TV column for Thursday, June 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Modern Family” (ABC) or “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS), both 8
p.m.

Here's a rarity –
two of TV's best (and most-honored) comedies colliding, via reruns.
That was set up by a late ABC switch, pushing its movie to 8:30 and
inserting “Modern”; this episode finds Haley trying to stop Andy
from proposing to Beth and Cam trying to nudge Mitchell back to his
old job.

And “Big Bang”?
Raj – once unable to talk to women, now finds himself trying to
juggle Claire and Emily. Sheldon and Amy celebrate Valentine's Day
with, of course, a “Fun With Flags” podcast.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “ET” (1982), 8 p.m., Showtime; “War of the Worlds”
(2005), 8:30, ABC.

Steven Spielberg
movies seem to range only from very good to truly great. “War of
the Worlds” is the former, a well-made action tale. As aliens
attack, a blue-collar dad (Tom Cruise) struggles to get his kids (one
of them Dakota Fanning) to their moms' house.

It's a good piece of
craftsmanship ... but “E.T.” (1982) is much more. Spielberg
reminds us that alongside soaring action, it's possible to have
warmth, depth, humanity and even a tad of humor.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Amy Schumer, all night, comedy central.

Schumer has become a
fresh force – bringing intelligence to R-rated sexual humor, while
adding some satire and depth. Her stand-up comedy is broadly funny;
her “Inside Amy Schumer” series is inconsistent (most
sketch-comedy shows are), with enough great moments to keep us
watching.

Now people who like
adult-type humor can get the full experience. Her “Mostly Sex
Stuff” stand-up hour reruns at 8:56 and 11 p.m.; a new “Inside
Amy Schumer” is at 10 p.m., rerunning at 1:01 a.m. In between is
Nikki Glaser's show at 10:30 and “Amy Schumer Presents Rachel
Feinstein” at 12:01 a.m.

Other choices
include:

“American Grit”
finale, 8-10 p.m., Fox. This tough show – sometimes closer to
sadism than entertainment -- claims it will offer its roughest
challenges yet. That includes being timed while suspended upside-down
over a waterfall, moving hand-to-hand via a wire.

“Uncle Buck”
(1989), 8 p.m., AMC. On Tuesday, ABC will debut a series version –
the second attempt to turn “Buck” into a situation-comedy. First,
here's the movie, with a ne'er do well suddenly watching his
brother's kids. It's a fairly fun film, boosted by the charm of John
Candy and Macaulay Culkin.

“Life in Pieces,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. Colleen's former boyfriend (Jordan Peele of “Key
and Peele”) is back, in a funny episode. After trying to steal her
dog, he pushes his latest business venture. Also, Heather wants to
abandon her longtime hairdresser (Alex Borstein).

“Beauty and the
Beast,” 9 p.m., CW. Last week's season-opener saw Vincent and Cat
rush back from their honeymoon, when a blogger was about to expose
the beasts. Now they're protecting an heiress while searching for a
black-market buyer of beasts; keeping Vincent's identity secret
becomes crucial.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun finds Christy happy (temporarily) that her daughter
wants to spend more time with her. Also, her own mom tries to make
amends with a nemesis (Amy Hill).

“Code Black,” 10
p.m., CBS. Arriving at the emergency room, a woman is unable to say
how she injured herself and others. Also, Christa tries to help an
illegal immigrant whose son is ill

“Ladylike”
debut,11:02 p.m., MTV, rerunning at 11:34. Here's a new hidden-camera
show, with three of the women from “Girl Code.”

TV column for Wednesday, June 8


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Americans” season-finale, 10-11:14 p.m., FX.

With subtlety and
depth, this hour delivers shellshocks of change. Russian spies are
embedded into 1980s America; one (superbly played by Dylan Baker) has
stolen a fierce virus from a U.S. lab and prepares to deliver it. An
FBI agent closes in ... unaware that his own neighbors are also
spies.

That puts fresh
pressure on Phillip and Elizabeth. At what point do they retreat to
their Russian homeland? What would that do to their teen son and
daughter? Huge emotions build quietly.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “CMT Music Awards,” 8-11 p.m., CMT, Nickelodon and TV Land.

Like the Grammys,
this will be strong on new combinations, sometimes crossing genres.
Billy Ray Cyrus links with Cheap Trick, Dierks Bentley with Elle
King, Cam with Fifth Hartmony.

