TV column for Monday, March 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Cancer” opener, 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Two master
filmmakers – Barak Goodman (“Clinton,” “My Lai”) and Ken
Burns (“Civil War”) link, backed by the rich research of Dr.
Siddhartha Mukherjee's book.

The result sprawls
over three nights and six hours, juggling opposite styles. On one
hand, cameras tonight follow current kids with cancer; each story is
disturbing, some are heartbreaking. On the other, there is the sort
of history that Burns masters: People have written about cancer for
4,000 years, but didn't understand it enough to mount a concerted
effort until the 1960s. It's a big story, beautifully told.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber,” 10 p.m., Comedy Central.

The nice thing about
being a star is that you get to mock Justin Bieber to his face. “I
feel like I'm roasting you for the entire world,” comedian Jeffrey
Ross tells him.

Other comics also
savor the opportunity, including Kevin Hart (who hosts), Hannibal
Buress, Chris D'Elia, Natasha Leggero and “Saturday Night Live”
newcomer Pete Davidson. There are also some non-comics taking shots,
includikng Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, Martha Stewart and Shaquille O'Neal.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Returned,” 10:01 p.m., A&E.

Like the French
series this is based on, this series beautifully captures muted
emotions. Small-town people quietly reflect pain and confusion, as
loved ones return unchanged, years after they died.

Simon died on his
wedding day. Camille was 15 when she died four years ago; now she
pretends in public to be a cousin, enraging her twin sister. Now we
learn more about little Victor; we also meet a woman who offers an
eloquent view of the agony of a life that simply never ends.

Other choices
include:

“Jamaica Inn,”
any time, www.acorn.tv. Here's a
fairly good finish to this dark, Daphne du Maurier tale starring
Jessica Brown Finlay. Beginning today, this streaming service has all
three chapters.

“Keeping Up With
the Kardashians,” 7 a.m, to noon, 4-7 p.m., 8-10 p.m., E. The 9
p.m. spot was supposed to go to “Fashion Police” ... until that
show imploded after a stray comment about dredlocks. Kelly Osborne
and Kathy Griffin quit; “Police” was yanked until fall.

“Dancing With the
Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Last week, Redfoo became the first star
ousted. Chris Soules (“The Bachelor”) and Charlotte McKinney
survived, but they're in trouble. Judges gave them a 21 and 26 out of
40. Those were the bottom scores; others went as high as a 34 for
Nastia Liukin.

“The Voice,”
8-10:01 p.m., NBC. Here's the second of three “knock-out” nights.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. Protecting a key witness, the team is on the run, with the
cartel in pursuit.

“Bates Motel,” 9
p.m., A&E. “Chaos seems to swirl around you,” a cop (and
ex-lover) tells Norma tonight. Last week, a hotel resident died in
her arms, while handing her a flashdrive. In a good episode tonight,
some scary types want to retrieve it.

“Strange
Inheritance,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., Fox Business. What happens to odd
collections? The first half-hour involves 140 vintage tractors; the
second has 72 portraits of Battle of Little Big Horn warriors.

“Castle,” 10:01
p.m., ABC. When a larger-than-life lawyer is killed, the list of
suspects is enormous.

TV column for Saturday, March 28


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Kids Choice Awards,” 8-9:30 p.m., Nickelodeon.

No longer a mere
Jonas Brother, Nick Jonas is everywhere now, from Broadway musicals
to TV series and successful records. Tonight, he's the host and opens
the show with his singles: “Jealous” and “Chains” reached No.
7 and 25 on the Billboard charts.

Also, 5 Seconds of
Summer sings “What I Like About You”; Iggy Azalea and Jennifer
Hudson link on “Trouble.” If the past is a sign, there will be
big-name presenters ... one of them hit by green slime.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: Figure-skating and “Saturday Night Live,” 8-10 and 11:29
p.m., NBC. Even on a basketball weekend, other sports survive. At the
international skating finals in Shanghai, the U.S. is led by Ashley
Wagner (winner of three of the last four nationals) and Gracie Gold,
who won the nationals in 2014 and finished second this year.

