TV column for Sunday, Sept. 4

“Building Star Trek,” 8-10 p.m., Smithsonian; repeats at 11.

It was 50 years ago
on Sept. 8 that “Star Trek” debuted on NBC. The show would limp
through three seasons of so-so ratings and modest budgets ... then,
in different ways, would live forever.

This terrific
special visits a world with distinguished “Trek” fans. The
National Air and Space Museum restores the original Engerprise model,
so it can take its place next to the crafts of Lindbergh and the
astronauts. A pop-culture museum in Seattle gathers artifacts. And
scientists keep trying to create real-life versions of tractor beams,
invisibility cloaks, laser guns, warp speed and more.

II: “BrainDead,” 10 p.m., CBS.

The summer's best
show hasn't drawn the attention it deserves. Now, a week before its
two-hour finale, there's still time to join in.

As a new Senate
aide, Laurel (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has had some success; last
week, her video prevented a war. So far, however, she's convinced few
people of the real threat: Key officials in Washington – led by
Sen. Red Wheatus (Tony Shalhoub) -- have alien bugs that invaded
their brains. Now Laurel and her brother, a senator, search a massive
budget bill, to find Red's secret agenda.

ALTERNATIVE: “ABC Fall preview,” 7 p.m., ABC (after football on
the West Coast).

Networks like to
have cheery specials, telling us that their new fall shows are
terrific. Now ABC strikes first ... and is partly telling the truth.

It does, indeed,
have the best new network show -- “Designated Survivor,” with
Kiefer Sutherland as a lowly official, thrust into the presidency. It
has a sharp “Secrets and Lies” mini-series, a promising
crime/court show (“Conviction”) ... and several shows that are
merely ordinary. Here's a sampling.

Other choices

Racing, 6 p.m. ET,
NBC. On the final Sunday before the pro-football season begins, NBC
has NASCAR's Southern 500, from Darlington, S.C.

“The Simpsons,”
7 and 8 p.m., Fox. The first rerun flashes back to when the Simpson
and Flanders families vacationed in the Grand Canyon. The second has
Selma and Patty attempt a conversion: After all those years of
puffing cigarettes, they've learned that their dad died of lung

Football, 7:30 p.m.
ET, ABC. A college game on a Sunday night? That's a rarity, but ABC
is taking advantage of the last chance before the pros take over.
Notre Dame (ranked No. 10) visits Texas.

Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox. This rerun finds the Nine-Nine linking
with a neighboring precinct. That puts Jake (Andy Samberg) with his
old police partner (Damon Wayans Jr.).

Secretary,” 9 p.m., CBS. As the Pakistan government wobbles in this
rerun, the U.S. considers a drastic step – going into the country
to seize and secure its nuclear weapons.

“Fear the Walking
Dead,” 9 p.m., AMC, and more. Yes, some cable channels are sticking
with reruns during the holiday weekend. Still, 9 p.m. has new
episodes here and on USA (“The Last Ship”), Hallmark (“Chesapeake
Shores”) and Starz (“Power”). And “The Strain” looms at 10
p.m. on FX.

“Last Man on
Earth,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. With a lot of spare time on her hands –
there are, after all, only a few people still alive -- Gail (Mary
Steenburgen) has been drinking a lot of wine. Now the others confront
her. Also, Todd mayhave extra duties in the propagation of the

“Murder in the
First,” 10 p.m., USA. The season concludes, in an hour that adds a
grisly new murder.

TV column for Saturday, Sept. 3

Football, ABC and CBS.

The first Saturday
of the college season is led by a top-of-the-line ABC triple-header,
with four of the six teams nationally ranked. At noon ET, Oklahoma
(ranked No. 3) faces Houston (No. 15). Then it's LSU (No. 5) and
Wisconsin at 3:30 p.m. and Alabama (No. 1) and Southern California
(No. 20) at 8.

And if you prefer
the pros? At 8 p.m., CBS offers an hourlong profile of Brett Favre,
the Hall of Fame quarterback. It's an advance from the NFL Network,
which starts its “A Football Life” series on Sept. 16 and will
plans this Favre hour for Oct. 21.

“Aquarius,” 9 and 10 p.m., NBC.

Exiled to TV's
least-watched night, “Aquarius” offers a rarity – new,
expensive-looking episodes on a Saturday. That won't last long; next
week brings the two-hour finale.

