TV column for Saturday, June 24


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Turn,” 9 p.m., AMC; rerunning at 10.

Last week, Abe and
his dad concocted a risky plan to free Caleb: He and his dad –
considered allies by the Redcoats – pose as being captured by the
rebels, setting up a prisoner exchange. It's a dangerous scheme that
quickly goes wrong, in this pivotal episode.

Meanwhile, there's
despair in George Washington's camp and rage in Benedict Arnold's
mansion. And Akinbode is back; an ex-slave and ex-soldier, he's
played by Aldis Hodge, fresh from “Underground.”

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

In her first four
times hosting “SNL,” Melissa McCarthy got four Emmy nominations.
In this fifth one, things started weakly. There was a stiff Trump
opening, a so-so host bit and a sight-gag routine that consisted
entirely of pies in McCarthy's face. And then, this rerun reminds us,
things soared.

There was a
hilarious fake commercial (an Alexa-type device for seniors) and
McCarthy returned to her wildly funny portrayal of Sean Spicer. After
a strong music break from Haim (the sibling trio), “Weekend Update”
frolicked over the Comey firing and much more. “SNL” was at its
best.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Saving Private Ryan” (1990), 5-9 p.m., AMC; or
“Forrest Gump” (1994), 6-9 p.m., VH1.

Two Tom Hanks
classics collide. “Private Ryan” is Steven Spielberg's war
masterpiece, rich in both emotion and action; “Gump” is a goofy
(sometimes) fable, with its own odd charm.

They get a strong
movie night of to an early start, as does “21 Jump Street”
(2012), at 5:30 p.m. on FX. At 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies has
James Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock's “Rear Window” (1954). “Birth
of a Nation” (2016), a double winner at the Sundance Film Festival,
is 8 p.m. on HBO; the fun “Wedding Crashers” (2005) is at 9 on
Comedy Central.

Other choices
include:

“The Mist,” 4
p.m., Spike. If you missed Thursday's opener, definitely catch this
rerun. It's a Stephen King tale that – like other good King films –
builds great characters before the horror begins.

“Nitro Circus
Special,” 8-11 p.m., NBC. This “circus” is actually a
high-octane competition, with skateboarders and bikers doing stunts
that defy gravity and/or logic.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
8 p.m., CBS. As Max (Masi Oka of “Heroes”) prepares to leave the
team, there's a murder at a police convention. Also in this rerun,
Jimmy Buffet returns as Frank Bama.

“The Gong Show,”
8 p.m., ABC. Yes, the idea seems strange: Revive a goofy show that
seemed to fit the disco era ... and have it be hosted by a fictional
guy, played by Mike Myers. Somehow, though, it works. The silly acts
are fun, the good ones are sharp and Myers has his own clever,
offbeat approach.

“In An Instant,”
9-11 p.m., ABC. Back in 1994, a man with a pistol and a bomb took
over a Salt Lake City library. He took hostages, unaware that one was
an off-duty cop with a concealed revolver. Using re-enactments and
witnesses, this tells a story that included calm responses by the
librarians.

“Genius,” 9-11
p.m., National Geographic. The richly crafted series concluded here,
with Albert Einstein's Princeton years. This rerun shows what could
have been a joyous time, shattered by the health problems of his wife
and her daughter ... a rift with his son ... and despair over the
government's eagerness to use the atomic bomb and its reluctance to
help Jews fleeing Nazi German.

“Orphan Black,”
10 p.m., BBC America. Alison was once a cheery (albeit alcoholic)
suburbanite; then she was caught up in all of this clone chaos. Now
she tries to return to her roots, in an episode that is merely pretty
good ... putting it well below this show's high average.

TV column for Friday, June 23


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
: “What Would You Do” season-opener, 9 p.m., ABC.

So you're in a cafe
when a guy approaches two young women. He's a photographer, he says,
and wants them to come to his studio. They're excited to be models;
do you step in and caution them?

This well-made ABC
News productions uses actors to make moments seem believable, then
secretly films people's responses. In addition to that models pitch,
we see a Muslim teen belittled by two white peers ... parents
disparage a guy's overweight girlfriend ... a bartender with an
overprotective boyfriend ... and a parent belittling every small
mistake her child makes. What would you do?

