TV column for Monday, Oct. 5

MUST-SEE: “The Big Bang Theory” and “Life in Pieces,” 8 and
8:31 p.m., CBS.

the end of the month, CBS will scuttle its long tradition of Monday
comedy. These two shows will slide to Thursdays, once football
vacates that night. For now, however, let's enjoy the fun.

Bang” has started the year with gems about the new marriage of
Leonard and Penny; tonight, the guys take him to Mexico for a belated
bachelor party and the women ask her for the story of the elopement.
Meanwhile, “Pieces” has been witty ... albeit with an overload of
anatomical humor. Tonight, Matt coaches his girlfriend before she
meet his entire, eccentric family.

MIGHT-SEE: “Gotham,” 8 p.m., Fox.

one hand, “Gotham” is unmatched for stylish visuals, taut
emotions and jolting moments. One twist tonight (involving scheming
Galavan and a cohort) delivers a powerhouse surprise.

the other, tonight's centerpiece – a hostage situation at a charity
fundraiser – mostly feels prolonged and unsettling. A show with
this much talent can come up plots that are more clever than this.

ALTERNATIVE: “Doc Martin” season-opener, any time,

six seasons, this British show has had a vagabond existence in
America – airing at scattered times on a patchwork collection of
public-TV stations. Now this streaming service takes over.

Clunes plays a village physician, devoid of social skills. His wife
is with her mother, leaving the marriage unclear. Ready to sink into
self-pity, he instead must worry about his ditzy receptionist and a
lot of villagers who keep ignoring symptoms. Two episodes – one
very good, the next one pretty good – are available today; others
arrive each Monday, with all seven seasons available after Nov. 16.

choices include:

With the Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. The celebrities will do pieces
reflecting their most memorable years. That's expected to include
Nick Carter reflecting his “Backstreet Boys: days, Gary Busey
recalling his Buddy Holly film and Bindi Irwin recalling her late
father, the “crocodile hunter.”

Voice,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. The blind auditions conclude, setting
the teams. There will be a recap Tuesday, with the “battle rounds”
starting next week.

& Teller: Fool Us,” 8 p.m., CW. On Tuesday, the CW will finally
plnge ahead with seven season-openers in a four-night stretch. First,
we can enjoy the season-finale of a fun magic show.

9 p.m., CBS. Sylvester isn't your macho, behind-bars type. But to
save the lives of three judges, he goes undercover in a federal

Report,” 9 p.m., Fox. Once a lonely outsider, Stark may become the
analyst for a new police program. Still, there are questions about
the program's intentions.

10:01 p.m., ABC. Probing a fraternity guy's death, Rick goes
undercover as a professor.

10:01 p.m., NBC. A thief, captured during a jewel heist, bears the
same Navy SEAL tattoo that Jane has. Also, Jane gets a warning from
the man who was in her first memory.

TV column for Sunday, Oct. 4

MUST-SEE: “The Good Wife,” 9 p.m. (or later, with football
overrun), CBS.

one swoop, CBS starts the seasons for all of its classy Sunday
dramas. At the core is “Good Wife,” with 37 Emmy nominations (two
for best series) and five wins (two for Juliana Margulies).

plays Alicia, who is the governor's wife and was a big-time lawyer
... until she was caught in an election scandal. Now she's starting
over, begging for bail cases. Don't fret, though; major moments are
coming tonight for her and for her husband. It's a big start for a
srong series.

MUST-SEE II: “Home Fires” debut, 8 p.m., PBS (check local

hour later, “Masterpiece” will continue “Indian Summers,”
which is big and plush and well-made. But here's the surprise: This
smaller, simpler show is just as good.

1939 in small-town England and the men are preparing for war. For
others, the battleground is the local Women's Institute: A rich
matron (Francesca Annis) wants it closed for the duration; others
want it to propel a homefront project. Along the way, other issues
(romantic and medical) slowly emerge.

