TV column for Thursday, Aug. 31


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1958), 10 p.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies.

Somewhere beyond her
movie-star silliness, Elizabeth Taylor was a serious actress.
Onscreen and on Broadway, she tackled the great playwrights –
Shakespeare, Albee, Coward, Hellman, Dylan Thomas and (three times)
Tennessee Williams. She and Paul Newman triumph here in Williams'
“Cat.”

That's preceded at 8
p.m. ET by “Butterfield 8,” a merely-OK drama that brought
Taylor's first Academy Award. And there's more all day – alert your
recording device -- from a 12-year-old Taylor in “National Velvet”
(1944) at 6 a.m. ET to a 1975 “Intimate Profile” at 4:45 a.m. ET
Friday .

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

Thursdays have been
good to NBC lately – no reruns, solid ratings and plenty of movie
ads. Now August ends with the final two new hours of “The Wall”
at 8 and 9 p.m., and then “Night Shift.”

This manages to be
an action-adventure hospital show – often without the hospital.
Tonight, there's a shooting at a nearby college. The doctors rush to
the campus to help Rick, the ex-soldier, married to Drew, who became
a cop after losing his leg. Also, Drew, Shannon and TC face choices
for the future.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Diana documentaries, everywhere.

On the 20th
anniversary of Lady Diana's death, reruns fill the day. Some may be
tacky: Reelz goes non-stop from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. ET; TLC, from
4-7 p.m., has “Princess Diana: Tragedy or Treason?”

But there are also
some solid films. Smithsonian reruns ones about Diana's love-hate
relationship with the paparazzi (8 p.m.) and about her funeral (9).
At 9, many PBS stations (check local listings) rerun “Diana: Her
Story.” It starts with frank comments she made with her speech
teacher, then adds views of a friend, a bodyguard, a personal
secretary and the instructor for her enthusiastic dance performance.

Other choices
include:

Football, cable.
Yes, the college season is already starting; this first full weekend
begins with some possible mismatches. Oklahoma State, ranked No. 10,
hosts Tulsa at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports1; second-ranked Ohio State
visits Indiana at 8 on ESPN. CBS Sports Network has two games --
Florida International at Central Florida at 6, Louisiana Monroe at
Memphis at 9.

“Kevin Can Wait,”
8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS. Before landing his own shows, Kevin James
played Ray Romano's pal on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Now this
rerun has Romano guesting as a guy Kevin dislikes so strongly that he
tries to sabotage their sons' friendship. The second episode –
sorry, no “Big Bang” today – has the retired Kevin jealous of
the fit young cop who replaced him.

“Battle of the
Network Stars,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC. In the first rerun, TV cops
(including Fred Dryer) face science-fiction stars, from Hercules
(Kevin Sorbo) to the Hulk (Lou Ferrigno). Then primetime soap stars
(from Donna Mills to Mischa Barton) face former teen stars, including
Anson Williams.

“Invincible”
(2006) and “McFarland, US” (2015), 8 and 10:16 p.m., TNT. Here
are strong stories of real-life underdogs. Mark Wahlberg plays the
guy who became an NFL rookie at 30, with no college football
experience; then Kevin Costner starts a cross-country team in a
hard-scrabble Latino town.

“Project Runway,”
9 p.m., Lifetime; repeats at 10:47. After seeing a dance film and a
dance performance, the designers are told to come up with innovative
creations.

“Zoo,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. After being attacked by Jackson, Abigail is near death. People
race to save her.

“Girlfriends'
Guide to Divorce,” 10 p.m., Bravo. When Abby rushes out of town on
a family emergency, Barbara is left with some key decisions.

TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Vixen” (2017), 8-10 p.m. CW.

Greg Berlanti has
done plenty of full-scale, full-budget CW shows, based on DC Comics
characters. At the same time, however, he's produced a tiny, animated
series for the CW Seed streaming service. Now the first two seasons
(12 mini-episodes), plus new scenes, give us this stylized,
stand-alone movie.

Mari (Megalyn
Echikunwoke) is a tough young woman who grew up in Detroit foster
homes. She didn't inherit much from her parents ... except an African
necklace that helps her summon the power of animals. She uses that to
fight crime, sometimes aided by Arrow and the Flash.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Salvation,” 9 p.m., CBS.