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Landmarks Live,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Most networks have
forgotten the sheer power of catching a top performer in concert. Not
PBS; this intermittent series takes musicians to their favorite
locations. In January, it was Alicia Keys in New York and Brad
Paisley in West Virginia; now here's more.

Next week has
classical star Andrea Bocelli in Florence; tonight has Will.i.am at
Royal Albert Hall in London. A founder of the Black-Eyed Peas (which
has a reunion in this special), he's also a producer (Michael
Jackson, Justin Bieber, U2, more) and a judge for five seasons of the
British “The Voice.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Originals” season-finale, 8 p.m., CW.

Life is complicated
in the New Orleans underworld, where witches, werewolves and vampires
collide. And now there's The Hollow – an unkillable force descended
from an American Indian witch.

With Hope's life in
danger, Vincent concocts a desperate plan. It requires a huge
sacrifice for Klaus, Elijah, Hayley, Rebekah and Freya.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Playing House” season-opener, 11 and 11:30 p.m.,
USA.

In real life, Lennon
Parham and Jessica St. Clair have been friends since they met in a
comedy troupe, 17 years ago. In this show, their characters go back
even further, to childhood.

Tonight, Maggie
(Parham) tries to be big about things, with a game night to welcome
her ex-husband's new girtlfriend. At her work, she's with a doctor
who seems ice-cold. Then there's Emma (St. Clair), who quit her job
to help Maggie; she tries to rescue Tina (Lindsay Sloane) from a
pyramid scheme.

Other choices
include:

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a rerun of Tuesday's auditions
episode.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox, and “The Great British Baking Show,” 9 p.m., PBS
(check local listings). We can spend Fridays watching other people
cook. Fox has a rerun, with 20 home chefs making someting with the 12
most popular American ingredients. Then PBS has bread week. Before
and after that? The Food Network has a “Diners, Drive-ins and
Dives” marathon, from 2 p.m. to 3 a.m.

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. Since our heroes travel the world, it's easy to borrow
characters from other shows. In this rerun, they join Chin and Kono
(of “Hawaii Five-0”) after an earthquake.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Chin has been kidnapped by a drug cartel; the team
rushes to prevent his execution. Also in this rerun, Grover goes
undercover as a car salesman.

“Riverdale,” 9
p.m., CW. If you missed it the first time, you can catch the season
this summer. It's a strange one, viewing the Archie comics gang
darkly. Jughead is homeless, Veronica's dad is in prison, Betty's
sister is missing and there's been a murder. Also, Archie's having
sex with his music teacher.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Family relationships complicate this rerun. Frank works
with his most vocal critic, whose son has been killed; Jamie learns
that the mugger he shot is the son of a fellow cop.

TV column for Thursday, June 22


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Mist” debut, 10 p.m., Spike, rerunning at 11.

For a solid stretch,
this is simply a well-crafted drama, a slice of small-town life.
There's an overprotective mom, an underprotective dad, their fragile
teen daughter and a crisis; there's also an extremely un-fragile
woman who is looking for a treasure. It's good stuff, well-played.

But this is a
Stephen King story; what about the spooky part? That's suggested in
an opening scene and in the show's title. Like the original version
of “The Fog” (which John Carpenter made back in 1980), this shows
that a misty day can grip our fears; “The Mist” is off to a
terrific start.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Gong Show” debut, 10 p.m., ABC.

Tommy Maitland, the
British comedy legend, is hosting this revival, ABC tells us. Except,
there is no such person; it's Mike Myers, with lots of make-up and
cleverly corny jokes. Other fictional people have hosted shows --
Paul Reubens did one in character -- and this neatly fits “Gong”
goofiness.

Here are acts that
are stridently bizarre – a guy plays the bagpipe while riding a
unicycle (in a gorilla suit, of course); a woman plays the harmonica
with a tarantula in her mouth. Alongside all this silliness, there's
a remarkable talent, a 58-year-old who's a jump-rope master. Such
moments keep us watching.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Games, everywhere.

The big networks
have to be serious about summer Thursdays; that's when movie
companies spend a fortune on ads for films that open the next day.
While CBS has its can't-miss comedies, the other three counter with
rerun-free nights of reality and game shows, filled with youthful
energy.

Fox has already
launched its music (“Beat Shazam”) and dating (“Love
Connection”) shows; tonight, ABC debuts “Boy Band” and “Gong
Show” and NBC brings back past successes -- “Hollywood Game
Night” (pitting the casts of “Veep” and “Walking Dead”),
“The Wall” and the drama “Night Shift.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Boy Band” debut, 8-10 p.m., ABC.

