TV column for Thursday, March 22

“Station 19” debut, 9 and 10 p.m., ABC.

Shonda Rhimes keeps
producing good shows about pretty people who deal with life, death
and complicated romances. “Grey's Anatomy” mastered the genre;
now it has a well-made spin-off.

We're still in
Seattle, which works well for this: Its firefighters are also
emergency medical technicians; in this case, one of them (Ben Warren)
is also a former surgeon from “Grey's.” This opener focuses on
Andy (Jaina Lee Ortiz); her dad is the captain, her lover is his
lieutenant and her life is tangled.

II: “Chicago Fire,” 9 and 10 p.m., NBC.

This is fighting
fire with fire – literally. As ABC debuts its firefighter/paramedic
show, NBC gives a double slot to its own version. What's more, it has
excellent hours with major turning points.

There are key
personal stories – especially for Otis, Brett and Severide – plus
some big plots. The firefighters meet a troubled couple in the first
hour and face gunfire in the second. Those tend to unfold too
conveniently; still, “Fire” work whenever events wash across the
oft-stoic faces of quietly caring men. “Communication isn't your
first language,” Severide is told in a great closing scene.

ALTERNATIVE: “Portlandia” finale, 10 p.m. ET, IFC, repeating at 1

The eighth and final
season ends with an atypical episode. That's unfortunate, because the
typical ones – stuffed with odd sketches – range only from really
strange to strangely hilarious.

The finale follows
plans for the Portland marathon, which the mayor (Kyle MacLachlan)
obsesses on. There are fairly funny moments for guests Dolly Wells,
Cherry Jones and Tessa Thompson ... and for Fred Armisen and Carrie
Brownstein, who have created wonderful bits in the past. You can
relive the entire season form 5:30 to 10 p.m. ET, then catch last
week's episode again at 12:30 a.m.

Other choices

Basketball, CBS and
cable. Already down to 16 teams, the NCAA tournament rushes toward
its final four. CBS has games at 7 p.m. ET (Nevada and Loyola of
Chicago) and about 9:30 (Kentucky and Kansas State). TBS has games at
7:30 (Michigan and Texas A&M) and about 10 (Gonzaga and Florida
State). There's more Friday, then games this weekend to fill the four

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Jackson has savored time with Maggie, but now he must
focus on groundbreaking surgery. And Jo, stymied on her contest
submission, helps Bailey treat an ex-astronaut.

“Superstore,” 8
p.m., NBC. Glenn is upset with the notion that Target is hiring his
people; he tries to retaliate. Meanwhile, Kelly and Jonah might
actually move in together.

“A.P. Bio,” 8:30
p.m., NBC. You have to give a show some credit for managing a brief
scene that combines Flava Flav, Bill Nye (the science guy) and Steve
Jones of the Sex Pistols. Beyond that, this is a moderately funny
episode in which grim Jack tries to write a feel-good book.

“Project Runway,”
9 p.m., Lifetime. Designers create resort wear inspired by Candy
Crush lands.

“Atlanta,” 10
p.m., FX, rerunning at about 11:15. Last week's episode (rerunning at
about 10:38) showed that everyone in Atlanta seems to want Earn's
money; tonight, he decides life is also tricky in the white-folks
world of Marietta.

“Gone With the
Wind” (1939), 10 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. You might want to
record this epic for some time when you have four hours handy. It
follows “Sunset Boulevard” (1950) at 8.

TV column for Wednesday, March 21

“Krypton,” 10 p.m., Syfy.

The original story
was kind of simple: A planet was blowing up, so some kindly leaders
sent their baby to Earth, where he became quite super. Now we learn
it was more complicated.

We meet the future
Superman's quietly heroic great-grandparents ... and his unquietly
heroic great-great-grandfather. Stomped by a three-faced (literally)
despot, they've raised a strong young man whose grandson will someday
be Earth's greatest hero. Visually splendid, this also has a smart
and epic story.

“The X-Files” season-finale, 8 p.m.

This season has had
its best moments in stand-alone hours, ones that fully savor the
show's quirky edges. It had some of its lesser moments in the opener,
clogged with the show's overriding arc.

Now we're back to
that arc. Mulder and Scully scramble to find their son; the Cigarette
Smoking Man also wants to find him ... and maybe to have mega-power.
Gillian Anderson, who plays Scully, says this is her last season;
producers say only that they'll wrap up some things and leave others
open. We'll see.