ALTERNATIVE: “Homeland” season-opener, 9 p.m., Showtime.

four seasons and two well-deserved Emmys for best actress, Claire
Danes has turned Carrie Mathison into one of TV's great characters.
As a CIA agent, she was passionate, intense, fragile and, ultimately,
broken. Now she's in Germany with her daughter, out of government and
out of danger.

is she? Suddenly, work wants to push her back into a war zone. In
many ways this is her biggest dilemma, because she could duck out.
The hour starts slowly, but gives a great character new depth.

choices include:

Secretary” season opener, 8 p.m. (or later), CBS. The first season
hurled Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord into some crucial
situations, but nothing like this: After a quick series of events,
she might have to take the oath as acting president.

Unauthorized 'Beverly Hills 90210' Story,” 8 p.m., Lifetime. Here's
a quick rerun of Saturday's movie, including (at 10 p.m.) its reunion
of the “90210” cast.

Breakers” debut, 8 p.m., Ovation. Miller Gaffney and Carol Lee
Brosseau were Baylor University sorority sisters, then became art
experts on opposite coasts. Since they also are peppy and telegenic,
they also have their own four-week reality show ... starting by
helping Mario Lopez commission a work. Many viewers will find this
pleasant; some will also consider it surface and shallow.

& Oil,” 9 p.m., ABC. Last week's debut ended explosively: A
masked Wick tried to steal from his father, setting off a blast that
almost killed both of them. Now he scrambles to hide his involvement.

the Walking Dead” (AMC) or “Leftovers” (HBO), both 9 p.m. Two
fantasy shows collide, but only this once. It's the first-season
finale for “Fear,” with unrest building as the zombie threat
grows; it's the second-season debut of “Leftovers,” now set in
the one town where no one vanisehd.

Cyber,” 10 p.m. (or later), CBS. A week after the original “CSI”
ended its 15-season run, this show starts its second-season, probing
a home burglary and homicide. D.B. Russell (Ted Danson), from the
now-departed show, moves to Washington, D.C., to become “director
of next generation forensics.”

Affair” season-opener, 10 p.m., Showtime. Here is two-sided
storytelling as an art form: We see the same events told from two
people's perspectives; differences can be tiny – the clothes
someone's wearing, the nuances of the words – to huge. All of that
is important here, in an hour that jumps between two crises for Noah
(Dominic West) – his divorce and his arrest for hit-and-run.

TV column for Saturday, Oct. 3

MUST-SEE: “Saturday Night Live” season-opener, 11:29 p.m., NBC.

phases of this presidential election have screamed for satire.
Fortunately, “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” is off to a strong
start and Seth Meyers has been terrific since starting his latenight
show behind a desk, news-style. And now “Saturday Night Live” is

sometimes-controversial Miley Cyrus hosts a show that was in its 18th
season when she was born. It's her third time hosting and her second
time doubling as the music guest.

MIGHT-SEE: “The Unauthorized 'Beverly Hills 90210' Story,” 8
p.m., Lifetime.

in 1990, Fox was still struggling. It had old movies Mondays, nothing
at all on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and lots of comedy (but little
drama) the rest of the week. Then “90210” burst in.

other Aaron Spelling shows, it had bland scripts, but good intentions
and memorable casting. Amid the blue-sky beauty of privileged teens,
it turned Luke Perry and Jason Priestley into teen idols. Its young
actresses ranged from the fiery Shannen Doherty to the sweet-spirited
Jennie Garth and Spelling's daughter Tori. There will be a cast
reunion at 10 p.m. and a movie rerun at midnight.

ALTERNATIVE: “Live From New York” (2015), 8-10 p.m., NBC.

Nguyen is a young Vietnamese-American filmmaker whose serious
documentaries often reach film festivals. But this year, the Tribeca
festival opened with a different mood – his portrait of a show that
Nguyen considers to be classic Americana.

interviews range from some of the original people (Lorne Michaels,
who's still in charge, and Dan Aykroyd) to Pete Davidson, 21. Now NBC
airs this as a prelude to the start of the show's 41st

choices include:

on the Air” (2015), 7 p.m., Hallmark. Here's another chance to see
this above-average film with a man and woman as duelling radio
personalities. It's followed at 9 by a new film, “Autumn Dreams.”

