TV column for Saturday, June 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Whispers,” 8 p.m., ABC.

In a comfy
Washington, D.C., suburb, creepy things are happening. Kids take
lethal instructions from a disembodied voice. A ragged man has no
memory. And the FBI's child specialist, recently widowed, will soon
get jolting news that may affect both of those.

That happened in the
show's compelling opener. Before the second episode airs (10 p.m.
Monday), catch this rerun; since it's a Steven Spielberg production,
it's smart and sharply filmed.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Jessie,” 8 p.m., Disney Channel, rerunning at 11:05.

This comedy usually
stays in New York Citym where, Jessie (Debby Ryan), a transplanted
Texan, is the nanny for four rich kids. Now, however, a three-part
story takes them on a cruise.

Friday's opener
(which reruns at 11:30 a.m. today) saw them rescue a girl who was
stranded at sea. Tonight, they're on an Italian island, where Jessie
is told her necklace is cursed, dooming her love life.

Then all three
episodes will air together, from 7-8:30 p.m. Sunday.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Power” season-opener, 9 p.m., Starz, rerunning at
10:05 and 11:10.

Sleek and sexy, this
hour is powered by a web of secrets. Tommy is out to kill an
assistant district attorney ... unaware she's the mistress of James,
his drug-kingpin partner. James doesn't know she's a prosecutor; she
doesn't know he's the mysterious “Ghost” she's hoping to convict.

There's much more –
a shooting at the guys' nightclub left Holly (Tommy's girlfriend)
near death ... James' wife has doubts and plans ... and his mentor
(Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) is out of prison. It's all tough,
solid and – with the exception of Jackson's inept acting –
well-crafted.

Other choices
include:

Hockey, 7 p.m. ET,
NBC. It's Chicago at Tampa Bay, in the second game of the Stanley Cup
finals.

“Blue Bloods,” 8
p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Jamie agrees to ride with a cop, after she's
ostracized by others for testifying against her partner.

“Jurassic Park”
(1993), 8 p.m., USA, Syfy AND Bravo. With the fourth “Jurrasic”
film ready to open Friday, the people at Universal seem obsessed with
having us re-see the original. It aired on NBC on Friday and now
moves to three other Universal-owned channels. That's OK, because it
has a great director (Steven Spielberg) and a smart script ... with
one exception: The owner boasts that no expense was spared in
creating the dinosaur park, yet the computer contract simply went to
the lowest bidder.

“100 Things to Do
Before High School” debut, 8 p.m., Nickelodeon. CJ is optimistic
about high school until she suddenly hears bad things. Now she and
two guys decide they must quickly do things before their cheery,
8th-grade time is done. In the opener, they tackle their
biggest fears.

“In an Instant,”
9-11 p.m., ABC. Through first-person accounts and re-enactments, we
get the compelling story of a woman who was beaten by her husband and
left for dead in a storage locker.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. On Halloween – yes, this is a rerun – the team
searches for someone who's copying murders ronm slasher films.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:30 p.m., NBC. This rerun is hosted by Chris Pratt ...
who, as luck would have it, stars in the new “Jurassic” film.
Ariana Grande is the music guest.

TV column for Friday, June 5


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Jurassic Park” (1993), 8-11 p.m., NBC.

A week before
opening its fourth “Jurassic Park” film, Universal is splashing
the original onto many of the networks it owns. That's on NBC
tonight, then on USA, Syfy and Bravo at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Yes, that's
excessive, but this is a movie worth re-seeing. It has a big idea
(from Michael Crichton), big creatures and skilled actors (including
Laura Dern and Richard Attenborough), all molded by Hollywood's best
director (Steven Spielberg). Consider it a portal to the summer movie
season.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Biggest & Baddest” debut, 8 and 9 p.m., NatGeo Wild.

Niall McCann is the
guy we keep hoping to see in the mirror. He looks like a James Bond
star, has the body of a rock-climber (which he is) and married his
college sweetheart, a scientist.

