TV column for Sunday, Feb. 4

Super Bowl, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBC.

Here's a battle of
opposites. The New England Patriots have won five previous Super
Bowls, all with their current quarterback, Tom Brady. The
Philadelphia Eagles have never won one and only been there twice.
Quarterback Nick Foles has only started four regular-season games in
the past two years.

But don't count the
Eagles out. Foles has been spectacular this post-season; Brady,
recovering from a hand injury, barely advanced. And during the
regular season, the Eagles were No. 1 in rushing yards and No. 3 in
rushing defense; the Patriots were No. 10 and 20, respectively.

Super night music and more, NBC.

Before the game,
Pink will sing the National Anthem and Leslie Odom Jr. will sing
“America the Beautiful.” At halftime, Justin Timberlake will have
13-minutes of pop-music zest.

After the game –
NBC estimates 10:15 p.m. ET, but that's optimistic – there's more:
“This Is Us” has Randall host a Super Bowl party, plus flashbacks
of the fire that may have led to his adoptive dad's death. Later (NBC
says 11:50), Jimmy Fallon has the cast, plus Timberlake and The Rock.

“Snow White” (1937), all day, Freeform.

There are plenty of
Super alternatives and we'll list more. But let's start with the

Walt Disney was
doing fine with cartoon shorts, but he wanted to try something
unprecedented – a full-length cartoon movie. Financing it was
difficult – afterward, Disney films often had negative views of
bankers – but Roy Disney (Walt's older brother) persisted; “Snow
White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937) became a classic. It runs at
11:30 a.m. and 1:34, 3:38, 5:42, 7:48 and 9:54 p.m.

Other choices

“Puppy Bowl,” 6
a.m. today to noon Monday, Animal Planet. Here's a cuteness marathon.

“Kitten Bowl,”
noon to 3 p.m., Hallmark; rerunning at 3. Here's more cuteness, this
time feline.

Super Bowl previews,
noon ET, NBC. Things start with “Road to the Super Bowl,” the
annual documentary that captures the season in a high-tech whirl of
sights and sounds. Then a pre-game marathon starts at 1 p.m.; five
hours later, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth finally take over.

More animation, 4
p.m. to midnight, FX and Fox. Two related movies alternate on FX --
“Minions” (2015) at 4 and 8 p.m., “Despicable Me 2” (2013) at
6 and 10. Also, Fox has reruns of “Bob's Burgers” at 7:30, “The
Simpsons” (Lisa's graphic novel goes Broadway) at 8 and “Family
Guy” at 9.

NCIS series reruns,
8, 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. In “NCIS,” Gibbs reopens a decade-old
case. In the New Orleans spin-off, a drug ring is linked to City
Hall. And in the Los Angeles one, Sam is in mourning.

“Gifted,” 8
p.m., HBO. A blue-collar guy vows to keep his late sister's wish,
giving her genius daughter a normal childhood. That may sound cliche,
but i'ts not. There's quiet depth to the script by newcomer Tom
Flynn, the direction by Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”) and the
performance by Chris Evans.

"Scandalous," 8 p.m., Fox News. In its third chapter, this series sees the Bill Clinton probe widen; Monica Lewinsky talks to Linda Tripp, unaware she's being taped. Tripp is featured in the hour, along with counsel Ken Starr and his assistant, Stephen Binhak.

Royalty, 9 and 10
p.m., PBS. In the splendid “Victoria” (9 p.m.), the queen learns
about Ireland's brutal potato famine. In the clumsy “Queen
Elizabeth's Secret Agents” (10), opposition to the queen grows.

TV column for Saturday, Feb. 3

“Saturday Night Live,” 8 and 11:29 p.m., NBC.

Over its long life,
“SNL” has had plenty of football stars as hosts, from Fran
Tarkenton to both Mannings. Now, on Super Bowl eve, it offers “SNL
Football Saturday.”

Later – after
airing “NFL Honors” -- it has a new episode. Natalie Portman
hosts for only the second time, and the first in 12 years; Dua Lipa,
the young British singer, has her first turn as music guest.

II: “The Simone Biles Story: Courage to Soar,” 8-10:02 p.m.,
Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network.

As the Winter
Olympics near, viewers will soon be watching tiny sprites leap and
spin on ice. First, here's a chance to admire some similar Summer
Olympics stars in gymnastics.