Afterward, NBC
switches to the sport – well, semi-sport -- of wrestling. Dwayne
Johnson, who wrestled as The Rock, has his fourth turn hosting “SNL”;
George Ezra is the music guest.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Katy Perry: Prismatic World Tour,” 8 p.m., Epix.

Here is a rock
concert of epic, Gaga-Madonna proportions. It has it all – talented
dancers, spectacular sets and costumes and – in the midst of this,
a cascade of hit songs.

Perry frolics,
jokes, jumps rope and pulls people from the audience; she gives her
pizza to an 8-year-old girl and takes a selfie with a young woman who
arrived in a swimsuit. “You're gonna hear me roar,” she
announces. This is all so big that you'll doubt she'll top it for
the closing “Firework”; she does.

Other choices
include:

“The Carbonaro
Effect,” 5-10 p.m., Tru TV. This hidden-camera show is a gem,
thanks to Michael Carbonaro's skill as a magician and an
impromisational comedian. Here are reruns of 10 episodes.

Basketball, 6 p.m.
ET, TBS. Now we learn who will be in the NCAA tourament's final four.
There's this doubleheader today, followed by a CBS one at 2 p.m.
Sunday.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 8 p.m., CBS,. This reruns a Christmastime episode that
sees Pride going to Afghanistan, after a suspect is found wearing the
jacket of somone who was believed killed there.

“Secrets and
Lies,” 8 p.m., ABC. Here's a second chance to see last week's
episode, before a new one arrives Sunday. When Ben sees an autistic
boy wandering on his own, he wonders if someone – the boy, his mom
(Melissa Gilbert) or his brother – is involved with the murder.

“In an Instant,”
9-11 p.m., ABC. This series skillfully mixes re-enactments and the
memories of survivors. Tonight, it views a 1991 crisis, when four
young men had 50 hostages in a Sacramento electronics store. The
result left seven people dead and 14 wounded.

“Black Sails”
season-finale, 9 p.m., Starz. This richly crafted pirate show runs
its season in one gulp. Previous episodes start at noon; then this
new one finds Flint adding an unlikely ally, Silver making a
sacrifice and Vane's crew wanting a change.

“Cat Ballou”
(1965), 10 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. This cowboy comedy classic
made Lee Marvin an Oscar-winner and a star.

TV column for Thursday, March 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Bones” return, 8 p.m., Fox.

Cyndi Lauper is busy
conquering all media. She was a rock-pop singer with eight top-10
singles, two of them (“Time After Time” and “True Colors”)
reaching No. 1. She also won a 2013 Tony for her “Kinky Boots”
score. Now comes her fourth “Bones” episode as Avalon Harmonia,
self-styled psychic.

After resting for 15
weeks, “Bones” returns with a smart script that ties a murder
probe into issues of belief in the unseen – from religion to an
invisible friend. Booth is a doubter; Avalon is not.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: Basketball, 7:15 p.m. ET, CBS, and 7:47 p.m., TBS.

Now that it's down
to the sweet-16, the NCAA tournament shrinks to a watchable size: CBS
(that means no “Big Bang Theory” tonight) and TBS, each with two
games today and two more Friday.

CBS starts with
Notre Dame -- winner of two straight tight games -- against Wichita
State, which upset a high-ranked Kansas team. At about 9:45 p.m., it
has Kentucky (undefeated and unrelenting) and West Virginia. TBS has
two top-seeded teams – Wisconsin (facing North Carolina) and then
Arizona (facing Xavier at about 10:17 p.m. ET) Today's winners will
be back Saturday, eyeing spots in the final four.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Backstrom,” 9 p.m., Fox.

As Backstrom spews
invective randomly, our reactions vary. Some of this is aimed at
police colleagues, who can shrug it off. Much is aimed at
overprivileged women in the “Real Housewives” mold; we're
starting to like this guy. Then he turns on poor people at a free
kitchen; the fun vanishes.

