TV column for Monday, July 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Penn & Teller: Fool Us” season-opener, 8 p.m., CW.

The world is
apparently full of great magicians who blend humor, deft moves and
sheer originality. This series – trying to concoct a trick that
baffles Penn and Teller – is filled with them tonight.

One guy keeps
transferring objects between a computer screen and real life; another
performs “surgery” to find proof amid someone's innards. And
Handsome Jack explains that his great beauty shouldn't blind us. (No
problem there.) He's fresh, fun, smart ... and thoroughly
Penn-worthy.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

TV's best reality
show reaches a turning point tonight. At the Las Vegas callbacks,
judges choose 10 people for the “stage” team and 10 for the
“street” team.

When the live shows
begin next week, they'll be led by gifted ex-contestants. Travis Wall
and Stephen “tWitch” Boss were runners-up in 2006 and 2008
respectively. Boss is a great street dancer; Wall, studio-trained,
has had four straight Emmy nominations for choreograpy. This could be
a great year.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Fosters,” 8 p.m., ABC Family.

This isummer, Maia
Mitchell has had silly fun (and strong ratings) in “Teen Beach 2.”
But she's also been terrific here as Callie, a deeply layered teen,
surviving in foster care.

Tonight, she
convinces Brandon to accompany her on a mystery trip to Mexico. Back
home, his two foster moms have many woes: They argue about hiring a
contractor; they also find a pregnancy test.

Other choices
include:

“Garden State”
(2004), 7:10 p.m., Starz. Zach Braff (“Scrubs”) made a delightful
debut as a movie auteur, writing, directing and starring. From her
first monolog, Natalie Portman has a great character.

“The
Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. This is when things get tense
and/or spicy. There are five guys left and Kaitlyn Bristowe has to
choose the final three who will have what the show calls “overnight
dates.” We see the first of those dates, plus lots of rumors and
controversy.

“2 Broke Girls,”
8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Max and Caroline take out a loan, so they
can mass-produce their cupcake T-shirts.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. Suddenly, these computer guys have to be survivalists.
Their helicopter crashes, igniting a wildfire that could trap them.

“POV,” 10 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). Last week, this documentary series left
us watching a man's world crumble; this time, we see several lives
wobble. We follow two people – a Seattle man, a New York woman –
trying to overcome past errors and retrieve their kids from the
foster-care system. It's a tough ride, but an informative (and,
occasionally, uplifting) one.

“The Whispers,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. When Claire assembles children who have heard from
“Drill” (the scheming, disembodied voice), she makes a key
breakthrough. Meanwhile, Wes studies the mysterious rock in Mali and
has a disturbing idea of Drill's master plan.

“The Island”
finale, 10:01 p.m., NBC. A darker version of “Survivor,” this
dumped 14 guys on an island with no food or water and with no fun and
games. Now the brief (six-episode) series ends; survivalist Bear
Grylls visits the men at the end of their 28-day stay, to see how
they're doing.

TV column for Sunday, July 5


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Shark Week” and “Shark Fest,” 8 p.m., Discovery and NatGeo
Wild.

For 27 summers,
Discovery has given us a week of sharks chasing, chomping and even
leaping. Now the 28th one starts with tagging sharks in
Cape Cod and following their route to Florida.

A 9 p.m. film visits
the island of Guadalupe; a 10 p.m. one studies the fastest sharks,
the “monster mako.” New hours (mainly 9-11:30 p.m.) will continue
through next Sunday. And now there's a copy: NatGeo launches the
third year of its “Shark Fest,” through Thursday.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Masterpiece: Poldark,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Many networks avoid
new episodes on the holiday weekend. (Three shows -- “The Strain,”
“Ray Donovan” and “Masters of Sex” -- start their seasons
next week.) But PBS and HBO boom ahead.

