TV column for Thursday, Nov. 24


TODAY'S MUST-SEE:
“Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,” 9 a.m. to noon, NBC and CBS.

It's time for size,
spectacle and Santa. The parade ranges from young “Sesame Street”
people to 90-year-old Tony Bennett. And both networks also front-load
with their own performances.

NBC (which reruns
this at 2 p.m., after the dog show) has the casts of its “Hairspray
Live,” plus Broadway's “Cats,” “Holiday Inn” and “Waitress”
and Cirque du Soleil's “Paramour.” CBS has Sting, Miranda
Lambert, “The Color Purple,” “School of Rock” and Gloria
Estefan's “On Your Feet.”

TODAY'S MIGHT-SEE:
Football, all day.

What used to be a
single Thanksgiving game in Detroit has now become a three-network
marathon. This year brings good match-ups, including several teams
that have thrived with back-up quarterbacks.

CBS start this with
the Lions hosting the Vikings at 12:30 p.m. ET; they share the
division lead with 6-4 records. Then it's Fox, with the Cowboys
(9-1) hosting the Redskins (6-3-1) at 4:30 p.m. ET. And at 8:30 p.m.
(with preview at 8), NBC has the Colts hosting the Steelers, with
both teams at 5-5.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Magical Holidays Celebration,” 8-10 p.m., ABC.

Since the holidays
are about family, this makes sense: The special will be hosted by
siblings (Derek and Julianne Hough) and will include a husband-wife
duet (Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood).

Sofia Carson also
hosts, as part of her mega-weekend, sprawling across three networks.
She co-hosts and performs in specials on ABC and Disney (Friday),
then stars in a Freeform movie Sunday. Also performing tonight at the
Disney parks are Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, OneRepublic, Jordan
Fisher, Boyz II Men, China Anne McClain, Forever in Your Mind, Dove
Cameron, Flo Rida and more.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Anne of Green Gables,” 8-9:30 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).

Anne Shirley sees
life in great bursts of words and colors and possibilities. As an
orphan, she's accidentally invaded the quiet world of a good-hearted
but colorless brother and sister. Their home and lives are drab;
their surroundings (on Prince Edward Island in Canada) are gorgeous.

This is a great
story that is filmed often, including PBS' masterful miniseries in
1985 and its sequels. Despite being directed by the gifted John Kent
Harrison, this version isn't nearly as good, wedging too much into 85
minutes. Still, even a fairly good “Anne” is a fine way for
families to wrap up a holiday.

Other choices
include:

-- “A Place to
Call Home,” any time, www.acorntv.com.
This follows the “Scandal” formula: If you have smart dialog and
subtle actors, viewers will forgive hideous soap-opera twists. There
have plenty of those: Olivia Bligh miscarried and, to save her
marriage, arranged to pretend an unwed mother's baby is her own. The
marriage failed anyway, because her husband is gay. Now it's 1954
Australia and a rich schemer has put poison in Sarah's drink. Yes,
this is overwrought ... yet fairly involving.

-- “The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. This is tonight's only CBS rerun, a terrific
one. Leonard and Penny host their second wedding, a bit more formal
than the first, but things are awkward: His dad and Sheldon's mother
(Emmy-winners Judd Hirsch and Laurie Metcalf) spent the night
together.

-- “Christmas in
Homestead,” 8 p.m, Hallmark. A movie star is filming in a small
town, where the widowed mayor's daughter is her biggest fan.

-- “The Great
Indoors,” 8:31 p.m., CBS. Human Resources has banned Jack from
giving input to his young colleagues. It sees that he made Clark cry.

-- “Mom,” 9
p.m., CBS. When Violet has mononucleosis, her mother and grandmother
rush to help ... and soon learn that there are bigger problems than
mono.

-- “Modern
Family,” 10 p.m., ABC. In a transplanted rerun, Phil is unhappy
that his daughter (Sarah Hyland, 26) is dating veteran weatherman
Rainer Shine (Nathan Fillion, 45).

TV column for Wednesday, Nov. 23


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Empire,” 9 p.m., Fox.

On Thanksgiving eve,
reruns and specials abound. So we might as well see (or re-see) this
terrific rerun of the “The Empire” season-opener.

Last season ended
with Rhonda and the pregnant Anika fighting on the balcony, with one
of them crashing down. Now – quickly and spectacularly – we learn
which one it is. There are other big moments, involving a thug
producer, his talented sister Tessa and Jamal, who tries to bounce
back after being shot and nearly killed. This is high-stakes,
high-voltage stuff, backed by some great music.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Soundbreaking” finale, 10 p.m., PBS.

Big Mama Thornton's
”Hounddog” sold a half-million record; when newcomer Elvis
Presley did the same song, this excellent hour says, it sold 10
million. There were many reasons for that, including a basic one:
Presley had a 45-rpm single, the new thing for teens with their own
players in their rooms.

