TV column for Sunday, Aug. 7

“BrainDead,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Yes, we know thaty
the big thing today – and two weeks after htat – is the Olympic
coverage; we'll get to that in a momenty. But if you've maxed-out on
Olympians, remember that the summer's best show offers it all –
satire, science-fiction, even a hint of romance.

Laurel (the terrific
Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has been one of the few people to realize
that alien bugs are invading the brains of our leaders in Washington,
D.C.; now, alas, she's under investigation. Also, Gustav and Rochelle
may have found a new way to communicate with people infected by the

“Masterpiece: Inspector Lewis,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local

For almost 30 years,
with occasional gaps, we've had stories about these Oxford cops.
There have been 12 seasons of “Inspector Morse,” nine of
“Inspector Lewis,” even three of early Morse in “Endeavour.”

Now “Lewis”
begins its final, three-movie season. Rob (Kevin Whately) and
Hathaway (Laurence Fox) probe a body in the well and the death of an
artist. They try to find a connection.

ALTERNATIVE: Olympics, all day, NBC and cable.

The first Sunday of
the games has the cable channels stirring, with specialized events.
These are live, varying with each time zone; In the Eastern zone, NBC
Sports starrts at 6 a.m., Bravo at 9:30 a.m., USA at noon and MSNBC
at 2:30 p.m.

Then there's NBC,
which grabs the highest-interest events and does some time-shifting.
Today, it goes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 7 p.m. to midnight and 12:35
to 4:30 a.m. In primetime, it focuses on swimming, diving and women's

Other choices

“The Walking
Dead,” 10 a.m. to 3 a.m., AMC. Over the next two Sundays, AMC will
rerun the two most-recent “Dead” seasons. That paves the way for
the second half of the “Fear the Walking Dead” season (starting
Aug. 21) and then some new “Dead” (Oct.23).

“The Simpsons,”
7 and 8 p.m., Fox. In the first rerun, Lisa helps a homeless woman
who's a great singer; the role is voiced by Kate McKinnon and sung by
Natalie Maines. In the second, Lisa volunteers for a one-way trip to

“Legends &
Lies” season finale, 8 p.m., Fox News. The story of Alexander
Hamilton already fascinates people through books and a Broadway hit.
Now comes another look at it, focusing on Aaron Burr, the man who
killed Hamilton in a duel.

Pyramid,” 9 p.m., ABC. One ABC gameshow (“Celebrity Familty Feud”
at 8 p.m.) will retreat into reruns, but “Pyramid” is new. It has
Steve Schirripa of “Sopranos” facing Melissa Peterman and Teri
Polo facing Zacary Levi.

“Madam Secretary,”
9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Elizabeth's India-Pakistan peace talks are
interrupted by a mysterious plane crash.

Cable shows, 9 and
10 p.m. One channel – TNT, with “The Last Ship” and “Murder
in the First” -- will simply rerun last week's episodes. There are
new episodes battling the Olympics, however, on HBO (“The Night
Of,” “Ballers,” “Vice-Principals”), Showtime (“Ray
Donovan,” “Roadies”) and Starz (“Power,” “Survivor's

“Match Game,” 10
p.m., ABC. The panelists are Jack MacBrayer, Niecy Nash, Ellie
Kemper, David Alan Grier, Natasha Lyonne and Jerry O'Connell.

TV column for Saturday, Aug. 6

Olympics, all day, NBC and cable.

The first full day
will have viewers navigating a blur of choices. Websites
(, will
be helpful; nothing will be easy.

Cable stays live and
varies by time zone. The NBC Sports Network starts at 9 a.m. ET,
Bravo at 9:30, MSNBC at noon, USA at 3 p.m. and CNBC at 5. An easier
route is to stick to NBC, which juggles between live and tape. That's
8 a.m. to 6 p.m., 8 p.m. to midnight and 12:30 to 5 a.m.; prime time
is led by swimming, men's gymnastics and a women's beach volleyball
game with the U.S. and Australia.

“Rush Hour,” 8 p.m. CBS or 8 p.m. ET, IFC.

You can choose your
silliness, old or new.

Cable has the
original pairing of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, in “Rush Hour 3”
(2007). CBS gives those same mismatched-cop roles to JonFoo and
Justin Hires. In a new episode tonight, they respond to a hostage
crisis in a concert hall.