For PBS, Ross
Poldark has pivotal moments – re-opening the mine ... changing the
relationship with the waif who became his maid ... and confronting a
cruel judge. That confrontation has Aidan Turner (as Poldark)
battling Robin Ellis ... who played Poldark back in 1975.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Soccer, 7 p.m. ET, Fox.

This turns out to be
a rematch of the last Women's World Cup, with Japan and the U.S.

The Americans lost
that one (in 2011), but this time they have a strong shot. They're
riding a string of five straight shut-outs, including Tuesday's 2-0
win over top-ranked Germany.

Other choices
include:

Movies, Turner
Classic Movies. Two big 1961 films -- “The Misfits” (with Marilyn
Monroe and Clark Gable) and “West Side Story” -- are at 3 and
5:15 p.m. ET, followed by comedy classics – the Marx Brothers'
“Duck Soup” (1933) at 8 p.m. ET and Charlie Chaplin's “The
Great Dictator” (1940) at 9:30.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC. The first round pits the family of
Phil McGraw (of “Dr. Phil” fame) against a team led by
brother-sister comedy masters Garry and Penny Marshall. Then two
teams are led by different generations – Kevin McHale (“Glee”),
27, and Fred Willard, 75.

“Big Brother,”
8:01 p.m., CBS. Fresh from the first eviction on Thursday, a new
round begins.

“Zoo” and
“Extant,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. Here are quick reruns of this
week's episodes – the debut of “Zoo” on Tuesday and the
season-opener of “Extant” on Wednesday.

“True Detective,”
9 p.m. Sunday, HBO. Ani (Rachel McAdams) chastises Ray (Colin
Ferrell) for going rogue; Paul (Taylor Kitsch) does legwork and Frank
(Vince Vaughn) tries to meet his old crime colleagues. That's
followed by new comedy episodes -- “Ballers” at 10, “The Brink”
at 10:30.

“The Crimson
Field,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Next Thursday (on the
debut of “Dates” on CW), viewers will see a remarkable
performance by Oona Chaplin (Charlie's granddaughter, Eugene
O'Neill's great-granddaughter). First, we can catch her starring here
as Kitty, a World War I nurse. Tonight, Thomas realizes he has a
growing attraction to her; also, Sister Joan reveals a dark secret.

“Penny Dreadful”
season finale, 10 p.m., Showtime, rerunning at 11 p.m. and midnight.
Vanessa battles the demon. That follows a rerun of the season,
beginning at 1 p.m.

 

 

 

 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Shark Week” and “Shark Fest,” 8 p.m., Discovery and NatGeo
Wild.

For 27 summers,
Discovery has given us a week of sharks chasing, chomping and even
leaping. Now the 28th one starts with tagging sharks in
Cape Cod and following their route to Florida.

A 9 p.m. film visits
the island of Guadalupe; a 10 p.m. one studies the fastest sharks,
the “monster mako.” New hours (mainly 9-11:30 p.m.) will continue
through next Sunday. And now there's a copy: NatGeo launches the
third year of its “Shark Fest,” through Thursday.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Masterpiece: Poldark,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Many networks avoid
new episodes on the holiday weekend. (Three shows -- “The Strain,”
“Ray Donovan” and “Masters of Sex” -- start their seasons
next week. But PBS and HBO boom ahead.

For PBS, Ross
Poldark has pivotal moments – re-opening the mind ... changing the
relationship with the waif who became his maid ... and confronting a
cruel judge. The confrontation has the new Poldark (Aidan Turner)
battling Robin Ellis ... who had the same role in 1975.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Soccer, 7 p.m. ET, Fox.

It was a risky move
by Fox, scheduling the Women's World Cup finals for prime time,
without knowing if the U.S. would be there. In the six previous Cups,
the U.S. has reached the finals three times (winning in 1991 and '99,
losing in 2011) and has finished third the other times.

But the gamble
worked. With Hope Solo as goalie, the Americans now have had five
straight shut-outs. That peaked with Tuesday's 2-0 win over
top-ranked Germany; now they go for the championship.

