TV column for Sunday, March 27


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Grantchester” season-opener, 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

The setting fits all
proper PBS traditions – a gorgeous little English village, filled
with pleasant people ... plus, most weeks, one killer. But the the
hero is something new.

Sidney Chambers
(James Norton) is handsome almost to excess. He's a vicar who drinks
too much and is bad at romance, but good with people and great at
solving crimes. In this episode – a good one -- he's accused of
sex with a teenager; his friend (Robson Green), a cop, springs to his
defense.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS.

This smart and
well-crafted drama will have its last new episode May 8. Tonight, the
power struggle in the law firm – now called Lockhart, Lagos and Lee
– keeps growing.

Meanwhile, Alicia
has other problems. The case against her husband Peter gets rougher,
when the prosecutor uses Eli's daughter in the effort to convict him.
Also, Alicia and Diane have a trendy case: A therapist is suing for
privacy rights, because his neighbor's drone keeps flying over his
house.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Grease,” 7-10 p.m., Fox.

Last week's “The
Passion” was worth catching, flaws and all. But now here's a rerun
of the one live musical that was a total triumph.

Thomas Kail –
director of Broadway's acclaimed “Hamilton” -- took a so-so story
and gave it a vibrant feel. That was clear from the first moments,
when Jessie J. frolicked through the set, singing the title song.
Soon, the show was sprawling all over the Warner Brothers lot.
Skilled young stars – led by Aaron Tveit and Julianne Hough, with
Joe Jonas fronting the band – brought old pop songs to life.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Grace Unplugged” (2013), 7 and 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.
ET, UP.

Sometimes, it's just
a matter of finding the right niche. Three years after this died
instantly in movie theaters, “Grace” has its perfect spot – as
an Easter-night movie on the former Gospel Music Channel.

Johnny (James
Denton) was a rock star who hit alcoholism and despair, then became a
music minister, singing with his daughter. But now Grace is 18, with
a shot at her own fame. Johnny is overwrought at times and a plot
twist about her second single is lame. Still, Denton, Kevin Pollak
and Shawnee Smith -- are solid pros. And mostly, this is about Grace
(A.J. Michalka) and the music, both worth catching.

Other choices
include:

“Hop” (2011),
3:30 and 10 p.m., Freeform. The light side of Easter gets some
attention today. This comedy is an amiable blend of live action and a
cartoon bunny. Also: At 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has
“Easter Parade” (1948) with Fred Astaire, Judy Garland and Irving
Berlin tunes.

“King of Kings”
(1961), 5:15 p.m. ET, TCM. The serious side of Easter also gets its
due. That includes this epic, directed by Nicholas Ray (“Rebel
Without a Cause”), with Jeffrey Hunter as the consummate rebel with
a cause. UP has contemporary Christian films, including Kirk
Cameron's “Fireproof” (2008) at 2 p.m. ET and “Courageous”
(2011) at 4:30.

Basketball, 6:10
p.m. and about 8:40 p.m. ET, TBS. By the end of the night, the NCAA
will have its final four, ready to collide next Saturday. CBS had two
of the games Saturday, now it's TBS' turn.

“Frozen” (2013),
7:30 p.m., Freeform. This animated gem provides a perfect way to wrap
up a family weekend. It has dashes of humor, alongside strong drama,
gorgeous visuals and the soaring “Let It Go.”

“Madame
Secretary,” 8 p.m., CBS. A mysterious plane crash stalls
India-Pakistan peace talks.

“The Family,” 9
p.m., ABC. Last week's powerhouse showe that Hank -- the neighbor who
spent 11 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit – was
savagely beaten. Now he blames Adam's family.

“Mr. Selfridge,”
10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). In the first seasons, we savored
the full-throttle life of Selfridge (Jeremy Piven), an American who
was shaking up London's stores and its society. But now that approach
seems almost suicidal, with his unfiltered gambling and womanizing
and investment schemes. “Selfridge” continues to be well-made,
even if this final season is less fun.

TV column for Saturday, March 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Frozen” (2013), 8 p.m., Freeform.

Few films have been
as universally popular as “Frozen.” Kids love the humor;
grown-ups love the warmth (yes, frozen warmth) and passion. It won
Oscars for best animated feature and for “Let it Go.” That song
was everywhere; so were the princesses and the goofy snowman.

Now it reaches basic
cable (the former ABC Family) on an Easter weekend when lots of
families can watch together. It's also at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, each
night preceded by other Disney cartoons. Today has “One Hundred and
One Dalmations” (1961) at 3:45 p.m. and the splendid “Up”
(2009) at 5:45.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Basketball, 6 p.m. ET, CBS.

