TV column for Tuesday, July 4


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“A Capitol Fourth,” 8 p.m., PBS; most stations will rerun it at
9:30.

We can expect a
good-time, party mood here. John Stamos, who hosts, will sit in with
the Beach Boys, something he's done often; The Blues Brothers (Dan
Akroyd and Jim Belushi) will sing with one of their heroes, Sam Moore
of Sam-and-Dave fame. And, of course, there will be fireworks.

Still, we can also
expect emotion. Trace Adkins will sing his “Still a Soldier”;
gospel great Yolanda Adams will do “Battle Hymn of the Republic,
backed by a chorus. Also performing are Kellie Pickler, Sofia Carson.
Mark McGrath, Chris Blue and the Four Tops.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular,” 8 p.m.,
NBC, partially rerunning at 10.

Here's some more
holiday spectacle, this time from New York and with commercials
thrown in. The “American Ninja Warrior” hosts will be there,
introducing music by Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum, Jennifer Lopez,
Sheryl Crow, Charlie Puth and Hailee Steinfeld.

Then it's time for
the fireworks. That will be backed by the West Point Band and Glee
Club's “Anthem,” with soloists Heather Headley, Craig Campbell
and Jamie Barton.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Tom Hanks films, cable.

Hanks is everywhere,
as usual. Two of his best films alternate on Spike -- “Forrest
Gump” (1994) at 12:30 and 8 p.m., “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)
at 4 and 11:30. But there's also the subtle perfection of his work in
“Sully” (2016), at 7:50 p.m. on HBO.

Then there's Hanks
as producer. On CNN (barring breaking news), his “The Nineties”
documentary has an excellent opener Sunday; tonight, his “Eighties”
reruns. It eyes '80s TV at 7 p.m. and MTV at 9, then gets serious
with Reagan (10), the Berlin Wall (11), Wall Street (midnight) and
tech (1 a.m.).

Other choices
include:

“Rocky” (1976),
6 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m., Sundance. An American classic runs
three times, with its sequels filling the rest of the day.

“Independence Day”
(1996), 6 and 9 p.m., E. OK, you could watch this film on
Independence Day. Still, it's not really related to the holiday ...
and it's not really very good, once you lose the big-screen
spectacle. Instead, you might try Turner Classic Movies, with a
musical marathon that includes “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942) and
“1776” (1972) at 8 and 10:15 p.m. ET.

“The Words That
Built America,” 7 p.m., HBO, rerunning at 11:35. The Declaration of
Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution are read by a range of
people, from ex-presidents to middle-schoolers.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Here's a rerun of the season-opener, which introduced Wilmer
Valderrama as an undercover agent who disappeared in Argentina. Now a
deadly car explosion is linked to him.

“The Middle,” 8
and 10:30 p.m., ABC. A comedy-rerun marathon starts and ends with
this clever show. First, the kids tell their parents that the
bickering bothers them. Then Brick is writing a musical and his
brother wants to sell the Winnebago.

“Black-ish,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., ABC. It's Christmas time – yes, these are reruns –
and Dre wants it to be special for Zoey, before she goes to college.
In the second episode, he and Junior exchange pranks.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. There's a conflict for Pride, when a
beloved family friend becomes the lead suspect in an NCIS
investigation.

TV column for Monday, July 3


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“So You Think You Can Dance,” 8 p.m., Fox.

On a night with many
people in a holiday-eve mode, new episodes are scarce. This one, at
least, is a worthy rerun, with great dance moves during the second
half of Los Angeles auditions.

It starts with
something that's familiar on this show – gifted contemporary
dancers from Utah. Then come the detours, including a step-dancer,
two “triple-jointed” hip hoppers and a rare combination – a
champion ridin'-shootin' cowboy who says he does “belly dancing as
a hip hop fusion.” It's great fun.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Life in Pieces,” 9:30 p.m., CBS.

For a fairly good
(but inconsistent) show, “Pieces” is remarkably blessed. This
summer, it's behind TV's two best comedies -- “Big Bang” on
Thursdays and “Mom” on Mondays.

Tonight's rerun has
Heather and Tim still hoping their son will annul his teen marriage
to Clementine. They bring in her odd parents – played by real-life
husband-and-wife Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally. There are other
stories, including a so-so one involving Colleen's resentful
roommate.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Preacher,” 9 p.m., AMC., rerunning at 10:03 and
11:06.