Tonight's first hour
finds Emma reconciling with her dad, the troubled lawyer. The second
reflects a true event: Terry Melcher – son of Doris Day, friend of
the Beach Boys – wanted to record Charles Manson's music. Both
hours reflect trouble for Hodiak (David Duchovny) and his young

ALTERNATIVE: “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

“SNL” thrives
when hosted by an actor – not just a musician or “personality”
– who can leap into any sketch. That's what it has in this rerun,
with Ryan Gosling hosting and Leon Bridges as music guest.

The Christmas
sketches – Gosling as a fervent believer in Santa and an as elf who
wants to be punished – are one-joke, but others are hilarious. He's
an alien abductee, whose experience was much rosier than Kate
McKinnon's. And the “third-hand news” guy, next to Bobby
Moynihan. And the token white guy in “The Wiz.” And in a clever
take-off on bad sitcoms, his friend (Kyle Mooney) suddenly turns

Other choices

More football, all
day. Opening day needs a few quirks; in this case, it's a game at
7:30 a.m. ET, with Boston and Georgia Tech in Dublin. Most channels –
ESPN, Fox Sports1, CBS Sports Network – start their first games at
noon ET; CBS starts at 3:30 p.m., with UCLA at Texas A&M.

Harry Potter
marathon. Here's the Potter series from the start, with movies at 7
a.m. (2001), 10:30 a.m. (2002), 2:30 p.m. (2004), 5:30 p.m. (2005)
and – skipping one – 9 p.m. (2009). Today's final three movies
will rerun Sunday, prior to the two-part finale (2010 and 2011) at
5:30 and 9 p.m. Sunday.

movies, cable. Here are the first three films, overlapping a bit. TNT
has the original (2007) at 5 p.m.; FX has the next two at 6 (2009)
and 9 p.m. (2011).

“Hotel Hell,” 8
and 9 p.m., Fox. Both reruns involve mother-son operations. The first
is in Newtown, Pa.; the second is at Mohican Castle in Loudonville,
Ohio ... complete with a fairytale castle wedding.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8 p.m., NBC. In a rerun of Wednesday's results hour, it's
decision time for the 10 acts that performed Tuesday; five will
advance and be the first half of the show's top 10.

“Holy Hell,” 8
p.m., CNN (barring breaking news), rerunning at 10. If you missed
this compelling documentary on Thursday, catch it now. Will Allen
spent 22 years in a group called Buddhafield, serving as its
unofficial filmmaker. After having doubts about its eccentric leader,
he left; seven-plus years later, he's molded his old films and new
interviews into an involving view of cult life.

“Home Free,” 11
p.m., Fox. This super-generous show – a new home for every
contestant – is getting a latenight rerun. Tonight starts with
three contestants; on Sept. 17, we'lll see (again) who wins.

TV column for Friday, Sept. 2

“The LEGO Movie” (2014), 8 p.m., TBS or “Bonnie and Clyde”

8 p.m. ET, Turner
Classic Movies.

Any generation
should be happy tonight. For kids (and others) there's a witty,
animated gem; for grown-ups, there's the film that took the
true-crime tale to new heights.

“Bonnie and Clyde”
is No. 41 on the American Film Institute list of best American
movies. It won Oscars for cinematography and supporting actress
Estelle Parsons and was nominated for eight more, including Warren
Beatty, Faye Dunaway and best picture. “LEGO,” oddly, was
nominated only for its “Everything is Awesome” song; voters
snubbed a movie in which everything is, indeed, awesome.

II: “Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.

For two years and 13
episodes, the Five-0 people have sought Gabriel Waincraft. The
brother of Chin's late wife Malia, he's an ex-con who – in a gang
initiation, long ago – killed Chin's father.

In this rerun, they
have him ... and must protect him. He's wounded, inside a dilapidated
building, as enemy gunmen prepare to storm in. In the midst of a
shoot-out, cops look for a way to get out.

ALTERNATIVE: Football, cable.

On Saturday, the
college season will reaches full-speed ... including an ABC
triple-header that totals five nationally ranked teams. Tonight
should help get us in the mood.

Nationally, it's
Kansas State at Stanford (ranked No. 9) at 7 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1,
Army at Temple at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network and Colorado State at
Colorado, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Other games have regional telecasts,
including Furman at Michigan State (No. 12) on the Big Ten Network.