There's more –
Blake Shelton with the Oak Ridge Boys; Keith Urban with his
tourmates, Brett Eldredge and Maren Morris. Also performing: Luke
Bryan, Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Night Shift,” 10 p.m., NBC.

Here is the exact
opposite of “Americans.” While one show builds emotions
delicately, the other plows them in with a bulldozer. This hour has
absurd conflicts, designed to rush the plot along; it also has three
moments when characters change their personalities instantly, for
plot convenience.

Still, credit “Night
Shift” for merges medical stories with high-octane characters, most
of them ex-military. The show is richly diverse, now adding an
American Indian doctor played by Tanaya Beatty, whose roots are
Canadian First Nations and Himalayan. It's sometimes interesating,
flaws and all.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Macho men, everywhere.

Somehow, Wednesdays
have become adrenaline-overload night. Alpha males (and females)
abound in NBC's “American Ninja Warrior” (8-10 p.m.) and “Night
Shift” and in ABC's basketball finals (9 p.m ET, with previews at 8
and 8:30); there's even one leading a cooking show.

And in the midst of
this, cable has the best-crafted macho portrait in movie history. “A
Streetcar Named Desire” (1951, 8 p.m. ET on Turner Classic Movies)
was brilliantly written by Tennessee Williams and superbly acted by
Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden and more.

Other choices
include:

“Arrow,” 8 p.m.,
CW. Here's a rerun of the seaspn-opener, introducing the nasty Damien
Darkh, played by Neal McDonough.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. Last week's season-opener showed how to add competitive
spark to auditions: Have two people compete in cook-offs for each of
the 20 spots. Now that phase continues.

“Wayward Pines,”
9 p.m., Fox. Why was nasty Jason chosen to be the young leader of
this community? Tonight, we learn via flashbacks; other flashbacks
(bringing back Terrence Howard as the late sheriff) show why Theo was
chosen as the doctor. And Nurse Pam (Melissa Leo) returns, posing a
threat.

Movies, 9 p.m.,
cable. Here are three good comedies to choose from. “Vacation”
(1983, AMC) stars Chevy Chase ... “Mean Girls” (2004, Freeform)
was writtenn by and co-stars Tina Fey ... “The Intern” (2015,
HBO) is inconsistent, but links Oscar-winners Robert De Niro and Anne
Hathaway.

“Kingdom,” 9
p.m., DirecTV/AT&T. Beautiful and troubled, Ava (Lina Esco) has
driven from Miami to California to see Alicia. She knows nothing of
Alicia's violent new world – but is about to get a startling view.
That comes during a strong episode involving recent tragedy –
Alvey's stillborn baby, Ryan's injury; also, Nate learns what those
$10,000-a-month “personal trainer” payments were about.

“Criminal Minds:
Beyond Borders,” 10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a former U.S. serviceman
was killed in an Egyptian gas attack and his friend is missing. The
team heads there to investigate, aided by Penelope Garcia (Kirsten
Vangsness) of the “Criminal Minds” team.

TV column for Tuesday, June 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Hotel Hell,” 8 p.m., Fox.

This may be the
perfect setting for a historic-feeling hotel. Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
(site of John Brown's 1859 raid) is nestled between between the
Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. There, Town's Inn merges two 1840s
houses; Gordon Ramsay is impressed ... until he steps inside, amid
the clutter.

His $130 room has a
large cabinet ... with a chain and lock. “That's private .... just
ignore it,” says innkeeper Karan Townsend. A retired teacher, she
has a doctorate and is “one of the most bizarre owners I've ever
met,” Ramsay says. Now she's the focus of an odd -- and often funny
– two-parter.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “America's Got Talent” (NBC) or “The Bachelorette” (ABC),
8-10 p.m.

Here's a rare battle
between two summertime reality leaders.

“Talent”
continues its auditions, in its second week with Simon Cowell as
judge. “The Bachelorette” has a rare week when it's on both
Monday and Tuesday; JoJo Fletcher takes the 14 remaining guys to
Pennsylvania where one has a date with her in the woods.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Feed the Beast,” 10 p.m., AMC; and more.

After drenching
David Schwimmer's character with tragedy in Sunday's opener (which
reruns at 9), “Feed” moves to its regular spot. It offers a
glimmer of hope – maybe he and his troubled friend can start an
upscale Bronx restaurant – and then pours in more woe; the result
is well-made, but relentless.

Drama fans could
also try “Suspects,” which has just added two four-episode
seasons at www.acorn.tv. This
British cop show has a ragged, naturalistic style for its camerawork
and dialog. That makes the stories intriguing – the season-opener
swirls with surprises – but also makes the accents hard to follow.