On a rerun-stuffed
night, you might try this new episodes ... even if does create a
state of semi-permanent bafflement. Working on a tip that God loves
jazz (logically enough), the preacher heads to New Orleans with
Cassidy and Tulip ... who doesn't tell him that the journey puts her
in deep danger.

He confronts a
blonde beauty with her own secrets. It's all an interesting blur,
bookended by something else – a revisionist view of what happened
to Eugene, the well-meaning lad with the shattered face, Is that the
true version? It's tough to pin down truth in a story of angels,
demons and a jazz-loving God.

Other choices
include:

“Janet King,”
any time, www.acorn.tv. This
Australian series has sharp stories, slick filming and a top Aussie
star, Marta Dusseldorp. An eight-episode story of a cricket scandal
will be doled out at two per Monday, but the start is tough on
Americans, trying to navigate Aussie accents plus cricket rules.

“American Ninja
Warrior” and “Spartan,” 8 and 10 p.m., NBC. Surrounded by
reruns, NBC goes with new episodes, as both shows continue their
qualifying rounds.

“The
Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. This rerun starts with Rachel
Lindsay, the Dallas lawyer, dating a pair of show-biz guys – Lee,
a musician from Nashville, and Kenny, a wrestler from Las Vegas.
After the rose ceremony, the survivors head to Scandinavia, including
Viking games.

“Superhuman,” 9
p.m., Fox. Here's one more show that's not a rerun. It offers lots of
imposing challenges, including one involving the Penn-and-Teller
magic duo.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. As members of Alcoholics Anonymous, these women have stuck with
their sobriety. In this rerun, however, they accidentally eat
pot-laced brownies.

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. Lea Thompson returns as Paige's mother. In this rerun, the
team has been duped into making counterfeit money; now she must use
her grifting skills to save the day.

“Battle of the
Network Stars,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. The instant failure of “Still
Star-Crossed” (now banished to Saturdays) leaves ABC with a hole
after one of its best summer shows. Barring a late change, it plans
to show the “Battle” opener for the third time in five days.

TV column for Sunday, July 2


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Grantchester,” 9 p.m., PBS.

For some people,
this is part of a long 4th-of-July weekend, when
viewership droops. Many networks (HBO, Showtime, Hallmark) skip their
Sunday series.

Not PBS, which has
three straight new drama hours. “Grantchester,” the centerpiece,
has James Norton as Sidney, a1950s vicar, forever solving crimes with
his police friend Geordie (Robson Green). Tonight's mystery is a
smart one, with multiple poisioning and multiple suspects. Alongside
that are morose romances: Sidney's true love may be leaving; Geordie
may be having an affair.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: Cartoon movies, cable.

As new cartoon
movies hit the theaters, their predecessors show up on cable.
“Despicable Me 3” opened Friday; now “1” (2010) is at 7:25
p.m. on Freeform and “2” (2013) is 8 and 10 p.m. on FX. And “Cars
3” arrived two weeks earlier; the original “Cars” (2006) shows
up at 5 p.m. today on Disney.

There's more, to
fill the holiday weekend. Nickelodeon has the “SpongeBob” movie
(2015) at noon, 4 and 8 p.m.; FX has”Home” (2013) at 6. And
Freeform surrounds “Despicable” with other winners – the witty
“Wreck-It Ralph” (2012) at 5:20 p.m. and “Finding Nemo”
(2003) at 9:30.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “America in Color” debut, 8 p.m., Smithsonian.

Each week, an entire
decade will skim past us in one hour; just think of all the
history-class and history-book time you're saving. Yes, it's often
light and surface, but adding color brings old film alive.

This starts with the
1920s, when government was hands-off. Even after the mammoth
Mississippi River flooding, the federal government stayed away. It
also left business and the stock market mostly unregulated; the
economy soared ... then crashed, leading to next week's look at the
'30s.

Other choices
include:

“My Mother and
Other Strangers,” 8 p.m., PBS. Kate Phillips, who played Jane
Seymour in PBS' “Wolf Hall,” gets part of the focus here. She's
Nurse Tillie, trying to come to the rescue in time.

“Big Brother,” 8
p.m., CBS. The show settles into its pattern – 8 p.m. Sundays
(joined next week by “Candy Crush”) and Wednesdays and 9 p.m.
Thursdays.

“The Butler,” 8
p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network, rerunning at 11. Here's logical synergy
– Winfrey's network airing a film in which she has a co-starring
role. Based loosely on the life of a man who was the White House
butler for 34 years, it's done with subtle skill by the “Empire”
people – writer Danny Strong and director Lee Daniels. Forest
Whitaker stars, with Winfrey perfect in a small role as his wife.

