TV column for Monday, Feb. 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Celebrity Apprentice,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC.

Last week brought
what Ian Ziering called a “bloodbath.” In the first hour, Donald
Trump fired Kenya Moore; in the second, he dumped an entire team --
Johnny Damon, Brandi Glanville and Ziering.

That leaves the
three survivors from the other team – Geraldo Rivera, Leeza Gibbons
and Vivica Fox. Tonight's first hour is a recap of the hirings,
firings, feuds and more in “Apprentice” history; the second
starts the last challenge, with the finalists creating a commercial
for Universal Orlando Resort.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Sleepy Hollow,” 9 p.m., Fox.

We're two weeks from
the season-finale – when, Fox says, people will die and a key
relationship will shatter. First, Ichabod and Abbie have two
encounters – with demons that guard a secret crypt and with Thomas
Jefferson; he's played by Steven Weber and is not, to our knowledge,
demonic.

Also, Jenny learns
as secret about Frank Irving.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Breaking Bad,” 9:50 a.m. to 9 p.m.; “Better Call
Saul,” 9 and 10 p.m., AMC.

First are reruns of
the final 10 “Breaking Bad” episodes, including the terrific
finale at 7:45 p.m. That gets us in the mood for the spin-off series;
“Saul” reruns its opener (which debuted Sunday) at 9 p.m. and
follows with the second episode, in its regular time slot at 10.

A good mood is
needed, because the “Saul” opener has a silent, black-and-white
prologue of our man doing ... well, nothing. Stick around; the fun
(and the color) arrive when this flashes back to six years before
“Breaking Bad” began. Saul was still using his real name, James
McGill, working the nether regions of the legal world. He plunges
into trouble ... which gets deeper during the 10 p.m. episode.

Other choices
include:

“Foyle's War,”
any time, www.acorn.tv. The
second-to-last “War” episode is slow, solid and surprisingly
dark, pondering post-war anti-Semetism in England. Next week, this
streaming service has the show's strong finale, plus everything else
from the show's eight seasons.

“The Bachelor,”
8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Remember when this show went to Paris and such?
Tonight, alas, it goes to Deadwood, S.D.; there, the women meet the
Big and Rich music duo and one goes to their concert. Before that,
they must write and perform a love song. Also, Kelsey incites some
more drama.

“2 Broke Girls,”
8 p.m., CBS. After a one-night stand, Caroline wants Max to help
break into the guy's apartment, to retrieve the rings she left. This
does not go well for them.

“Mike &
Molly,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. Molly's editor wants her to make a
provocative change in her book, which is already sexually charged.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. The team must go undercover on a cruise ship, to find and
disable missiles. Meanwhile, young Ralph has his first crush, as
Valentine's Day nears; he gets advice from people who really aren't
that familiar with sophisticated romance.

“The Jinx,”
9-9:45 p.m., HBO. If you missed the start of this six-week
documentary, catch it here. It has the bizarre story of a loner --
living in a tiny apartment and linked to two murders – who turns
out to be from a billion-dollar family. Then things get weirder.

“Strange
Inheritance,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., Fox Business. It would be easier if
people just gave money. In the first episode, a Colorado Springs
family inherits a museum with the world's largest bug collection; in
the second, an estranged grandfather gives a junk yard ... which has
valuable, pre-1940 cars.

“Castle,” 10:01
p.m., ABC. Annie Wersching (“24”) returns as Dr. Kelly Nieman, a
high-priced plastic surgeon. Castle and Beckett suspected her in a
previous case; now they're tracing a missing woman.

 

TV column for Sunday, Feb. 8


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Grammys, 8-11 p.m., CBS. 

Each year, this has
great “Grammy moment” match-ups. This time, Rihanna links with
Paul McCartney and Kanye West; Ed Sheeran is with the re-united ELO
for one song and with Herbie Hancock, John Mayer and Questlove for
another. Adam Levine joins “Voice”-mate Gwen Stefani.

Generations merge --
Annie Lennox, 60, with Hozier, 24; Tom Jones, 74, with Jessie J, 26;
Tony Bennett, 88, with Lady Gaga, 28. Also: Mary J. Blige and Sam
Smith, Beck and Chris Martin, Common and John Legend, plus Madonna,
Ariana Grande, AC/DC, Miranda Lambert and more.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Walking Dead” and “Better Call Saul,” 9 and 10 p.m.,
AMC.