Other choices
include:

“Celebrity Wife
Swap,” 5 p.m. to 4 a.m., Lifetime. This marathon has plenty of
reruns, starting with ex-Playmate Kendra Wilkinson swapping places
with Kate Gosselin, who's raising eight kids. In the midst of that
are two new hours; they involve former “Bachelor” guys Sean Lowe
and Jason Masnick (8 p.m.) and rockers Vince Neil and Gunnar Nelson
(9).

“NCIS” and
“NCIS: New Orleans,” 8 and 9 p.m., CBS. The first rerun has
Bishop and McGee going undercover as a married couple, as they probe
the death of a Marine, shortly before he was set to meet with Gibbs.
The second probes the murder of a blogger who was exposing government
cover-ups.

“Bert the
Conquerer” season-opener, 8 and 8:30 p.m., Travel. OK, Bert
Kreischer doesn't really conquer anything except his fears. In the
first episode, he's in Massachusetts, to try two harrowing rides at
Six Flags New England. In the second, he's in Maine for a festival's
“Lobster Crate Race.”

“Containment,” 9
p.m., CW. Oddly, the show pauses for a rerun,before resuming its
story next week. Tonight, chaos inside the containment zone leaves
Lex pleading to send in more police

“Person of
Interest,” 10 p.m., CBS. Now down to once-a-week for its final
three episodes, the show has a big story: The machine lists the U.S.
president as a future victim or killer.

“20/20,” 10
p.m., ABC. Robin Roberts interviews Bobby Brown, whose memoir (“Every
Little Step”) discusses his music career, his personal troubles and
his marriage to Whitney Houston.

“West Texas
Investors Club” season-opener, 10 p.m., CNBC. This follows Rooster
McConaughey (whose little brother Matthew is an Oscar-winner) and
Butch Gilliam as they consider investing in entrepreneurs. That
starts with an idea close to their hearts – a tap that makes full
use of beer kegs.

TV column for Monday, June 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Mistresses,” 10:01 p.m., ABC.

This show has
improved thoroughly since the mopey Savi left. Now it centers on Joss
(Savi's sister), a terrific character who tend to boom ahead, with
mixed (and interesting) results. She links with the hesitent Karen
and April ... with a new character arriving tonight, bringing
much-needed contrast.

Tonight's hour
juggles humor, romance, serious drama and silly soapiness. At times,
it flubs: When Joss says Harry (her fiance, Savi's ex-husband) is
“acting like a crazy person” and he calls her “very
melodramatic,” both are correct. Usually, however, “Mistresses”
finds the spot between mope and soap.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Scorpion,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS.

After being bumped
by comedies for a while, this show has two reruns tonight and another
Saturday.

Tonight's first one
sees Walter visit his sister in the hospital, along with their
parents and his colleagues; then there's a fungus outbreak, leaving a
pack of geniuses under quarantine. The second has torrential rain on
Christmas Eve, leaving a crack in a dam and a town in peril.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Unreal” season-opener, 10 p.m., Lifetime.

A year ago, Rachel
(Shiri Appleby) was an alcoholic who'd imploded on-camera, while
working on a “Bachelor”-type show. Still, she was skilled at
stirring trouble. “We don't solve problems, we create them,” she
explains tonight. “And then we point cameras at them.”

Now she's the
showrunner, as bitter as ever. Her old boss was promoted to producer
... replacing a guy who schemes to return. After choosing a black
bachelor, Rachel tries to concoct racial tension. Some of this seems
repetitious, an unbroken sea of cynicism; still, there are moments of
real brilliance.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Devious Maids” season-opener, 9 p.m., Lifetime.

At times tonight,
“Maids” turns serious. Zoila (Judy Reyes) returns to work for the
boss (Susan Lucci) who gave doctors a key instruction: Prioritize
Zoila, at the expense of her unborn baby. Clumsily crafted, those
scenes are quite awful; we're glad when “Maids” returns to being
a camp-ish soap spoof.

Such moments start
instantly, with Eva Longoria (one of the show's producers) briefly
playing herself. There are more gems involving two troubled couples –
each with the spouse withholding the truth. And in the final minutes,
there's a death, a mistaken identity and the promise of more fun to
come.

Other choices
include:

“The
Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Usually confined to one night a
week, “Bachelorette” has episodes today and Tuesday. Tonight, a
one-on-one date includes yoga and a solo concert by Charles Kelley,
who is also in the country group Lady Anebellum.