Such changes in the
delivery system keep transforming music. When long-playing discs
came, Frank Sinatra cut the first concept album. When FM radio grew,
the hitless “album rock” guys soared. Now comes streaming; our
descendants, Moby says, “will be baffled that people once owned
music.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Specials, 8-11 p.m., NBC.

The 90th
edition of the Macy's Thanksgiving parade will be 9 a.m to noon
Thursday on NBC and CBS. First, NBC has an 8 p.m. special, looking
back at the parade's history.

That's followed at 9
by a “Saturday Night Live” collection of Thanksgiving skits. In
the past, that's included Adam Sandler's “Turkey Song” and Paul
Simon in a turkey costume. Juliana Margulies found that her boyfiend
has strange eating habits; also, Martin Short gave us an Ed Grimley
holiday.

Other choices
include:

Animation, 5:50 p.m.
and beyond, cable. Families have three networks to choose from.
Disney starts at 5:50 with its “Elena/Sofia” crossover (2015),
then has “Despicable Me” (2010) at 7. FX has “The Croods”
(2013) at 6 and and the delightful “Rio 2” (2014) at 8 and 10.
Freeform has female action heroes, with the gorgeous “Mulan”
(1998) at 6:45 and “Brave” (2007) at 8:50.

“Survivor,” 8-10
p.m., CBS. While others take a pre-holiday nap, this show has a
two-hour episode. That comes at a tough time for people from the
former “Millennials” tribe. After having only one of the first
five ousters, they've now had four straight; the latest was Taylor
Stocker, 24, a ski instructor.

“Hollywood Walk of
Fame Honors,” 8-10 p.m., CW. For 58 years, names have been added to
this sidewalk stretch; there are more than 2,500 of them, ranging
from superstars to the super-obscure. This special views highlights
and adds music fron Daughtry, Michael Bolton, Candace Glover, David
Foster, Pia Toscano and the Beach Boys.

“A Charlie Brown
Thanksgiving, 8-9 p.m., ABC. In a 1973 cartoon, Charlie tries to
assemble a feast on his ping-pong table. ABC tends to round out the
hour with the Pilgrim portion of its Peanuts mini-seres.

“Broadcasting
Christmas,” 8 p.m., Hallmark. This channel starts a five-nigt
streak of new Christmas movies. This has a former couple (Dean Cain
and Melissa Joan Hart) competing for a coveted TV job.

“Polar Bear Town,”
8 and 11 p.m., Smithsonian. We meet the young woman who was attacked
by a bear last year, surviving with strong support from friends and
community. Other portions are so-so: One guide adds a young
apprentice; another joins an ambitious process to identify bears.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Claire frets about “Take Your Daughters to
Work Day.”

“Code Black”
(CBS) and “Queen Sugar” (Oprah Winfrey Network), both 10 p.m..
Here are the night's only new, scripted episodes. On CBS, cult
members who tried a mass suicide are rescued; on OWN (with previous
hours from 7-10 p.m.), the siblings scramble to find a new mill for
their sugar crop.

TV column for Monday, Nov. 21


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Dancing With the Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

We're down to the
final four now, with viewers' last chance to vote before Tuesday's
finale. And there's a strong chance that an athlete will win ...
again.

During one stretch,
eight of the 16 winners were athletes – three skaters and three
football players, plus a driver and a gymnast. And this time they
have three finalists -- from 6-foot-6 footballer Calvin Johnson to
5-foot gymnast Laurie Hernandez, plus driver James Hinchcliffe. The
lone exception is singer Jana Kramer ... who did play a football
star's girlfriend on “Friday Night Lights.”

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Soundbreaking,” 10 p.m., PBS.

It all started with
New York block parties; gifted DJ's – two of them with Caribbean
roots – mixed and matched sounds, then added rappers. It was fun
and it was free. “I thought it was inconceivable in 1978, '79 that
there could ever be a rap record,” Chuck D says in this terrific
hour.

Then “Rappers
Delight” sold two million records. Hip hop ranged from joy to rage
to the political intensity of Chuck D and Public Enemy. The borrowing
of other records brought dizzying creativity, producer Hugh Shocklee
said, until lawyers intervened. “Now sampling is only available to
the elite.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Raised by Wolves,” any time, www.acorn.tv.

What sort of
disaster could drive Getmaine Garry – the undereducated and
overhormoned teen-ager – to the library? Only one: Her cost-cutting
mom has cancelled the Internet connection.