8 p.m. ET, ABC. The night's biggest game has 6th-ranked
Notre Dame at 12th-ranked Clemson. At 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox
has Arizona State (2-2 so far) at 7th-ranked UCLA

New Orleans,” 8 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, a Navy lieutenant has
been given a letal dose of poison. Now he wants the team to solve his
imminent murder.

Black,” 9 p.m., CBS. If you missed this debut Wednesday, definitely
catch it now. Marcia Gay Harden leads some new residents, in an
emergency room that hears the most serious code almost daily.

“Dr. Who,” 9 p.m. Saturday, BBC America. The Doctor and Clara
must rescue a crew that's attacked at its underwater base. That's
surrounded by last week's episode, at 8 and (after Graham Norton) 10

Talk,” 9 p.m., Starz, repeating at 10 and 11:10 p.m. Earlier, the
producer's husband (Ed Begley Jr.) was having memory problems. Now
he's missing; Walter (Patrick Stewart) joins the search.

Bastard Executioner,” 10 p.m., 12:05 a.m. and 1:20 a.m., FX. If you
haven't started this series yet, here's a chance to see (or record)
the first three episopdes. It's from the “Sons of Anarchy”
producer, with the same violent intensity ... but in a sometimes
perplexing setting of 14th-century Wales.

TV column for Friday, Oct. 2

MIGHT-SEE: “Dr. Ken” debut, 8:31 p.m., ABC.

nights used to be fun, you know. ABC said “TGIF” means “thank
goodness its funny”; various networks had John Ritter, Ray Romano,
Ellen Degeneres and George Lopez on Fridays.

now? ABC keeps trying, with the OK “Last Man Standing” at 8 p.m.
and various shows at 8:30. Now it has Ken Jeong (a former doctor in
real life), playing a wisecracking doctor. All of the cliches are
there, including a wise wife, bureaucratic boss, odd son and popular
daughter. The story has some fairly funny moments that could have
been salvaged by a more-skilled actor.

MIGHT-SEE II: “Grandfathered” and “The Grinder,” 8 and 8:30
p.m., Fox.

ABC gropes at Friday comedy, we might as well savor the reruns of two
Tuesday debuts. Each has a clever concept that neatly fits its star.

enough, TV characters suddenly learn they are fathers; this one (John
Stamos) simultaneously learns he's a grandfather. Then Rob Lowe plays
an actor who portrays a lawyer on TV; when the show is cancelled, he
returns home and figures he can help his brother (Fred Savage) at a
real law practice.

ALTERNATIVE: “In Performance at the White House,” 9 p.m., PBS
(check local listings)

Paul Simon in 2007 to Willie Nelson this year, the almost-annual
Gershwin Prize has honorted popular songwriters. Here's a rerun of
the 2012 event, honoring Burt Bacharach, now 87, and Hal David, who
died later that year, at 91.

Wonder, the second Gershwin winner, performs. Also included are
Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Michael Feinstein, Rumer and jazz-trumpeter
Arturo Sandoval.

choices include:

Man Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. Mike (Tim Allen) makes a suggestion
that seems revolutionary these days: Maybe his grandson could just
walk home from school. Meanwhile, his daughters try to keep a secret
from their mom; also, there's a meeting for “doomsday preppers.”

Time Ever” (8 p.m., NBC) and “Scream Queens” (9 p.m., Fox).
Maybe Friday is the new Tuesday. Both of these hours ran Tuesday, as
did the Fox comedies. “Best Time” is a loose collection of stunts
and such; on “Scream Queens,” the dean (Jamie Lee Curtis) dares
to change the school mascot.

Next Top Model,” 9 p.m., CW. Next week, CW starts launching its
fall line-up. With that in mind, this show moves to its regular
night; tonight, eliminated contestants get a second chance.

Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. Someone has threatened to detonate hidden
bombs, unless an arsonist (played by former fighting champion Randy
Couture) is released.

Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. Danny is probing a possible serial killer.
Meanwhile, his sister considers applying for a judgeship and their
dad, the police commissionert, is accused by a mayoral candidate
(Mary Stuart Masterson) of investigating her husband.

10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Art and activism are risky in
China, this documentary says. Al Weiwei spent 16 months in
confinement. He resumed making art, but also mocked the government.
He even installed four web-cams in his home, to give the public the
same views the spies have.

Jacksons: Next Generation” debut, 10 p.m., Lifetime. This reality
show follows the brothers in 3T, a music group. Taj, Taryll and TJ
Jackson (41, 39 and 34) are the sons of Tito Jackson and the nephews
of the late Michael Jackson and other members of The Jacksons.

TV column for Thursday, Oct. 1

MUST-SEE: “The Blacklist” season-opener, 9 p.m., NBC.

expect a calm, casual return; this is crisis mode. :Liz (Megan Boone)
– an FBI agent who didn't know her mother was a Russian spy -- has
been framed; Red (James Spader) plans their escape.

result is high-stakes and high-octane. It keeps straining
credibility, but is so good that we willingly suspend disbelief. That
story (and one involving Red's aide Dembe) will continue next week.

MIGHT-SEE: “Bones,” 8 p.m., Fox.

suspiciously, a lead character vanishes. Colleagues and spouse are
bewildered; a rogue mission is suspected. Yes, this sounds familiar.
“Castle” has started the past two seasons that way; now “Bones”
does the same. Booth is missing; he may be dead or crooked or both.

outside investigator (Kim Raver) arrives, spitting out some ludicrous
dialog, while the others (and viewers) remain perplexed. Gradually,
the story grabs us ... just in time for the “to be continued”

ALTERNATIVE: “Sleepy Hollow” season-opener, 9 p.m., Fox.

time-travel thing can gets sticky. Ichabod Crane, transported from
the Revolutionary War he believed in, visits a colonial-themed
restaurant – complete with “Eggs Benedict Arnold.”

provides a light interlude for a strong episode. Crane is re-united
with Abbie (now an FBI agent) and her sister. There's a new monster
in town and a potent villainess is on the way. “Sleepy Hollow”
offers solid characters, stylish visuals, occasional shocks ... and,
tonight, some restaurant humor.

choices include:

Reborn,” 8 p.m., NBC. Tommy actually seems happy now, with new
popularity at school and a girl (whom he secretly loves) he can show
his powers to. Meanwhile, Carlos considers his late brother's role as
a secret superhero, Noah tries to make sense of this ... and crises
loom; a mogul shows that she's determined to destroy anyone with
special powers.

8:30 p.m. ET CBS, with pre-game at 7:30. For the second time in four
weeks, the Thursday game has the Pittsburgh Steelers. They have a 2-1
record this season, but Ben Roethlisberger was injured last week,
putting Michael Vick at quarterback. He faces the Baltimore Ravens,
who are 0-3.

9 p.m., ABC. A new job takes Olivia away from Washington, D.C. ...
where the president is trying to figure out who caused his latest

Runway,” 9-10:30 p.m., Lifetime. The emphasis turns practical this
week – creating designs that can be reproduced and sold Online.
Ciara is the guest judge.

to Get Away With Murder,” 10 p.m., ABC. Last week's season-opener
had big moments for Annalise (Emmy-winner Viola Davis): A
flashforward showed her shot and gravely wounded; other scenes saw
her figure out that Bonnie – one of the lawyers working for her –
killed Rebecca. Now Annalise faces a tough time as a defense lawyer
(for rich siblings) and as a trial witness.

Player,” 10 p.m., NBC. Kane is stunned by what he learns at his
ex-wife's funeral.

Daily Show,” 11 p.m., Comedy Central. Wrapping up his first week,
Trevor Noah has his first musical guest, Ryan Adams.