Between insults, he
must solve the murder of the only good woman in a rich-and-nasty
group. Also, his doctor and his ex-fiancee try to nudge him into
healthy living – something Backstrom avoids cleverly.

Other choices
include:

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. So far, Meredith still isn't sure Derek has been
cheating on her. Now, apparently, they finally talk about it; also,
Owen is startled to see his mother admitted to the hospital.

“Revenge,” 9
p.m., ABC. Cyrus is pressured to move up his wedding date. Also,
David launches his plan aimed at taking down B613.

“The Blacklist,”
9 p.m., NBC. Disabled people are being kidnapped for experiments on
immortality.

Stand-up comedy, 9
amd 10 p.m., Comedy Central. On the night begore “Get Hard” --
Kevin Hart's second movie in two months – debuts, here are two of
his stand-up hours. “I'm a Grown Little Man” is from 2009;
“Laugh at My Pain” is from 2011.

“American Crime,”
10 p.m., ABC. Last week ended with a jolt: Not only is Ben a murder
suspect, but now he has a smart stalker; as this hour starts, he's
trapped inside his own car, in a dark parking lot. “Archer,” 10
and 10:30 p.m., FX. First is the start of a two-parter that FX calls
the show's “most fantastic journey ever”; that story – and the
season – conclude next week. At 10:30 today is a rerun of last
week's dandy episode, from a tale by Matthew Rhys (“The
Americans”), who voices a role.

“The Slap,”
10:01 p.m., NBC. Rosie (Melissa George) is vehemently pushing her
court case against Harry (Zachary Quinto), who slapped her unruly
5-year-old. She's so vehement that even her husband starts turning
against her ... until her rough time nudges him to mention key
information.

TV column for Wednesday, March 25


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Nashville,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Each week, this show
mixes good (but inconsistent) drama with consistently great music.
And once a year, it strips away the rest and just lets the stars give
a great concert.

Last year's hour had
too much self-serving prattle; this one trims some of that to make
room for music, even adding Reba McEntire . The opening song is so-so
and the finale doesn't live up to its promise. In between, however,
are great moments, especially a Jonathan Jackson solo and two duets –
Charles Esten with Deana Carter (who wrote the song with him) and
Will Chase with Chris Carmack.

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

This is the week
“Idol” shifts to Wednesdays-only. Escaping Thursdays, it no
longer has to worry about basketball or “Big Bang Theory” ... but
does collide with “Survivor.”

Last week, judges
used the season's only “save” to keep Qaasim Middleton. (He's the
second person to be saved from finishing 11th; the other,
Casey Abrams, eventually finished sixth). Now two people will be
ousted; others will do 1980s songs, with Boy George mentoring and
singing “Karma Chameleon.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Big Time in Hollywood, FL.” debut, 10:30 p.m.,
Comedy Central.

At first, this seems
kind of ordinary, even starting the same way “Girls” did –
parents saying they no longer will subsidize their grown kids. The
parents are played (by Stephen Tobolowsky and Kathy Baker) with
subtlety and skill; the kids aren't.

But stick around; a
scam emerges, with the help of Ben Stiller (who also produces ther
show) as a vagabond actor. A surprise is big, broad and very funny,
sending this 10-part tale in wild directons.

Other choices
include:

“Survivor,” 8
p.m., CBS. The tribes have been re-arranged and the original
“blue-collar” group has had its first loss; departing was Lindsey
Cascaddan, whose work as a hair-stylist somehow put her with an oil
driller, cop and rodeo rider.The others (“white collar” and “no
collar”) have lost two people apiece.

“Young and Hungry”
season-opener, 8 p.m., ABC Family. Gabi (Emily Osment), a private
chef, and her boss may be the only ones who don't realize they're in
love. Now comes the start of a pivotal section. Sometimes too blunt
and busy, “Young” still has some good lines, delivered
competently.