Over the next two
days, the NCAA tournament will find its final four.

Today, CBS has
tip-offs at about 6:10 and 8:40 p.m. ET; on Sunday, TBS has the same.
The winners have the semi-finals next Saturday and the championship
game two days later.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Ten Commandments” (1956), 7-11:44 p.m., ABC.

Epic and ambitious,
this Charlton Heston film was just what movie audiences wanted 60
years ago. It drew seven Academy Award nominations (including best
picture) and won the Oscar for its special effects, which included
the parting of the Red Sea.

Now it's become an
Easter-week tradition on ABC, drawing solid ratings. By modern
standards, however, it feels stiff and clunky. There are
alternatives, listed next.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: More biblical films, cable.

The History Channel
brings back its “Bible” mini-series, a huge hit in 2013. That's
from 2 p.m. to midnight today (with the Easter story in the final two
hours), repeating from 7 a.m. ro 5 p.m. Sunday.

And UP (formerly the
Gospel Music Channel) has the 2006 “Ten Commandments” mini-series
at 12:30 p.m. It follows with George Stevens' “Greatest Story Ever
Told” (1965) at 4:30, Mel Gibson's “The Passion of the Christ”
(2004) at 9, “Judas” (2004) at 11 and “Mary, Mother of Jesus”
(1999) at 1 a.m..

Other choices
include:

“Sleepless in
Seattle” (1993) and “You've Got Mail” (1998), 6 and 8:30 p.m.,
Pop. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan link in a pleasant double-feature. More
movie choices are at 8 p.m., with “Gravity” (2013) on FX, “Toy
Story 2” (1999) on Disney and “Dark Knight Rises” (2012) on
TNT.

“Rosewood,” 8
p.m., Fox. The captain seems to have too many ex-wives. In this
rerun, one (his third) has been killed and he's a suspect; he needs
Rosewood and Villa to drop their quarrel and investigate.

“Lucifer,” 9
p.m., Fox. Even on the eve of Easter, Lucifer is with us. In this
rerun, he ignores Chloe's probe of a biker-gang case ... until
finding that an object important to him has been taken.

“Black Sails”
season-finale, 9 p.m., Starz, rerunning at 9:55 and 10:50 p.m. and
1:20 a.m. It's been a strong year, with a pirate coalition – Flint,
Vane, Silver – linking against the English. You can catch the
entire season, starting at 12:30 p.m.

“Hop” (2011),
10:30 p.m., Freeform. This amiable comedy – live action and
animated bunny – pleases kids and grown-ups. You might want to
record it ... or wait and see it at 3:30 or 10 p.m. Sunday.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Melissa McCarthy hosts this rerun, with
Kanye West as the music guest.

TV column for Friday, March 25


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Great Performances,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Sure, the Beatles
and the Rolling Stones led the “British invasion.” But just a
half-step behind them, banging their drums loudly, were the guys in
the Dave Clark Five. They had seven top-10 singles, did Ed Sullivan's
show18 times, made an impressive movie and sold 50 million records.

Back then, Clark
hired a gifted unknown (future Oscar-nominee John Boorman) to make
the movie; in 2014, he showed his own skill, directing this zesty
documentary about his group. It's full of clips, plus an old speech
by Tom Hanks and new comments by Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney
and more.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Second Chance” season-finale, 9 p.m., Fox.

Last week, Duval
broke a key rule for fantasy shows: NEVER explain the plot to an
outsider, if that explanation is likely to get you institutionalized.

He said that the
young man next to him was his father Jimmy Pritchard, regenerated ...
and that his teen daughter Gracie had been kidnapped, because the
rare gene that makes regeneration possible skips a generation; then
they hauled him away. Now Pritchard scrambles to find Gracie, while
his own energy is draining, leaving the siblings (Mary and Otto) on
competing sides.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Basketball, all day, two networks.

CBS opens the night
with Virginia (seeded No. 1) and Iowa State (No. 4) at 7:10 p.m. ET.
At about 9:40, it has the two lowest seeds remaining – Syracuse
(No, 10) and Gonzaga (No. 11).

Meanwhile, TBS has
Wisonsin and Notre Dame (No. 7 and 6) at 7:27 ET. At about 9:57,
top-seeded North Carolina faces No. 5 Indiana.