ALTERNATIVE: “Boston EMS,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Rob and Kim Stearns
link their work and their lives; married to each other, they also
share an ambulance, as emergency medical technicians. Tonight, they
pull a man from a frigid river.

Also, Zachary
Randall and Terry Mentele try to calm a 6-year-old who fractured his
arm falling out of bed. John Cotter responts to a fire that started
when someone forgot to extinguish a scented candle.

ALTERNATIVE II: Football Hall of Fame ceremony, 7-10 p.m. ET, ESPN.

Two great
quarterbacks – Brett Favre and Kenny Stabler – will be inducted,
plus Marvin Harrison, Kevin Greene, Orlando Pace, Dick Stanfel, coach
Tony Dungy and owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr.

One sobering note:
After Stabler's death (at 69, of colon cancer), doctors found
substantial concussion-type damage to his brain. For a deeper look at
that issue, catch Will Smith's superb performance in “Concussion,”
at 6:55 p.m. on Starz.

Other choices

“The Peanuts
Movie” (2015), 7 p.m., HBO. This leads a busy night for animated
movies. At 6 p.m., the Cartoon Network has “Alvin and the
Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” (2011) ... At 7, FX Movies has “Despicable
Me 2” (2013) ... And at 8, AMC has “Monsters vs. Aliens”

“Wayward Pines,”
8 and 9 p.m., Fox. An intriguing season is getting a second run, this
time on Saturdays. Tonight, we learn why Jason Higgins was chosen as
the eventual leader of this contained community. Theo (Jason Patric)
tries to learn why he was chosen as the doctor. And Nurse Pam is

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. When Kristen is employee of the month, Kyle
has trouble being happy for her. Also, Mike (Tim Allen, reflecting
his old “Home Improvement” days) builds a shed for his wife.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. Juggling laughs and sentiment semi-successfully, this
rerun has an old comedian who's desperate to do his next job despite
an illness.

“Criminal Minds:
Beyond Borders,” 9 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, a honeymoon in Belize
has gone badly. These two Americans (Autumn Reeser and Gil McKinney)
have been kidnapped.

“Speed” (1994),
10 p.m. ET, IFC. Here's a dandy romp – Keanu Reeves and Sandra
Bullock in a bus that will explode if it goes below 50 miles an hour.

TV column for Friday, Aug. 5

Olympic opening ceremony, 7:30 p.m. to midnight, NBC.

It's time for sheer
size and spectacle – 12,000 athletes, 6,000 dancers, 109
projectors, lots of fireworks. Don't expect high-tech dazzle;
directors say the opening in hard-pressed Rio de Janeiro has a budget
one-tenth that of the 2012 ceremony in London. But do expect an
emphasis on warmth and fun.

There's a carnival
portion, of course. Music ranges from pop star Anitta, 23, to
singer-gutarists Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, 73 and 74. Matt
Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Hoda Kotb are there for NBC.

“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.

This rerun of the
season-opener offers a bigger-than-usual story. The team probes an
event centuries ago – a palace raid involving pirates, buried
treasure and a stolen painting that works as a map.

Meanwhile, Danny
worries about how McGarrett will react to the return of his former
lover Catherine (Michelle Borth). And Kono and Adam, captured by
Gabriel, are tortured the day after their wedding.

ALTERNATIVE: “On the Waterfront” (1954) and “A Streetcar Named
Desire” (1951), 8 and 10 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies.

Very simply, these
two black-and-white films may be the the best-acted movies ever.

At the core was Elia
Kazan directing Marlon Brando. Both won Academy Awards for
“Waterfront,” which also won won for Best Picture; “Streetcar”
had nominations for both men and best-picture. Also winning: Eva
Marie Saint in “Waterfront”; Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter and Karl
Malden in “Streetcar.”

ALTERNATIVE II: “Jaws” (1975) or “Saving Private Ryan”
(1998), cable.

Here are two sides
of Steven Spielberg's brilliant career. We see his ability to thrill
... and to weave deep emotions into a broad, wartime canvas.