“The Goldbergs,”
8:30, ABC. Adam faces a crisis when he's at the Phillies game with
his dad; his brother and sister face another in the car with their
mom.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. Spring break finds Claire cleaning, her daughters at a
music festival and Gloria trying an extreme sacrifice – going
without her favorite telenovelas.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 9 p.m., NBC. As Carisi's sister awaits her
baby, her fiance is in trouble again. Now he accuses his female
parole officer of rape..

“Black-ish,”
9:31 p.m., ABC. As his 40th birthday nears, age creeps up
on Dre. He's injured while playing basketball and puts his young
assistants in charge of planning the party.

“The Americans,”
10 p.m., FX. Things get complicated when Stan (an FBI agent) and Oleg
(a Soviet official at the embassy) try to save Nina, who has spied
for both and has been Stan's lover.

TV column for Tuesday, March 24


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“iZombie,” 9 p.m., CW.

In its second
episode, this show hints at the great potential ahead. Last week, a
diligent medical resident inavertently become a zombie. She got a job
in a morgue because of its convenient food supply – then found that
while digesting people's brains she was absorbing memories that could
help solve murders.

Now there's more:
After munching an artist, she wants her apartment (and her life) to
be more colorful. She also becomes more lustful. Rose McIver has
jumped from “Power Rangers” and Tinker Bell (on “Once Upon a
Time”) to this showcase role, letting her leap into new emotions
each week.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Justified,” 10 p.m., FX.

Powerful forces seem
headed for a final collision. Raylan feeds false news to Boyd ...
whose response may be true or false or true-pretending-to-be-false.
And between them is Ava, who is Boyd's lover and his brother's killer
and Raylan's ex-lover and current informant.

This would be one
dandy series finale ... except that's still three weeks away. For
now, we get more trickery, more detours and a final twist that proves
“Jusified” never stops surprising and jolting.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “James Baker: The Man Who Made Washington Work,”
8:30-10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

The son and grandson
of rich Houston lawyers, Baker got advice from his dad: “Work
hard, study, stay out of politics.” Then he went political, running
campaigns for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

But his real success
was as chief of staff and secretary of state. This was, narrator Tom
Brokaw says, “a time before compromise was a dirty word.” Baker
managed to link Democrats and Reagan, Soviets and Americans, Arabs
and Israelis. He sometimes erred, this fairly solid film says, but
made things work.

Other choices
include:

“The Avengers”
(2012), 7-10 p.m., FX, and/or “Agents of SHIELD,” 9 p.m., ABC.
Marvel continues its TV takeover, with shows competing against each
other. Cable has a movie linking Thor, Hulk, Iron Man and Captain
America. And “SHIELD” finds team members reeling from internal
treachery.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. McGee works with his girlfriend Delilah, when the Defense
Department joins a case involving a thief's body found in a Marine's
house.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. Three murder cases seem unrelated ... until
the names of all three victims are spotted on a mural.

“Undateable,” 9
p.m., NBC. Last week's season-opener had some clever moments, during
a fake trial. Still, it virtually ignored the new character, a
waitress played by Bridgit Mendler, a former Disney star who could
counterbalance this show's runaway cynicism. Tonight, she introduces
her boyfriend.

“One Big Happy,”
9:30, NBC. Last week's debut was way too broad and blunt. This
episode is better, which makes it nearly adequate; Lizzy (Elisha
Cuthbert) reluctantly makes room (in her home and her life) for the
bride of her best friend – the guy who is the sperm donor for her
pregnancy.

“Forever,” 10
p.m., ABC. Henry, the guy who never stays dead, gets a tough memory
jolt: A murder case leads him to the ship where he was killed for the
first time.

“The Late Late
Show,.” 12:37 a.m., CBS. On his second night, James Corden's guest
is Chris Pine, who starred with him in the “Into the Woods”
movie. Also, there's music from Modest Mouse.