TV column for Sunday, March 25


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Trust” debut, 10 p.m., FX.

“All the Money in
the World” seemed to be the definitive retelling of a big story –
the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty's grandson. But now, three
months later, here's a fresh version.

Like the movie, this
is beautifully crafted; Donald Sutherland and Hilary Swank are
excellent as Getty and his daughter-in-law. Unlike the film, “Trust”
says young Getty was in on the plot, then saw it implode. Also
different is Getty's security chief; in the movie, Mark Wahlberg
played him as an average chap; now Brendan Fraser makes him a
bigger-than-life Texan, dominating every room.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Call the Midwife” season-opener, 8 and 9 p.m., PBS.

Maybe we need a new
category: “feel-good tragedy.” That fits “Midwife,”
especially in the first hour.

As London struggles
with the fierce winter of 1962-3, we see crises at both ends of life.
A lonely woman gives birth; a dying woman clinging to her home
despite eviction orders. The stories are brutal – but most of the
people are earnest and good-hearted.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Barry” debut, 10:30 p.m., HBO.

Working as a hit
man, Barry shows a lot of competence and little joy. Then he meets
people with opposite lives: Would-be actors, they have friendship,
fun and few prospects.

It's hard to juggle
both worlds ... especially with people trying to kill you. This is an
interesting start, a drama (mostly) filled with comedy people,
including Bill Hader, Stephen Root and Henry Winkler.

Other choices
include:

“Counterpart,”
12:35 p.m., Starz. Here's a chance to catch up on the entire season
in one gulp. This opener has a lowly bureaucrat (J.K. Simmons) learn
of an alternate world, where he has a near-identical counterpart.
This continues to a new episode at 8:05 p.m., leading to next week's
finale.

Basketball, 2 and
about 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS. Today's winners head to San Antonio,
rounding out the final four in the NCAA tournament.

“Instinct,” 8
p.m., CBS. Matching last week's opener, this again has interesting
characters in a so-so mystery. Tonight, that involves archery and
antiquity.

“Legends &
Lies” season-opener, 8 p.m. ET, Fox News. The first season took a
fresh look at the Old West; the second viewed the Revolutionary War.
Now we're in the Civil War era, with John Brown. Bill O'Reilly, who
hosted and produced the first two seasons, is replaced by Brian
Kilmeade as host.

“Brooklyn
Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox. Charlie Robinson – whose “Ghosted”
used to have this slot – guests as Jake's sometimes-crooked friend.
It's a broad and funny episode, with an elaborate scheme.

“CSI: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. Callen scrambles to find a way to free his
father (Daniel Travanti), who's been apprehended by the Diplomatic
Security Service.

“Dark Angel”
opener, 10 p.m., PBS. In the 1870s, Mary Ann Cotton was accused of
killing three of her husbands and most of her children. Her story is
told in this drab and dreary rerun.

“Billions”
season-opener, 10 p.m., Showtime. Things look rough for Axe (Damian
Lewis). He's been indicted and his wife is threatening to pull her
money from his company.

TV column for Saturday, March 24


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Over the Hedge” (2006), 8-10 p.m., ABC.

These days, TV
delivers an important life lesson: Be really careful whom you steal
from.

In “Good Girls”
(Mondays on NBC), a robbery succeeded, but the money belonged to gang
members; they want it back. In this one, a raccoon steals food from a
bear; he INSISTS on compensation. Now the only solution is to trick
other animals into stealing for him. It's a fun cartoon.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: Kids Choice Awards, 8-10 p.m., Nickelodeon.

Who would have
predicted that fake wrestlers would become big-deal movie and TV
stars? John Cena repeats as the show's host and Dwayne “The Rock”
Johnson is the top star among presenters.

There will be music
by JoJo Siwa and N.E.R.D., plus lots of well-known presenters. That
includes Kristen Bell, Zendaya, Channing Tatum, Hailee Steinfeld,
Nick Cannon, Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes, Anthony Anderson and the
casts of Nick shows -- “Knight Squad,” “Game Shakers,” “Rise
of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky &
Dawn.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Basketball, 6 and about 8:30 p.m. ET, TBS.

It's time to find
the final four teams in the NCAA basketball tournament. Two will
emerge tonight; the others will be from games at 2 and 4:30 p.m. ET
Sunday on CBS.

The final stop is
San Antonio, with the semi-finals next Saturday and the finals two
days later.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “39 Days,” 8 p.m., CBS.

In the 39 days since
17 people were killed at a Parkland, Fla., high school, events have
moved quickly. Students protested in Florida, bringing quick
legislation .... A school walk-out was held in many cities .... And a
Washington march has been scheduled for today.