Didn't the era of
“boy bands” -- cute lads with choreographed moves – pass? Maybe
not; it was just seven years ago that a British TV show turned five
strangers into One Direction, which soon had No. 1 songs and
$100-million years. Now a new show tries to do the same.

Tonight, we meet 30
guys, ages 14 to 24. Some are ousted, others are in three groups of
six; one group offers an early (and quite good) sampling. Experts –
Nick Carter (Backstreet Boys), Emma Bunton (Spice Girls), Timbaland
and Rira Ora – will mold them, but viewers will choose the five-guy
group.

Other choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a funny rerun, the friends ponder who will
help out when Raj – no longer backed by his parents – must move
out of his apartment.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun finds Bonnie and Christy returning to their old,
law-breaking ways.

“Nashville,” 9
p.m., CMT. Just as Maddie's career looked promising, things crumbled
last week. Juliette swiped a song intended for her ... a disc jockey
only wanted to talk about her late mom Rayna ... and her argument
with a traffic cop went viral. Now she deals with the aftermath.

“The Night Shift”
season-opener, 10 p.m., NBC. In a hospital with current and former
soldiers as patients and doctors, this has action-adventure moments.
Tonight, Jordan tries a daring rescue, then has a plan to reunite her
team. Also, Mark Consuelos plays a travelling nurse with a mysterious
past.

“MacGyver,” 10
p.m., CBS. Plugging this slot until “Zoo” arrives next week, CBS
inserts one of the more bizarre episodes: Undercover, Mac must help a
drug kingpin break out of prison, then track him.

“Queen of the
South,” 10 p.m., USA. Teresa and James confront border vigilantes.

TV column for Wednesday, June 21


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“To Tell the Truth” return, 10 p.m., ABC.

Sixty years ago,
this debuted with Bud Collyer as host (Mike Wallace did the pilot)
and Dick Van Dyke on the panel. Over the years, panelists guessed
which people (including John Scopes of “monkey trial” fame and
Dr. Seuss) were real and which (including Cicely Tyson and Tom
Landry) were imposters.

Now the show joins
ABC's “fun and games” summer -- “Gong Show,” “Boy Band,”
“Network Battle of the Stars,” three Sunday games and this one,
which moves to Sundays this fall. Michael Strahan has Usher's
choreographer, a designer for celebrities' dogs and a guy who biked
to the South Pole.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Little Big Shots: Forever Young” debut, 8 p.m., NBC.

After scoring big
with little kids, producer Ellen DeGeneres and host Steve Harvey go
in the opposite direction. Guests on this show will range from age 60
to (next week) 103.

Tonight includes a
few people who are famous – gospel star Shirley Caesar, 78; actress
Betty White, 95 – and many peole who aren't. There's an 80-year-old
tap dancer and an 81-year-old great-grandma who has a swap-pole act,
85 feet in the air.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Queen Sugar,” 10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network;
rerunning at 1 a.m.

Yes, there really
are a few new, scripted shows amid all those summer games and such.
This one opened Tuesday, with Charley fuming because her estranged
husband used his basketball fame to get their son – arrested for no
apparent reason – out of jail; she soon forged his signature on a
loan.

Now “Sugar”
moves to its regular night, with Charley blindsided by the divorce
mediation. Her sister holds a fundraiser; their brother – alone
again, after his son's mother said they were rushing their re-romance
– has an idea for the farm. The most recent episodes rerun from
7-10 p.m. and 11 to 1.

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. Do lifeguards even like to eat fish? We're not sure, but
tonight there are 101 of them, with two teams of home chefs making
them fresh-fish dinners.

“To Joey With
Love,” 8 p.m., CMT, rerunning at 10:15. Joey and Rory Feek hit a
career peak in 2010, when the Academy of Country Music named them the
top vocal duo. Then life intervened; their daughter was born with
Down's syndrome, Joey died of cancer. Rory wrote and directed this
film.

“Kingdom,” 8
p.m. ET, DirecTV/AT&T; rerunning at 11. Who thought Jay would
find perpetual peace selling real estate and being a dad? Tonight,
Nate tries to make peace when Jay causes trouble at home. Also, Alvey
gets a surprise from the past and is bothered by Dom's relationship
with Ryan.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. In a rerun of the season's second episode, Phil goes out
of his way to impress the family moving in across the street. Also,
Manny tries to attract a radical thinker.