Yes, things remain
grim. The asteroid is still streaking toward Earth and the government
still seems to have secrets and schemes. And after tonight, only
three episodes remain, with no renewal so far.

Demanding answers
from the president (Tovah Feldshuh) are Grace (Jennifer Finnigan),
the government insider, and Darius (Santiago Cabrera), the tech
mogul. Also, Harris finds deadly secrets.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Snowfall,” 10 p.m., FX.

Franklin was
college-bound – smart, diligent, well-raised. Then he saw the
big-money potential of dealing cocaine and crack in his neighborhood.
The result would shatter lives in 1983 Los Angeles.

Last week ended with
Franklin's longtime friend almost killed. Now his mother – who
thinks this is just pot, is enraged. In separate stories, Lucia is
desperate to seize the family drug business and Teddy finds it
increasingly difficult to hide the truth about a killing by is
colleague. It's a strong episode, leading to an even better one next
week, in the season finale.

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef,”
8-10 p.m., Fox. The first hour involves a family breakfast and a
Mexican-themed tag-team challenge; the second has fresh fish. In the
process, the field will be trimmed from nine to seven.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8 p.m., NBC. On Tuesday, a dozen acts performed. Tonight,
with the help of a viewer save, seven will advance. That rounds out
the field, with 21 acts.

“Marlon,” 9 and
9:30 p.m., NBC. This has become a tv standard – the goofy but
well-meaning guy goes to excess, reined in by a wise woman. That
happens in most “Marlon” episodes, including these. In the first,
Marlon tries to make the kids experience his hard-scrabble childhood;
in the second, he tries to talk his ex-wife out of a breast
enlargement. Both are funny at first ... and then wildly excessive.

“Suits,” 9 p.m.,
USA. In the show's 100th episode, Harvey and Mike need
outside help in a no-win situation. Also, an encounter throws off
Louis' hiring search and Donna gets a surprising proposition.

“Diana: In Her Own
Words,” 9 p.m. ET, National Geographic, rerunning at 11:30. Back in
1991, with her marriage shattered, Princess Diana made a series of
audio tapes, to be given to biographer Andrew Morton. Now, skillfully
weaved with photos and film clips, those tapes provide an interesting
autobiography – rerun on the eve of the 20th
anniversary of her death.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, a hate crime
becomes hard to prosecute when the key witness is deported.

“CMT Crossroads,”
10 p.m., CMT. The country duo Florida Georgia Line has already teamed
with the pop group Backstreet Boys for a tour and for a song with the
consummate country title: “God, Your Mama, and Me.” In this hour,
they link for each other's hits.

TV column for Tuesday, Aug. 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Bold Type,” 9:01 p.m, Freeform.

In record time, this
has transformed from a surface sort of youthful spree to a series
with depth and substance. At first, we met three bright-eyed friends
at a magazine in New York. They were blessed with beauty,
intelligence, fun jobs and zesty sex and a great boss; it was fun
fantasy, but nothing more.

Now decisions
arrive, just as a Trump protest makes it impossible to leave the
building. Will Jane take a tougher job at a political magazine? Will
Sutton break out of her underling status? And what about Kat, whose
girlfriend is a global activist? Pretty shows, like pretty people,
can sometimes be deep.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “American Experience,” 8-10 p.m., PBS; concludes next
Tuesday.

The Walt Disney many
people knew was stuck in the 1950s; his films and TV shows were
crippled by stagnant, conservative choices. But here is a sharp
portrait of the early Disney, a fascinating man.

He had a difficult
childhood; the small-town America he later created was partly
wish-fulfillment and partly a reflection of his happiest years (ages
4-9), on a Missouri farm. An endless optimist, Disney hated the
businessmen who kept nixing new ideas ... and who stole his first
star, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Eventually, he would plow past the
naysayers, transforming movies and vacations.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Manhunt: Unabomber,” 10:01 p.m., Discovery,
rerunning at 11:04.

For five episodes,
this has followed the intense FBI search for the man (Ted Kaczynski)
known as the Unabomber. Now, two weeks from the finale, comes an
unusual detour.

“We sort of hold
off on that tension,” said writer Andrew Sodroski, “and we go
with this other episode, with its own pace.” Kaczynski (Paul
Bettany) is pondering what took him to this point. Once a kid with a
bright future, Sodroski said, he became “a guy who mails bombs to
people he's never met.”