“Fear the Walking
Dead,” 9 p.m., AMC. As word spreads of an incoming threat, loyalty
wavers.

“First Ladies
Revealed” debut, 9 p.m., Smithsonian. This series starts with a
look at the impact style. It tends to be too fawning, especially with
Jacqueline Kennedy, who dominates this hour. Much better are the
brief sections dealing with Dolly Madison and Nancy Reagan.

Claws,” 9 p.m.,
TNT, rerunning at 10. Desna faces deep pressure, covering up the
murder of her lover. In a so-so episode, the problem expands when her
friend's hapless husband joins the hunt for the killer.

“Tennison,” 10
p.m., PBS. Last week's opener took the “Prime Suspect” figure
back to the start of her police career in 1973. Ignored by men, she
found a key clue in the murder of Julie Ann Collins, a prostitute
with a posh background. Now Julie Ann's father faces intense
questioning and her boyfriend continues with his family's bank-heist
scheme. It's a strong episode, complete with an ethical dilemma.

TV column for Saturday, July 1


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

Kristen Wiig was an
“SNL” regular for seven years and the show's star for several of
them. She kept doing big characters, ranging from hilarious to merely
excessive.

In this rerun –
her second turn as host – she brought back a couple of those
characters. There she was as the “Secret Word” contestant who
keeps blurting out the secret word ... and as someone who's way to
excited about surprise parties. The latter one comes late in the
show, after her bit as a cat-lover. Earlier, Steve Martin visits her
opening and Cecily Strong joins her in a funny home-shopping
auditions sketch.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Doubt” return, 8 p.m., CBS.

Stuffed with
high-profile people and flashy stories, this was launched with strong
expectations last February ... and yanked after two weeks. The
characters were interesting, but the legal stories weren't; now
“Doubt” can end its run on Saturdays, relatively unnoticed.

Sadie (Katherine
Heigl) is both the lawyer and the lover of Billy (Steven Pasquale), a
doctor facing murder charges; she confronts him with new evidence and
is disappointed by his response. Also, Cameron and Tiffany (Laverne
Cox and Dreama Walker) defend a psychic accused of grand larceny.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Doctor Who” season-finale, 8:30-10 p.m. ET, BBC
America.

Ever since 1963
(with some long breaks), “Doctor Who” has offered fantasy stories
that jump nimbly between goofy and brilliant. This season is the
third for Peter Capaldi as The Doctor.

At 9 a.m., you can
catch a rerun of the season-opener (a good one) that introduced his
new companion, a startled student played by Pearl Mackie. Reruns of
the rest of the season follow; then the finale has the Doctor
confronting Cybermen, in an attempt to save a small band of humans.

Other choices
include:

Animated movies,
cable. For some families, this is the start of a long holiday
weekend; hyper kids need TV time. Freeform has older cartoon movies
from 7 a.m. to 2:35 p.m., then returns with the witty “Wreck-It
Ralph” (2012) at 7:25 p.m., “Despicable Me” (2010) at 9:30 and
“Strange Magic” (2015) at 11:35. At 8 p.m., Disney has “Cars”
(2006) and Nickelodeon has the “SpongeBob” movie (2015).

Sports, 7 p.m. ET,
NBC and Fox. Half the big-four networks are tied up with sports
tonight. It's baseball (varying by region) on Fox and NASCAR (from
Daytona) on NBC.

“Battle of the
Network Stars,” 8 p.m., ABC. Here's a quick rerun of Thursday's
hour, launching a series based on some long-ago specials. This opener
had a “TV Kids” team, with Lisa Whelchel and Kim Fields of “Facts
of Life,” Nolan Gould of “Modern Family,” Corbin Bleu of the
“High School Musical” and Joey Lawrence of “Blossom” and
beyond. They face a “TV Sitcoms” team that has Bronson Pinchot,
Tom Arnold, Dave Coulier, AJ Michalka and Tracy Gold.

“In An Instant,”
9-11 p.m., ABC. Tentatively scheduled is a true story – using
witnesses and re-enactments – called “Match Made in Hell.”

“The Incredible
Dr. Pol” season-opener, 9 p.m. ET (6 and 9 p.m. PT), NatGeo Wild.
Dr. Jan Pol, 74, a veterinarian in small-town Michigan, makes a
long-overdue trip to his Dutch homeland. That's surrounded by reruns
from noon to midnight ET (9 a.m. to midnight PT), including the
show's 100th episode, filled with memories, at 8 and 11
p.m. ET (5 and 8 p.m. PT).