That was virtually
an all-white sport, until Gabrielle Douglas and Biles soared in 2012
and '16. Now Lifetime reruns “The Gabby Douglas Story” (2014) at
noon and both channels debut the Biles film at 8. Biles – who was
raised by her grandfather and step-grandmother, is played by Jeante
Godlock. A follow-up hour is at 10:02 p.m., with the movie repeating
at 11:02 on Lifetime.

ALTERNATIVE: “NFL Honors,” 9-11 p.m., NBC.

Here's the annual
ceremony that hands out some of pro football's top awards, including
Most Valuable Player. Others include the offensive and defensive
players of the year and awards for the top coach, rookie, comeback
and more, plus several awards based on character.

Rob Riggle hosts and
the Hall of Fame inductees will be announced. The 15 nominees include
four men in their first year of eligibility – Ray Lewis, Randy
Moss, Steve Hutchinson and Brian Urlacher.

ALTERNATIVE II: Movies, cable.

On Super Bowl eve,
“Concussion” (2015) views the NFL's shameful disregard of
injuries and one doctor's refusal to relent. That's 5:30 p.m. on
Paramount (formerly Spike), leading a great film night.

There are Tom Hanks
gems -- “Apollo 13” (1995) at 8 p.m. on History, “Forrest Gump”
(1994) at 8:30 on Paramount. Also at 8: the surprising “Gifted”
(2017) on HBO, “The Martian” (2015) on FX and some series
starters -- “Lord of the Rings” (2001), Starz,;“Twilight”
(2008), VH1; and “Hunger Games” (2012), TNT. Also, “A River
Runs Through It” (1992) is 8 p.m. ET on Turner Classic Movies.

Other choices

The Resident,” 8
and 9 p.m., Fox. Catch these back-to-back and you'll see the main
character transform. In the first rerun, Conrad (Matt Czuchry) is
rude and mean – not just to bad guys who deserve it, but to good
ones who don't. In the second, he's heroic and “Resident” becomes

“Bull,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Bull usually gets along with Chunk, his specialist on courtroom
fashions. Now the two disagree, when Bull helps the person suspected
of killing Chunk's fashion mentor.

“The Dog Bowl,”
8 p.m., Animal Planet. Super Bowl Sunday will have the usual
cuteness, with the Puppy Bowl and Kitten Bowl. As a warm-up, here's
an hour featuring older dogs up for adoption.

Basketball preview,
8:30 p.m. ET, ABC, with preview at 8. ABC makes sure each game has
Golden State or Cleveland or both. Tonight, Cleveland hosts Houston;
after next week (San Antonio at Golden State), the big two will have
had five appearances in the first four games of the Saturday package.

“Planet Earth:
Blue Planet II,” 9 p.m., BBC America, rerunning at 12:30 a.m. Coral
reefs are mega-cities, this splendid series says, holding one-fourth
of all marine life. Here's a look.

“Falling Water,”
10 p.m., USA. It's convenient to have someone who (literally) shares
your dream. Tonight, Tess and Burton follow clues from that dream, to
search for another dreamer.

TV column for Friday, Feb. 2

“Hell's Kitchen” finale, 8-10 p.m., Fox.

This “all-star”
round started with 16 chefs who had done well in previous editions.
Now we're down to the final three, with one winning a $250,000-a-year
job as a head chef in Las Vegas.

Michelle Tribble,
24, of Dallas, and Nick Bond, 28, of Massachusetts, competed three
years ago; she finished third, he was fifth. Ben Walanka, 36, of
Kansas was fourth back in 2009. Tonight, one will be bumped early;
the others draft some of their competitors and create a full dinner

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” 8 p.m., CW.

On TV, Michael
Hyatt's best roles have been as the mother of drug-dealers – a
disapproving one in “Snowfall,” a very approving one on “The
Wire.” Before that, however, she did musicals. Now – as Rachel's
psychiatrist – she opens the hour with a powerhouse ballad.

'That's in a
change-of-pace hour – no big production numbers, just strong
ballads at the start (Hyatt) and end (Rachel Bloom). In between, the
show grapples uneasily with its new set-up: Rebecca (Bloom) runs the
law firm with Nathaniel, whom she claims – unconvincingly – she's
broken up with.

ALTERNATIVE: “Great Performances,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Rap music, people
once assumed, would be confined to the fringes. It would be on the
streets, in small clubs, maybe on a few cable channels. Not any more.

