TV column for Saturday, Aug. 30



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Saturday Night Live,” 11 a.m. to 11
p.m., TV Land; then 11:29 p.m., NBC.

Here are 13-and-a-half hours of “SNL” reruns, with some great
moments. The cable marathon starts with Jennifer Aniston hosting and ends with
Betty White. Its best stretch has Jerry Seinfeld (12:11 p.m.), followed by “best-of”
specials for Jimmy Fallon (1:22), Alec Baldwin (3:30) and Amy Poehler (5:44).


Later, switch to NBC. It has Lady Gaga as host and music
guest.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Unforgettable” and “Reckless,” 8 and 9
p.m., CBS.


In a bonus for viewers, CBS is speeding the summer runs for
both shows (and for “Extant”), clearing the way for a fast fall start Sept. 21.
That means these two have new episodes tonight and Sunday.


First, Carrie and Al probe an elite prep school, after a
prominent parent is killed. Then Roy wants Terry to testify against Lee Anne;
her sexual-discrimination case will get a fresh jolt Sunday.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: Football, all day.


Get used to it, this is what Saturdays will look like for
several months. Today’s games start at noon ET and continue to about 2 a.m.,
absorbing prime time on ABC, Fox and more.


ABC has the top-rated teams – No. 2 Alabama facing West
Virginia at 3:30 p.m., No. 1 Florida State visiting Oklahoma State at 8. Fox
has No. 15 Southern California hosting Fresno State at 7:30 p.m. Better
match-ups are on ESPN – Clemson (No. 16) at Georgia (No. 12) at 5:30 p.m.,
Wisconsin (No. 14) at Louisiana State (No. 13) at 9. There’s much more; there
always is.


Other choices include:


Movies, 7 p.m., cable. “Jerry Maguire” (1996, WE) is a great
film, beautifully cast … “Parenthood” (1989, TV Guide) is Ron Howard’s uneven
but interesting comedy-drama … “Sharknado 2: The Next One” (2014, Syfy) isn’t
much of a movie, but it’s still fun in its own deliberately ragged way.


“Rio” (2011), 8-10 p.m., ABC Family. Shivering in Minnesota,
Blu feels he’s the last bird of his species; then there’s word of a possible mate
in Rio de Janeiro. That whisks us to a world of glowing colors and grand music,
in an animated delight for any age.


“Outlander,” 9 p.m., Starz. Suddenly in the wrong place (the
Scottish Highlands) and wrong year (1743), Claire is anxious to get back to
1940s England; she plans an escape. Don’t get your hopes up – this is, after
all, a series – but do expect a tenderly solemn scene that adds much-needed
depth.


“Doctor Who,” 9 p.m., BBC America. After last week’s fuss for
the 12
th Doctor debut (rerunning at 7:15 p.m.), the show settles
down to its weekly duty. Tonight, a Dalek fleet surrounds a rebel ship.


“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. Amaro
has gone too far again, putting him in trouble with Internal Affairs. Also in
this rerun, a rape and robbery case includes a suspect Benson knows.


“Intruders,” 10 p.m., BBC America. Last week’s opener was
both compelling and scattered. This hour settles on two strong stories: An
ex-cop searches for his wife; a little girl is on the lam, pursued by the hit
man who regrets his moment of mercy. Both tales are beautifully filmed; some
day, they may merge.


TV column for Friday, Aug. 29



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “American Masters,” 9-11 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).

Two tragedies – polio at age 7, her father’s departure at 12
– profoundly affected Dorothea Lange. She became observant and artistic, a New
Jersey kid who graduated from Columbia and moved west.


It was there that her photos of Depression-era people –
rippling with pain and hope – caught attention. Her work (for the Farm Security
Administration and others) set a standard for photography as a social force.
This documentary by her granddaughter (Dyanna Taylor, an award-winning
cinematographer) spends too much time on footage of exhibit preparations, but
is otherwise superb.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “George Strait: The Cowboy Rides
Away,” 7-9 p.m., CMT; repeats at 10.