Other choices
include:

Movies, Turner
Classic Movies. Two big 1961 films -- “The Misfits” (with Marilyn
Monroe and Clark Gable) and “West Side Story” -- are at 3 and
5:15 p.m. ET, followed by comedy classics – the Marx Brothers'
“Duck Soup” (1933) at 8 p.m. ET and Charlie Chaplin's “The
Great Dictator” (1940) at 9:30.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC. The first round pits the family of
Phil McGraw (of “Dr. Phil” fame) against brother-sister comedy
masters Garry and Penny Marshall and their kin. Then two teams are
led by different generations – Kevin McHale (“Glee”), 27, and
Fred Willard, 75.

“Big Brother,”
8:01 p.m., CBS. Fresh from the first eviction on Thursday, a new
round begins.

“Zoo” and
“Extant,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. Here are quick reruns of this
week's episodes – the debut of “Zoo” on Tuesday and
season-opener of “Extant” on Wednesday.

“True Detective,”
9 p.m. Sunday, HBO. Ani (Rachel McAdams) chastises Ray (Colin
Ferrell) for going rogue; Paul (Taylor Kitsch) does legwork and Frank
(Vince Vaughn) tries to meet his old crime colleagues. That's
followed by new comedy episodes -- “Ballers” at 10, “The Brink”
at 10:30.

“The Crimson
Field,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Next Thursday (on the
debut of “Dates” on CW), viewers will see a remarkable
performance by Oona Chaplin (Charlie's granddaughter, Eugene
O'Neill's great-granddaughter). First, we can catch her starring here
as Kitty, a World War I nurse. Tonight, Thomas realizes he has a
growing attraction to her; also, Sister Joan reveals a dark secret.

“Penny Dreadful”
season finale, 10 p.m., Showtime, rerunning at 11 p.m. and midnight.
Vanessa battles the demon. That follows a rerun of the season,
beginning at 1 p.m.

 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Shark Week” and “Shark Fest,” 8 p.m., Discovery and NatGeo
Wild.

For 27 summers,
Discovery has given us a week of sharks chasing, chomping and even
leaping. Now the 28th one starts with tagging sharks in
Cape Cod and following their route to Florida.

A 9 p.m. film visits
the island of Guadalupe; a 10 p.m. one studies the fastest sharks,
the “monster mako.” New hours (mainly 9-11:30 p.m.) will continue
through next Sunday. And now there's a copy: NatGeo launches the
third year of its “Shark Fest,” through Thursday.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Masterpiece: Poldark,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Many networks avoid
new episodes on the holiday weekend. (Three shows -- “The Strain,”
“Ray Donovan” and “Masters of Sex” -- start their seasons
next week. But PBS and HBO boom ahead.

For PBS, Ross
Poldark has pivotal moments – re-opening the mind ... changing the
relationship with the waif who became his maid ... and confronting a
cruel judge. The confrontation has the new Poldark (Aidan Turner)
battling Robin Ellis ... who had the same role in 1975.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Soccer, 7 p.m. ET, Fox.

It was a risky move
by Fox, scheduling the Women's World Cup finals for prime time,
without knowing if the U.S. would be there. In the six previous Cups,
the U.S. has reached the finals three times (winning in 1991 and '99,
losing in 2011) and has finished third the other times.

But the gamble
worked. With Hope Solo as goalie, the Americans now have had five
straight shut-outs. That peaked with Tuesday's 2-0 win over
top-ranked Germany; now they go for the championship.

Other choices
include:

Movies, Turner
Classic Movies. Two big 1961 films -- “The Misfits” (with Marilyn
Monroe and Clark Gable) and “West Side Story” -- are at 3 and
5:15 p.m. ET, followed by comedy classics – the Marx Brothers'
“Duck Soup” (1933) at 8 p.m. ET and Charlie Chaplin's “The
Great Dictator” (1940) at 9:30.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC. The first round pits the family of
Phil McGraw (of “Dr. Phil” fame) against brother-sister comedy
masters Garry and Penny Marshall and their kin. Then two teams are
led by different generations – Kevin McHale (“Glee”), 27, and
Fred Willard, 75.