This special starts
with footage from the day of the shooting, then traces the follow-up.
It focuses on four Parkland teens – two student journalists, an
activist and a drama student – who sparked reactions.

Other choices
include:

“Hope & Fury,”
8-10 p.m., NBC. This documentary looks at how Martin Luther King and
others used the media to bring a fresh focus to their civil-rights
struggle.

“O.J. Simpson: The
Lost Confession?” 8-10 p.m., Fox. In 2006, Simpson sat down with
publisher Judith Regan, for a book and TV special called “If I Did
It,” giving an account (hypothetical, he said) of killing his
ex-wife. The public was appalled, the special was dropped, Regan was
fired and the book was delayed. Now Simpson's tapes are the basis for
a special, which ran March 11 and reruns here.

“Up” (2009),
8-10 p.m., Disney. It's a serious night for grown-ups, but a fun one
for kids. Alongside the ABC and Nickelodeon choices, they can try
this lovely (if, at first, bittersweet) animated gem.

“Bull,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Isaiah Washington plays a high-powered lawyer, accused of
killing his fiancee. He's fond of courtroom theatrics, so Bull lets
him do his own defense.

“Soul Surfer,”
10 p.m., CMT. It's a night for true tales of beating the odds. E has
“The Blind Side” (2009) at 9; CMT has the story of Bethany
Hamilton, who lost an arm to a shark at 13, then went on to win
surfing championships. A quiet and competent film, it closes with
views of Hamilton surfing.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Saoirse Ronan hosts this rerun, with U2 as
music guest.

TV column for Friday, March 23


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Jane the Virgin,” 9 p.m., CW.

Comedy, drama and
tragedy co-exist easily in this well-crafted show. Tonight, Jane's
mom struggles through decisions involving her breast cancer;
repercussions ripple through her family.

Much of that is
quietly moving; alongside that, however, are dandy comedy moments.
There's Petra's clumsy grasp for a new romance ... and Jane's
misunderstanding about it; there's also a mud-bath scene with Jane
and her mom. These are gifted comedy/drama actresses, skillfully
guided by Justin Baldoni, who plays Rafael and had already proved in
documentaries that he's also a terrific director.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Taken,” 9 p.m., NBC.

There's one more
Friday without CBS cop shows, so NBC wants to grab some audience.
Tonight, it has a tense episode that has Hart (Jennifer Beals) going
rogue, on a solo mission deep into Russia.

Her absurd plan is
almost impossible to pull off; also, there are way too many pregnant
pauses and flashbacks. Once you forgive that, however, this is a
strong hour, with compelling scenes on a speeding train.
Spies-on-a-train has always been something Hollywood does well.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo,” 9 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings).

A half-century
before the recent high school walk-outs, a massive movement began in
Los Angeles. Teens walked out, protests erupted, the Chicano movement
surged. Joining it was Oscar Zeta Acosta, a lawyer with loud ties,
loud voice and flowered briefcase.

He was fictionalized
in his friend Hunter Thompson's book (“Fear and Loathing in Las
Vegas”) and movie (“Where the Buffalo Roam”). He was big,
colorful ... and then gone, disappearing in 1974, at 39. This is an
odd story, told in an odd way. Actors, playing Thompson and
others,talk to the camera.

Other choices
include:

“Trumbo” (2015),
6:53 p.m., Starz. The story of Dalton Trumbo, a writer blacklisted
for his political beliefs, is told with a deft, light touch, thanks
to Bryan Cranston's performance and John McNamara's script. It starts
a strong movie night that includes, at 8 p.m., “The Social Network”
(2010) on Pop, “Silence of the Lambs” (1991) on HBO and Ron
Howard's “In the Heart of the Sea” (2015) on AMC.

Basketball, CBS and
TNT. Tonight's games include all four of the top-seeded teams
remaining in the NCAA tournament. Kansas faces Clemson at 7 p.m. ET
on CBS ... Villanova has West Virginia at 7:20 on TBS ... Duke sees
Syracuse at 9:30 on CBS ... and Purdue has Texas Tech at 9:50 on TBS.

“MasterChef
Junior,” 8 p.m., Fox. Kids this age (8 to 13) really shouldn't be
thinking about weddings. Tonight, they prepare a lunch service –
lamb and pan-seared halibut – for 75 wedding guests.

“Blindspot,” 8
p.m., NBC. David Morse continues his guest spot as Crawford – who
spends a day with Roman under strange circumstances. Also, a CIA
source threatens to tear the team apart.

“Once Upon a
Time,” 8 p.m., ABC. Rogers tries to prove Tilly's innocence in the
death of the Blind Baker. Also, Ivy tries to make amends with
Anastasia.

