TV column for Sunday, May 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Last 100 Days of Diana,” 9-11 p.m., ABC.

When Lady Diana
died, she was 36 and “the most glamorous woman in the world,”
says ABC News producer Terrence Wrong. That was in August of 1997, a
year after her divorce from Prince Charles.

Now this documentary
looks at her one summer as a single woman and at her romances with
Dodi al-Fayed and British-Pakistani surgeon Hasnat Khan. It uses
interviews with her butler, chef, bodyguard, personal trainer and
press secretary.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“MTV Movie & TV Awards,” 8 p.m., MTV, BET, VH1, Spike and
Comedy Central; reruns on MTV at 10:10 p.m. ad 12:20 and 2:30 a.m.

The former “MTV
Movie Awards” add TV categories. The first best-TV-show nominees
are “This Is Us,” “Game of Thrones,” “Pretty Little Liars,”
“Atlanta,” “Insecure” and “Stranger Things”; the
best-movie nods go to “Rogue One,” “Logan,” “Get Out,”
“Edge of Seventeen” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

There's much more,
plus entertainment. Adam Devine hosts; Noah Cyrus (Miley's
17-year-old sister) sings with Big Sean. Also, J Balvin and Pitbull
do their song from the latest of the “Fast and Furious” films –
the first franchise to win the “Generation Award,” which usually
goes to an actor.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Once Upon a Time,” 8 p.m., ABC.

For generations,
Broadway musicals and TV dramas have been in separate universes. Only
recently has TV thought to blend them. There have been musical
numbers, musical episodes, even (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) an entire
musical series. And now this show has its turn.

In flashbacks, Snow
and Charming give Emma a wish that causes people to break into song.
(These are original songs by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, who
received some praise for “First Date,” their 2013 Broadway
musical.) That infuriates the Evil Queen; being evil, she probably
dislikes musicals.

Other choices
include:

“Little Big
Shots,” 7 and 8 p.m., NBC. First is a rerun that ranges from
pizza-tossing brothers to a contortionist who's skilled at archery.
Then a new hour includes step-dancers, a 6-year-old environmentalist,
a 4-year-old color guard and triplets who have a card-throwing act.

“Disney's Fairy
Tale Weddings,” 8 p.m., ABC. A guy prepares to have his marriage
proposal secretly filmed in Disney World ... unless the hidden
microphone and ring are discovered by the security guard or by the
guy's touchy-feely girlfriend. There's more, in what might sort of be
a 90-minute commercial.

“Madam Secretary,”
9 p.m., CBS. Elizabeth tries to free an American journalist kidnapped
in Sudan.

“Masterpiece: Home
Fires,” 9 p.m., Sunday, PBS. Teresa's life has changed profoundly
since she arrived to teach at the village school. Her secret lesbian
lover died en route to America; now she's newly engaged to Nick, the
commander of the local Royal Air Force unit. This strong and varied
hour offers the potential joy of the wedding, complicated by powerful
life-and-death moments.

“The Good Witch,”
9 p.m., Hallmark. Any town without a movie theater is flawed – even
a town as picture-pretty as this one. Now Ben considers fixing up the
old theater; also, Cassie's new guest at the inn is a friend of her
cousin Abigail.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. When a reality-show contestant is killed, the prime
suspect is another contestant – a former war criminal who may be
the most skilled killer Sherlock has faced.

“Mary Kills
People,” 10 p.m., Lifetime. Mary's complicated life is starting to
crumble. Her daughter things she's a drug-dealer ... a cop knows she
assists suicides ... and her drug source is leaning on her for
favors. Also, in this dark episode, she's sometimes a bad mom.

TV column for Saturday, May 6


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

Soaring with its
best ratings in years, “SNL” is wrapping up with three straight
new episodes. The next two hosts are clearly linked with comedy --
Melissa McCarthy and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson; tonight,
however, it's Chris Pine, with music from LCD Soundsystem.