“Big Brother,”
8:01 p.m., CBS. Fresh from the first eviction on Thursday, a new
round begins.

“Zoo” and
“Extant,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. Here are quick reruns of this
week's episodes – the debut of “Zoo” on Tuesday and
season-opener of “Extant” on Wednesday.

“True Detective,”
9 p.m. Sunday, HBO. Ani (Rachel McAdams) chastises Ray (Colin
Ferrell) for going rogue; Paul (Taylor Kitsch) does legwork and Frank
(Vince Vaughn) tries to meet his old crime colleagues. That's
followed by new comedy episodes -- “Ballers” at 10, “The Brink”
at 10:30.

“The Crimson
Field,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Next Thursday (on the
debut of “Dates” on CW), viewers will see a remarkable
performance by Oona Chaplin (Charlie's granddaughter, Eugene
O'Neill's great-granddaughter). First, we can catch her starring here
as Kitty, a World War I nurse. Tonight, Thomas realizes he has a
growing attraction to her; also, Sister Joan reveals a dark secret.

“Penny Dreadful”
season finale, 10 p.m., Showtime, rerunning at 11 p.m. and midnight.
Vanessa battles the demon. That follows a rerun of the season,
beginning at 1 p.m.

 

TV column for Saturday, July 4


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Fourth-of-July concerts, 8 p.m., NBC and PBS.

This may be what TV
does best – big crowds, big music and (of course) fireworks. NBC is
in New York, repeating highlights at 10 p.m.; PBS is in Washington,
repeating (check local listings) at 9:30.

NBC has music by
Kelly Clarkson, Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Meghan Trainor and Flo
Rida. PBS has it all – pop and rock (Barry Manilow, Nicole
Scherzinger, KC and the Sunshine Band), country (Alabama, Hunter
Hayes, Meghan Linsey) and classical (Lang Lang, Ronan Tynan).

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Millers” (8 and 8:30 p.m.) and “The McCarthys” (9 and
9:30 p.m.) return, CBS.

Both shows have been
part of CBS' Thursday comedy juggernaut. They weren't good enough for
that ... but they're terrific by Saturday standards; now their final
new episodes will be shown this month.

First, Nathan Miller
(Will Arnett) frets about his cameraman (J.B. Smoove) taking another
job; also, Nathan's mom confronts her work nemesis (Molly Shannon).
Then the McCarthys try to be independent from their parents; also,
Gerard (Joey McIntyre) misses his own engagement party.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Astronaut Wives Club,” 8 p.m., ABC.

This rerun begins
with Deke Slayton enraged. He's been scrubbed from a mission because
of a heart murmur ... even though officials have known of the problem
for years.

That's the start of
an hour that skillfully mixes history and soap-opera. The Glenns –
John and the painfully shy Annie – remain likable; the Coopers
remain in a tenuous, platonic marriage. And we get to know the
Carpenters, free-thinkers in a place where that was rare and
discouraged.

Other choices
include:

“Sons of Liberty,”
noon to 6 p.m., History; repeats from 6 p.m. to midnight. On July 4,
we can catch a mini-series rerun that shows how this all began. In
Massachusetts, the charismatic Sam Adams links with businessman John
Hancock. Soon, they have a rag-tag army, while Ben Franklin tries to
get other colonies involved. We also meet Paul Revere, George
Washington, Dr. Joseph Warren and more.

“Power,” noon to
midnight, Starz. There's no new episode today, but you can catch up
on everything else. The first season starts reruns at noon, with the
four second-season ones beginning at 8:05 p.m. Slick, sleek and
violent, this sees a drug kingpin – a tough guy to know or like --
become a nightclub owner, while having an affair with his childhood
sweetheart, now an assistant district attorney.