The latter film airs
at 8 p.m. and 12:03 a.m. on A&E. The former is in a marathon on
AMC, alongside sequels not directed by Spielberg. “Jaws,” “Jaws
2” (1978) and “Jaws 3” (1983) air at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:30
p.m., then at 6:45 and 9:45 p.m. and 12:15 a.m. The fourth film
(1987) is at 2:30 a.m.

Other choices

8-10 p.m., Fox. In a rerun of Wednesday's episode, contestants must
make a three-layer birthday cake and then feed 100 hungry farmers.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. Nate Getz (Peter Cambor) has failed to check
in with Hetty, during his undercover mission. It turns out that he's
working with an infamous crime leader.

“Kitten Summer
Games,” 8-10 p.m.. Hallmark. In a variation on the “Puppy Bowl”
that competes with the Super Bowl, we see cute (and adoptable)
kitties doing gymnastics, vollyball and more. Mary Carillo, one of
NBC's Olympic people, will be there, alongside dog-show expert David
Frei and more.

“Killjoys,” 9
p.m., Syfy. On a night stuffed with reruns, this show is new. In its
search for the mysterious green plasma, the team is imperilled by an
eccentric collector.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Danny receives a chilling message from a possible
serial killer. Also, his sister considers running for judge; their
dad is accused by a mayoral candidate (Mary Stuart Masterson) of
secretly investigating her father.

“Rush Hour”
(1998), 10 p.m., TBS. Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker play mismatched
cops, stirring action and comedy. The result brought two sequels and
a a series, which CBS airs on Saturdays.

TV column for Thursday, Aug. 4

“Home Free” finale, 8-10 p.m., Fox.

TV's most generous
show lets each contestant win a house for a personal hero. Tonight,
however, a champion will get the best house for the hero ... plus
$100,000 for himself or herself.

These are easy
people to root for. Maggie is a long-haired blonde whose hero is the
older brother who took care of her after their father left. James is
a white-bearded guy whose heroes are his parents, who have lost
everything. Nick is a wouded war veteran whose hero is the guy who
saved his life.

II: “Greatest Hits” season-finale, 9-11 p.m., ABC.

The previous hours
were carefully packaged, each bringing back music from a five-year
stretch. Now the finale loosens up; it's live, with music from the
1980s, '90s and 2000s.

Ariana Grande will
do a Whitney Houston tribute; from Montreal, Celine Dio will sing “My
Heart Will Go On.” There's much more, with Arsenio Hall and Kelsea
Ballerini hosting.

“Code Black,” 10 p.m., CBS.

After taking a
couple weeks off, “Code Black” returns with a rerun of its
excellent pilot film. Based on the Los Angeles hospital that has the
nation's busiest emergency room, it has energy and passion. Melissa
Gay Harden plays the residency director and Luis Guzman is the senior
nurse, Now they have four new residents, including Christa (Bonnie
Somerville, 42), making a mid-life switch. At times, this sinks into
daring-rulebreaker cliches; more often, it's a strong look at good
people under pressure.

ALTERNATIVE: Olympic warm-up, three channels.

On the eve of the
Olympic ceremony, NBC has an 8 p.m. hour that includes past and
present stars – swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, sprinter
Usain Bolt, beach-vollyeball star Kerri Walsh Jennings and the U.S.
women's gymnasts.

Meanwhile, a soccer
round is already starting; the women were Wednesday and the men are
today. That's on the NBC Sports Network at noon, 3, 5, 7 and 9 p.m.
ET and on USA at 2, 4 and 6 p.m. ET.

Othetr choices

“Dark Shadows”
(2012) and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005), 6 and 8:30
p.m., Freeform. Here's a Johnny Depp double-feature; “Charlie,”
in particular, is brilliantly crafted. Depp also appears briefly in
“21 Jump Street” (2012), a fun film based on the TV show that
launched his career.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Jane Kaczmarek (“Malcolm in the Middle”)
guests as a psychiatrist who's session with Leonard brings surprises.
Also in this funny rerun, Sheldon and Raj make a science discovery;
Howard and Bernadette have “empty-nest syndrome” with Stuart

“Life in Pieces,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. This rerun comes after the temporary break-up of Matt
and Colleen; Heather and Jen try to comfort him. And John (James
Brolin), who tends to be a bit goofy, is feeling bad about his
granddaughter growing up; he buys a rather silly pet.

