TV column for Saturday, Aug. 13

Olympics, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., 8 p.m. to midnight, 12:30-5 a.m., NBC.

This should be one
of the biggest days for NBC, with swimming events concluding and
track-and-field just getting started. In primetime, the latter
includes gold medals for women's 100-meter and heptathlon and men's
long-jump and 10,000 meter.

That will be
tape-delayed, but there's lots of live coverage on cable. Golf starts
at 6:30 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Network at 9, USA at 10 (with beach
volleyball), MSNBC at noon (with men's soccer) and CNBC at 5. Bravo
starts bronze-medal tennis at 11 a.m. ET; the women's gold match is
at 5 p.m.

“Boston EMS,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Two TV staples,
crime and medicine, combine in a non-fiction hour. In a tough
Dorchester neighborhood, an ambulance crew finds two gunshot victims
on a snowy street.

There are personal
moments for the responders. Beth Rimas, whose son suffers from
febrile seizures, comforts a young woman whose 2-year-old has that
affliction. And waiting for the bomb squad to assess a package at a
daycare, Ed Hassan discusses what he saw at the Boston Marathon

ALTERNATIVE: “The Night Manager,” 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., AMC.

Once a Britsh
soldier, Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) has found obscurity as a
hotel's night manager. Then he keeps crossing paths with Richard
Roper (Hugh Laurie), a slick businnessman who has lethal henchmen, a
gorgeous mistress, an imposing island estate and a thriving business
in illegal arms.

Based on a John le
Carre novel, this is a smart and involving story worth recording, It
has seven Emmy nominations, including ones for Hiddleston, Laurie,
Olivia Colman and best mini-series.

Other choices

“Doctor Who,”
all day, BBC America. Here's the second half of a two-day marathon.

“The Peanuts
Movie” (2015), 10 a.m., HBO; and “The Good Dinosaur” (2012),
10:12 a.m., Starz. While their parents stare at the Olympics, kids
can have some animated fun.

“Hotel Hell,” 8
and 9 p.m., Fox. In the first rerun, Gordon Ramsay visits an
Austrian-style inn in Southbridge, Mass.; in the second, he's at a
lakeside spot in Chelan, Wash.

“Rush Hour,” 8
p.m., CBS. In the show's second-to-last episode, a mystery person
keeps humiliating prominent people.

(2015), 8 and 11:30 p.m., HBO. Moving from Ireland to the U.S. in the
1950s, a young woman finds loneliness, good-hearted people and a
well-meaning guy. The result is boosted by the subtle perfection of
Saoirse Ronan's performance and Nick Hornby's script. Hornby's own
novels have become “About a Boy,” “High Fidelity” and “Fever
Pitch”; now he skillfully adapts a Colm Toibin novel. The result
brought Oscar nominations for Ronan, Hornby and best picture.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Ken's dad visits; he's not a jolly guy.

“In an Instant,”
9 p.m., ABC. A decade ago, Danelle Ballengee was a peak athlete at
35, a two-time world champion of “adventure racing.” Then she
slipped on ice, fell 60 feet and shattered her pelvis. Her dog
comforted her for two days, then managed to lead rescuers back to
her. Here's a shortened version of the film that ran earlier this
summer, mixing re-enactments and first-person accounts.

“Fargo” (1996),
10 p.m., Viceland. This network (formerly H2, a History offshoot)
often focuses on alternative-lifestyle subjects; tonight, it has
“Weediquette” from 7-10 p.m. Afterward, however, it pauses to
show this quietly brilliant movie.


TV column for Friday, Aug. 12

Olympics, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 8 p.m. to midnight, 12:35 to 5 a.m.,

It's finally time
for track-and-field to take over. These are the events that used to
dominte the games and create stars – from Jesse Owens and Wilma
Rudolph to Bruce Jenner and Carl Lewis.

For women, today
already brings the finals in shot put and 10,000-meter run, plus four
of the seven heptathlon events and the first round of 100-meter and
1500-meter runs. For men, it's the first round of 400-meter and
800-meter, plus lots of qualifications. NBC will tape-delay, so try
to avoid spoilers.

“The Great British Baking Show” finale, 9 p.m., PBS (check local

This clever and
classy show is down to its final three, a varied bunch. Tamal Ray, 29
when this was taped, is an anesthesiologist trainee; Ian Cumming, 41,
is a travel photographer; Nadiyah Hussain, 30, a London native whose
parents are from Bangladesh, is an at-home mom.