ALTERNATIVE: “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” conclusion, 10
p.m., FX; rerunning at about 11 p.m., midnight and 1:30 a.m.

For eight weeks,
this has given us the complex stories of two opposite men. Versace
(Edgar Ramirez) and Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) were handsome,
smart, charming and gay. But Versace also had talent; Cunanan simply
had a blur of increasingly large lies.

Brilliantly acted
and filmed, this is still tough to watch. There's been none of the
offbeat touches that made the O.J. Simpson series (by the same
people) so fascinating; instead, it slides deeper into tragedy. Now
the end: Already wanted for four murders, Cunanan nears his final

Other choices

“The Martian”
(2015), 7-10 p.m., FX. This smart and entertaining Matt Damon film
launches a good movie night. “Transformers” (2007, 8 p.m., TNT)
is fun; “Breakfast at Tiffany's” (1961, 8 p.m. ET Turner Classic
Movies) has the luminous Audrey Hepburn and a great Henry Mancini

“Riverdale,” 8
p.m., CW. Archie Andrews – maybe the sunniest person in the
comic-book universe – keeps getting darker here. Now he's
perilously close to being a villain, as he helps Veronica's dad in a
scheme that would decimate the South Side. Betty and Veronica also
keep getting more ominous; tonight, “Riverdale” slides
precariously between drama and overwrought soap opera.

season-finale, 8:30 p.m., ABC. Last week, JJ was put in charge of the
student film project. After a shaky start, he came up with a
well-received horror film. Now it goes to a film festival.

season-finale, 9 p.m., Fox. Yes, there are a lot of season-finales
tonight. (Next Wednesday has the return of Fox's “Empire” and
“Star” and the debuts of two ABC comedies.) This one includes a
domestic disturbance and a horrific motorcycle accident, plus Bobby
(Peter Krause) trying dating.

“Life Sentence,”
9 p.m., CW. Everyone is grappling for a new life now. Stella, free of
cancer, tries to be a patient advocate ... her sister goes to a
writers' camp ... and their dad tries dating. It's a fairly good
episode with, once again, the best drama scenes going to their mom.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. It's time to taste the high life: Gloria and Mitchell
are invited to a party at Oprah's house, but can't bring anyone else;
the family stays in the country home of Haley's new boss.

“Chicago P.D.,”
10 p.m., NBC. To catch a meth ring, Upton (Tracy Spiradakos) must go
back to an old undercover identity. And Voigt, feeling increasing
pressure from Woods, needs a favor.

TV column for Tuesday, March 20

“Rise,” 9 p.m., NBC.

The first week was a
breeze. “Rise” started after the “This Is Us” season-finale
and ended with an emotional peak: high school kids burned their
“Pirates of Penzance” costumes, sang and insisted on doing the
“Spring Awakening” musical. Passions soared.

Now comes the hard
part – taking the “This Is Us” slot and tackling personal pain.
The theater director (Josh Radnor) battles his assistant director
(Rosie Perez), the principal, the football coach and even his own
son. Deeply layered emotions are uncovered, in an hour that's
beautifully written and played.

II: “For the People,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Here is the “Grey's
Anatomy” formula, skillfully cloned. Attractive young people –
this time lawyers – bumble through their personal lives while
conquering (mostly) their jobs.

One case (involving
doctors and opioids) is a mis-step; the lawyers try something absurd,
then get a huge break. The other, however, has an Arab-American
lawyer reluctantly defending a neo-Nazi; his summation is brilliant.
Beyond that, we get great personal glimpses: The tough clerk (Anna
Deavere Smith) and the strident defense lawyer (Britt Robertson)
become much deeper and more interesting.

ALTERNATIVE: “Adam Ruins Everything,” 10:30 p.m., TruTV.

Once a year, viewers
re-discover this channel during the basketball tournament and wonder
what it does the rest of the year. Mostly, it has low-budget
reality-comedy shows, one of them (“The Carbonaro Effect”) a
delight ... plus this little gem, in which Adam Conover deflates

Now “Adam” has
its first animated episodes, a six-week stretch that starts with the
Revolutionary War.. Legends about Paul Revere, George Washington and
soldiers are deflated, complete with footnotes.

