TV column for Sunday, March 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.

This third hour
continues the impact of the first two. Alongside ABC's just-emded
“American Crime” and its upcoming “Secrets & Lies,” it
proves that the big networks can deliver cable-quality drama.

Adam disappeared at
age 8 and returned – if this is really him -- a decade later, just
as his mother (Joan Allen) prepared to run for governor. Now we see
how the neighbor (Andrew McCarthy) was framed; we get glimpses of
someone who may be the real kidnapper. We get a few answers and a lot
of questions, amid deep portraits of ordinary humans facing
extraordinary stress.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Carmichael Show,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC.

Jerrod (Jerrod
Carmichael, the show's co-creator) is delighted with tickets to see
his boyhood idol, Bill Cosby. But his girlfriend – appalled by the
charges against Cosby – refuses to go. Soon, she has the rest of
the family entwined in a lively debate about values, justice and
fallen heroes.

A fairly good show
during its summer try-out, “Carmichael” has become much better
now, thanks to sharp writing and the skilled pros (Loretta Devine and
David Alan Grier) playing Jerrod's parents. Tonight's second episode
give Grier some focus, as he plans a funeral for his estranged
father.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Little Big Shots,” 7 and 8 p.m., NBC.

Each year, NBC tries
a temporary Sunday makeover ... then waits impatiently for football
to return. Often, it stubbornly tries (and fails) with dramas; this
time it's going light. There are comedies at 9 and “Hollywood Game
Night” at 10 – preceded by this amiable trifle.

At 7 p.m. is a
rerun of Tuesday's “Shots: debut, starting with a delightful,
4-year-old making basketball trick shots. At 8, Steve Harvey
introduces a dazzling 4-year-old pianist, a 6-year-old choir
conductor and (really) a 5-year-old who seems to put a rooster and a
lizard to sleep. It's great fun.

Other choices
include:

“Naked and
Afraid,” 9 a.m., Discovery. Here's a rerun marathon, leading to two
new hours – an “Uncensored” at 9 p.m. and the season-opener –
in the cold of Canada – at 10.

“The Simpsons,”
8 p.m., Fox. When Lisa volunteers for a one-way trip to Mars, her mom
is displeased.

“Cooper Barrett's
Guide to Surviving Life,” 8:30, Fox. A fun friend from college
shows up ... and soon wears out his welcome.

“Scorpion, 8:30-10
p.m., CBS. With “Good Wife” resting for the second straight week,
CBS offers this transplanted rerun. A computer virus turns the “smart
house” into a blazing death trap.

“Alaska Aircraft
Investigations” debut, 9 p.m., Smithsonian. During summers, we're
told, Alaska averages a plane crash per day, sometimes with no way to
retrieve the wreckage. This series – quiet, steady, maybe a bit
drab – follows probes, starting with one in which the pilot went
wildly off-course.

“Last Man on
Earth,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. Even when there seemed to be only seven
people on Earth, two were named Phil Miller. Now one has died and the
other – going by his middle name of Tandy – feels separation
pains. Meanwhile, the six known survivors – Tandy doesn't know his
brother is alive – go through romantic tangles, in a fairly funny
episode

“Quantico,” 10
p.m., ABC. After being trained in the use of informants, the recruits
learn how difficult that is in real life. And in the flashforward,
Alex may have to spill confidential information.

“Race for the
White House,” 10 p.m., CNN. If you thought campaigns are nasty now,
look at the one with Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. This
follows an 8 p.m. town hall on CNN and TV One: Democratic candidates
field questions in Columbus, Ohio; Jake Tapper and Roland Martin
anchor.

 

TV column for Saturday, March 12


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

For Ariana Grande,
this is a big night. She doubles as the “SNL” host and music
guest; and earlier (see next item), she'll learn if she won a Kids
Choice award; she's up for favorite female singer, facing Adele,
Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Meghan Trainor and Selena Gomez.

Grande has only done
“SNL” once (as music guest in last season's opener), but she's
done tons of TV. She played the same character on three seasons of
Nickelodeon's “Victorious” and one of “Sam & Cat.” She's
also had two albums reach No. 1 on the billboard charts, with five
singles in the top 10.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Kids Choice Awards,” 8 p.m., Nickelodeon and TV Land, rerunning
at 10 p.m. on Nickelodeon.

