and for cinematography and production design.

Still, these are
opposites. “Dunkirk” is all epic spectacle; director Chris Nolan
drew a nomination and his film won in three technical fields, but its
overall story is so-so. “Hour,” by comparison, is intimate and
internal, with Gary Oldman winning an Oscar for his brilliant work as
Winston Churchill.

Other choices
include:

“Jesse Stone”
marathon, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
Beautifully crafted by director Robert Harmon and producer-star Tom
Selleck, these began with the Robert B. Parker novels about a Los
Angeles cop who becomes a police chief in small-town Massachusetts.
This marathon goes from the third one (2006), made for CBS, to the
most recent (2015), which was made for Hallmark.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a rerun of Tuesday's episode, the
first live one of the summer, with 12 acts performing. Viewers voted
and on Wednesday, seven of the advanced.

“MasterChef,” 8
and 9 p.m., Fox. The first rerun starts with a challenge to concoct a
restaurant-quality dish from five ingredients. The secod ends with
making cupcakes for pastry chef Christina Tosi.

“The Good Doctor,”
8 p.m., ABC. Dr. Glassman – Shaun's friend and mentor – feels
that he needs some help with his personal life. He suggests a
therapist, but Shaun resists. Also in this rerun, a charming young
doctor makes a great impression on the surgical teaml then his true
character emerges.

“Pearl in
Paradise,” 9-11 p.m., Hallmark. Filmed in Fiji, this has a
photographer (Jill Wagner) and a writer (Kristoffer Polaha) searching
for a pearl he described in his novel. They are pretty people in a
gorgeous place; we're betting they might end up liking each other.

“The Incredibles”
(2004), 9:10 p.m., Freeform. While its sequel thrives in theaters, we
can catch the original. It's in an animated marathon, from “Planes”
(2013) a 7 a.m. to “Bolt” (2008) at 11:50 p.m.

“24 Hours to Hell
and Back,” 11 p.m., Fox. In a quick rerun of the season-finale,
Gordon Ramsay has one day to turn around a troubled restaurant in
Sacramento.

TV column for Friday, Aug. 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Great British Bake Off” finale, 9 p.m., PBS.

After six years,
this gentle show is ending its PBS run. It's moving to a commercial
network in England and PBS is dropping out, but not before finishing
the final available season ... which was taped back in 2012. (There
were two previous years, but they weren't shot in high-definition.)

One finalist is the
season's oldest contestant, Brendan Leach, then 63 and a mostly
retired recruitment consultant. He faces the youngest ones – John
Whaite and James Morton, then law and medical students, ages 23 and
21. It was the only all-male finish in eight seasons – six of them
won by women.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “WE Day,” 8 p.m., ABC.

This annual special
celebrates young world-changers. Appropriately, it has Jaclyn Corin
and Cameron Kasky, who created the #NeverAgain movement after
surviving the shootings in Parkland, Fla.

John Stamos hosts.
Guests include Selena Gomez, Dierks Bentley, Cyndi Lauper and The
Chainsmokers, plus Jennifer Aniston, Will Ferrell, Whoopi Goldberg,
Martin Sheen and Phil McGraw. Also: Internet star Lilly Singh and
11-year-old singer-actor JD McCrary.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Great Performances,” 10 p.m., PBS.

As country homes go,
The Imperial Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna is quite impressive. It has
1,441 rooms. Emperor Franz Joseph lived there, Jackie Chan filmed
there, John Kennedy met Nikita Kruschev there. And once a year, the
Vienna Philharmonic has a spectacular concert on is grounds.

That provides an
annual PBS special, so beautifully filmed that it will entertain some
people who don't like classical music. This one starts with the
“William Tell Overture” and ends with a Strauss waltz. In
between, among other things, Anna Netrebko sings the works of
Rossini, Verdi and Puccini.

Other choice
includes:

“Disenchantment,”
any time, Netflix. Matt Groening, the “Simpsons” creator, has a
grown-up take on fairy tales. Also, some movies reach streaming
today. Netflix has the youth film “To All the Boys I've Loved
Before”; Amazon Prime has “Gringo,” a fun adventure that finds
an American businessman (David Oyelowo) overwhelmed by plots and
schemes in Mexico.

Barbra Streisand
marathon, 6 a.m. to 5:45 a.m., Turner Classic Movies. Streisand is
brilliant in some of these fims, especially “Funny Girl” (1968)
at 12:15 p.m., “The Way We Were” (1973) ast 5:45 p.m. and “A
Star is Born” (1976) at 1 a.m. Some of the other films are ...
well, merely OK.