Other choices
include:

“Kate and
Mim-Mim,” 7 p.m., Disney Junior. This pleasant cartoon includes a
large bunny, tiny dinosaurs (called the tee-hee rex) and 5-year-old
Kate ... whom the creators patterned after their own daughter. In
real life, Kate Stewart is now 8 and tonight provides the voice of
the Easter Bunny.

“Sleepy Hollow,”
8 p.m., Fox. As the Hidden One grows, Ichabod must examine his
long-ago – very long ago – relationship with Betsy Ross. Also,
Abbie finds things are strained with Reynolds, the FBI agent; her
sister Jenny isn't sure she can have any relationship with their
father (James McDaniel).

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Mike (Tim Allen) surprises
everyone by suggesting that Ryan, the father of Mike's grandson Boyd,
should coach Boyd's hockey team.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:30,
ABC. There's nothing quite like being shown up by your own father. In
this rerun, Ken's dad visits ... and promptly fixes all the things
Ken never got around to.

“Grimm,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. A brutal attack in the woods offers hints of a Wesen disease
that could be the root of the modern werewolf myth. Also, Adalind
forms an uneasy alliance.

“Time for Three in
Concert,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). The string trio does
mash-ups of pop, folk and classical tunes, linking with singers and
the Indianapolis Symphony.

“Animal Storm
Squad,” 10 p.m., NatGeo Wild. In its first episode, the squad
rescued animals after the largest wildfire in Washington State
history. After a Texas tornado last week, the team is back to the
dry-and-fireprone West, this time for one of the largest fires in
California history.

:

TV column for Thursday, March 24


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Idol,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

Two weeks from the
show's finale, only five people remain. Last week, Tristan McIntosh
was sent home; that means the last person to be an “Idol”
champion will be La'Porsha Renae, Trent Harmon, Sonika Vaid, Dalton
Rapattoni or MacKenzie Bourg.

They'll each do two
songs tonight, mentored by Sia (who will also sing) and Steve Van
Zandt. Also, Katharine McPhee will sing “Somewhere Over the
Rainbow.” After being the “Idol” runner-up to Taylor Hicks in
2006, McPhee became a TV star, singing (“Smash”) and not
(“Scorpion”).

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

Shonda Rhimes
usually fills our Thursdays with soap-style dramas. Now she's
produced a sleek show with the look of a crime-catcher movie; the
show's stars also get a change-of-pace.

There's Mireille
Enos, the forlorn cop in “The Killing”; now she's a glamorous
private eye. And there's Peter Krause, a good-guy type in
“Parenthood” and “Sports Night” and more; now he cons her out
of everything, setting off a slick cat-and-mouse game.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Killing Jesus” (2015, National Geographic) or “Hop”
(2011, Disney); both 8 p.m., cable.

Somehow, Easter has
become filled with dizzying extremes. It brings stories of torture,
triumph and persecution, plus bunnies, jelly beans and colorful eggs.
These films take care of both ends.

“Killing Jesus,”
adapted from Bill O'Reilly's book, does a competent job of covering
Jesus' entire life, from King Herod (Kelsey Grammer) to Pilate
(Stephen Moyer). “Hop” is a clever tale in which an amiable
slacker (James Marsden) meets E.B. (animated, with Russell Brand's
voice), a free spirit who really doesn't want to follow the career of
his dad, the Easter Bunny.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Portlandia” (IFC) or “Baskets” (FX), both 10
p.m.

Oddly, two shows
directed (and, often, written and produced) by Jonathan Krisel have
been airing simultaneously. Both are billed as comedies, but only one
has remained that way.

“Portlandia” --
with Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein doing short bits – keeps
going for big laughs. Tonight has a hilarious moment in which they
deal with a restaurant that simply brings the ingredients. By
comparison, “Baskets” started with humor and then seems
determined to plunge Chip (Zach Galifianakis) into despair. Tonight
brings a few laughs, but mostly shreds the pieces of his life.

Other choices
include:

Basketball, CBS and
TBS. With doubleheaders today and Friday, the NCAA tournament trims
from 16 teams to eight. Tonight, CBS has Villanova and Miami at 7:10
p.m. ET and Kansas and Maryland at about 9:40; TBS has Oklahoma and
Texas A&M at 7:37 ET, Oregon and Duke at about 10:07.

“You, Me and the
Apocalypse,” 8 p.m., NBC. Setting up next week's season-finale, the
world finally realizes that the government has no plan to prevent the
apocalypse. There's an effort to spring Rhonda (Jenna Fischer) from
jail; Jude's funeral attracts Jamie and Ariel ... who ponders an
identity switch.