Other choices

“NCIS,” 8 and 9
p.m., CBS. Here are two reruns, kicking “Bull” back to 10 p.m.
The first – probing an apparent suicide -- brings back Patrick
Labyorteau as Bud Roberts ... a character he played in this show's
predecessor, “JAG.” The second has Nick and Ellie go undercover
as a criminal couple.

“The Middle,” 8
p.m., ABC. In the show's final season, it gives us the last battle
between Frankie (the 5-foot-2 Patricia Heaton) and her imposing
neighbor (the 6-foot Brooke Shields).

season-opener, 8 p.m., Freeform. “What you saw was real,” one cop
tells another. “The legends are true.” All of them, apparently;
this world has werewolves, warlocks, vampire and (fortunately)
heroes. Clare is being promoted to full “shadowhunter” status and
honored ... because people don't know her secret: She frittered the
one angelic wish away. Tonight's hour has lots of flash and action
(plus some terribly gory moments), alongside pretty people grasping
for truths.

“Black Lightning,”
9 p.m., CW. Reluctant heroes are fine, but this otherwise-solid show
goes too far. Its ninth episode is still about the reluctance of its
hero and, now, his younger daughter; only the older daughter embraces
her superpowers. The result has lots of angst, followed by brief
bursts of action.

“Black-ish,” 9
p.m., ABC. It's almost time for the 65th birthday of Pops
(Laurence Fishburne, who's only 56). When Dre helps Junior plan it,
he gets new a perspective on his dad's life.

“Modern Family,”
9:30, ABC. In a rerun, Alex's parents realize she's self-sufficient
in college.

“Chicago Med,”
10 p.m., NBC. Manning and Choi go to a homeless encampment, to
deliver a baby under tough circumstances. Also, Rhodes and Bekker
disagree about a boy with a chronic disease.

TV column or Monday, March 19

“Bonnie and Clyde” (1967), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies.

Here's a fresh sort
of theme week -- “great movie endings.” And no, that doesn't
mean happy, Hollywood ones. Coming up in the 8 p.m. slot are “The
Graduate” on Tuesday, “Breakfast at Tiffany's” on Wednesday,
“Sunset Boulevard” on Thursday and “The Third Man” on Friday.

Tonight's theme is
“going out with a bang.” (Remember, don't expect happy.) That
starts with this gem, ranked No. 42 on the American Film Insititute's
all-time list. It's followed by “The Lady From Shanghai” (1945)
at 10 p.m., “King Kong” (1933) at 11:45 and “Easy Rider”
(1969) at 1:45 a.m.

“Good Girls,” 10 p.m., NBC.

“I'm so tired of
almost being shot,” one woman says. That's understandable; in the
midst of Michigan suburbia, they ran out of money and robbed a
grocery store; now they're sinking deeper into crime.

The result gets
complicated, especially when one of the kids is getting bullied,
another wants a super birthday party ... and a third finds a bleeding
guy on her bed. “Good Girls” occasionally goes overboard –
especially with a new store-return scam – but it mostly mixes
comedy and drama effectively.

ALTERNATIVE: “Jackie Robinson,” 9-11 p.m., PBS; concludes

Robinson grew up in
Pasadena, far from the sunny scenes we see at Rose Bowl time. Blacks
were allowed to use the pool once a week; afterward, it was drained
and refilled. His brother was a track hero, running with Jesse Owens
... then got a job sweeping the streets.

Jackie would go on
to UCLA, the Army and a crucial role. Outspoken, he shut himself down
and focused on breaking baseball's color barrier. It's a big, deep
story, superbly told in this Ken Burns film.

ALTERNATIVE II: “iZombie,” 9 p.m., CW.

This show is an
actor's dream, with zombies assuming the personalities of the brains
they've munched. Liv continues to be a hopeless romantic, but now the
scheming Blaine is a truth-teller and, near the end, Major is
strutting like a wrestler. Also, Clive conjures up an alternate
personality for a video contact.

This wraps up the
search for a serial-killer, but leaves other stories stretching on.
And for the first time, Major meets the zombie-power church led by
Blaine's dad; Robert Knepper (“Prison Break”) frolics.

Other choices

“American Idol”
(ABC) and “The Voice” (NBC), 8-10 p.m. “Idol” is still in its
auditions, bouncing between four cities; “Voice,” however, starts
its “battle rounds.”

“Legends of
Tomorrow,” 8 p.m., CW. Are our TV sets being overtaken by the
occult? Leading into “iZombie,” this hour has magical totems
bedeviling Sara and Rory. And at 8 p.m. on Fox, “Lucifer” probes
murders that seem way too much like ones from 60 years ago.