Other choices

Video Music Awards,
8-10:30 a.m. and 7:30-10 p.m., MTV. Sunday's show delivered more than
it had promised. Yes, it promised performances by Rihanna, Britney
Spears, Future and Nick Jonas, plus a duet by Arianna Grande and
Nicki Minaj. But Rihanna did four songs, not one; added to the night
were the Chainsmokers and – in a 15-minute swirl – Beyonce.
Here's a rerun of the night.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m. CBS. It's action-hero time in this rerun:
Top-secret information has been stolen from a container at the site
of a fire; now Sam and Callen go undercover as firefighters.

Shores,” 8 p.m., Hallmark. If you've missed the first three Sundays
of this solidly made series, there's still time to catch up. In this
rerun, Abby (a business executive) and Bree (a writer) ponder moving
back to their gorgeous home town, where their sister is opening an
inn. Meanwhile, Trace (Jesse Metcalfe) gets disturbing news from his
past life in Nashville.

“Killjoys,” 9
p.m,, Syfy, rerunning at 11. In a desperate attempt to stop Level
Six's plan for the Quad, team members link with an old enemy.

“Miracle on the
Hudson,” 9 p.m., National Geographic. A week before the Tom Hanks
film “Sully” opens, here's a rerun of the documentary about
Chesley Sullenberger's unprecedented landing of a distressed airliner
on the Hudson River.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. While pursuing a robbery crew, Danny and Baez work with
a detective (Johnathon Schaech) from another precinct. That's a
problem for Baez: This is the guy who broke her heart, years ago.
Meanwhile, the cop who was acquitted of a shooting is now up for

“Dark Matter,”
10 p.m., Syfy, rerunning at midnight. As chaos breaks out on the
ship, we learn more about the crew members' dark pasts.

TV column for Thursday, Sept. 1

“Holy Hell,” 9 and 11 p.m. ET, CNN (barring breaking news).

Will Allen grew up
comfortably in Long Beach, got a film-school degree, but was unsure
of life. Then his sister pointed him toward sweet-spirited young
people, living communally. For 22 years, he would film their
celebrations, shows and more ... even making movies, a commercial and
a music video.

But he began to
doubt the group's leader, a man given to spending his day in Speedo
and sunglasses, preaching love, fitness and ballet. When he finally
left, Allen took some of his films with him. Mixing in new interviews
with some of the departees, he's fashioned a compelling look at cult

II: “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.

“Big Bang” is at
its best when throwing characters together in odd combinations. And
the season finale, rerunning here, is one of its oddest and funniest.

We'd already met
Sheldon's devoutly religious mom (Laurie Metcalf) and Leonard's
coldly scientific mom (Christine Baranski). The latter is recently
divorced and we meet Leonard's dad (Judd Hirsch). Add those three
together and you have six Emmys and 23 more nominations. There could
be more wis ahead: This year, Metcalf and Baranski are nominated for
these roles ... and Metcalf is for two others.

ALTERNATIVE: “Code Black,” 9:59 p.m., CBS.

Boris Kodjoe has
been a busy TV star lately, ranging from international espionage in
“Undercovers” to being the too-perfect “Phil #2” in “Last
Man on Earth.” This reruns the episode that added him as Dr. Will
Campbell; he'll be a regular on the show this fall.

It's also the
episode in which Christa (Bonnie Somerville) and Neal (Raza Jaffrey)
officially started their romance ... after, of course, informing
Human Resources. (Is some of the secret glamour missing these days?)
Also, everyone is questioned about an incident that left two doctors
gravely injured.

Other choices

“Wedding Crashers”
(2005), 6 p.m., Spike. Some fun movies start early, including tyhis
comedy. The classic “Dirty Dancing” (1987) is 6:15 p.m. on
Freeform, with “Iron Man 3” (2013) at 7 p.m. on FX and the
animated delight “Rio” (2011) at 8 p.m. on Nickelodeon.

“BattleBots,” 8
and 9 p.m., ABC. The night starts with the top eight teams. By the
end of the second hour, we'll have a champion.

“Running Wild with
Bear Grylls,” 8 p.m., NBC. This rerun finds singer-dancer Julianne
Hough in Africa. There, her adventures involve the landscape –
remote canyon, treacherous waterfalls, etc. -- and the wildlife, from
elephants and big cats to a face-to-face moment with a big snake.

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 9-11 p.m., NBC. This reruns the round that saw half the
finalists tackle the first stage, with four new obstacles. The other
half get their turn next Monday.