And yes, winning
matters. In England, the winner – we won't give it away –
received a book deal and a newspaper column ... and made the cake for
the queen's 90th birthday.

“The Get Down,” any time, Netflix.

Baz Luhrmann is a
remarkable director. Whether working with classic stories (“Romeo
and Juliet,” “The Great Gatsby”) or originals (“Australia,”
“Moulin Rouge”), he creates lush beauty.

Now he's far from
his own Australian roots. This is 1977 Bronx, when Grandmaster Flash
and others created what became hip-hop music. Luhrmann directed the
first two episodes and the 12th, the season-finale. He
also co-wrote it, mixing real characters with fictional ones,
bursting with passion and music. Jimmy Smits stars alongside
newcomers Justice Smith, Shameik Moore, Herizen Guardiola and more.

II: Marathons, cable.

If you're skipping
the Olympics, then try a movie spree. For laughs, the “Naked Gun”
films are at 6 p.m. (1988), 8 p.m. ('91) and 10 p.m. ('94) on IFC,
rerunning at 11:45, 1:45 and 3:45. For action, “Mad Max” films
are at 2 (1979), 4 (1981) and 6 p.m. (1985) on AMC, rerunning at
8:30, 10:30 and 12:30.

And for offbeat fun
– sometimes serious, sometimes not-- a “Doctor Who” marathon
starts at 6 a.m. ET on BBC America. It continues all through today
and Saturday, ending at 5:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

Other choices

More Olympics,
cable. While NBC does some time-shifting, its cable channels have
live coverage. That starts at 5 a.m. ET on Golf, 8 a.m. on NBC Sports
Network (which includes some more track-and-field), 9 a.m. on USA, 11
a.m. on Bravo and noon ET on MSNBC.

“MasterChef,” 8
and 9 p.m., Fox. The first rerun has the cooks rushing to kill, shell
and prepare lobster. The second has two teams feeding 101 hungry

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. A night of CBS reruns starts with Granger
(Miguel Ferrer) escorting a North Korean spy to Los Angeles. He isn't
sure if she knows he's actually her father.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Seeking revenge from a case 15 years ago, a dangerous
mob boss is after Lou Grover (Chi McBride) ... who has to take his
family on the lam.

“Killjoys,” 9
p.m., Syfy. Dutch captures and interrogates a deadly Level 6 agent.
Also, Johnny secretly investigates Jelco's wall.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Anthony Edwards (“ER”) guests as the owner of the
only remaining Mustang that Steve McQueen drove in “Bullitt”; now
it's been stolen. Also, father and daughter clash, when Erin's boss
(the district attorney) charges Frank's people (cops) with fixing
traffic tickets.

TV column for Thursday, Aug. 11

Olympics, 8 p.m. to midnight, NBC.

On Friday, the
track-and-field events will start and the medals will be spread out.
But for one more night – tape-delayed, so try to avoid spoilers –
this will focus on events he U.S. has dominated.

That includes
swimming, plus the finals in women's all-round gymnastics. When Mary
Lou Retton took gold in 1984, she became a star; after a long pause,
the U.S. won in 2004 (Carly Peterson), 2008 (Nastia Liukin) and 2012
(Gabrielle Douglas). Now Douglas is back, others are strong, the
Russians and Chinese have always done well ... but the focus is on
19-year-old, 4-foot-9 Simone Biles.

“American Experience,” 8-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

This wraps up the
first week of reruns of beautifully crafted presidential portraits.
After starting with John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, it now switches
to Republicans – Richard Nixon tonight, Ronald Reagan on Tuesday
and Wednesday (after Jimmy Carter on Monday), George H.W. Bush on

Tonight's portrait
takes us through Nixon's highs (sweeping 49 states in 1972) and lows
(after Watergate). It reminds us what an odd, and intriguing journey
presidential politics can be.

ALTERNATIVE: “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” 10 p.m., FX;
rerunning at 11:06.

In the teeth of the
Olympics, here's a pivotal episode – and a good one. Like many
rock-and-rollers, these people have been split apart by romance and
jealousy. Lately, however, things have been steady – Johnny with
Ava, Flash (John Corbett, 55) with Johnny's daughter Gigi (Elizabeth
Gillies, 23).