Blake Shelton takes
over as host of the award show. Among other things, that makes the
6-foot-5 country guy one of the largest targets Kids Choice has ever
had for a possible sliming.

Charlie Puth sings
“One Call Away” and (with Wiz Khalifa) “See You Again.” Also,
there are lots of awards – for TV, movies, music and beyond – and
general silliness.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Lady Day at Emerson Bar & Grill,” 8 p.m., HBO.

Two immense talents
sort of merge, when Audra McDonald films her Tony-winning work as
Billie Holliday. This was classified as a play (not a musical), which
evens McDonald's record: She's now won three Tonys for plays and
three more for musicals.

But be assured that
there's lots of music. On Broadway, this had 13 songs, including “God
Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” “What a Little Moonlight
Can Do” and “Ain't Nobody's Business if I Do.”

Other choices
include:

“Jerry Maguire”
(1996), 5:30 and 8:30 p.m., Pop. This launches a strong movie night.
There's “Jaws” (1975) at 5:45 and 8:30 p.m. on IFC, plus “Forrest
Gump” (1994) at 6:30 p.m. on Freeform, “Despicable Me” (2010)
at 7:40 p.m. on Disney and “Batman Begins” (2005) at 8 p.m. on
TNT.

“Rosewood,” 8
p.m., Fox. A brilliant doctor is suspected of two murders in this
rerun, but there isn't much evidence.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, the murder charges against a petty officer have been
dismissed because of mishandled evidence. Determined to clear his
name, he volunteers to face a court martial.

“Criminal Minds,”
9 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, a small Florida town is filled with sex
offenders. Now a murder case leaves the team with a town full of
suspects.

“Lucifer,” 9
p.m., Fox. While working a missing-girl case with Chloe in this
rerun, Lucifer has a definite distraction: He's so infatuated with
Chloe that he feels the only solution is to seduce her.

“Black Sails,” 9
p.m., Starz, rerunning at 9:55 and 10:50. Last week, the British
reneged on their deal. They retrieved the treasure, but failed to
return Rackham. Now both the treasure and the man are heading to
Havana ... unless the pirates can intercept them before they reach
the beach. Amid fierce action and sharp dialog, the future – of
Nassau and of the seas – is precarious.

“Party Over Here”
debut, 11 p.m., Fox. Here's sketch comedy from a three-woman team
that tapes before an audience at a Los Angeles hotel. It's from
Lonely Planet, which did many of Andy Samberg's “Saturday Night
Live” videos. At 11:30 is a funny rerun of “Cooper Barrett's
Guide to Surviving Life.”:

TV column for Friday, March 11


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC.

For its 100th
episode, “Grimm” goes big with three stories, one of them
offering a real sense of magic. That has Nick and Monroe in Germany's
Black Forest – home of the Grimm fairy tales – searching ancient
catacombs. There's a big pay-off, pointing toward Episode 101 and
beyond.

A second story,
involving the shooting of the front-runner in the mayoral race, is an
oddity; it has wildly tangled schemes, mixed with odd bits of
short-sightedness. The third has Adalind helping Rosalind ... whose
unwelcome visitor triggers more changes on the way.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Dr. Ken,” 8:31 p.m., ABC.

To really get into
this, you have to accept the notion that a stand-up comedian (George
Wyner) needs a doctor's note before he can perform.

If you buy that –
it's a stretch – you can enjoy a moderately good blend of jokes and
and emotions. Other stories, focusing on Ken's wife and son, range
from kind of funny to quite awful.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Bosch” new season, any time, Amazon.

Springing from
Michael Connelly novels, Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) is a tough Los
Angeles cop who tends to go rogue. As this second season begins, he's
back from a suspension and facing a big case.

Tbat starts with a
body in a trunk, then propels Harry to Las Vegas. He bumps across his
ex-wife (Sarah Clarke), their daughter and a gorgeous ex-showgirl
(Jeri Ryan), in a story that is tough and muscular.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Animal Storm Squad” debut, 10 p.m., NatGeo Wild.

As a wildfire
scorches 200,000 acres of Washington State, the focus is on saving
humans. But four people converge from around the country (and
Canada), searching for stranded animals.