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Alex leads a long procedure involving three organ
transplants. Also, Meredith considers dating again and Jackson
finally learn that April is pregnant.

“Scandal,” 9
p.m., ABC. There are big moments for Olivia personally – finally,
information on Jake's sleek fiancee – and professionally: She must
fix a big error by Mellie.

“Project Runway
All-Stars,” 9 p.m., Lifetime. While McPhee is guesting on “Idol,”
Megan Hilty – who played her nemesis on “Smash” -- guests here.
This week, there's an evening gown competition.

“Shades of Blue,”
10:01 p.m., NBC. Harlee (Jennifer Lopez) had promised officials that
the heist would lead to the arrest of her crooked boss Wozniak (Ray
Liotta). But the heist went bad, the money is missing, Wozniak is
still free and Harlee is scrambling.

 

TV column for Wednesday, March 23


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Rosewood,” 8 p.m., Fox.

Here's a plot that
always clicks: Waking up, a guy remembers nothing ... including why a
dead woman is in his bed. That idea worked for “X-Files,” “Law
& Order” and more; now it does again.

The guy is Joo Joo,
a police informant. There are some big leaps in logic, plus a weak
sub-plot concerning Dr. Rosewood's staff. Still, there are also
tender character moment for Villa and for Joo Joo; that puts
“Rosewood” in good shape for next week, when it will lead into
“Empire.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “The Americans,” 10 p.m., FX.

In some ways, this
is your standard marital drama ... albeit a marriage-of-convenience,
involving Russian spies imbedded in 1980s America. Still, there's
also the harsh underpinning: When needed, these two people will
commit murder, sometimes with up-close brutality.

Last week, Philip
and Elizabeth were showered with crises: Their neighbor accused him
of sleeping with his wife ... Their daughter told her pastor they are
spies ... Their handler put them in charge of a deadly, stolen virus.
Now each crisis brings fear and impact, in a tough and well-crafted
hour.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Sci-fi movies and/or shorts, all night, cable.

These days, fantasy
films get big budgets and big respect. Tonight, cable has two
“Avengers” films – the original (2012) at 7 p.m. on FX and its
spectacular sequel (2015) at 6:35 on Starz. It also has the
beautifully made – but relentlessly dark -- “Batman Begins”
(2005) at 8 p.m. on TNT.

But long ago? Turner
Classic Movies has a marathon of cheapies: Two “Batman” shorts
(1943) are at 8 p.m. ET, followed by two chapters each of serials for
“Batman and Robin” (1949) at 9, “Superman” (1948) at 10,
“Atom Man vs. Superman” (1950) at 10:45, “Green Hornet”
(1940) at 11:30 and more.

Other choices
include:

“Survivor,” 8
p.m., CBS. Last week, the tribes were shuffled and Anna Khait, 26, a
pro poker player, was sent home. That leaves four members of her
original “Beauty” tribe, compared to five of “Brains” and
three of “Brawn.” Tonight, we're told, they all compete for a
hearty food reward.

“Heartbeat,” 8
p.m., NBC. The show's opener, airing Tuesday, was a mixed blessing –
great star (Melissa George) and hyper story, leaning toward soap
excess. Now, as “Heartbeat” steps into its regular slot, the
excess grows. The story, about conjoined adults, is mostly
over-the-top.

“Schitt's Creek,”
8 p.m., Pop. This oft-clever series follows a once-rich family, now
living in its only asset – a broken-down town. Tonight, the mom
wants to join a singing group, the dad borrows office space at the
garage and their daughter is living with a guy who has mixed feelings
about this.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. Some people have too little time; Phil and Claire try a
Paris vacation while exhausted. And some have too much time; Jay, now
retired, has an epic remodeling project.

“Rogue”
season-opener, 9 p.m., DirecTV and AT&T. One story has Ethan
hired to nab a mysterious beauty; another involves scheming Marty
Stein. Both are slick, monotone and entertaining. The second benefits
from great work by Sarah Carter as an intense cop and Richard Schiff
as Marty, her target.

“Criminal Minds:
Beyond Borders,” 10 p.m., CBS. The so-so second episode finds big
trouble for Americans in Mumbai. One is missing; another is near
death, after an organ-harvesting.

“Hap and Leonard,”
10 p.m., Sundance. The first half of this six-week mini-series
included some droll fun. Now, however, “Hap” takes a nasty turn:
The money has been found, but part of its is beyond repair. There are
schemes and counterschemes; Jimmi Simpson – brilliant as a
supernerd in “Breakout Kings” -- is great again, this time as a
drug dealer.