“The Carmichael
Show,” 9 p.m., NBC. After his mom reacts negatively to a birthday
present, Jerrod launches a family debate about what is and isn't
acceptable when it comes to race.

“Superstore,”
9:30, NBC. Politics intrudes, when the store becomes a voting place.
Corporate has put out a voting guide that benefits its interests, so
Amy and Jonah counter with one of their own. Also, in this rerun,
Mateo goes to extremes to hide his undocumented status.

“This Is Us,” 10
p.m., NBC. In a season filled with great episodes, this one is merely
OK. Much of it is a flashback at the community pool, with overstated
drama for each kid. Better stories involve Kevin's Broadway audition
and Kate's insecurity after meeting Toby's ex-wife.

TV column for Tuesday, June 20


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Genius” finale, 9-11:06 p.m. ET, National Geographic, rerunning
at 11:06.

In the mid-1930s,
Albert Einstein could have settled into a serene, academic life. He
was nearly 60, with his key discoveries behind him. He had fled Nazi
Germany and helped many others do the same.

But new agony
appeared – health crises for his wife and her daughter ... a rift
with his son ... despair over American indifference to the plight of
Jews ... doubts about the atomic bomb. This finale seems to overheat
many portions, making J. Edgar Hoover near-Satanic; still, it's a
strong and involving drama.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Downward Dog,” 8 p.m., ABC.

We all need goals in
our life and for his 7th birthday, Martin has a worthy
one: He wants to have a perfect nap. Martin – did we mention that
he's a dog? -- approaches this with great focus. Then a puppy
intervenes, leading him to actions that are both despicable and –
in his mind – heroic.

That blends with a
story that has Nan trying to cheer her friend, ranging from a loud
bar to a gentle singer, played by Nichelle Nichols, 84, of “Star
Trek.” It's a great mix of comedy and sentiment.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Queen Sugar” season-opener, 10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey
Network.

This sprawling
series has seen Charley put her life in rewind. A big-time
businesswoman, she caught her basketball-star husband cheating; after
her dad's death, she returned to Louisiana to help her ex-con brother
Ralph Angel revive the family farm and build a sugar mill.

The bad news is that
Charley keeps changing, for plot convenience; she's wise one moment,
a shrill fool the next. The good is everything else. There are strong
moments involving her teen son, her sister (an activist) and,
especially, Ralph Angel, his son and the boy's mother, a recovering
addict.

Other choices
include:

“Transformers”
(2007), 6-9 p.m., TNT; or “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
(2011). 8-11:30 p.m., FX. On Wednesday, the fifth Transformers film
will reach theaters. To get us in the mood, we can watch either the
first or the third one.

“The Story of
China,” 8 and 9 p.m., PBS. Americans may consider anything that;s a
century old to be ancient; now Martin Wood takes us back millennia.
He mixes bright, current views with visits to key moments from the
deep past ... some of them only uncovered recently. It was in 1899
that an academic went to a pharmacy and was given “dragon bones”
that had writing on them. Tracing them relentlessly, he found such
“bones” (actually turtle shells) had the first Chinese writing,
more than 3,000 years ago.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, Bruce McGill plays a cantankerous Vietnam veteran,
reluctantly helping the team probe the death of a Marine.

“iZombie,” 9
p.m., CW. This clever show starts its two-week season-finale with Liv
munching the brain of someone close to Ravi. She has intimate visions
of him ... and a desire to sleep with anyone.

“Animal Kingdom,”
9 p.m., TNT, rerunning at 10. Deran is ready to open the bar; so far,
however, he hasn't told his mom. Also, Pope (the ex-con and killer)
goes on a date with Amy (the church lady). And Nicky must choose
between J, who is her age, and Craig, his reckless uncle.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. After being bumped often by “The Real
NCIS.” this show returns to its regular night. The team must watch
a 9-year-old who was the only witness to his aunt's murder.

“World of Dance,”
10 p.m., NBC. In its three weeks of auditions, this offered some
amazing talents, ranging from soloists to high-octane dance crews.
Now – following some more “America's Got Talent” auditions from
8-10 p.m. -- the survivors are paired for duel, with one of the two
acts advancing.