Then came the
implosions – Johnny's jealousy of Ava's career, Gigi's rejection of
a marriage proposal. All of that peaks tonight; stick with it to the
final minute. Add a musical-theater sub-plot and Griffin Dunne as a
too-hip therapist and you have a great episode, with last week's
rerunning at 10:33.

Other choices

-- More Olympics,
all day. NBC, mixing live and tape-delayed, goes from 10 a.m. to 5
p.m. and 12:35 4:30 a.m. Things are live on its cable networks, with
Golf starting at 6:30 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Network at 8, USA at 9,
Bravo at 11 and MSNBC at noon ET.

-- “The Good
Dinosaur” (2015), 7:25 p.m., Starz. This is a big night for
animated movies. Others – all at 8 p.m. -- are “Ratatouille”
(2007) on Disney, “The Peanuts Movie” (2015) on HBO and the
delightful “Rio” (2011) on Nickelodeon.

-- “The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Sheldon is sick in this rerun and the others
anticipate – quite pleasantly – a Sheldon-free experiece.

-- More movies, 8
p.m., cable. For fun, Freeform has “Forrest Gump” (1994) and FX
has the third “Hangover” (2013). And at 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies has “Judgement at Nuremberg” (1961), a black-and-white
classic that drew 11 Oscar nominations, including best picture,
winning for its script and Maximilian Schell's lead performance.

-- “Life in
Pieces,” 8:31 p.m., CBS. Here's a familar subject for comedy –
picky parents (Greg and Jen) trying to choose a nanny. Also in this
rerun, Greg goes camping with his brother and brother-in-law. John
(James Brolin) makes a puppet for his granddaughter; soon, all the
grown-ups are playing with it.

-- “Bones,” 9
p.m., Fox. This rerun goes back to Brennan making her official return
to work. Booth must adjust to Aubrey taking his office; Cam deals
with her decision to choose work over Arastoo. And, of course,
there's a body; this one has had several of its organs already

-- “Queen of the
South,” 10 p.m., USA. Going undercover, Teresa must make a
live-changing decision. Also, Camila – her mentor in this
drug-dealing world – desperately tries a dangerous heist.

TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 10

“Fresh Off the Boat,” 8-10 p.m., ABC.

Other ABC comedies
-- “Modern Family” and “Black-ish,” especially – catch most
of the attention and awards, but “Fresh” deserves some notice.
Based (loosely) on Eddie Huang – whose family abruptly moved from
Washington, D.C. to Orlando in the 1990s – it has a sense of race,
history and more.

In tonight's first
rerun, he's heart-broken and obsesses on a Boyz II Men song. In the
second, we learn how his parents met. In the third, his parents hire
Billie Jean King as his brother's tennis coach. In the fourth, his
mom and her friend find a secret about a gossipy neighbor.

“American Gothic,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Things continue to
be complicated for siblings in the wealthy Hawthorne family. Cam is
in rehab and his son Jack is lured into a dangerous adventure; Alison
and Garrett try to silence a reporter.

All of that is
against the backdrop of the “Silver Bells Killer” case, which may
involve their family. Now Brady – a cop who married Megan Hawthorne
– has a bizarre breakthrough on the case,

ALTERNATIVE: Olympics, 8 p.m. to midnight, NBC.

Fresh from
gymnastics' team competition, we now see its all-round individual
male title. This isn't something Americans dominate; NBC's Bob Costas
raves about Kohei Uchimura, 27, of Japan; in the all-round category,
he already has a gold, a silver and six world championships.

That will be on
tape, but some live events are more likely to bring U.S. wins. That
includes swimming and a beach volleyball match with Switzerland.
Kerri Walsh Jennings once won 112 straight matches with Misty
May-Trainor (now retired); paired with April Ross, Jennings she's
eyeing her fourth gold.

Other choices

More Olympics,
daytime and latenight. NBC – sometimes live, sometimes not -- will
also be there in the daytime (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and latenight
(12:35-4:30 a.m.). Also, live coverage starts at 7:30 a.m. on NBC
Sports Nework, 9 a.m. on USA and Golf, 9:30 a.m. on Bravo and noon on

Experience,” 8-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings). The string of
presidential-profile reruns continues. It's Lyndon Johnson tonight,
with Richard Nixon on Thursday.

Reality shows, 8
p.m., three networks. “Big Brother” (CBS) and “Penn &
Teller: Fool Us” (CW) both have new hours. Fox, however, will have
“MasterChef” reruns during the Olympics; here are two, including
the season-opener – cooking for the wedding reception of past
contestant Nick Nappi.