Last month on CBS,
LL Cool J was the first rapper to get a Kennedy Center Honor ... In
April, PBS will have at Royal Albert Hall ... and here's
Nas at the Kennedy Center. He was 20 when his debut album offered a
gritty portrait of a Brooklyn boyhood, drawing raves. Now, more than
20 years later, he performs it in tuxedo, backed by the National
Symphony, in a skillfully filmed concert.

Other choices

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. In the original series, Michael Des Barres – an English
marquis and fomer rock star – played Murdoc, MacGyver's nemesis.
Now he guests as Nicholas Helman, out to kill his former protege
Murdoc. That puts Mac in the odd position of protecting his enemy.

Grammy awards,
8-11:30 p.m., Pop. Here's a quick rerun of Sunday's ceremony. It was
the 60th, done up big at Madison Square Garden, with James
Conden hosting and Spike Lee directing.

“American Sniper”
(2014), 8 p.m., TNT. Sharply directed by Clint Eastwood, Bradley
Cooper is terrific as real-life sniper Chris Kyle. Other key films
at 8 p.m. include “Maze Runner: Scorch Trials” (2015) on FX and
“The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” (2004) on Nickelodeon. Also,
“Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011) is 8:30 p.m. on

“Jane the Virgin,”
9 p.m., CW. Last week brought some drastic decisions. Jane's dad, the
telenovela star, said he was taking a year off to be with his baby;
also, Rafael planned to move out ... then had a passionate kiss with
Jane. Now they all try to sort it out, as Petra tries to get back in
their good graces.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. A private eye and his client were killed in similar
manners. McGarrett and Danny investigate, while also worrying about
getting their restaurant started.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Ernie Hudson guests as a high school principal,
recklessly tackling gang violence on his own. Danny investigates;
meawhile, his dad (the police commissioner) is being framed by the
governor and his sister (an assistant district attorey) tries to help
a friend.

“Roy Wood Jr.
Father Figure,” 11 p.m., Comedy Central. The “Daily Show”
correspondent takes over latenight. After this stand-up special, he
hosts the new “This is Not Happening” season, as comedians recall
personal stories. That's at midnight, with Wood telling about the
time he met his hip-hop hero.

TV column for Thursday, Feb. 1

“Mom,” 9 p.m., CBS.

After a one-week
break, TV's second-best comedy (trailing “Big Bang”) is back with
its 100th episode. It keeps offering sharp scripts and
flawed-but-likable characters, led by Christy (Anna Faris).

Tonight, her car
breaks down. Adam will loan her money, but Bonnie – Adam's girlfriend, Christy's mom – says no. Bonnie is played by Allison
Janney, a real marvel. She's already won seven Emmys – two in
comedies and five in dramas; in the curret “I, Tonya” movie, she
combines it all – comedy, drama, pathos and nastiness – with
Oscar-nominated perfection.

“A.P. Bio” debut, 9:30 p.m., NBC.

self-possessed people can be great fun; we've already seen that in
other comedies, from “Seinfeld” to “Mom” to “It's Always
Sunny in Philadelpia.” This guy, alas, falls flat.

Glenn Howerton of
“Sunny” plays a Harvard man who returns home to teach advanced
placement biology. He promptly tells his students he doesn't care
about biology or them. In other shows, cynical characters only hurt
each other; here, he mostly shows witless cruelty toward earnest

ALTERNATIVE: “Portlandia,” 10 p.m., IFC.

Three clever forces
combine tonight. Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein lead this offbeat
show in its eighth and final season; they're joined tonight by Rachel
Bloom of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”

They take Bloom
through all the extremes of modern dating, from social media to (in a
funny scene) a sketch artist. Other scenes vary widely, from manic
(in an escape room) to quiet. Somewhere in there, you'll find some
big laughs.

Other choices

“The Four,” 8-10
p.m., Fox. We're a week from the finale now, with a major record deal
at stake.

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Lately, Dr. Ben Warren has decided to switch fields yet
again, becoming a firefighter and EMT. That's great for this show's
upcoming firefighter spin-off; but his wife Bailey feels crushed by
this and by the stress of managing the hospital.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Asking for something can be dangerous.
Sheldon wants to be a guest on the “Professor Proton” remake;
Leonard wants input on his novel. Both find trouble.