“So You Think You
Can Dance,” 8 p.m., Fox. Here's the second night of auditions for
this season, which is sticking to ages 8 to 13.

“2 Broke Girls,”
8:30 p.m., CBS. This show returns to Mondays, where it will be this
fall. Tonight (after a funny “Mom” lead-in at 8 p.m.), Max and
Caroline work at a gym for a logical reason – their shower broke
and they need to borrow one here.

“Houdini &
Doyle,” 9 p.m., Fox. Who knew there were alien-abduction claims
back in 1901 London? Tonight, one man insists he was abducted. When
Conan Doyle goes missing, Harry Houdini worries.

“Cake Wars,” 9
p.m., Food. Anyone who turns 75 deserves a birthay cake. Tonight,
contestants prepare ones for Captain America.

“Hunters,” 10
p.m., Syfy. For Regan, the alien working on an anti-alien task force,
this is tough: She bargains one family member's fate, to get
another's freedom.

TV column for Sunday, June 5


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Miss USA pageant, 7-10 p.m., Fox.

Now safely a
no-Trump event, this show has a lower profile. Last year, it imploded
after Donald Trump derided Mexican immigrants. NBC – which co-owned
the pageant with Trump -- dropped out; so did Univision and the hosts
and singers. Later, Trump and NBC sold it to a group of agents and
managers.

So now it can start
over. It's live from Las Vegas, with music by the Backstreet Boys and
country's Chris Young. Terrence J – of E News and Fox's “Coupled”
-- and plus-sized model Ashley Gordon will host, introducing 52
women, many of them, perhaps, minus-size.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Game of Silence” finale, 10 p.m., NBC.

After some mis-steps
and excesses, “Game” has become an involving tale of revenge.
Breaking into a safe, three guys have found evidence of corruption by
a congressional candidate who was the warden at the juvenile
detention center where they were brutalized. But none of that can be
used in court.

So Gil tries a new
plan, with his girlfriend (and Jackson's ex-girlfriend) Jessie.
Jackson has finally explained things to his rich fiancee ... who
hasn't told him she's pregnant. It's still a secretive game.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Feed the Beast” debut, 10 p.m., AMC.

Even in a funny,
friendly show, David Schwimmer seemed forlorn. Now his character
faces a hideous cascade of grief: When his wife died, he became an
alcoholic and their son became mute; his friend, a cocaine addict,
burned down their restaurant and confessed, costing a mobster
$600,000.

When his friend
displays his chef skills, we see that “Feed” could eventually
click. During much of the opener, however, this is simply too much of
a bad thing.

Other choices
include:

“Preacher,” 7:45
and 9 p.m., AMC. First is a rerun of the season-opener; dazzling and
perplexing, it finds global oddities, then settles (mostly) on a
small-town, ex-con preacher. Then comes a new episode at 9 (rerunning
at 11:08), with Jesse trying to be a good preacher.

Basketball, 8 p.m.
ET, ABC, with previews at 7 and 7:30. It's the second game in the
best-of-seven finals, between Stephen Curry's Golden State Warriors
and LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers.

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a rerun of Wednesday's opener,
with the Los Angeles tryouts for this obstacle-course competition.

“Legends &
Lies,” 8 p.m. ET, Fox News. Over the next nine weeks, this series
(produced by Bill O'Reilly) will focus on the American Revolution.
That starts with Sam Adams, Paul Revere and the events leading to the
“Boston massacre.”

“I Am Rebel”
debut, 9 p.m., National Geographic. As Louis Moore tells it, 1960s
Detroit seethed with police racism and brutality. He and two friends
planned to tell the world about it in 1972, hijacking a plane and
demanding money and a talk with the president. That launched a
bizarre flight that went to Cuba (twice) and Florida. It's a
fascinating story, told here by Moore, about 70, and others.

“Garage Sale
Mystery: The Novel Murders,” 9-11 p.m., Hallmark Movies &
Mysteries. On four straight Sundays, there will be a new mystery
movie starring a likable actress. Coming are Candace Cameron Bure,
Alison Sweeney and Brooke Shields; first is Lori Loughlin, in her
sixth film as an antiques expert; the others rerun at 11 a.m. and 1,
3, 5, and 7 p.m. This one ranges from gentle (even funny) family
drama to an overwrought ending, but is mostly a solid drama.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. This rerun finds the police shunning Sherlock, leaving him
with no income. His dad (John Noble) offers to help, but Sherolck
distrusts his motives.