“The Resident,”
9 p.m., Fox. In the midst of a lush Charity Ball, someone has dumped
a “Jane Doe” at the hospital. Conrad and Nicolette conspire to
get her admitted.

“Superior Donuts,”
9 p.m., CBS. Randy (Katey Sagal), who just passed her detective's
exam, faces a new problem: Her former supervisor wants help with a
sexual-abuse charge filed against him.

“The Good Doctor,”
10 p.m., ABC. Elective surgery would allow a young patient to smile
for the first time. Shaun – who pretty much never smiles –
doesn't see the need for that.

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. These geniuses might not be good at alligator-hunting. Now
they need to catch a specific 'gator in the bayou, to prevent a
mosquito-borne virus from spreading.

TV column for Sunday, March 18

“Little Big Shots” season-opener, 7 and 8 p.m., NBC.

This has become a
big ratings winner for all the right reasons. Steve Harvey is a
terrific host and the kids he introduces are remarkable.

Some of the ones in
the opener harness a specific skill; one does mega-math, one knows
presidential trivia another – a cute 4-year-old – sings a
dead-serious “My Way.” Others, however, have great acts by any
standards. A contortionist, a “bubble artist” (really) and a
gospel singer are immensely gifted.

“The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox.

Right now, TV is in
a Bill Hader stretch. This weekend, Hader hosted his old show, NBC's
“Saturday Night Live”; next Sunday, he launches his new show,
HBO's “Barry.” And tonight, he voices a fairly clever take-off on
old TV detective shows.

The heist involves
Joan Mirot's 1940 painting “The Poetess.” Homer falls in love
with it (even frolicking inside it, in a fantasy scene) and is a
prime suspect when it's stolen. We get all the cliches, as a cop
mutters odd quips, flirts openly, then cracks a preposterous scheme.

ALTERNATIVE: “Instinct,” 8 p.m., CBS.

There are two key
ingredients for a TV mystery – a distinctive central character and
a clever plot; by that standard, “Instinct” is a half-success.
Its plot is one of those silly ones where the killer keeps planting
clues for the convenience of the crimesolvers; its main character,
however, is terrific.

Dylan Reinhart (Alan
Cumming) is a professor who writes about psychopathic behavior.
Beneath an academic image is a guy with lethal skill. Now he links
with a cop (Bojana Novakovic) who seems to keep shedding partners;
together, they solve murders.

Other choices

Basketball, all day.
CBS starts the NCAA tournament coverage early, with games at noon,
2:30 and 5 p.m. ET; it gives a fourth game (at 7:30) to TruTV, so
“Instinct” can get a big start. Other games are at 6 and 8:30
p.m. on TNT and 7 and 9:30 p.m. on TBS. At the end of it all, the
field will be down to 16.

Superman movies,
12:02 p.m., Syfy. This channel is obsessing on “Krypton,” the
Superman prequel it will launch Wednesday. Today, it has Christopher
Reeve's four films in reverse order – at 12:02 (1987), 2:10 (1983),
5:04 (1981) and 8 p.m. (1978). In the Hollywood tradition, alas, the
series started well and got increasingly worse with each sequel.
Cartoon movies follow at 11:39 p.m. and 1:24 a.m.

“Genius Junior,”
9 p.m., NBC. It's great to celebrate smart kids ... and prove, as one
contestant puts it: “America isn't as dumb as it seems.” Still,
this would be better as a one-shot special; as a series, it drains
our attention quickly. The kids are smart and likable – as is host
Neil Patrick Harris -- but two of the contests just involve memory;
others lack variety (wrong answers are rare) or play-along factor.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. Granger's daughter, a former spy, is in
witness protection. Now she's taken away from safety, to help find a
spy who has an arsenal of bomb materials.

“The Walking
Dead,” 9 p.m., AMC. The leaders of Hilltop face a challenge when
visitors arrive.

“Timeless,” 10
p.m., NBC. Wouldn't you hate to learn that your favorite racecar
driver worked undercover for a power-hungry agency from the future?
That happens to Wyatt tonight.

“Royals,” 10
p.m., E. While some people are rounding up potential brides for King
Robert, others are investigating him. Also, Jasper – sometimes the
royal bodyguard – goes rogue at a press conference.