“Turn,” 9 p.m.,
AMC, rerunning at 10. Last week, the fake-hostage scheme turned
disastrous. Caleb was rescued, but Abe's dad – a judge, respected
by the Redcoats, but now helping Washington's spies – was killed.
Now the spies must regroup; also, Washington's unpaid soldiers rebel.

“Orphan Black,”
10 p.m., BBC America. Sarah and her foster mother are on the road,
after hearing about a defector. Meanwhile, Cosima's research leads to
a jolting discovery.

TV column for Friday, June 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Killjoys” season-opener, 8 p.m., Syfy.

The Syfy people are
in another makeover, talking of new approaches and new shows; still,
this one – a Canadian transplant, starting its third season – is
a prime example of what to do. It has action, humor and sci-fi
spectacle, but also pauses for emotion. It's plot gets tangled, but
is worth the trouble.

There are two
stories now, each adding a character for contrast. Dutch and D'avin
search for a weapon that can lure the Hullen; they meet a
boyish-looking black-marketer who shares none of their noble traits.
And as Johnny (D'avin's brother) steps into danger, he meets a tough,
homeless young woman.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Masters of Illusion” season-opener, 8 and 8:30 p.m., CW.

Most shows throw in
a contest, an award, some kind of challenge. Not this one; it simply
packs together quick magic acts. In two half-hours, Dean Cain
introduces 13 of them.

Best-known is Nathan
Burton, who had two runs at “America's Got Talent,” then started
his own Las Vegas show. Others include Jibrizy, Joshua Jay, Billy
Kidd, Jason Bird, Sos Petrosyan and many more.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “ Landmarks Live in Concert,” 10 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).

This is sort of what
we expect from PBS – lush music in elegant places.

Back in 1299,
Florence began building its Palazzo Vecchio. Flowing with grand
paintings and statues, it's been frequented by Michelangelo, da Vinci
and now Andrea Bocelli. With Zubin Mehta conducting, he sings with
Carly Paoli, Maria Aleida and more. Also, host Chad Smith (the Red
Hot Chili Peppers drummer) frolics in Florence and at the Tuscany
estate where Bocelli has lived since boyhood.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
Streaming series, any time, Netflix and Amazon.

Three shows arrive
today, covering most viewers. Netflix has “Gypsy,” with Naomi
Watts as a therapist who goes way too far: She assmes an alter-ego to
get involved with people her patients mention.

And Amazon? For
sports fans, “All or Nothing” traces the first season of the
Rams' return to Los Angeles. For kids, “Danger & Eggs” is an
animated show – always fun, sometimes too hyper – about
mismatched friends: D.D. Danger (voiced by Aidy Bryant of “Saturday
Night Live”) takes big chances. Her friend doesn't, which is
understandable; he's an egg and Humpty Dumpty tales never end well.

Other choices
include:

Fantasy films, all
night. Fantasy fills up cable tonight, with three Syfy series and
lots of movies. Freeform has “Twilight” (2008) and its sequel
(2009) at 4:45 and 7:50 p.m.; FX has the hit “Guardians of the
Galaxy” (2014) and IFC has James Cameron's brilliant “Aliens”
(1986). Also, there are animated films at 8 p.m. on Nickelodeon
(“SpongeBob,” 2015) and TNT (“Shrek,” 2001, with its sequel
at 10).

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. Aly Michalka (“Hellcats,” “iZombie”) guests in
this rerun. She plays Mac's former college friend who faked her death
when someone tried to kill her and suppress her research.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Lou Diamond Phillips plays a tough federal marshal, in a
rerun involving a suspect seeking sanctuary on the land of the Nation
of Hawaii independence group.

“Dark Matter”
and “Wynonna Earp,” 9 and 10 p.m., Syfy. The “Killjoys”
opener starts a night of fresh fantasy. At 9, the crew hopes to
rescue a princess and retrieve a file that could stop the war. At 10,
Wynonna – battling demons, in the style of her gunslinger ancestor
– fights for her sister's soul.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds Jamie and his police partner becoming
overly involved in a complicated adoption case; they turn to his
sister, a lawyer, for help.

“Playing House,”
11 and 11:30 p.m., USA. Emma and Mark are finally back together, long
after they almost married as teens. What could ruin this? Possibly
her mother, joining the basketball team he coaches. It's a fairly
funny episode, followed by one in which Maggie acts in a nursing
video.