We're used to Pine
in serious, sturdy roles – Captain Kirk and Jack Ryan and such. But
he's also done comedy, including an Emmy nomination for voicing Dr.
Divizo and Robo-Dino in “SuperMansion.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Star Wars” marathon, TNT.

For the second time
in three days, we get a real viewing pleasure – both “Star Wars”
trilogies, in chronological order. TBS did that Thursday, now its
sister channel has a turn.

That starts with the
prequels, at 6:58 and 10 a.m. and 1:09 p.m. Then come the original
classics -- “Star Wars” (1977) at 4:15, “The Empire Strikes
Back” (1980) at 7 and “Return of the Jedi” at 9:47 p.m.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Batman & Bill,” any time, www.hulu.com.

In the mega-universe
of Batman and Superman and such, most people have never heard of Bill
Finger. Maybe we should; buffs say he molded Batman's look and
personality and he wrote the early stories.

This documentary
traces writer Marc Nobleman's efforts to set the record straight. We
meet an earnest optimist who loved to create, but was slower to fight
for credit. It's a difficult story to tell, with few photos
available; producers sometimes use a clever, animated approach that
fits this bat-world.

Other choices
include:

“Snow White and
the Seven Dwarfs” (1937), 12:35 p.m., Freeform. Two classics anchor
this splendid marathon -- “Snow White” launches it and “Frozen”
(2013) finishes it (almost) at 9. Others are “The Princess and the
Frog” at 2:40 p.m., “Brave” at 4:45, “Tangled” at 6:50 and
“Aladdin” at 11:30.

Kentucky Derby, 2:30
p.m. ET, NBC. For two minutes, horses will rule the sports world.

Sports overload,
evening. Three of the top four networks are consumed by sports
tonight. At 7 p.m. ET, Fox has two baseball teams with natioal
followings – the Yankees at the Cubs. Others are busy with
play-offs – hockey's Pittsburgh at Washington at 7:15 p.m. ET on
NBC, basketball's Golden State at Utah at 8:30 (with preview) at 8 on
ABC.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, a businessman is using terrorist incidents to
manipulate the stock market. When an undercover probe is disrupted,
the team needs a new lead.

“Training Day,”
9 p.m., CBS. We're down to the final three episodes of this series,
which was finished before Bill Paxton's death at 61. Tonight's focus
is on Kyle (Justin Cornwell), who feels he's already encountered the
suspect in Afghanistan.

“The Son,” 9
p.m., AMC and Sundance, rerunning at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. on Sundance.
In 1849, young Eli makes a dangerous choice. In 1915, his
granddaughter scrambles to save the famil.

“Genius,” 10
p.m., National Geographic. In a rerun of Tuesday's episode, we see
Albert Einstein argue with – and fall in love with – the only
woman in his class, his brilliant future wife Mileva.

TV column for Friday, May 5


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Blue Bloods” season-finale, 10 p.m., CBS.

For seven seasons,
this has been comfortably near the top of the Nielsen ratings. Now it
wraps up its year with Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) as a target, after
intercepting a large drug shipment.

His brother Jamie
(Will Estes) works on his own to track a serial killer who focuses
on the elderly. And the mayor confides his retirement plans to their
dad (Tom Selleck), the police commissioner.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Lucifer” and “Lethal Weapon,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox.

Things are tough
when adding Satan is considered an ethical upgrade. But the
previous Friday show, “You the Jury,” was horribly tacky; it's
been dumped early and the night now has reruns.

The first simply
repeats Monday's “Lucifer,” a pretty good one. After going
through Hell (literally) to find Chloe's antidote, Lucifer simply
disappeared. Now he's back, with a weak explanation and a stripper
named Candy (Lindsey Gort), in a detour that's goofy, but fun. Then a
stalker is obsessing on Dr. Cahill (Jordana Brewster), causing her
colleagues to dig into her life.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “I Love Dick,” any time, www.amazon.com/video.