They follow tips
about wandering horses and bear cubs.They befriend stray dogs. And a
sweet-spirited “cat whisperer” tries to lure a mom and her
kittens out of hiding. The result is a feel-good hour.

Other choices
include:

Funeral, 2 p.m. ET,
cable news channels. Services for Nancy Reagan will be covered by Fox
News (with Shepard Smith anchoring) and others.

“The Amazing
Race,” 8 p.m., CBS. Last week's episode bumped Jessica VerSteeg and
Brittany Oldehoff, two models and former beauty-pageant contestants
who are big on social media. That leaves eight duos; tonight, they
climb the 15,000-foot French Alps.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. Figuring that his wife is taking up too
much space with her work, Mike (Tim Allen) builds her a “she shed”
outside.

“Second Chance,”
9 p.m., Fox. Pritchard – the older cop transformed into a young
man's body – finally gets to work with his son, the FBI agents.
They link in search of a serial killer.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. A Russian spy has stolen a flash drive nthat could
endanger the life of one of the team members. Meanwhile, McGarrett
finally learns why Catherine left him; also, Abby (Julie Benz)
continues to keep her actual mission a secret.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Here's a rare dispute between the brothers – Danny
(Donnie Wahlberg), a veteran detective and Jamie (Will Estes), a
street cop. At issue is what to do about a reckless rookie cop who is
the son of Danny's friend.

TV column for Thursday, March 10


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

Rushing way too
quickly, “Idol” is now just four weeks from the final episode of
its final season. Last week, three women ended up at the bottom of
viewer votes. Judges saved Avalon Young, a no-frills
singer-songwriter, sending home the flashier Olivia Rox and Gianna
Isabella.

There were some
spectacular vocal moments, especially fromm La'Porsha Renae and Trent
Harmon. They're in the final eight, with Young, Sonika Vaid, Dalton
Rapattoni, Tristan McIntosh, MacKenzie Bour and Lee Jean. Tonight,
they tackle the songs performed most often on “Idol.”

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Scandal,” 9 p.m. today, ABC.

After resting for a
week, “Scandal” booms back with a pivotal episode. It finds
Olivia distracted, unhappy about romances by the president (anonymous
quickies) and Jake (an upper-crust beauty).

That goes against
the backdrop of both a Secret Service scandal and some incredible
Cyrus scheming. Those stories strain credibility wildly, especially
when the cover-up of a murder seems to be done with such quiet ease.
“Scandal” remains a far-fetched soap opera ... but a thoroughly
entertaining one.

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

One week before the
season-finale, there's verbal warfare in the Bowman home. Katie
(Sarah Waynen Callies) is secretly working for the resistance,
battling the unseen aliens who conquered Earth. Her husband Will
(Josh Holloway) works for the government, hoping to find their
younger son.

Now Will has a plan
to slip the family past the wall. That's on the same night that
Katie's planning a high-octane, high-danger confrontation. It's a
strong hour.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “In Search of Frida Kahlo,” 7 p.m. ET, Ovation.

Growing up in Mexico
City, Kahlo had wealth, brains, beauty and great artistry; she also
had polio and then a traffic accident that left her in constant pain.
She married master muralist Diego Rivera and affairs with others,
including Leon Trotsky; but she was shattered by Rivera's affair with
her sister.

Emili Sande, a major
music star in England, created this fascinating portrait. Sande
visited Kahlo's old spots, talked to people who knew her, even donned
the clothes and jewelry that Kahlo wore.

Other choices
include:

“Pride” (2014),
7-9 p.m., Showtime. This sweet-spirited film has the true story of a
gay-rights groups that supported striking minders in a tiny Welsh
town. It launches a strong movie night that peaks with “Up”
(2009) on Disney, “Spy” (2015) on HBO and “The Bourne Identity”
(2002) on AMC.

“You, Me and the
Apocalypse,” 8-9 p.m., NBC. After seven years of mourning the
disappearance of his wife Layla, Jamei suddenly learned she'd been
with his twin (Ariel), whom he hadn't known existed. Tonight, he
finally finds her ... and figures she has some explaining to do. Then
Ariel strikes anew.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Now that Emily and Raj have broken up, she
contacts the other women; soon, they're giving him dating advice.
Also, Howard is hesitent about a business venture with Leonard and
Sheldon, involving the gyroscope they invented.

