(Right below this, you'll find all the TV columns through Nov. 27, neatly arranged in reverse chronological order. Alas, the one for Monday, Nov. 23, didn't get into its place. Here it is:)
“Mark Twain Prize,” 9-11 p.m., PBS.
Back in 1980,
“Saturday Night Live” seemed near extinction. The old stars were
gone, the new ones weren't funny ... until Eddie Murphy, 19, arrived.
Now he's the 18th winner of this annual comedy prize.
We get great clips
of early Murphy – stand-up and “SNL” – and OK ones of his
later movies. There are funny riffs from other comedians, including
George Lopez, Chris Rock and Kathy Griffin, who calls herself
“tonight's diversity hire.” Murphy – watching with girlfriend
Paige Butcher (a former bikini model) and many of his eight children
– seems to enjoy it all, then adds funny bits of his own.
II: “Scorpion,” 9 p.m., CBS.
Here is 50-some
minutes of high-octane television, plus a few moving scenes at the
end. As Megan –Walter's sister and now Sylvester's wife – nears
death, people converge on a hospital ... which is about to have a
deadly fungus outbreak, alongside a difficult birth and more.
You can grumble
about the overload of coincidences ... or the badly written portrayal
of Walter's father ... or the blitz of sentences that we'd need a
dictionary (and an Ivy League education) to understand. But you'll
still admit that this is a gripping episode.
ALTERNATIVE: “Fargo,” 10 p.m., FX.
After some truly
great episodes, this one is merely very good. It skips its best
characters (Ed and Peggy Blomquist) and spends too much time with
Simone Gerhardt, who slept with the enemy.
Those are the Kansas
City people, who face a brutal time in the opening scene and later.
Meanwhile, the Gerhardts (Minnesota mobsters) bury their patriarch
and wonder what happened to their oldest son Dodd. So do the police;
and so do viewers ... until a final scene sets up next week's great
ALTERNATIVE II: “Saints & Strangers” conclusion, 9 p.m.,
The first half of
this mini-series (rerunning at 7 p.m.) offered an involving portrait
of the early, chaotic days of the Plymouth Colony and its
good-hearted leader, William Bradford (Vincent Kartheiser).
This second half
tackles dilemmas – disputes between the native tribes ... the
ethics of a pre-emptive attack ... and the question of Squanto's real
motives. This miniseries – rerunning from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. and
then on Thanksgiving – gets mired down at times. Still, it solidly
portrays a tough time that somehow led to our day of turkey, parades
Family films, 6:30
and 7 p.m., cable. The sight-gag joys of “Home Alone” (1990) are
at 7 and 9:30 p.m. on AMC, colliding with Disney animation: ABC
Family has “Toy Story 2” (1999) and “Finding Nemo” (2003) at
6:30 and 8:30 p.m.; the Disney Channel has “The Princess and the
Frog” (2009) at 7.
“Dancing With the
Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., CBS. The two-part finale begins, with a
champion named on Tuesday. When Tamar Braxton dropped out (due to
illness), the show had its final four – Bindi Irwin, Nick Carter,
Carlos PenaVega and Alex Skarlatos.
8-10 p.m., NBC. The 11 singers perform; on Tuesday, one will be
p.m., CBS. Plans call for the episode that was scheduled for last
Monday, then delayed after the Paris attacks. It's a good one,
putting Kara in the modern problem of multi-tasking. She's working
... and watching her boss' son ... and (as Supergirl) trying to stop
“Jane the Virgin,”
9 p.m., CW. Jane's busy seeking a sitter for her baby ... and hoping
to find a writing adviser at her school Christmas party.
p.m., NBC. In the “mid-season finale,” the team races to stop the
people in a newly activated sleeper cell, before they start their