A spectacular career semi-concluded on June 7, when Strait,
62, sang to 104,000 people in Arlington, Texas. He’ll continue to record and do
occasional concerts, but says he won’t tour.


It’s been quite a career, including 44 singles that reached
No. 1 on Billboard’s country chart (Conway Twitty had 40) and 16 more that
topped other charts. This special is expected to include interviews plus music
at that final concert by Strait and by Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney, Martina
McBride, Jason Aldean, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Eric Church and Sheryl Crow.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Last Man Standing,” 8 and 8:30 p.m.,
ABC.


On a quiet night, we can pause to catch one of TV’s rare
three-generation shows. Both reruns see Mike (Tim Allen) dealing with his
teen-agers and his father Bud (Robert Forster).


In the first rerun, Bud’s confrontation has Vanessa talking
to the kids about what to do when parents grow old. In the second, Mandy wants
to quit college and become a designer; Mike is dead-set against it … then finds
that Bud has complicated things.


Other choices include:


“Julie and Julia” (2009), 6 and 9 p.m., Oxygen. Bouncing
between eras, two gifted actresses are perfect in this delightful Nora Ephron
film. Meryl Streep is Julia Child; Amy Adams is the blogger who vowed to do a
different Child recipe every day.


More movies, cable. At 6:30 p.m., Miley Cyrus is fine in the
OK drama “Last Song” (2010) on ABC Family. At 8, “Avatar” (2009) – a great
fantasy adventure on the big screen, a good one elsewhere – is on FX; it faces
Tom Cruise’s “The Last Samurai” (2003) on TNT and the original, classic
“Exorcist” (1973) on IFC.


“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” 8 p.m., CBS. A night of
CBS reruns starts with a teen-ager shooting up a police station. Soon, D.B.
Russell (Ted Danson) is a hostage.


“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. The murder of a pool-cleaner
may lead to a terrorist plot.


“Bones,” 9 p.m., Fox. A man strolls into his own funeral.
Also in this rerun, an urn seems to have the remains of three people.


“Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. Frank (Tom Selleck), the police
commissioner, is not happy about meeting the new inspector general (Bebe
Neuwirth). Also, his son Danny probes the death of a teen-ager; she may have
been pushed in front of a subway car.


TV column for Thursday, Aug. 28



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Welcome to Sweden” finale, 9 and 9:30
p.m., NBC.


It’s been an odd month for this neatly offbeat
Swedish-American comedy. NBC suddenly aired two episodes last week, skipped a
transitional episode entirely and now airs the dandy final pieces.


In real life, Greg Poehler was a lawyer who moved to Sweden
with his girlfriend; in the series, he plays Bruce, who did the same. In the
missing episode, life crumbled: They had a semi-breakup … her parents split,
sending the dad to the hospital in despair … and he took a three-month deal to
return home and help Amy Poehler (Greg’s sister, but not Bruce’s). Now things
are resolved in clever and amiable ways.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Defiance” season-finale, 8 and 9 p.m.,
Syfy.


A rough, gruff loner, Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) sometimes
seems to care about no one … except Irisa, the fierce alien orphan he’s raised
as his daughter. Now her being is possessed by the Kaziri and she heads toward creating
mass destruction. He wants to stop her; his colleagues want to kill her.


There’s much more to worry about in this ambitious series.
That, includes battling the Earth Republic and facing Pilar (Linda Hamilton),
Rafe’s crazed wife, who’s on the loose after 15 years in prison.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Great Performances,” 9 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).


For many viewers, this will be a fresh journey – a chance to
visit a glorious music genre we rarely hear. Itzhak Perlman, known as a
classical master, performs the traditional Jewish music he’s always loved.


Perlman is surrounded by stunning talent, including cantor
Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, a chamber orchestra and Hankus Netsky and his Klezmer
Conservatory Band. There are also memories from Joel Grey, Neil Sadaka and
author Elie Wiesel, who recalls bringing his violin to Auschwitz.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE II: “The Honorable Woman,” 10 p.m.,
Sundance.