He's 34, a biologist
and a third-generation explorer; now he travels, seeking imposing
creatures. In the first hour, he finds awesome anacondas – 18 feet
of muscle and vengeance. In the second, he's in Nepal, hearing of
tigers who fight encroaching civilization by attacking villagers.
Like many travel shows, this spends too much time on the process, nor
the result; still, it's thoroughly entertaining.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Bitten” season-finale, 10 and 11 p.m., Syfy.

Let's call this too
much of a good thing. Over two high-octane hours, the story goes to
operatic extremes. There are lots of deaths (some permanent, some
not), lots of sacrifices, lots of confessions of love and guilt.
Also, lots and lots of blood and tears.

Aleister (the only
male witch) and Clara are scheming to create the Undoing, which would
destroy all witches (except them); they're channeling through young
Savannah. Now Elena (the only female werewolf) and others rush to
stop them. The result is massive – sometime overly so.

Other choices
include:

“So You Think You
Can Dance” and “Bullseye,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. Here are quick
reruns of the summer game shows that air at 8 p.m. Tuesdays and 9
p.m. Wednesdays, respectively.

“Jessie,” 8
p.m., Disney. This launches a three-parter continuing through Sunday.
Tonight, on a vacation the family spots a girl stranded at sea; she's
invited onboard.

“Girl Meets
World,” 8:30 p.m., Disney. To go to a party, Riley lies to her
parents ... then feels guilty.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. This rerun starts on the fourth anniversary of
McGarrett's father's death. A woman offers information to re-open the
last case the dad was working on.

“The Messengers,”
9 p.m., CW. Thrust into this by an outside force, these people aren't
sure they want their bigger-than-life responsibilities. Some of them
split ... or, at least, try to.

Movies, 9 p.m.,
cable. “Apollo 13” (1995, AMC) is a terrific, real-life story;
Ron Howard directs a superb cast, led by Tom Hanks. “Urban Cowboy”
(1980, CMT) has a so-so story with John Travolta, punctuated by a
dandy soundtrack. Mickey Gilley, Charlie Daniels and Bonnie Raitt are
in support.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. An international schemer keeps averting being
convicted. In this rerun, Frank (Tom Selleck) and his son Danny
(Donnie Wahlberg) link, trying to gather enough evidence.

 

TV column for Thursday, June 4


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Wayward Pines,” 9 p.m., Fox.

This intriguing
mini-series began with Ethan (Matt Dillon), a federal agent, finding
himself in a sweet-looking town where people look happy ... and can
never leave. Last week, his wife and son came looking for him; they
were attacked by the sheriff ... whom he promptly killed.

What are the
aftershocks for killing a sheriff? The answer will surprise you;
indeed, this compelling show keeps finding fresh surprises.
Meanwhile, the town rebel (Justin Kirk) forces an ethical dilemma.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Basketball, 9 p.m. ET, ABC, with previews at 8 and 8:31.

As the summer TV
season begins, winter sports finally get primetime spots on the big
networks. It was hockey Wednesday on NBC; now basketball starts its
best-of-seven series today and Sunday.

In some ways, all of
this is new -- Golden State hasn't won a playoff championship in 40
years; Cleveland never has ... and has only been to the finals once
before. But its star (LeBron James) is in his fifth straight finals;
he had a 2-2 record with the Miami Heat, then returned to his old
Cleveland team.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Hannibal” season-opener, 10 p.m, NBC.

Yes, this hour is
elegantly crafted, with gifted actors, literate dialog and gorgeous
visuals. Still, it's not for everyone; in fact, it's not for a lot of
people.

Some will simply
find it disturbing: A hostage (Eddie Izzard) is expected to gradually
eat his own body parts, albeit cooked skillfully by Hannibal Lecter.
Others will find this too slow and mellow, like a gorgeous-but-morose
cello solo. Lecter is in Florence with his former therapist (Gillian
Anderson); for now, his top pursuers (Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne)
are nowhere in sight.