“Steel Magnolias”
(1989), 6:30 p.m., and “Forrest Gump” (1994), 9 p.m., ABC Family.
Here's a dandy double feature, with movies that manage to mix warmth,
humor, tragedy and (for “Gump”) whimsy.

“Scream,” 8
p.m., MTV. Just in case we missed it Tuesday, here's the debut of the
series based loosely on the popular scare films.

“20/20,” 9-11
p.m., ABC. This reruns the April interview Diane Sawyer had with
Bruce Jenner, shortly before he began transitioning into Caitlyn
Jenner.

“Atlantis” and
“Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell,” 9 and 10 p.m., BBC America.
Some shows avoid having new episodes on the holiday, but these two
boom ahead. First, Jason faces execution for killing the Oracle; then
Jonathan Strange tries to cure the madness of King George III.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Amy Adams hosts this rerun, with music from
One Direction.

TV column for Friday, July 3


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Jessie,” 2-4 p.m., 7 p.m., 8-10 p.m. and 11 p.m., Disney.

Fridays are short of
laughs, so we might try reruns of this tween-oriented show about a
Texas teen (Debby Ryan) working as a New York nanny. The night even
includes a three-part comedy miniseries.

That starts at 8:30
p.m., with a family cruise; a girl is discovered, stranded at sea. At
9 p.m., Jessie's on an island when she hears that the necklace she
bought has been cursed, dooming her to bad luck in love. At 9:30,
there's a maritime problem: The boat is floating at sea, with no crew
in sight.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “MasterChef” and “Gotham,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox.

Settling into its
summer plan, Fox will rerun these shows each Friday. For
“MasterChef,” that means a quick repeat of Wednesday's episodes.
This is a fairly good one, celebrating the 100th episode;
things go wrong, with Gordon Ramsay pondering a cake that's
simultaneously ugly and delicious.

And for “Gotham,”
it's an episode from the middle of the season, with Cobblepot (the
future Penguin) assembling his army. At theArkhan Asylum, Gordon
probes a murder and meets the imposing Dr. Thompson, played by Morena
Baccarin of “V,” “Homeland” and more.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE (kids): Pilot films, www.amazon.com/AIV.

The holiday weekend
might be a good time to try the six pilot episodes that Amazon
recently made available. Two are live-action, with similar themes –
teens moving to a new school, where few people share their obsession.
“Kicks” (about soccer) is OK; “A History of Radness” (music)
is terrific.

Then there are the
animated shows. One is pleasant for pre-schoolers; two (“Bear in
Underwear,” “Lily the Unicorn”) are neatly offbeat. But the
best surprise is “Lost in Oz,” with Dorothy's daughter pulled
into the world her mom found long ago. The result mixes large
adventure with small dabs of humor.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE (grown-ups): “”The National Mall: America's Front
Yard,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Think of this as a
warm-up for Saturday, when monuments will offer a stunning backdrop
to the “Capitol Fourth” concert on PBS. First, we learn how this
area became so pivotal.

There were slow
points, including a 24-year pause in building the Washington
Monument. Eventually, the Mall became a vocal point; there was the
March on Washington in 1963, the Vietnam memorial in '82, the AIDS
quilt in '87. Many stations (check local listings) will follow this
with an Annie Lennox concert rerun, including stunning work on
“Summertime,” “Georgia On My Mind” and more.

Other choices
include:

“Jaws” (1975),
7:45 p.m., AMC. On Sunday, two channels – Discovery and National
Geographic – will lauch their annual cascade of shark shows. To get
in the mood, we can watch this Steven Spielberg classic, followed by
its sequels at 10:45 p.m. (1978) and 1:15 a.m. (1983).

“Defiance,” 8
p.m., Syfy. Datak and Stahma try for a decisive move against the
Votanis general.

