TV column for Saturday, March 19


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Basketball, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC; all day, CBS and beyond.

Right now,
basketball Is ready to gobble all our TV time. ABC has the two
leading pro teams, with the Golden State Warriors visiting the San
Antonio Spurs; CBS and cable have the college tournaments.

The women fill
ESPN2, starting at noon ET; by the end of the night, they'll be down
to 32 teams. For the men, CBS has back-to-back games, tipping off
shortly after noon, 2:30, 5 and 7:30 p.m. ET. TNT has games at 6 and
8:30 p.m., TBS at 7 and 9:30. By the end of the night, the men will
be halfway toward trimming their field to 16.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT SEE:
“Where Are They Now?” 10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network.

Two decades ago,
Oprah's Book Club debuted with instant results. Jacquelyn Mitchard's
“The Deep End of the Ocean” had peaked at No. 14 in sales; it
leaped to No. 1 and stayed there for 13 weeks.

What happened to
her? She's gone on to have several other successful novels ... then
lost her money in a Ponzi scheme that reportedly drained $190 million
from 1,000-plus people. Here's an update on her, plus looks at
singers Naomi Judd and Gerardo and chef Carla Hall.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
“The Jungle Book” (1967), 6:45 p.m., Freeform.

As songwriter
Richard Sherman tells it, he and his brother were summoned one day by
Walt Disney. They were asked if they'd ever read Rudyard Kipling's
“The Jungle Book.” They hadn't ... which pleased Disney, who felt
the book (and an adaptation by his staff) was too dark.

So the Shermans
wrote jaunty songs for a cheery tale. You can catch that now – four
weeks before Disney's new, “Avatar”-style version – on a day of
animated gems. That includes “Dumbo” (1941) at 1, “Alice in
Wonderland” (1951) at 2:30, “A Bug's Life” (1998) at 4:30 and
“Ratatouille” (2007) at 9.

Other choices
include:

“Bridesmaids”
(2011), 6 and 9 p.m., E. This comedy, like the cartoons, seems
slotted to appeal to the non-basketball crowd. Kristen Wiig starred
and co-wrote it, with lots of laughs and little subtlety.

“Rosewood,” 8
p.m., Fox. An ex-con had been trying to turn his life around. Now
he's been murdered; in this rerun, Dr. Rosewood and Villa search for
the killer. Also, Villa's having bad dreams and Rosewood finds a
change in his relationship with Kat (Nicole Ari Parker).

More movies, 8 p.m.,
cable. The epic “Avatar” (2009, FX) was great on a big screen and
is OK here. Others are the terrific “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”
(1982) on IFC and “Monuments Men” (2014), a sturdy – but
sometimes scattered – George Clooney film on AMC, rerunning at
10:30. “The Lone Ranger” (2013, USA) has great moments, but tries
too many of them, repeating itself.

“School of Rock,”
8:30 p.m., Nickelodeon. The 2003 movie – written by Mike White and
starring Jack Black – was a delight, with a jobless musician
tricking his way into a teaching job. The TV version debuted last
week, with Tony Cavalero starring; tonight, Summer asks Tomika to
help her audition.

“Lucifer,” 9
p.m., Fox. A shooting at a fashion show intrigues Lucifer in this
rerun, so he tries to get Chloe interested in the case. Also, Maze
tells Amenadiel she wants to go back to Hell.

“Black Sails,” 9
p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10 and 11. Setting up next week's
season-finale, Flint and Silver prepare to go to war, while others
try to free Vane. Also, Eleanor risks everything to help Rogers.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Chris Hemsworth hosts this rerun, with
Chance the Rapper as music guest.

TV column for Friday, March 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Basketball, all day, four networks.

The second day of
the NCAA tournament is here, wiping out CBS's soaps, cop shows and
“The Amazing Race.” The network starts at 12:15 p.m. ET with
Dayton (seeded No. 7) and Syracuse (10); then powerhouse Michigan
State (2) faces Middle Tennessee (No. 15). At 7:15 p.m., CBS has West
Virginia (3) and Stephen F. Austin (14) at 7:10, then Notre Dame and Michigan.

Cable adds more.
TruTV has one doubleheader at 12:40 pm. ET and another at 7:27 p.m.
ET; TNT has them at 1:30 and 6:50 p.m., TBS at 2 and 7:20 p.m.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Second Chance,” 9 p.m., Fox.

A clever blend of
cop show and supernatural thriller, this starts with a broad notion:
A few people have the rare gene that makes re-generation (and eternal
life) possible. One was a crabby ex-cop: Genius siblings have
re-generated him as a tough young man; only his son Duval, an FBI
man, knows.