A weak night for
broadcast and cable happens to be a strong one for streaming. And in
its very eccentric – and very adult – way, this is thoroughly
involving.

In a sparse,
academic Texas community, Dick (Kevin Bacon) has a strong-and-silent
cowboy persona. He used to make million-dollar sculptures; now he's a
professor, a gallery-owner and the object of the separate obsessions
of a married couple (Kathryn Hahn, Griffin Dunne). These are gifted
actors, as are Roberta Colidrez, India Menuez and others. For all its
quirks, it's easy to love “I Love Dick.”

Other choices
include:

More streaming,
Netflix. It's a busy day for the channel, with a new season of the
science-fiction “Sense8,” plus a movie (“Handsome,” with Jeff
Garlin as a homicide detective) and a documentary (“The Mars
Generation,” filmed at the space center in Huntsville, Ala.).

“Captain America”
(2011), 5:30 p.m., FX. Here's the start of a night of popular movies,
As 8 p.m., you can catch its sequel (2014) on FX, “Selena” (1997)
on E or the original “Star Wars” (1977) on TNT.

Reality shows, 8
p.m., ABC, CBS and NBC. Three shows scrap for the same audiene. NBC's
“First Dates” has been a delight and ABC's “Toy Box” has its
c harms; CBS has “Undercover Boss.”

“The Sugarland
Express” (1974), 8 p.m, ET, Turner Classic Movies; or “Jurassic
Park” (1993), 8 p.m., AMC. One channel has Steven Spielberg's first
feature film, with a young couple on the lam; the other finds him
with bigger budgets and peak skills, turning dinosaurs into
mega-villains.

“Latin Music USA,”
9-11 p.m., PBS. The second half of a miniseries that debuted in 2009,
this sees music help propel the Chicano movement. It also traces the
Latin-pop surge at the turn of the century.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. After McGarrett gets a tip, the team races to prevent a
terrorist attack.

“Reign,” 9 p.m.,
CW. There are schemes everywhere now. Mary is trying to seize the
English throne; the younger son of her former mother-in-law is trying
for French power, with the support of Spain.

TV column for Thursday, May 4


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Superstore” season-finale, 8:30 p.m., NBC.

Some shows fit into
a steady groove; “Superstore,” however, varies widely in plots
and in quality. Some episodes (like last week's wedding one) are
merely OK; tonight, however, is hilarious.

It starts weakly as
the store manager can't decide whom to fire and Ben tries to lessen
the effect of calling Amy “sexy.” But then comes a meeting to let
people vote on the firing; democracy, it seems, is really funny.
After that, the tornado sirens blare. This is big-scale -- and, at
times, big-laugh – TV.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS.

TV's best shows
thrive during “sweeps” ratings periods. They have new episodes
... and sometimes bonus reruns. That's what happens tonight.

First is a new
episode in which the guys finally finish their Air Force project ...
then have an unpleasant surprise. Then is a rerun of one of the best
episodes: It's time for Bernadette to have her baby ... and it's also
Amy's birthday, when she and Sheldon have their annual sex. Two big
moments collide.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Star Wars” films, all day, cable.

TBS lets the story
unfold chronologically. The prequel trilogy (1999, 2002 and 2005) is
at 6:40 and 9:26 a.m. and 12:20 p.m.; the original trilogy (1977,
1980 and 1983) is at 3:12, 5:42 and 8:17 p.m.

And there's more, if
you switch channels. The original characters re-appear in “Star
Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015), at 7, 9:21 and 11:42 p.m. on
Starz. There's strong science-fiction here – and, outside the “Star
Wars” galaxy, superb sci-fi in James Cameron's “Aliens”
(1986), from 8-11 p.m. on IFC.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “MasterChef Junior,” 8 p.m., Fox.

The kids have
already been judged by kitchen celebrities, but none like this: It's
the Swedsh Chef, of Muppets fame; he has a lot of presumably worthy
things to say, if only we could understand him.