After a 10-week
break, the ratings-giant “Dead” starts the second half of its
16-hour season. First, it wraps up a 48-hour rerun spree; then the
new hour shows the group planning a detour.

Afterward, “Saul”
has perhaps the slowest, sleepiest start in TV history. In
black-and-white, it shows us what Saul (Bob Odenkirk) is up to since
“Breaking Bad” ended. Stick around; it flashes back to six years
before “Bad” began. He was James McGill then, a lowball lawyer
with his car for an office, where he faked a receptionist's voice.
It's funny ... then plunges him into a well-deserved crisis.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Of Miracles and Men,” 9-11 p.m., ESPN.

The 1980 Olympic
hockey game seemed like a wretched mismatch. The Russians had a
winning record against pro teams, even beating the NHL all-stars 6-0.
They beat the Americans (a collection of college kids) in an
exhibition, 10-3, then scored 51 goals in their first five Olympic
games.

They again dominated
the U.S. ... but lost. Russians fired 39 shots, most stopped (often
sensationally) by goalie Jim Craig; Americans fired only 16 and won,
4-3, before a joyous home crowd. It's a great story, told poignantly
through the Russians, including one who re-visits the arena with his
daughter.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Girls,” 9 p.m., HBO.

It was wise for HBO
to skip a week and show movies during the Super Bowl. The next couple
episodes are among the best; they're way too good to waste.

We last saw Hannah
implode at the prestigious writers' workshop in Iowa, insulting
everyone. Tonight – after the debut of HBO's intriguing “Jinx”
documentary series at 8 – she offers the world's worst apology,
then sets up next week's pivotal episode. Also, Soshanna has
hilarious moments in New York.

Other choices
include:

Grammys red-carpet,
5-8 p.m. Pop, 5:57-8 p.m., E. For years, E and the TV Guide Network
fought for red-carpet supremacy; E (with Ryan Seacrest) won and TV
Guide withdrew. Now it's back, after changing its name and its
approach; as Pop, it will team with “Entertainment Tonight”
reporters for the red-carpet at the Grammys and Oscars; tonight, it
starts an hour (almost) earlier than E.

“The Simpsons,”
7:30 and 8 p.m., Fox. First is a rerun that finds the family on
Kang's home planet. Then a new episode gives Springfield a new anthem
and has Homer celebrating “wide pride.”

“The Hunger Games”
(2012), 8-11 p.m., ABC. Many networks are avoiding a collision with
the Grammys tonight ... just as they did with the Super Bowl last
Sunday. ABC reruns this popular action movie; at the same time, NBC
reruns its “American Ninja Warrior: USA vs. The World.”

“Masterpiece:
Downton Abbey,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Lady Edith, a
minor figure in the early seasons, dominates this strong hour, with
powerfully emotional moments. There's much more, involving the newly
arrived Russians (including Rose's new guy), Thomas' health woes, the
murder probe and Robert's lingering doubts about the unwelcome suitor
in Cora's bedroom.

“Shameless,” 9
p.m., Showtime. Last week's episode -- dead-on against the Super Bowl
-- was huge. Fiona had a quickie marriage to Gus (followed by quick
second thoughts) ... Frank blew his insurance settlement ... and Lip
bonded with his girlfrien's rich father, not with her. Now come the
aftershocks.

“Masterpiece:
Grantchester,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). These men – a
wide-eyed village vicar and a cop – have gone from opposites to
friends. Now a new murder puts them at odds.

 

TV column for Saturday, Feb. 7


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Red Band Society” finale, 8-10 p.m., Fox.

At first, this
seemed like a great way for Fox to recapture its young viewers.
Stories about teen mortality had done fairtly well (“If I Stay,”
“Chasing Life”) or had scored big (“The Fault in Our Stars”);
now here was a series focusing on attractive teens in a hospital
ward.

Ratings sagged,
however; the show was shelved, then exiled to Saturdays. Tonight
brings progress in the relationship of Dr. Naday (Adrian Lester) and
Nurse Jackson (Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer). A tragedy for one teen
brings fresh hope for another. Also, Dash's love interest could cost
him his life.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Saturday Night Live,” 10 and 11:29 p.m., NBC.

The first rerun lets
us see two now-departed actors, in top (albeit opposite) form. A
sketch has Patrick Swayze (who hosts) and Chris Farley competing for
a spot on a sexy dance team; we found it repetitious, but some people
consider it a visual classic. As a bonus, Mariah Carey is the music
guest.