“Beauty and the
Beast,” 9 p.m., CW. Pausing for a rerun, this finds Cat and Vincent
grasping for normalcy, despite the looming threat of a beast bounty.

season-finale, 10 p.m., FX, rerunning at 11:05 p.m. and 1:38 a.m.
Last week's terrific episode (rerunning at 10:33) threw the band into
verbal and physical combat. Now we get the aftermath, with Gigi's mom
(Callie Thorne) insisting she fire everyone. Things start with a
sizzling song from Gigi and end with a shrug; a great season
concludes fairly well.

“Queen of the
South,” 10 p.m., USA. Teresa and Brenda try to start a new life,
using knowledge from Gero's book. Meawhile, their mentor Camila goes
underground, aligning with the Jimenez cartel.

TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 31

“The Night Shift” season-finale, 10 p.m., NBC.

Here is a TV hybrid
– an action-adventure medical show. Set at a San Antonio hospital,
most of its doctors and some of its patients are former or current
military people.

Last week, Scott and
Jordan – who used to be engaged to each other – headed into a
wildfire. Tonight, the flames are getting closer as they perform
field surgery. Meanwhile, Syd (Jennifer Beals) is along the
Syria-Turkey border; she's caught typhus (as have many of her
patients), so TC goes to extremes to get medication. Back home, the
effort continues to find a buyer for the hospital.

“American Gothic,” 10 p.m., CBS.

While “Night
Shift” is wrapping up, another ambitious show sets up next week's
two-hour finale.

“Gothic” centers
on the Hawthornes – rich, respectable ... and maybe housing the
“silver bells killer” from years ago. The matriarch (Virginia
Madsen) killed her husband in his hospital bed; her children range
from a mayoral candidate to a guy who had simply vanished for years.
Tonight, they catch each other's lies and revisit a crucial night in

ALTERNATIVE: “You're the Worst” season-opener, 10 p.m., FXX,
reruning at 10:30.

What happens when
two immensely cynical people actually say “I love you”? That
happened at the end of last season, but Jimmy was drunk at the time;
now he can neither remembr or acknowledge it.

Skeptical love is at
the core; as are the woes of their friends: Edgar is an ex-soldier
with post-traumatic troubles; Lindsay simply has a dippy husband.
“Worst” is smart and funny, but be warned: The sexual talk (and
action) is extremely frank; some viewers will be delighted; others
will depart quickly.

ALTERNATIVE II: “Tyrant,” 10 p.m., FX, rerunning at 11:14.

In three seasons,
this has gone from overwrought to good to – in a darkly disturbing
way – great. The final transition began when terrorists killed the
daughter of Bassam (“Barry,” when he lived in the U.S.), the
temporary president of his homeland. He became harder; his wife
became fierce.

Now pressure
tightens on Daliayah (an idealist loved by Bassam and by his
ex-friend Fauzi) ... Leila (presidential candidate and widow of the
previous dictator) ... Cogswell (American general in love with Leila)
... and more. Forces converge, including a surprise in the final
minutes of this expanded episode.

Other choices

“Greenleaf,” 10
a.m. to 11 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. You can catch the entire
season, starting with strong episodes that brought a big-city TV
reporter back to her family-run church. The finale, at 10, has a
confrontation between sisters, played by Winfrey and Lynn Whitfield.
Then the last three hours rerun.

8-10 p.m., Fox. Last week eliminated both blue-colllar New Yorkers,
Eric Howard and Terry Mueller. That leaves two guys from Las Vegas
(David Williams and front-runner Shaun O'Neale), plus a waiter (Dan
Paustian), a tuxedo salesma (Nathan Barnhouse) and three women filled
with Southern charm (Brandi Mudd, Katie Dixon and Tanorria Askew).
Tonight, their challenges involve limited utensils, then a picnic
platter and a pop-up restaurant.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC. First is a trimmed down version of
Tuesday's episode, with 10 acts performing. Then we learn which
ones will comprise the first half of the season's top-10.

“Modern Family,”
9 and 10 p.m., ABC. The first rerun finds the boys babysitting for
little Lily; things soon go wrong. The second sees Gloria buy a
family seminar at the school auction.

9:31 p.m., ABC. For the second straight year, the show closed its
season with an elaborate dream scene, transporting everyone into a
past era. This time, they're “Good Times” characters.

“Mr. Robot,”
10:01 p.m., USA. By now, Elliot and his sister Darlene aren't sure if
Dark Army is for or against them. Meanwhile, Angela realizes E Corp
can't give her what she wants.