Other choices
include:

“Bones,” 8 p.m.,
Fox. With two new episodes remaining this season, Booth continues to
fight his gambling addiciton. Meanwhile, a murder probe visits the
opposite worlds of bikers and yoga.

“iZombie,” 8
p.m., CW. Here's a quick rerun of Tuesday's fairly good hour, setting
up next week's season-finale. After munching the brains of a slain
cheerleader, Liv is suddenly peppy and popular.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. An all-rerun night on CBS starts with this
fairly good episode. Sheldon feels he's drifting because he's been
too comfortable; he'd like friends to provide discombort.

“The Odd Couple,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. Oscar isn't the sort to remember birthdays. But this
funny rerun finds the exception: To impress a woman (naturally), he
concocts a quick party for Felix.

“Aquarius,” 9
p.m., NBC. Set in the 1960s, this miniseries continues to be
one-note, with nearly everyone – cops, crooks, hippies, more –
having the same cynical tone. Tonight, a tough cop (David Duchovny)
digs into the troubled worlds of his ex-wife and their son (possibly
AWOL from Vietnam) and his ex-lover and her teen daughter. To find
the girl, undercover cops visit Charlie Manson's lair.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. Still homeless, Christy and Bonnie frent a house that has
a shaky past.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. Sherlock and his young protege Kitty probe the death of a
postal-store owner who may have been linked to the illegal diamond
trade.

TV column for Wednesday, June 3


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Celebrity Wife Swap,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Three years ago, a
fascinating documetary (“The Queen of Versailles”) introduced
Jackie Siegel. She and her husband have eight kids, 30 household
workers and a sprawling Florida estate; when his business slowed, he
suspended construction of a bigger place, patterned after the Palace
of Versailles.

Now she briefly sees
an opposite world, switching with the wife of actor Jeremy London
(“Party of Five, “7th Heaven”). On a ranch near
Oklahoma City, she helps with the chores.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Melissa & Joey” return, 8 p.m., ABC Family.

While most comedies
slide into reruns – including tonight's dandy ABC ones – ABC
Family has two summertime mini-seasons. This one is goofy, but fun;
“Baby Daddy” is merely goofy.

Here, Melissa
(Melissa Joan Hart) reacts fiercely to two things – her
pregnancy-test results and her nephew's determination to join the
Navy. Joe (Joseph Lawrence) attacks the latter situation, giving an
at-home boot-camp experience, designed to change his mind. It's
terribly silly, yet kind of fun .

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Hockey, 8 p.m. ET, NBC.

The timing is
perfect: Two sports finally reach their finals, just as the summer TV
season begins. Now networks need some non-reruns; NBC adds hockey
tonight and ABC adds basketball on Thursday.

For hockey, Chicago
is looking for its third championship in six seasons; Tampa Bay
hasn't been to the finals since winning its first title, in 2004. The
games today and Saturday are on NBC, with the next two on the NBC
Sports Network; the final three, if needed, return to NBC.

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. The season's first team challege is a big-scale one –
burgers and fish-and-chips for thousands of people at an amusement
park. Members of the losing team then face a cinnamon-roll challenge,
to see who gets eliminated.

“The Middle,” 8
p.m., ABC. A block of four ABC reruns starts with Frankie giving the
family's dining-room table to Axl. Also, Sue's not happy about her
gift from Darrin.

“The Goldbergs,”
8:30 p.m., ABC. Adam's wild explanation for his broken arm soon has
aftershocks.

“Baby Daddy”
return, 8:30 p.m., ABC Family. Before taking a three-month break,
this show had Riley break up with one brother, tell another (quite
clumsily) that she loved him and then fled. Now she's back home,
while the guys face crises involving the neighboring apartment.
Unlike “Melissa & Joey,” this show is loudly uneven, turning
key characters into fools for the sake of a laugh.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. Phil is still fuming about his neighbors (Steve Zahn and
Andrea Anders). He considers this war ... and enlists the help of his
dad (Fred Willard) and his dad's friends.