“Life in Pieces,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. After meeting his wife's handsome new assistant, Greg
(Colin Hanks) is determined to seem more macho.

Republican debate, 9-11 p.m. ET, CNN. This is a big one, the final one before the GOP has winne-take-all primaries Tuesday in Ohio, Florida and Illinois.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. Bonnie insists that Christy still has feelings for her
ex-husband Baxter.

“How to Get Away
With Murder,” 10 p.m., ABC. The five law students face questioning
about the night Emily Sinclair was murdered. Also, the search for
Philip intensifies and now Caleb is missing.

TV column for Wednesday, March 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Crime” finale, 10 p.m., ABC.

A great mini-series
concludes, after delivering some of the most richly layered drama of
this (or any) season. At the core is Taylor, a scholarship student at
upscale Leyland school. As word spread that he'd been sexually
abused, accusations flew; then he shot and killed someone who bullied
him at school.

Now aftershocks grow
– for Taylor, his abusers and the school. Leaked E-mails and texts
could affect many Leyland people. Michael goes to extremes to keep
his son Kevin from trouble; Dan (Tim Hutton) has no such option: His
daughter has been arrested for selling Taylor drugs on the day of the
shooting.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Carmichael Show” season-opener, 10 and 10:30 p.m., NBC.

In the old days,
this was all a comedy needed – a living room, a aharp subject,
crisp dialog and good actors, playing to a studio audience. At times,
this show talks politics; tonight's second episode, a rerun from last
summer, is about protests. And at times, it talks about life; the
opener discusses cheating.

Either way, the
result is inconsistent but enjoyable Jerrod Carmichael (who
co-created the show) and Amber Stevens West are OK as a young couple;
fortunately, two skilled pros -- Loretta Devine and David Alan Grier
– play his parents, helping propel a smart comedy.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Underground” debut, 10 p.m. WGN America, repeating
at 11 p.m., midnight and 1 a.m.

In 1853 Georgia, we
meet a variety of slaves. Noah schemes his escape and Cato
collaborates with the whites, There's Rosalee (Jurnee Smollett-Bell
of “Friday Night Lights”), a beautiful house slave ... her
half-brother Sam, a talented carpenter ... giant Zeke ... and Moses
and Pearly Mae, with a secret skill.

And we meet whites –
Tom Macon (Reed Diamond), a politician and plantation owner ... John
Hawkes, an abolitionist lawyer ... August Pullman (Chris Meloni),
silent and secretive. These are richly drawn characters;
“Underground” may be too tidy, but it offers a passionate view of
a desperate human push.

Other choices
include:

“The Voice,”
8-10 p.m., NBC. To give “Carmichael” a boost, NBC adds a third
“Voice” night this week. It looks at what's happened so far in
the blind auditions and peeks ahead to the “battle round” --
which starts Monday, the same night the auditions end.

“Survivor,” 8
p.m., CBS. So far, beauty prevails here (as it does so often in
life). The “brawn” tribe lost the first two people; last week
“brains” lost Elizabeth Markham, a “quantitative strategist.”
The “beauty” team has lost no one; tonight, the heat takes a toll
and there's a medical evacuation.

“Victoria's Secret
Swim Special,” 9 p.m., CBS. This sort continues the “Survivor”
theme: On a French West Indies island, we'll see several people who
are not there for their brains or brawn, Also, there's music by Demi
Lovato and Nick Jonas.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. This rerun is from a time before Claire took over her
dad's company. She has some ideas, but is reluctant to pitch them;
also, her husband obsesses on hatching duck eggs.

“Black-ish,”
9:31 p.m., ABC. Here's a rerun of the episode that skillfully tackled
a touchy subject. At a talent show, Jack does a rap song that
includes the “n” word. Since he's one of the few blacks in this
school, reactions and arguments vary.

“CSI Cyber,” 10
p.m., CBS. Maybe we can't trust traffic apps after all. This story
has one divert drivers to remote spots, where they're robbed.

“The Internet
Ruined My Life,” 10 p.m., Syfy. This show offers real-life times
when Internet use backfired. Tonight, a comment about Stephen
Colbert's show brings aftershocks. Also, a British expression,
mis-interpreted, turns someone into a terrorist suspect.