“Beauty and the
Beast,” 9 p.m., CW. The show pauses to rerun its season-opener,
with Vincent and Cat expecting a regular life. Naturally, it's soon

“Queen of the
South,” 10 p.m., USA. Both friends face crises in their
drug-dealing. Teresa is sent out on a midnight mission that's
life-threatening. Brenda puts her crew in danger, due to a lack of

“Ripper Street,”
10 p.m. ET, BBC America. Wrapping up a story that started last week,
Drake tries to solve a case involving the murder of an Indian-born

TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 3

“CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock,” 8-11 p.m., ABC.

Each year, this
Nashville special focuses on upbeat music and bouncy fans. This time,
hosts Brett Eldredge and Thomas Rhett do a duet; so do Luke Bryan and
Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley and Elle King, Chris Young and Cassadee
Pope, Lady Antebellum and Cam, Rascal Flatts and Maren Morris.

Genres are crossesd;
it's Martina McBride with Steven Tyler, Little Big Town, with
Pharrell Williams and a choir. Also planned are solos from Carrie
Underwood, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Jason
Aldean, Eric Church, Cole Swindell, Florida Georgia Line and more.

SHOULD-SEE: “Spillover: Zika, Ebola & Beyond,” 9 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).

Two days before the
Olympics' opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, we get a chilling
reminder of one of its threats – the rise of zika virus,
endangering people in Brazil and beyond.

This well-crafted
(and disturbing hour) takes a broader view. It shows how ebola spread
from remote African villages, almost becoming a pandemic that would
have killed millions globally. It shows how other diseases have had
similar routes, with zika leaping from unknown to crisis.

ALTERNATIVE: “Kingdom” season-finale, 9 p.m., DirecTV/AT&T.

The season started
with a title fight between near-brothers – Jay Kulina (Jonathan
Tucker) and Ryan Wheeler (Matt Laura), who was trained by Jay's dad,
Alvey. Jay, targetting Ryan's injury, won.

Now it's time for
the rematch and Jay is the one who's wounded, this time emotionally:
His lover Ava (Alicia's sister) was murdered. Jay is shattered; so is
Alvey, who has just had an angry break-up with Lisa Prince. Now the
fight goes on, Alvey helps a friend and a fierce season ends.

Other choices

Olympics, 6 p.m. ET,
NBC Sports Network. Even before the openig ceremony, women's soccer
starts its first round. This match has the U.S. and New Zealand;
others are at 11:30 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports
Network and at 3 and 5 p.m. ET on USA.

8-10 p.m., Fox. Settling into its new night, the show puts two
episodes back-to-back. Contestants make a three-layer birthday cake,
cook for 100 hungry farmers and then have an hour to create a breakfast
dish using a hazelnut spread.

“America's Got
Talent” (NBC) and “Big Brother” (CBS), 8 p.m. Add these to
“MasterChef” and you have a reality-show overload. The good
news: With ABC's country concert, CW's magicians and PBS' documentary
(“Koko – The Gorilla Who Talks”), 8 p.m. is a no-rerun hour for
broadcast networks.

“The Night Shift,”
9 and 10 p.m., NBC. Set in a San Antonio hospital here many of the
doctors are ex-military, this has established TC (Eoin Macken) as an
action-hero surgeon. In tonight's first hour, he throws himself into
a gravel pit, trying to save someone from being swallowed up. In the
second, he's arrested in a bar brawl. Also, Scott (Scott Wolf) has
emotional moments with a patient and with Annie.

“American Gothic,”
10 p.m., CBS. A “silver bell killer” revelation – which Brady
doubts – leaves the family in chaos. Alison's mayoral campaign is
sinking, Cam's sobriety is tested (again) and there are fresh doubts
about both Garrett and Jack.

“Mr. Robot,”
10:01 p.m., USA. Elliot has been trying to quit the hacking crisis he
started, but that isn't easy, Meanwhile, Dom (Grace Gummer), the FBI
agent, heads to China to investigate.

And more, cable. The
10 p.m. slot has become summer-TV's best hour. On the Oprah Winfrey
Network's “Greenleaf,” we see the aftermath of a church shooting.
On Sundance's “The A Word,” there's a difficult effort to get
some friends for Joe, the 5-year-old with autism.