Alongside all that
weirdness are skillfully drawn characters. Adhir Kalyan (Timmy in
“Rules of Engagement” ia Otto, consumed by his emotional need for
his sister Mary (Dilshad Vadsaria, from “Greek” and “Revenge”).
Tonight, that explodes in events that leaves Duval shattered and
explosive.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Daredevil” and “Pee-wee's Big Holiday,” any
time, Netflix.

Two weeks after
releasing the “House of Cards” season, Netflix has another big
Friday. The key is the second season of “Daredevil,” a blind
superhero lawyer (three words that rarely go together).

Also important,
however, is “Holiday.” Three decades after triumphing in the Tim
Burton film “Pee-wee's Big Adveture,” Paul Reubens' boyish
character finally has another movie of his own. This time, an odd
stranger talks him into taking his first real holiday trip.

Other choices
include:

“The Bourne
Identity” (2002) and “Bourne Supremacy” (2004), 7 and 9:30
p.m., AMC. These smart adventures launch a night of high-octane
films. You can even choose Captain America by himself (2011, 8 p.m.,
FX) or with his pals in the impressive “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
(2015) at 9 on Starz.

“Inside Out”
(2015), 7:20 p.m., Starz. As the weekend starts, families can catch a
gem. It won the Academy Award for animated feature and was nominated
for a script filled with grown-up wit. For another animated choice,
“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” (2008) is 7 p.m. on
Nickelodeon.

“Sleepy Hollow,”
8 p.m., Fox. After a supernatural event, Abbie and Ichabod are forced
to work with some foes. Meanwhile, her sister Jenny is trying to fix
her fractured relationship with Joe.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. Reba McEntire plays Mike's long-ago
girlfriend, now a famous climber. She agrees to sell her products at
the store ... but only if he travels with her promotional tour

"Wall Street Week," 8 p.m., Fox Business Network.The show makes its FBN debut, nudging "Stossel" back to 9. In the opener, Maria Bartiromo and others talk with Gen. David Petraeus, the former CIA director, about issues -- ISIS, oil, privacy -- affecting business. 

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. Ken's self-esteem – always quite high – soars after he
gets to be an expert witness at a trial. Then it plummets when an
attorney (Jim Rash) shreds his testimony.

“Grimm,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. Never trust an evil mask-maker. Now one is designing masks that
make wrestlers deadly. Meanwhile, Captain Renard prepares for his
ultimate power thrust.

“Animal Storm
Squad,” 10 p.m., NatGeo Wild. A tornado ripped into Van, Texas,
last May, killing two people, injuring 42 and damaging 50-plus homes.
While most efforts focused on the people and property, this likable
squad tried to rescue pets. This is the second episode of a feel-good
reality show.

TV column for Thursday, March 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“How to Get Away with Murder” season-finale, 10 p.m., ABC.

On a night stuffed
with live distractions – basketball, “American Idol,” St.
Patrick's Day parties -- “Murder” wraps up its little, 15-episode
season.

In its first season,
Viola Davis won an Emmy as Annalise, the law professor who usually
had a steely grip on her students and her life. Now, however, chaos
seems to surround her and she needs to get away; also, Frank tries to
come to grips with what he's done and Wes learns more about his past.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “American Idol,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

We're only three
weeks away from the final episode of a show that has changed lives
and changed TV. Adam Lambert – a powerhouse talent who was
runner-up to Kris Allen in 2009 – will perform; also, the
six-person field will be trimmed and viewers will vote.

Last week, they put
Avalon Young, Lee Jean and Sonika Vaid in the bottom three. Vaid
responded with a passionate ballad and was spared; now she facers
the immensely talented La'Porsa Renae and Trent Harmon, plus Tristan McIntosh, Dalton Rapattoni and MacKenzie Bourg. It should be a strong
finish.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
Basketball, all day, four networks.

Over the next four
days, the NCAA tournament will consume CBS – sorry, no soaps, no
“Big Bang” -- and three cable networks. CBS starts its first
doubleheader at 12:15 on, ET with Duke facing North Carolina,
Wilmington and then with Baylor and Yale. After a news break, a 7:10
p.m. doubleheader has Indiana and Chattanooga and then Kentucky and
Stony Brook.

Meanwhile, cable has
a dozen more games. TruTV has doubleheaders at 12:40 and 7:27 p.m.
ET, TNT at 1:30 and 6:50 p.m. and TBS at 2 and 7:20 p.m.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Colony” season-finale, 10 p.m., USA.