For the first half of its eight-week run, this
thick-but-compelling story kept hinting at secrets. Now they to cascade. That
begins with a flashback to eight years ago, with Nessa (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and
her translator held hostage; raped by the son of an Arab official, she’s
pregnant.


Then we leap back to where this started. Nessa runs the
family business (a job her brother vacated); the translator’s son has been
kidnapped. As spies and journalists probe, schemes unravel.


Other choices include:


“The Quest,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC. Now that “Rookie Blue” has
finished its season, ABC scrambles to fill up Thursdays; tonight brings a 10
p.m. special and this double episode: There are eight role-players left, facing
fresh challenges – first a raid, then a spy. By the end of the night, only six
will remain.


“Two and a Half Men,” 8 p.m., CBS. Don’t look for “Big Bang
Theory”; it temporarily moving to Mondays (starting Sept. 1), to make room for
football. Tonight, “Men” borrows the spot; Alan tries to impress his new
girlfriend (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) with the beach house when Walden visits
ex-girlfriend Kate.


“Project Runway,” 9 p.m., Lifetime. Last week’s challenge
(rerunning at 8 p.m.) was to design a gown for Heidi Klum to wear on the red
carpet gown. Tonight, designers must create offbeat wedding dresses.


“World’s Wildest Commercials,” 10 p.m., ABC. These
collections of international oddities tend to be thoroughly entertaining. Chris
Parnell hosts this one, with such categories as “animals with attitude.”


“Elementary,” 10 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds a murder on
U.S. soil to have international impact. British agents arrive and Watson
re-evaluates her relationship with Sherlock and his brother Mycroft.


TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 27



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m.,
Fox.

In past summers, tap-dancers have been only a mild
diversion; one finished fourth, none has gone higher. Now that will change:
Valerie Rockey of Indianapolis and Zack Everhart of Georgia, each 20, are
vibrant tappers who also seem to be good at everything else.


They’re in the final four, alongside 18-year-old jazz or
contemporary dancers. Rickey Ubeda of Miami has a pixie-ish charm; Jessica
Richens of California had a great night last week. Viewers’ voting last week and
this week will be added, with a champion named next week. Also tonight, Jason
Mraz sings.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE:  “Extant”
9 and 10 p.m., CBS.


On a summer night , we never used to expect even one hour of
richly produced science fiction, with an Oscar-winning star. But tonight, like
last week, we get two hours.


Driven by visions of his late daughter, Sparks has swiped
the baby. Molly (Halle Berry) is in pursuit with Yasumoto … who may not have
her best interests at heart. Tessa Ferrer -- Debby Boone’s daughter, Rosemary
Clooney’s granddaughter, Red Foley’s great-granddaughter – plays Sparks’
daughter.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Hot in Cleveland” season-finale, 10
p.m., TV Land.


The fifth season concludes with everyone fretting about
something. Elka (Betty White) is running for city council; Victoria (Wendie
Malick), once a soap-opera has-been, is up for an Academy Award.


Then there’s Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli), fretting about a
visit from her mother. We haven’t seen the overprotective mom since she showed
up in the first season, played by Emmy-winner Shirley Knight.


Other choices include:


“America’s Got Talent,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC. First is a rerun
of the 12 acts that performed Tuesday. Then we’ll learn which six will advance.


“The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Frankie will only
take kids’ requests during her “office hour.”


“Modern Family,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., ABC. The first rerun finds
Jay reluctantly going to ClosetCon and Mitchell reluctantly going to Cam’s
family farm … where Grams (Ann Guilbert) causes trouble. The second has Phil
telling a lie that he has trouble maintaining; also, Gloria obsesses on the
family photo.


“Legends,” 9 p.m., TNT. As last week’s episode ended, the
FBI reluctantly agreed to put its best (and least stable) undercover agent back
in the field. Now Martin (Sean Bean) pretends to be a high-roller.