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a rerun of Monday's Philadelphia
city finals.

“TKO,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Some athletic pros – a bull rider, a soccer pro and a “death
racer” -- compete with a professor and an aspiring comedian.

“Whistleblower,”
9 p.m., CBS. In the District of Columbia schools, the food-services
director went public with complaints that the privatized provider
(Chartwells) had food that was late, insufficient or spoiled. He was
fired ... eventually winning $450,000 for wrongful termination and
winning $19 million for the district. The Chartwells story is told
tonight, alongside that of eClinicalWorks, which was fined $155
million for kickbacks exaggerating what its medical-chart software
could do.

“Wynonna Earp,”
9 p.m., Syfy. With a demon causing havoc, Wynonna isn't sure whom to
trust.

More
“Whistleblower,” 10 p.m., CBS. Many of the show's stories are
from years ago, but this one us fresh: In a settlement five months
ago, a Japanese supplier paid $66 million – including $5.7 million
to the whistleblower. He said the company knew the material (Zylon)
it sold to Second Chance Body Armor was subject to degradation.
Second Channce went bankrupt, but the supplier paid.

 

TV column for Thursday, Aug. 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Trial & Error,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC.

This has become the
summer's gem – big and broad, sometimes silly and often very funny.
Last week, Josh won his case early, clearing Lavinia (Kristen
Chenoweth) of killing her husband. But now he's convinced she killed
her brother; that requires a new trial of the man who was convicted.

It won't be easy: A
newspaper headline described the defendant (somewhat prejudicially)
as “human garbage dump.” His lawyer (Dr. Rock n' Law) remembers
nothing, but offers his case file ... consisting of song lyrics and
taco wrappers. But by the end of the first half-hour, there's a dandy
discovery.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Comedies, 8-9 p.m., CBS; 10-11 p.m., Pop.

If you're watching
“Trial & Error,” you might surround it with other comedies --
reruns (CBS) and new (Pop). That starts with a terrific “Big Bang
Theory,” as Sheldon scrambles to land Amy's ideal wedding site.
Then an OK “Young Sheldon” has him meeting an older girl who's a
science buff.
On Pop, “Swedish Dicks” tells odd cases – a
missing zombie-film actor in the first half-hour, a sting by the
“Swedish FBI” in the second – with droll wit, adding personal
stories: Sarah has a key romance revelation; Axel's secret (he's an
illegal immigrant) is revealed at the worst – and funniest –
time.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Fargo” (1996), 5:50 p.m., HBO.

Two decades before
winning an Academy Award for “Two Billboards Outside Ebbing,
Missouri,” Frances McDormand won for this film. Her husband and
brother-in-law (Joel and Ethan Coen) won for their script and there
were four more nominations, including best picture

“Fargo” was an
independent-filmmaking triumph, with wonderfully understated
Northerners. And at 8 p.m., HBO has another great actress in a small
gem – Judi Dench in “Victoria & Abdul” (2017).

Other choices
include:

“The Gong Show,”
8 p.m., ABC. Offbeat acts are judged by Ed Helms, Rob Riggle and
Regina Hall.

Racing, 8:30 p.m.
ET, with preview at 8, Fox. Now that cars are big on TV, pickup
trucks get their turn. This NASCAR truck race is in Bristol, Tenn.

“Return of the
Jedi” (1983), 8 p.m., TNT. The conclusion of the original “Star
Wars” trilogy leads a good movie night. Also at 8 are a sharp
action film – Showtime's “Baby Driver” (2017) – and a clever
comedy,, AMC's “Uncle Buck” (1989).

“Queen of he
South,” 9 p..m., USA. As part of her plan to wipe out her
competition in Phoenix, Teresa beds an ambitious politician.

“Take Two,” 10
p.m., ABC. After hiring Eddie and Sam to find his wife, a guy is
killed. As they scramble to find the wife, they become targets
themselves.

“Snowfall,” 10
p.m., FX. To settle things with an old partner, Franklin needs help
from Teddy, the CIA guy. Meanwhile, Lucia realizes that someone in
the crew is being deceptive.

“Shooter,” 10
p.m., USA. In recent years, TV has obsessed on torture and other
violence to a helpless victim. The result is bad drama and despicable
humanity ... and it reaches a new peak (or low) tonight. In the first
two minutes, our “hero” is pummeling immobile people; in the
final minutes, he's being bound and tortured. In between, there's a
wretchedly brutal fight-club scene ... but at least both men are
conscious. Also, tonight's plot is flailing; a season that started
well has quickly crumbled.