“The Good Place”
season-finale, 8:30, NBC. Last week, this wonderfully weird show saw
all four people doomed to another Hell (literally) until Good Janet
(disguised as Bad Janet) rescued them. Now they remain in limbo, as
Michael, their tormenter-turned-colleague, grasps for a solution,

“Will &
Grace,” 9 p.m., NBC. Earlier this season, the show thrust Grace
into a classic “I Love Lucy” situation, being stuck in a shower
stall; now comes another one – the live TV commercial.

“Scandal,” 9
p.m., ABC. Maybe Olivia should have had an intervention long ago. She
finally gets ones, during what she thought would be a Vermont getaway
with Jake.

“S.W.A.T.,” 10
p.m.,. CBS. Hondo (Shemar Moore) has lots of trouble tonight. His
team must link with the FBI to stop a terrorist group that has a
scheme involving cyanide. Also, his girlfriend Jessica gets closer to
the head of the police commission (Peter Facinelli) as she pushes her
reform initiatives.

TV column for Wednesday, Jan. 31

“The X-Files,” 8 p.m., Fox.

Fresh from last
week's splendid goofiness, “X-Files” make a sharp U-turn. This
one is dead-serious – scary and spooky at first, then with touches
of the show's overall plot.

Someone can transmit
false images into minds – even making each person think the other
is the monster. And that story goes back to William, the
Scully/Mulder son who was given up for adoption. Like all the
overall-plot stories, this doesn't have a full ending; like most,
it's still fascinating.

“Mulan” (1998), 6 and 9:02 p.m., Freeform, and more.

Here's a strong
night of female-centric shows. “Mulan,” gorgeously animated,
surrounds two of the season's best new comedies -- “Grown-ish” at
8 and the appealingly odd “Alone Together” at 8:31.

The catch is that
“Grown-ish” takes an iffy detour tonight. This was a warm
portrait of a regular kid (Zoey from “Black-ish) as a college
freshman. Suddenly, she's with a one-in-a-million guy, facing
life-changing decisions. Some scenes are beautifully written and
played, especially one with her mom (Tracee Ellis Ross). Still, it's
an overwrought view of things people could simply let unfold.

ALTERNATIVE: “Nova: The Impossible Flight,” 9-11 p.m., PBS.

Bertrand Piccard
grew up in a Swiss family tradition. His father, grandfather and
great-uncle were explorers; Capt. Jean-Luc Picard of “Star Trek”
(with altered spelling) was partly named after them.

Piccard became a
psychiatrist, but then foumd a new frontier. Linking with an engineer
(a former Swiss fighter pilot), he hoped to circle the globe in a
plane using only solar power. This documentary isn't easy to watch --
slow pace, thick accents, few explanations -- but delivers a solid

Other choices

Genisys” (2015), 7:30 p.m., FX. The world has a steady supply of
“Terminator” films. “Terminator 3” (2003) is at 2:30 a.m. on
AMC. Both trtun often in the next week.

“The Blacklist,”
8 p.m., NBC. The team wants one arsonist to help catch another, but
Liz has bigger problems: Working with Red to find Tom's killers, she
starts to question his motives.

“Nature: Animals
With Cameras,” 8 p.m., PBS. Rigging tiny cameras onto animal
collars, scientists get fresh views. One moment, we're burrowing with
meerkats, the next we're in the treetops with a chimp.

“Schitt's Creek”
and “Let's Get Physical,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., Pop. It's good to see
the former TV Guide Channel try new comedies. Still, this is a
mismatch: “Creek” is quiet, clever and Canadian; that serves it
well in this episode about a discovered pregnancy test. “Physical”
gets broad and brash.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, people are far from their comfort zones:
Phil tries survival camping, Claire drives a big rig ... and Manny's
new girlfriend is one of his college professors.

“Chicago P.D.,”
10 p.m., NBC. Antonio is getting close to the Salvadoran detective
(Sofia Lama), then finds she has a secret reason for being in
Chicago. Also, the body of Voight's son's killer is found.

“Waco,” 10 p.m.,
Paramount. Last week's opener (rerunning at 9 p.m.) offered a deep
and intriguing portrait of David Koresh (Taylor Kitsch), the Branch
Davidian leader. It ended with a newcomer (John Leguizamo) movig near
the complex. Now we learn he's an undercover agent, faking a