In this unnatural
habitat (where her sisters thrive), Germaine talks loudly and gets
her first date; elsewhere, her elders are dumpster-diving. Here's the
six-episode second season of “Wolves,” which is like Showtime's
“Shameless” -- a scheming, scamming and raggedly likable family –
but with more comedy and less drama. The result – what we could
discern through thick accents – is crude, but funny.

Other choices
include:

“The Voice,”
8-10:01 p.m., NBC. The show continues its week-by-week process of
eliminating people from the top 12. Last week, the bottom two were
Sa'Rayah (from Alicia Keys' team) and Aaron Gibson (Miley Cyrus'
team); Gibson won the instant save and Sa'Rayah was sent home.

“Supergirl,” 8
p.m., CW. Life never seems to be easy, even if you have superpowers.
Tonight, Supergirl confronts Cyborg Superman. Also, Mon-El has been
captured and Guardian is accused of murder.

“Jane the
Virgin,” 9 p.m., CW. When her cousin arrives, Jane begins to doubt
her own too-orderly life. Meanwhile, her husband is ready to return
to police work and her mom finds a dance-studio location that's
perfect ... except that her ex-boyfriend (Ricardo Chavira of
“Desperate Housewives”) is nearby.

“2 Broke Girls,”
9 p.m., CBS. Han is busy tonight: He's entering a contest for
duck-stamp artists; also, he's becoming addicted to the concoctions
from the trendy new bartender.

“The Odd
Couple,”9:30 p.m., CBS. Rich Eisen, a sports guy on radio and TV,
plays himself. Oscar (also a sportscaster) considers him his
nemesis,. but is supposed to give him a humanitarian award.

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. Lea Thompson guests as Paige's estranged mother, who
defiinitely needs some input from the geniuses. It seems she's found
a nuclear reactor that's ready to explode.

“Timeless,”
10:01 p.m., NBC. The team is stranded in hostile territory in1754.

TV column for Sunday, Nov. 20


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Music Awards,” 8-11 p.m., ABC.

Here are many of the
top names in pop music – Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, John Legend, The
Weeknd and (telecast from Zurich) Justin Bieber. There's more,
including Green Day, James Bay, Fifth Harmony, Shawn Mendes and
Twenty One Pilots, plus a solo turn by Niall Horan of One Direction.

Then there are the
links -- Ariana Grande with Nicki Minaj, The Chainsmokers with
Halsey, Maroon 5 with both Sting (who gets a special award) and
Kendrick Lamar. Jay Pharoah of “Saturday Night Live” hosts with
Gigi Hadid, the supermodel whose music experience consists of acting
in videos.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Durrells in Corfu” season-finale, 8 p.m., PBS.

Raising her family
on a war-widow's pension in 1933, Louisa (Keeley Hawes) has barely
survived on this Greek island. Now her world has brightened; she's
ready to marry Sven, the quiet goat farmer.

First, her four
children interrogate him; it's a bright, funny episode ... which
takes a dark turn, then somehow finds a tad of brightness. In a
terrific finale, we also fret about Louisa's eldest son's love life
and about a wealthy widow (Leslie Caron) who refuses to venture into
the world.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Leverage” (Ion) or “The Librarians” (TNT), all
day.

Maybe this happens
in the fevered dreams of TV people – two of their shows colliding
in marathons. Now that happens in real life for John Rogers, the
creator and producer of both of these shows.

“Leverage” was a
sly and entertaining show about scammers who cheat the crooked.
Today's marathon (9 a.m. to 1 a.m.) goes from mid-way in the first
season to late in the second. “Librarians” has people travel
globally to fight exotic forces. The second season reruns from 5 a.m.
to 3 p.m.; the third starts at 8 p.m.(rerunning at 9), with the
Egyptian God of Chaos.

Other choices
include:

Red-carpet, 6-8
p.m., E. Tinashe and Jason Kennedy host the American Music awards
preview.

“The Simpsons,”
7 and 8 p.m., Fox. First is a rerun of the “Boyhood” take-off,
tracing Bart from age 6 to adulthood. Then a new episode focuses on
being a dad: Homer has an app for that; Grandpa learns he's going to
be a father again.

Football, 8:20 p.m.
ET, with preview at 7. Veteran quarterback Aaron Rogers (a former
MVP) and the Packers visit Kirk Cousins (only in his second full year
as a starter) and the Redskins. The two men have near-identical
ratings this season, but the Redskins are 5-3-1; the Packers are 4-5
and struggling.

“The Walking
Dead,” 9 p.m., AMC, rerunning at 11:01. Saddled with grief –
catch reruns of the two previous episodes at 6:35 and 8 – people
try to find safety at the Hilltop before it's too late.

“Madam Secretary,”
9:30 p.m. (9 p.m. PT), CBS. A Venezuelan earthquake creates crises
for Elizabeth and her brother (Eric Stoltz). As secretary of state,
she tries to prevent a power-grab there; as a doctor, he's torn
between rushing there to give aid and taking a steady job in an
effort to save his marriage.