Last week, the split
in the Bowman home hit a peak: Will, working with the collaborator
government, had a plan for his family to escape; on the same night,
his wife Katie – a resistance fighter against the alien overlords –
had a military action.

She prevailed,
apparently killing a key alien. Tonight, the aftershocks are fierce,
as Will scrambles to shield her. It's a well-made hour, but
constricts itself by making the aliens an unbeatable force.

Other choices
include:

“You, Me and the
Apocalypse,” 8 p.m., NBC. Two weeks from the season-finale, things
are chaotic. Jamie finally found his wife, but their daughter has
been kidnapped by his evil twin Ariel. A priest (Rob Lowe) finds
himself increasingly drawn to a nun. And plans to stop the meteor
have sputtered,

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Life gets complicated when Richard switches pairings for
residents and attending physicians.. Meanwhile, Arizona tries a risky
step for a woman expecting quadruplets.

“Scandal,” 9
p.m., ABC. Last week found the president having quickie affairs; his
ex-lover Olivia was reluctantly advising his ex-wife Mellie, now a
senator and presidential hopeful. Also, his aide Cyrus lied to
convince an honest governor to run for president. Tonight, Olivia
continues spying on Jake, the ex-lover who last week announced his
engagement to an upper-crust lawyer.

“The Blacklist,”
9 p.m., NBC. Chances are, many of this show's fans will be watching
basketball tonight. So NBC tosses in a rerun, with Liz in jail and
Red scrambling to protect her.

“Shades of Blue,”
10 p.m., NBC. Harlee pushes ahead with her scheme to do the heist,
get immunity for her crew and nail Wozniak (Ray Liotta), her
crooked-cop boss. Then things go wrong.

“Real World”
season-opener, 10 p.m., MTV. It was back in 1992 – eight years
before “Survivor,” a decade before most reality shows – that
this brough a fresh concept to TV. Now, in its 31st
edition, it copies its descendants a bit: Roommates who fail to do
some tasks will be sent home early.

TV column for Wednesday, March 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Nashville” return, 10 p.m., ABC.

On the verge of its
biggest moment – the wedding of Rayna and Deacon -- “Nashville”
took a three-month break. Now it's back ... and throwing in all sorts
of soap-style detours.

Many of them feel
contrived, but a few are substantial because they focus on troubled
Juliette. Only one person knows she was responsible for Jeff
Fordham's death; only a few (including her estranged husband Avery)
know she's in rehab. Alongside all the soapiness are some tender
songs, skillfully sung by Charles Esten (Deacon), Clare Bowen
(Scarlett) and Lennon and Maisy Stella (Rayna's daughters).

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” debut, 10 p.m., CBS.

This series starts
by imagining there's a sort of federal superteam that jets around the
world, rescuing Americans overseas. Gary Sinise is in charge and soon
needs an old colleague (Alana De La Garza).

Their first case is
a tough one: Three volunteers have disappeared in Thailand and a
storm threatens to obliterate any evidence. The result is a fairly
solid mystery-adventure hour.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Americans” season-opener, 10 p.m., FX.

For people who are
great at keeping secrets, Philip and Elizabeth have suddenly turned
chatty. They told their daughter that they're foreigh spies; now
Philip tells Martha (whom he married under his alternate identity as
Clark) that he murdered the co-worker who was onto them.

Both create fresh
problems – as does Philip's friendship with a neighbor's wife. A
flawless guy shows some odd slips ... and is plagued by a fierce
boyhood incident, which we see in flashbacks.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Fargo” (1996) and “Hap and Leonard,” 8 and 10
p.m., Sundance.

There's a special
artform to building a show around quiet people. “Fargo” (terse
Northerners) mastered that; “Hap and Leonard” (droll Southerners)
does a fairly good job.

In the late '80s,
Hap (James Purefoy) has a mountain of bills and one friend; that's
Leonard, who is black, gay and a Vietnam veteran. In last week's
opener, Hap's ex-wife (Christina Hendricks) arrived, telling of a car
no one can find, with a million dollars in stolen cash. That part
stretches crediblity; Hap's cynicism strains our patience. But as Hap
links with her hippie friends tonight, the result is fun.

Other choices
include:

Basketball, 6:40 and
9:10 p.m. ET, TruTV. These games – Holy Cross and Southern, then
Michigan and Tulsa – determine the final two spots in the 64-team
NCAA tournament.

“Survivor,” 8
p.m., CBS. So far, the “brawn” tribe has lost three people (half
its total); brains lost one and “beauty” had a medical
evacuation. Now things are complicated when the teams are reshuffled.