“iHeartRadio
Summer Pool Party,” 9 p.m., CW. Kelly Clarkson opens this rerun.
There's also music from Nick Jonas (who hosts) and Shaggy, plus David
Guetta with Nicki Minaj and Bebe Rexha.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. The island is in lockdown, as a terrorist uses
weaponized drones. Also in this rerun, McGarrett and Danny are
required to undergo what seems like couples therapy.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. This rerun has a murder victim who was living in a
luxury apartment building, due to a requirement that 20 per cent of
the units go to lower-income people.

“Dark Matter,”
10 p.m., Syfy. It was tough enough for the crew to wake up with no
idea who they are or what their mission is. But now that one man is
convinced he's Jake Corso, he meets someone else who has the exact
same face and name.

TV columm for Thursday, July 2


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

This began two weeks
ago as an uneasy blend of history and soap opera. It has quickly
found its touch, turning many of the 1960s astronauts and their wives
into fascinating people.

They range from John
Glenn and the painfully shy Annie -- “the nicest people on the
planet,” we're told – to Deke Slayton, filled with rage and
alcohol after he's scrubbed from a mission because of an irregular
heartbeat. Scott and Rene Carpenter are independent thinkers; so is
Trudy Cooper, a pilot in a currently platonic marriage. There are
still some soapy excesses, but mostly this is strong drama.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Food Fighters” season-opener, 8 p.m., NBC.

Summertime Thursdays
have become huge, as the big-four networks chase ads for movies
opening the next day. Of their 11 primetime hours, 10 are non-reruns
and seven are scripted dramas.

“Food Fighters”
-- the last of the 10 to arrive – has home cooks (including some
kids, this year) trying to match professionals, with winners chosen
by blind taste tests. Adam Richman (“Man Finds Food”) hosts;
celebrity chefs include Lorena Garcia, Duff Goldman, Rocco DiSpirito
and Eric Greenspan.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Big Brother,” 9:01 p.m., CBS.

Last week's two-hour
“Under the Dome” opener complicated things, but now CBS has its
Thursday line-up in place. “Big Brother” moves to 9:01 p.m., with
the first of its weekly evictions; “Big Bang Theory” and “Mom”
return at 8 and 8:30, after a rare week off.

Those two are the
night's only reruns ... and the night's best shows. “Big Bang”
has great bits for Bernadette, facing airport trouble; it also has
Sheldon and Penny taking a test designed to make people fall in love.
In “Mom,” Christy savors the luxury of helping the wealthy Jill
(Jaime Pressley).

Other choices
include:

“Annedroids” new
season, any time, Amazon Prime. This kid show takes a good concept –
a girl crafting backyard inventions – and does it badly. The result
is sort of like “Barney” with special effects; for better (much
better) kid shows, catch the six pilots now on Amazon Instant Video.

“Beauty and the
Beast,” 8 p.m., CW. This is a tough task for a relationship
therapist – a visit from Cat (a cop) and Vincent (a recovering
beast-like supersoldier).

“Wayward Pines,”
9 p.m., Fox. Just as Ethan finds the truth about this strange town, a
bomb is planted in his car. Meanwhile, his son's romance is getting
warmer.

“Mistresses,” 9
p.m., ABC. Fresh from walking out on her wedding, Joss may be too
quick about leaping into a romance with her sister's ex-husband.
Meanwhile, April is dazzled by her son's headmaster ... and Karen is
facing a deeper relationship with Vivian, her stem-cell recipient.

“Aquarius,” 9
p.m., NBC. Against the backdrop of the Charlie Manson case, this show
tries to eye 1960s attitudes toward women and gays. It does so, alas,
in its own heavyhanded, lunk-headed way ... and in a murder case that
goes nowhere.

“Under the Dome,”
10 p.m., CBS. After the bizarre events in the tunnels, townspeople
scramble for a new plan. Now Big Jim suspects Christine (Marg
Helgenberger) and Eva.

“Rookie Blue,”
10 p.m., ABC. For Andy (Missy Peregrym), the new romance with Sam was
going great ... until Marla told Sam she's pregnant with his baby.
Now Andy tries to adjust.