Other choices
include:

“Diana, Our
Mother: Her Life and Legacy,” 8:45 a.m., HBO; and “The Queen,”
8 and 10 p.m. ET, National Geographic. In the morning is a
documentary, with the warm memories of Princes William and Harry. At
night is Helen Mirren's Oscar-winning portrait of their grandmother,
perplexed by the waves of grief for her sometimes-troublesome former
daughter-in-law.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's the third and final batch of 12
acts. Viewers will vote; on Wednesday, we'll learn which seven are in
the final 21.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. After spotting the brother of a key suspect, Gibbs takes a big
risk in this rerun: He assumes a previous alias and goes undercover
with an anti-government militia.

“The Fosters,” 8
p.m., Freeform, rerunning at 10:02. Mariana and Jude try to convince
other students to vote against the school going private. And when
Brandon throws a party, secrets spill out.

“Animal Kingdom”
season finale, 9 p.m., TNT, rerunning at 10:01. Baz has schemed to
but Smurf (his adoptive mother) behind bars. Once she realizes she
might be there a long time, she concocts ways to create dissent among
Baz, her sons and her grandson.

“Face Off: Game
Face,” 9 p.m., Syfy. This spin-off debuted last week, after the
“Face Off” finale. Each week brings back four past contestants
for quick contests. Tonight includes classic monsters and more.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. While the team probes a train heist, Pride
monitors a wiretap on the mayor. Also in this rerun, Sheryl Crow
performs “Halfway There” and “Roller Skate.”

TV column for Monday, Aug. 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Midnight, Texas,” 10 p.m., NBC.

Here's a helpful
hint to any eager youths: If you want to rampage and vandalize –
and we know you do – don't try it in a town that has a witch, a
werewolf, a vampire, and more. That happens in the opening scene
tonight; what follows is a sharp and pivotal episode.

At last, we'll learn
who has been kidnapping young women. This is a strong (if creepy)
hour that could easily be the series finale. It's not; four episodes
remain, presumably with more jolts ahead.

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

Last week's rerun
was bumped (in some times zones) by the presidential address. Now we
can settle back and savor a show that tends to have four mismatched
stories, some of them very funny.

Colleen has an
embarrassing ailment, but begs her doctor (Tim, her future
brother-in-law) not to tell; these people aren't good at secrets.
There are more stories, including the return of Cary Elwes as
Sinclair Wilde, Joan's writing teacher; he encourages her to let her
family read a draft of her book.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Diana documentaries, cable.

For the next few
days, TV will continue to overload on films about Lady Diana. That
will peak on Thursday, the 20th anniversary of her death;
tonight is best approached with caution.

TLC takes the lower
road, from 6-9 p.m., offering conspiracy theories and calling it,
“Princess Diana: Tragedy or Treason?” Smithsonian aims higher,
with reruns. At 9 p.m., it views paparazzi, whom Diana sometimes used
skillfully ... even brashly flaunting a “revenge dress.” At 10,
it views the funeral; there are moving moments, including the
procession walk by her sons, her ex-husband and his father.

Other choices
include:

“Bachelor in
Paradise,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Christen Whitney only lasted three
weeks in the recent “The Bachelor”; she made an impression,
however, when she said she's a virgin. Whitney– then 25 and a
wedding videographer in Tulsa – reaches “Paradise” tonight and
has a date card.

“American Ninja
Warrior” (NBC) and “So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox), both
8-10 p.m. Both shows require immense physical talent. “Dance” is
now down to its final eight dancers. “Warrior” has its last
regional round (in Denver), before the finals start next Monday.

“Hooten and the
Lady,” 9 p.m., CW. Searching for a priceless jewel in Cambodia,
Hooten and Alex draw the attention of a ruthless drug gang.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. When Violet has mononucleosis, her mother and grandmother rush
to comfort her. They soon learn that she has bigger worries.

“Preacher,” 9
p.m., AMC. This truly odd hour – even by “Preacher” standards –
spends half its time in Hell, with (among others) Hitler. The other
half finds Jesse's search for God reaching new frustrations.

“To Tell the
Truth,” 10 p.m., ABC. This is the hour that was set for last week,
then delayed. Panelists are Olivia Culpo (a former Miss Universe) and
actor/comedians Craig Robinson, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Gabriel
Iglesias. After new episodes on Sept. 11 and 18, “Truth” will be
shelved until mid-season.