The second is from
this past Christmas, with Amy Adams hosting and One Direction as
music guest.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “So You Said Yes” and “Away & Back,” 8 and
10 p.m., Hallmark.

A week before
Valentine's Day, Hallmark continues its obsession, including the
debut of “So You Said Yes.” After opening a bridal shop, Kellie
Martin finds her competitor is her boyfriend's mother.

That's surrounded by
reruns of other movies with romantic touches, including – at noon
and 10 p.m. -- “Away and Back.” Continuing the “Hallmark Hall
of Fame” tradition of quiet quality, this has two-time Emmy-winner
Jeff Bleckner directing a tale of a little girt's love for rare
swans. Jason Lee and Minka Kelly are fine; Maggie Elizabeth Jones is
a delight as his daughter.

Other choices
include:

“The Terminator”
(1984) and “The Fugitive” (1993), 6:45 p.m. and 9 p.m., Sundance.
Here is action filmmaking elevated to an art form. James Cameron and
Andrew Davis directed superbly.

“Harry Potter and
the Sorcerer's Stone” (2001), 8-11 p.m., ABC. Tonight and next
Saturday, ABC reruns the first two Harry Potter films. Those are the
ones directed by Chris Columbus, with the same genial touch he
brought to “Home Alone.” Tonight's film starts wonderfully, as
Harry is swept from his grim childhood to a magical (literally)
school. Then it becomes merely sorta-fun, with a limp ending.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, a Navy research scientist has been killed and the
main suspect is also sought by the Russians. Tony links with the head
of the FBI task force (Stephanie Jacobsen).

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. This rerun involves the murder of a Navy
officer who was a tech liaison to a private developer. The first job
is to see if there was a breach of security information.

“Black Sails,” 9
p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10 and 11. Last week's episode (rerunning
at 8 p.m.) reminded us that Flint is both clever and ruthless. He
regained his captain's position, in a scheme that cost several lives.
Now he finds new troubule at the island, where Eleanor and Vane both
see fresh opportunity.

“The Musketeers,”
9-10:15 p.m., BBC America. A woman claims she has direct instructions
from God, to lead her thousands of followers in an attack against
Spain.

“Wanda Sykes
Presents Herlarious,” 10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. This rerun,
from a year ago, offers female stand-ups, including Judy Gold, Jackee
Harry, Paula Poundstone and Sheryl Underwood.

TV column for Friday, Feb. 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Glee,” 9 p.m., Fox; or “Pitch Perfect” (2012), 8:30 p.m.,
ABC Family.

Sure, “Glee” is
fading, now a tiny blip on the ratings radar. Still, it had a huge
impact, spurring interest in musicals, glee clubs and more. That
includes “Pitch Perfect,” the popular college-choral-group movie
starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow and more.

Meanwhile, “Glee”
pushes toward its March 20 finale. During a Burt Bacharach week,
Mercedes tries to nudge Rachel back to New York; Brittany and Santana
hope to do some family convincing.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.

The team faces a
powerful – and unseen – criminal. Kono (Grace Park) learns the
villain's identity and soon is fighting for her life.

Also, Kono may break
up with Adam because of his family's past crime ties. And Michael
Imperioli (“Sopranos”) begins a multi-episode stay as a former
New York mobster with a Hawaiian hair solon.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Banshee,” 10 p.m., Cinemax.

In sheer,
shoot-em-up ferocity, this may be the biggest TV hour ever. A cascade
of firepower leads to some wrenching, up-close violence. There are
gripping visuals and richly developed characters.

Chayton and his
Redbone band attack the police station with a cascade of bullets.
Inside is the sheriff, his ex-lover deputy (who has just learned he's
an ex-con with a fake identity), more deputies and prisoners – most
of them nasty and Proctor worse. Then there's a former (maybe) Nazi;
it's a lethal mix.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Shakespeare Uncovered,” 9 and 10 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).

These hours are
hosted by Morgan Freeman and David Harewood, reminding us that
Shakespeare is no longer whites-only. They discuss “The Taming of
the Shrew” and “Othello,” which they starred in.

Remarkably, Harewood
was the first black actor to play Othello for the National Theatre in
England. Until then, the role went to whites in blackface –
including, Harewood says, the “utterly ridiculous” make-up
Laurence Olivier had in a 1965 movie. That aside, these hours offer
entertaining looks at opposite plays – a broad, brash “Shrew”
by a playwright in his 20s, a brooding tragedy a decade later.