“Criminal Minds,”
9 p.m., CBS. There are plenty of suspects this time: The murder was
in a town inhabited entirely by sex offenders. Also in this rerun,
Dr. Lewis get's a tempting job offer.

“Modern Family,”
10 p.m., ABC. Nudged back an hour, this rerun has Phil marveling at
his wife's ability to do it all. He doesn't realize she has an

“Tyrant,” 10
p.m., FX. Filling this hour are three mismatched elements – great
political drama, far-from-great soap romance and bursts of violence.
Bassam (called Barry when he was a Pasadena pediatrician) became
temporatry president of the country his family had ruled fiercely; he
set up an election and isn't a candidate. But then his daughter was
killed, his wife had a breakdown, his emotions hartdened. Some of
this – affairs revealed too easily – is just silly; some
continues to be great drama.

10:31 p.m., ABC. As his company prepares for lay-offs, Dre frets.
Also in this rerun, his wife runs the school auction.

TV column for Tuesday, Aug. 9


Olympics, 8 p.m. to midnight, NBC.

Here's a favorite
for American viewers – the team finals in women's gymnastics. But
be warned: It's tape-delayed; try to avoid spoilers on the Internet
or on the news.

The U.S. has won a
team medal in six straight Olympics, a success matched only by
Romania. That includes gold in 1996 (when Kerri Strug landed on an
injured ankle) and 2012 (when Gabrielle Douglas soared). Douglas and
Aly Raisman are back from that team, now joined by emerging superstar
Simone Biles, plus Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian.

“American Experience,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Few presidents have
been tested as quickly and fiercely as John Kennedy. Less than three
months into office, he had the Bay of Pigs debacle; 18 months later,
he had the Cuban missile crisis.

The first was a
quick (three-day) failure; the second was a slow success, with the
Soviets dismantling their missile sites. Those are key to the
conclusion of a two-night Kennedy film, which launches reruns of
compelling presidential portraits. Coming are Lyndon Johnson on
Wednesday and Richard Nixon on Thursday; next week are Jimmy Carter,
two nights of Ronald Reagan and then George H.W. Bush.

ALTERNATIVE: “High School Musical 2” (2007) and “3” (2008), 6
and 8 p.m., Disney.

Now for a pleasant
trifle, far removed from politics, sports or anything else real.
Beautifully directed by Kenny Ortega (who also did the original),
these helped show teens the joy of musicals.

Zac Efron stars as
good-guy Troy, with Vanessa Hudgens as his girlfriend and Corbin Bleu
as their friend. As “2” begins, spoiled Sharpay tries to lure him
away by getting him a summer job at the country club; he promptly
invites his friends.The story is OK; the music and choreography are

Other choices

-- More Olympics,
all day. NBC also has live swimming finals in prime time; in other
times (10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 12:35-4 a.m.) it's both live and
tape-delayed Meanwhile, its cable channels go live, starting at 9
a.m. ET on USA, Golf and NBC Sports Netwrk, 9:30 on Bravo, noon on
MSNBC, 5 p.m. on CNBC.

-- “NCIS,” 8
p.m., CBS. When a Navy office is killed, his wife and mistress each
accuse the other. Also in this rerun, Tony's dad (Robert Wagner)
helps a homeless woman who thinks he's her father.

-- “Brooklyn
Nine-Nine,” 8 p.m., Fox. As the networks juggle their summer
line-ups, you'll still find some comedy reruns. Fox has this one (the
captain's dog is missing) and then “New Girl” at 8:30: ABC nudges
“The Middle” and “Fresh Off the Boat” to 10 and 10:30.

-- “Bachelor in
Paradise: After Paradise” season-opener, 9 p.m., ABC. After a new
“Bachelor in Paradise” at 8 p.m., we see Chris Harrison chat with
pretty people about romances, good and bad.

-- “MadTV,” 9
p.m., CW. Debra Wilson and Aries Spears, from the original version of
the show, host this episode and join the new cast for sketches.

-- “Zoo,” 9
p.m., CBS. Jackson (James Wolk) wants to find his mother, who is
missing in Africa. First, however, he and others face a hostile force
on their plane. Also, Jamie learns a secret about Abraham.

-- “NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. Zoe McLellan feels the death of a sailor –
killed by a party bus – may be connected to her own sister's death.
Also in this rerun, people prepare for St. Patrick's Day.