Miss Piggy even
joins the competition. (No, the menu doesn't have ham, pork or
frog-legs.) At 41, she competes with six kids ages 10 to 13. This
hour turns out to be a let-down, but has fun along the way.

Other choices
include:

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Duos face difficult tasks tonight. Alex and Eliza
disagree about a young patient ... April and Andrew have a fiery
patient with a giant, inoperable heart tumor ... Stephanie and Ben
face decisions that could affect their careers.

“Scandal.” 9
p.m., ABC. With the future of the country wobbling, Olivia and Fitz
clash with her scheming father Rowan. Also, Jake has surprising
tacticts to deal with the mystery woman.

“Riverdale,” 9
p.m., CW. Last week, police found a gun in Jughead's dad's trailer,
promptly arresting him for Jason's murder. But that rings false to
Archie and Veronica; they had searched the place shortly before that
and found nothing. Now they rush to clear their friend's father.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Responsibility can be tricky. Bonnie is in charge of her
boyfriend's dog. On a bigger scale, Jill is now a foster mom; she
takes the teen-ager to see her birth mother, who is in rehab.

“Life in Pieces,”
9:31 p.m., CBS. All season has been pointing toward the wedding of
Matt and Colleen; now it's coming up in Mexico ... but getting there
isn't easy. Greg and Jen give there baby his first plane ride ...
Joan and John try to smuggle their dog aboard ... Heather and Tim
have punctuality problems ... and the bride and groom are bumped from
their flight.

“The Blacklist,”
10 p.m., NBC. Tonight's target has the ability to manipulate
memories, That has Liz starting to doubt some of the things she
recalls.

It's a big, big-box set ... but is it tornado-ready?


As TV critics, we get to see a lot of sets. Some ("The Mentalist," for instance) are kind of bland; others -- from "Chuck" to "West Wing" to "Big Bang Theory" -- are impressive. Near the top of the list is "Superstore" -- a set so realistic that you check to make sure you brought a credit card. Now, ironically, that show is about to be belted Thursday (May 4) by a tornado. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Step into the
“Superstore” set and you're tempted to (varying with your
upbringing) buy or browse or maybe shoplift.

Try to show
restraint, though. “We're not allowed to touch anything,” Ben
Feldman said.

He's one of the
stars of a show set in a big-box store. And he has a really big box
to play in: This “Cloud 9” store is 22,500 square feet, said
production designer Michael Gallenberg; that's still less than half
the size of a typical K-Mart ... but way bigger than most shows have.

And now it will get
a shaking. In Thursday's season-finale, a tornado heads toward Cloud
9.

“Superstore” is
like that, with a potential for big plot shifts. At times, it's
stories are personal – Cheyenne's wedding last week ... Mateo's
undocumented status previously ... the perpetual fondness of Jonah
(Feldmain) for Amy (America Ferrera), whose marriage is floundering.
At other times, it has big-scale moments.

“I never intended
this to be an ambitious show production-wise,” producer Justin
Spitzer said in a note to TV critics. “But over the course of the
last season, we've had a fire, pyrotechnic dancers, a helicopter”
and more, leading into “a giant tornado. We're the 'Game of
Thrones' of network comedy.”

And like “Thrones,”
it's expansive. The set is designed so directors can go anywhere
without special lighting. “You turn on the (overall) lights and
you're ready to go,” Gallenberg said.

If “Superstore:
makes fun of something – well, that's a store brand. “The junk is
always SuperCloud,” he said. Everything else is real. “We have
over 2,500 licensing agreements.”

They range from
everyday items to classy gadgets. “If I get fired,” Feldman said,
“I'm going to steal the drone.”

That won't happen
this season, though. For now, there's a tornado to deal with.

 

-- “Superstore”
season-finale, 8:30 p.m. Thursday (May 4), NBC, following a rerun at 8