“Ripper Street,”
10 p.m., BBC America. Set in a tough London neighborhood late in the
late 1800s, this show borrows a plot that's been used recently by
several other shows: Someone becomes the prime murder suspect, after
waking up next to a body. In this case, an aristocratic woman is the
suspect.

“Unreal,” 10:02
p.m., Lifetime. In a quick rerun of Monday's debut, we see the inner
workings of a “Bachelor”-type show, with a fierce boss (Constance
Zimmer) and a smart producer (Shiri Appleby) who returns after
imploding on-camera. It has its moments, but often gives us no one to
root for.

TV column or Tuesday, June 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Royal Pains” season-opener (10:01 p.m., USA) and more.

As the summer season
starts, broadcast networks need reality – “Bachelorette” and
“Briefcase” and “Big Brother” and such – to keep our
attention. Fortunately, cable adds fresh, scripted shows.

There's an entire
night of them on ABC Family (see below), plus this long-lasting one
on USA. In “Pains,” Hank (Mark Feuerstein) is a doctor amid the
beauty of the Hamptons. The settings (and people) are pretty, with
quick little medical stories and bigger personal ones. As this
seventh season starts, Hank has joined the board of a hospital that
has an ethically iffy owner (Campbell Scott).

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“iZombie,” 9 p.m., CW.

When we first met
Liv, she seemed solemn and stressed. That can happen when you're an
overworked medical resident who inadvertently became a zombie.

Then she started
adding personalities, after munching victims' brains in order to
solve his or her murder. Tonight, she chomps a cheerleader; suddenly,
Liv has pep, popularity and people skills. It's a fairly good
episode, leaving much to be settled next week, when “iZombie”
wraps a good first season.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: All night, ABC Family.

At 8 p.m. is the
season-opener of “Pretty Little Liars,” which keeps taking odd
twists. Now the four teens are trapped by a malevolent force named
Charles.

And from 9-11 p.m.
is “Stitchers,” with a plot that suggests “iZombie.” Like
that show, it has a young woman who can read the memories of dead
people, to solve murders.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Secrets and Wives” debut, 10 p.m., Bravo.

We meet six
lookalike, soundalike Long Island women. Only one doesn't dye her
hair blonde; only one (a different one) says she has real breasts.
Two work with their husbands; only one works on her own.

Some marriages have
prospered (Gail Greenberg's husband is a rich plastic surgeon); many
haven't. Andi Black has had three divorces, starting with the lead
singer of Jay and the Americans ... Susan Doneson's husband was
sentenced to two years for securities fraud ... Liza Sandler's
marriage to a money manager ended with her affair with CNBC host
Donny Deutsch. These women are cable-ready.

Other choices
include:

“Fresh Off the
Boat,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a fairly funny rerun, Eddie's dad uses a
block party to promote his restaurant. That's followed by a
“Black-ish” rerun, with Dre's street-credibility questened.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Tony Gonzalez – a sportscaster and former football star –
guests in this rerun, as an NCIS special agent. The case involves
someone killed on his way to meet with the president.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, the team has a 22-hour
deadline to rescue the kidnapped wife of a chief warrant officer who
was working in counterintelligence.

“Hell's Kitchen,”
9 p.m., Fox. A week from the finale, the final four chefs try the
show's first vegetarian challenge. Then they're visited by family and
friends.

“Younger,” 10
p.m., TV Land. As a kid, Lauren (Molly Bernard) never had a bat
mitzvah; now she decides to throw herself an all-out “hot mitzvah.”
Also, Liza (Sutton Foster) has a new career option and Kelsey (Hilary
Duff) faces the aftershocks of her affair.

“What History
Forgot,” 10 p.m., American Heroes Channel. Over six Tuesdays, Joe
Moniaci, a history teacher, will offer obscure bits of the past.
Tonight, we learn of the bawdy bar song that led to the National
Anthem. There's more, including an attack that almost destroyed the
Statue of Liberty.