“Loaded,” 10:04
p.m., AMC. For a while there, we really thought AMC could make a
cheery show. After all, “Loaded” started with likable guys making
millions by selling their videogame; what could go wrong? Tonight, in
the season's second-to-last episode, things crumble in overwrought
ways. Well, it's still cheerier than “Hell on Wheels” or “Feed
the Beast.”

TV column for Sunday, Aug. 27


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Game of Thrones” season-finale, 9-10:25 p.m., HBO.

Each “Thrones”
episode becomes what people talk about for the next week; this one
will be what they talk about for the next year ... or years ... or
however long it takes to make the final, six-episode season.

Last week's episode
(rerunning at 7:50 p.m.) had the White Walkers kill and revive one of
Daenerys' dragons. Now they have one dragon, she has two and the epic
battles continue.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Video Music Awards, 8 p.m., MTV, VH1, BET, CMT, TV Land; also, 11
p.m., MTV and VH1; and 2 a.m., MTV.

The expanded,
three-hour format has lots of music. Kendrick Lamar leads with eight
nominations, followed by Katy Perry and The Weeknd with five apiece;
all three will perform, with Perry hosting.

There's more,
including Miley Cyrus, Ed Sheeran, Lorde, Demi Lovato, Fifth Harmony,
Logic, Khalid, DNCE, Julia Michaels and Thirty Seconds to Mars.
That's a youthful bunch, but Pink (who gets a Video Vanguard award)
will perform; so will Rod Stewart, with a remake of “Do Ya Think
I'm Sexy?”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: Football, 1 and 4:30 p.m. ET, Fox; 8 p.m. ET, NBC.

It's time for us to
practice for the regular season, when we can spend Sundays staring at
games.

First, the Bears
(3-13 last season) visit the Titans (9-7). Then it's Bengals (6-9-1)
at Redskins (8-7-1) and Giants (2-14) at Vikings (10-6). That second
game, incidentally, involves teams that played to a tie last season.
There have only been five ties in the past five years, since the
rules were revised ... and there were only nine ties in the 28 year
before that. Maybe this time, someone will win.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Get Shorty,” 10 p.m., Epix.

The first two
episodes were terrific, but this third one is even better. “Shorty”
has reached the “Fargo” level – great characters and offbeat
dialog, creating a rare blend of intelligence and entertainment.

Miles (Chris O'Dowd)
is a crook with a conscience, hoping his wife will take him back if
he goes straight. When his colleague shot a writer, Miles took the
script to a low-ball producer (Ray Romano). Now he wants to turn
dirty money (needing laundering) into a big movie. It's all odd and
fun.

ALSO: Lady Diana
documentaries, cable.

With the 20th
anniversary of Diana's death coming Thursday, new films arrive,
including two on the Smithsonian Channel. At 8 p.m. is a view of her
relationship with the paparazzi – whom she sometimes could
manipulate. At 9, a moving portrait of her funeral includes memories
of pallbearers and more.

Newly added is CNN's
“Diana: Chasing a Fairytale,” from 9-11 p.m. ET, CNN says it
includes people who haven't done previous documentaries, including
the coroner, a first-responder and several friends.

Other choices
include:

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., ABC. One round has people who got their start in
teen shows – Jennie Garth (“Beverly Hills 90210”) and Kyle
Massey (“That's So Raven,” “Cory in the House”). The other
has country-music stars Lee Brice and Jerrod Niemann.

“The Simpsons,”
8 and 9 p.m., Fox. The first rerun has the family getting rid of
things that don't bring joy – including the family pig and the
saxophone. The second has Homer as a chess whiz.

“Masterpiece:
Endeavour,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS. We start with a pop song filmed on
an Oxford lawn; it's musically jaunty, visually gorgeous ... and
unrelated to the story. Like last week's opener, this obsesses on
1960s flavor – a Beatles-era rock band, a TV-purity advocate -- but
lacks a story worth following.

“$100,000
Pyramid,” 10 p.m., ABC. One round has actors Ice T and Peri Gilpin;
the other has racer Kyle Busch and TV newswoman Lara Spencer.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a gold-heist case links Hetty
with Vietnam colleagues.