“The Middle,” 8
p.m., ABC. Sue andAxl spend spring break at home – challenging
Brick's role as the one kid at home. Meanwhile, their dad has a new
reason to fume at his brother (Norm Macdonald).

“Mob Wives”
finale and “Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn” debut, 8 and 9 p.m.,
VH1; repeating at 10 and 11 p.m. and at midnight and 1 a.m. First,
“Mob” has its reunion hour, including Ang with an update on her
cancer treatments. Then we see four families check into Jenn Mann's
rehab center.
“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC. Here are
emptations for married folks: Phil gets secretive about a client who
is “his type”; his wife Claire seems pleased with extra attention
from a yoga instructor.

“Chicago P.D.,”
10 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, the murder of a security-company owner
points toward a much bigger scheme.

“Underground,”
10 p.m., WGN; rerunning at 11 p.m. and 1 and 2 a.m. Last week we met
a varied group of slaves, linkinh to plan a complex, 600-mile trek to
freedom. Now we also see problems on the other end, as slave-catchers
maraude in Philadelphia. It's a well-crafted hour, but tough to
watch.

TV column for Tuesday, March 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“New Girl,” 8 p.m., Fox.

Lives are changing
and no one seems happy about it. Cece is moving in with her fiance
Schmidt ... Winston wants to quit having Aly (whom he secretly loves)
as his police partner ... and the usually cheery Jess actually hates
her boss (Elizabeth Berkley) and her job.

This script (by
Nasim Pedrad, who plays Aly) has some funny moments, especially from
Winston's new – and immensely incompetent – partner. And along
the way, there are life-changing moments.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Crowded” debut, 10 and 10:30 p.m., NBC.

These days, most new
comedies (including “New Girl”) are filmed movie-style, with lots
of settings and no studio audience. “Crowded” is an exception:
Slick and jokey, it's taped multi-camera, with an audience ... and
with James Burrows, the multi-camera master, as director and
producer.

Burrows has had
great shows -- “Cheers,” “Frasier,” “Will & Grace”
and more; lately, he's sunk to “The Millers” and “Mike &
Molly.” Alas, “Crowded” -- which will promptly move to Sundays
-- is another so-so one. Patrick Warburton and Carrie Preston play
empty-nesters whose daughters (Mira Serafina and Miranda Cosgrove)
return; humor – sometimes clever, often not -- follows.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” 10 p.m., FX.

As the trial
continues, lives implode in compelling ways. Johnnie Cochran, usually
in control, is blasted by his past. Robert Kardashian starts to
wonder if his friend O.J. could actually be guilty. And the
friendship of defense lawyers Marcia Clark and Chris Darden reaches a
high and then a low.

All of this is is
skillfully written and beautifully played, with great moments for
Courtney Vance (Cochran), David Schwimmer (Kardashian), Sarah Paulson
(Clark) and Sterling Brown (Darden).

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Of Gods and Prophets,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Last week's opener
left us with a bitter after-taste. Blindly following a prophet, King
Saul (beautifully played by Ray Winstone) slaughtered a harmless
tribe. The aftermath cost the life of his would-be son-in-law; it
also blew his chance to unite the 12 tribes of Israel.

This second episode
finds Saul desperate as an enemy army nears. He's unaware that his
concubine is a spy ... and that there are big things ahead for the
shepherd (David) who is his harpist.

Other choices
include:

Basketball, 6:30 and
9 p.m. ET, TruTV. On Thursday, the NCAA tournament sprawls across
four networks. First are games today and Wednesday, setting the final
four spots in the 64-team field.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. For its 300th episode, the show returns to a subject
it has emphasized – wounded veterans. Taye Diggs plays a lone
survivor, key to Gibbs' re-investigation of an ambush in Iraq.

“Pretty Little
Liars” season-finale, 8 p.m., Freeform, rerunning at 10. A stalker
is threatening to kill all the “pretty little liars,” if they
don't reveal who killed Charlotte.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. When a sailor is killed by a party bus in
the French Quarter, Brody (Zoe McLellan) is convinced this is related
to the death of her own sister.

“Brides &
Prejudice” debut, 9-11 p.m., FYI. In its first two years since
replacing the Biography Channel, FYI has been trying distinctive
relationships shows, including “Married at First Sight,”
“BlackLove” and “Kocktails With Khloe.” Now this series
starts with three couples who face biases. One is gay; the others
cross racial and religious lines.

“Limitless,” 10
p.m., CBS. Desperate to break away from Sen. Morra, Brian splits from
the FBI and heads to Russia, looking for the woman who may have an
alternative vaccine.