Other choices
include:

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. A neighbor's security camera causes Mike to
fume about privacy issues ... until the footage shows him that one of
his daughters misbehaved.

“Cristela,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. Cristela has a chance to be her boss' temporary secretary
– which means actually getting paid. But is that really better than
being an unpaid law intern?

“12 Monkeys,” 9
p.m., Syfy. For way too much of this hour, the show skips its crucial
time – 2015, when Cole (a time-traveler) and Dr. Railly try to
prevent a devastating plague. Instead, we flash to his future –
2035 (on the run) and 2043 (with the time-machine scientists). Those
moments help define the relationship between Cole, a hardened
pragmatist, and Ramse, his friend and moral compass.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. A big-money building had set aside one-fifth of its
apartments for modest-income people. Now one has been killed; Danny
and Baez investigate.

“Gone With the
Wind” (1939), 10 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. The greatest movie
year ever, many people say, was 1939. Here are examples -- “Wuthering
Heights” at 8 p.m. ET, then “Wind” and (at 2 a.m. ET) “The
Man in the Iron Mask.”

TV column for Thursday, Feb. 5


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Blacklist,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC.

After the Super
Bowl, this show returned with a sleek, frenetic episode – sometimes
unbelievable, but always involving. If you missed it, skip the next
paragraph and watch it at 8 p.m.

That episode saw Red
let himself be captured, so he'd be taken to a top-secret detainment
plan and warn of an escape plan. It was a bad idea that got worse
when officials fired a missile at the facility. Now Red has barely
survived; a bad guy (Ron Perlman) has captured Liz and swept her away
via helicopter. He plans to use high-tech methods to learn what she
saw on the night of Red's fire.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Allegiance” debut, 10 p.m., NBC.

A newcomer to the
CIA, Alex is a rising star. Fitting the current TV trend, he has a
strong mind and weak social skills; also, he doesn't know that his
parents and older sistert are embedded Soviet spies.

Yes, that requires a
major coincidence. And yes, it copies heavily from FX's “The
Americans.” At least, NBC was wise enough to steal from a good
show. Hope Davis and Scott Cohen, as the parents, do a solid job of
breathing emotion into a shaky concept.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Fortitude,” 10 p.m. ET, Pivot, repeating at 1 a.m.

If you can get this
new relatively channel (via satellite, digital cable or individual
shows on www.pivot.tv), catch
“Fortitude,” a British gem filmed in Iceland and set in an Arctic
town.

The two-hour opener
(rerunning at 11 p.m. ET) had an artifact found in the melting
glacier, causing an ecologist to consider banning a hotel project. He
was killed; one young researecher (Vincent) was arrested and another
(Natalie) is missing. Now he governor is nervous and the man who
tried to sell the artifact is on the run. An American-English cop
(Stanley Tucci) ponders an intriguing enigma.

Other choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 and 9:30 p.m., CBS. First is a new episode, with an
Online bully attacking a paper by Sheldon and Leonard. Then is a
terrific rerun, with the women staging a rooftop “prom night.”

“Scandal,” 9
p.m., ABC. The team races to find Olivia.

“Backstrom,” 9
p.m., Fox. A murder at a cult-like church gives Backstrom a chance to
grumble about religion. His rants are overwrought and the case is
absurdly easy, but the show is again saved by its side characters,
including the only one who makes Backstrom human – his former
fiancee (Sarah Chalke).

“Two and a Half
Men,” 9:01 p.m., CBS. Two weeks from the series finale,
complications build. Lyndsey wants Alan to move in; Walden ponders
breaking up with the social worker.

“How to Get Away
With Murder,” 10 p.m., ABC. School is back in session, there's a
new case ... plus the lingering question: The students keep trying to
cover up their murder of their professor's husband.

“Babylon,” 10
p.m., Sundance. Intriguing and schizophrenic, this started as a witty
satire of police bureaucracy ... then turned serious after the police
commissioner killed himself. Now it's a solid drama about his former
public-relations chief, grasping to keep her power in the
administration. However, it leapa to a so-so story about four street
cops, with accents that are tough for Americans to follow.

“Broke A$$ Game
Show” debut, 11 p.m., MTV. The notion of a makeshift game show has
been done quite well on cable, in “Oblivious” and “Cash Cab.”
Now comes a new, semi-adequate try, with two guys simply rolling
through the city streets with a shopping cart, questions and cash.