“The Divide” season-finale, 9 p.m., WE. Christine (the
terrific Marin Ireland) finds that her friendship with Terry puts her in
trouble with Danny and with her nemesis, Stanley Zale.


“Motive” season-finale, 10 p.m., ABC. Already troubled by an
old case, Angie faces a new problem: The murder of a prosecutor is personal to
Cross; now she must come clean about their past.


“The Bridge,” 10 p.m., FX. A powerful little scene pits the
show’s leads, each an international star. Demian Bichir, plays Marco, a Mexican
cop; Diane Kruger, a German native, plays Sonya, a Texas cop. Tonight, she rages
over his helping a drug kingpin who’s now the center of attention: Marines are
chasing him; he hired hit men to kill a reporter (mistakenly maiming her
lesbian lover) and to get Sonya.

TV column for Tuesday, Aug. 26



TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “iHeartRadio Album Release Party,” 8
p.m., CW.

Adam Levine continues his march through all media. He has a
hit TV series (“The Voice”), a good movie (“Begin Again”) and lots of radio
hits; now his Maroon 5 band adds a prime-time special.


The album (“V”) arrives next Tuesday, a big deal because the
four previous albums have reached No, 1 (twice), 2 and 6 on the Billboard
chart. One single, “Maps,” was released early and reached No. 6; five previous
Maroon 5 singles have been in the top 10, two of them hitting No. 1.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE II: “Chelsea Lately” finale, 11 p.m., E;
repeats at midnight, 2 and 3 a.m.


The male world of late-night loses its only female host
tonight. Passed over in all the moves by broadcast networks (including NBC, E’s
sister network), Chelsea Handler quit after seven years and 1,300-plus
episodes; then she was signed by Netflix for a show that will start in 2016.


First, here’s the live, hour-long finale. Guests reportedly
will include top stars (Melissa McCarthy, Selena Gomez, 50 Cent, Minnie Driver)
and quirky souls (David Hasselhoff, Kathy Griffin, Buzz Aldrin). There will be
many more, including Miley Cyrus singing Roy Orbison’s “It’s Over.”


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: Finales, cable.


Two shows have their mid-season finales. “Pretty Little
Liars” (8 p.m., ABC Family) sees Allison submit to a lie-detector test – always
a mistake for a liar; “Covert Affairs” (10 p.m., USA) finds Annie heading out
on another adventure with McQuaid (Nic Bishop), over Auggie’s objections.


The big one, however, is the season finale of “Tyrant” (10
p.m., FX), which keeps getting better. Bassam – “Barry” when he was a Pasadena
pediatrician – has been preparing to oust his shaky brother as dictator. Now he
faces a sudden jolt, plus the sharp opposition from his wife, an American-born
doctor.


Other choices include:


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Two weeks ago, this show reran Ralph
Waite’s final primetime appearance. Now here’s the episode filmed after his
death at 85; Gibbs returns home after his dad’s death.


“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. An undercover agent may be
helping the smuggler he’s supposed to investigate. Also in this reruns, Kensi
returns to the field and ponders her relationship with Deeks.


“America’s Got Talent,” 9-11 p.m., NBC. A new round begins,
with half the final 24 performing and viewers voting. On Wednesday, six of the
acts will advance.


“Iyanla: Fix My Life,” 9 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. Iyanla
Vanzant, who is an ordained minister and a life coach, goes to Ferguson, Mo.
She brings the police chief face-to-face with Charles Ewing, the pastor whose
nephew, Michael Brown, was slain by a policeman. She sits down in a church with
young men (some of them admitted gang members) and crosses police checkpoints
at 1 a.m., to join a protest.


“The Mindy Project,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. In a rerun, Mindy is
dating a cop (which makes Danny jealous) and Peter is dating a brain surgeon
who may be too mature for him.


“Wizard Wars,” 10 p.m., Syfy. This entertaining show – a good
companion to the 9 p.m. “Face Off” – assigns magicians to work with random
props. Tonight, that includes doggy treats.