“Last Man on
Earth,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. What do you do when you're possibly the
Earth's only survivors? Carol (Kristen Schaal) obsesses on a perfect
family photo; Lewis (Kennety Choi) looks ito a new hobby. And Gail
(Mary Steenburgen) gets stuck in a scary situation.

“Masterpiece:
Indian Summers” finale, 10 p.m., PBS. With lush visuals and
difficult characters, this series never quite clicked with audiences.
Fortunately, producers has plenty of warning that this would be the
end; tonight, srong stories converge. The Whelans' home is being
sold, with Cynthia desperate to buy it. Alice is returning to
England, with Aafrin straining to stop her. And Sooni, Aafrin's
sister, insists on marrying a Muslim, just as Hindu-Muslim anger
explodes. “Summers” departs passioately.

TV column for Saturday, Nov. 19


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Free Birds” (2013), 8-10 p.m., NBC.

The world is
overloaded with Christmas cartoons and underloaded with Thanksgiving
ones. Here's a notable exception, springing from the tradition of the
president pardoning one turkey each year.

Most of the pardoned
turkeys don't worry about their doomed comrades. (Turkeys are like
that.) But this one (Owen Wilson) discovers the government's
time-travel machine (George Takei, of course). He goes to Pilgrim
times, finding love (Amy Poehler) and trying to change minds and
menus.

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

This election year
has been big for “SNL” ... and the post-election period has
started even bigger. Last week's episode was the highest-rated among
young adults (18-49) in three years; it topped the Nielsen ratings
for last November by 24 percent overall and 58 percent with young
adults.

Fortunately, that
was also an exceptionally good episode – from its surprising
opening (Kate McKinnon, as Hillary Clinton, singing “Hallelujah”
seriously and beautifully) to the calming perspective of host Dave
Chappelle. Now Kristen Wiig hosts, with music by The XX.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Race” (2016), 8 p.m., HBO.

A sharecropper's
son, Jesse Owens moved north with his family at 9. In Cleveland, he
held jobs, went to school and ran and jumped – faster and
furtherthan anyone else. At Ohio State University, he broke three
track records and tied another – all within an hour.

Then came the 1936
Olympics in Berlin, where Adolph Hitler spoke of white supremacy ...
which Owens quickly refuted. It;s a great story, competently told.
Stephan James – mostly unknown, beyond some Canadian series
(“DeGrassi,” “L.A. Complex”) -- is Owen, with Jason Sudeikis
as his coach.

Other choices today
include:

-- Animation
marathon, 3:10 to 10:10 p.m., Disney. “Toy Story” (1995) and its
sequel (1999), both delights, start things at 3:10 and 4:40 p.m. Then
it's “Brave” (2012) at 6:20 and “Tangled” (2010) at 8.

-- “Ghostbusters”
(1984) and “Ghostbusters II” (1989), 6 and 8:30 p.m., AMC. Mixing
wit and special effects, both films are great fun. They repeat at 11
p.m. and 1:30 a.m.

-- Football, 7, 7:30
and 8 p.m. ET. A week after its undefeated season crumbled, Clemson
(ranked No. 4) visits Wake Forest, at 7 p.m. on ESPN. At 7:30, Fox
has Washington (No. 6) hosting Arizona State. But the best match-up
might be at 8 p.m. on ABC, with Oklahoma (No. 9) at West Virginia
(No. 14).

-- “CSI,” 8
p.m., CBS. Abby (Pauley Perrette) doesn't leave her lab very often –
and after seeing this episode (a rerun fron a year ago), we can see
why. She's visiting a pharmaceutical lab on a murder case, when armed
men take over. Now she has no escape and no way to reach the outside
world.

-- “Dirk Gently's
Holistic Detecitve Agency,” 9 p.m., BBC America. Yes, this show is
often bizarre; it is, after all, based on Douglas Adams novels and
has animals being transformed into people. But tonight also ranges
from sharp humor (involving a thick-headed young cop) to some
dead-serious confessions by Dirk and his reluctant colleague, played
by the terrific Elijah Wood.

-- “The Killing
Season.” 10 p.m., A&E. In the first three episodes (rerunning
at 7 p.m.), the search for the killer (or killers) of Long Island sex
workers expanded to other cities. Tonight, investigators consider a
link to the murders of four women in Atlantic City.

-- “Where Are They
Now?” 10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. As Miley Cyrus conquers the
world, it's time to check in on her dad (and former co-star) Billy
Ray, once dubbed as the new Elvis. Also featured are singer Sisqo,
actors Joseph Marcell and Danielle Spencer and Shoshana Johnson, the
first black American woman to be a prisoner of war.