“Agents of
SHIELD,” 9 p.m., ABC. Facing steep odds, Fitz and Simmons try to
seal the rift.

“All-Star Comedy
Jam,” 10 p.m., Showtime. Bill Bellamy hosts, introducing Bruce
Bruce, Aida Rodriguez, Huggy Lowdown and Brian “Da Wildcat”
Smith.

TV column for Thursday, March 22


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Station 19” debut, 9 and 10 p.m., ABC.

Shonda Rhimes keeps
producing good shows about pretty people who deal with life, death
and complicated romances. “Grey's Anatomy” mastered the genre;
now it has a well-made spin-off.

We're still in
Seattle, which works well for this: Its firefighters are also
emergency medical technicians; in this case, one of them (Ben Warren)
is also a former surgeon from “Grey's.” This opener focuses on
Andy (Jaina Lee Ortiz); her dad is the captain, her lover is his
lieutenant and her life is tangled.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Chicago Fire,” 9 and 10 p.m., NBC.

This is fighting
fire with fire – literally. As ABC debuts its firefighter/paramedic
show, NBC gives a double slot to its own version. What's more, it has
excellent hours with major turning points.

There are key
personal stories – especially for Otis, Brett and Severide – plus
some big plots. The firefighters meet a troubled couple in the first
hour and face gunfire in the second. Those tend to unfold too
conveniently; still, “Fire” work whenever events wash across the
oft-stoic faces of quietly caring men. “Communication isn't your
first language,” Severide is told in a great closing scene.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Portlandia” finale, 10 p.m. ET, IFC, repeating at 1
a.m.

The eighth and final
season ends with an atypical episode. That's unfortunate, because the
typical ones – stuffed with odd sketches – range only from really
strange to strangely hilarious.

The finale follows
plans for the Portland marathon, which the mayor (Kyle MacLachlan)
obsesses on. There are fairly funny moments for guests Dolly Wells,
Cherry Jones and Tessa Thompson ... and for Fred Armisen and Carrie
Brownstein, who have created wonderful bits in the past. You can
relive the entire season form 5:30 to 10 p.m. ET, then catch last
week's episode again at 12:30 a.m.

Other choices
include:

Basketball, CBS and
cable. Already down to 16 teams, the NCAA tournament rushes toward
its final four. CBS has games at 7 p.m. ET (Nevada and Loyola of
Chicago) and about 9:30 (Kentucky and Kansas State). TBS has games at
7:30 (Michigan and Texas A&M) and about 10 (Gonzaga and Florida
State). There's more Friday, then games this weekend to fill the four
spots.

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Jackson has savored time with Maggie, but now he must
focus on groundbreaking surgery. And Jo, stymied on her contest
submission, helps Bailey treat an ex-astronaut.

“Superstore,” 8
p.m., NBC. Glenn is upset with the notion that Target is hiring his
people; he tries to retaliate. Meanwhile, Kelly and Jonah might
actually move in together.

“A.P. Bio,” 8:30
p.m., NBC. You have to give a show some credit for managing a brief
scene that combines Flava Flav, Bill Nye (the science guy) and Steve
Jones of the Sex Pistols. Beyond that, this is a moderately funny
episode in which grim Jack tries to write a feel-good book.

“Project Runway,”
9 p.m., Lifetime. Designers create resort wear inspired by Candy
Crush lands.

“Atlanta,” 10
p.m., FX, rerunning at about 11:15. Last week's episode (rerunning at
about 10:38) showed that everyone in Atlanta seems to want Earn's
money; tonight, he decides life is also tricky in the white-folks
world of Marietta.

“Gone With the
Wind” (1939), 10 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. You might want to
record this epic for some time when you have four hours handy. It
follows “Sunset Boulevard” (1950) at 8.

TV column for Wednesday, March 21


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Krypton,” 10 p.m., Syfy.

The original story
was kind of simple: A planet was blowing up, so some kindly leaders
sent their baby to Earth, where he became quite super. Now we learn
it was more complicated.

We meet the future
Superman's quietly heroic great-grandparents ... and his unquietly
heroic great-great-grandfather. Stomped by a three-faced (literally)
despot, they've raised a strong young man whose grandson will someday
be Earth's greatest hero. Visually splendid, this also has a smart
and epic story.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The X-Files” season-finale, 8 p.m.

This season has had
its best moments in stand-alone hours, ones that fully savor the
show's quirky edges. It had some of its lesser moments in the opener,
clogged with the show's overriding arc.

Now we're back to
that arc. Mulder and Scully scramble to find their son; the Cigarette
Smoking Man also wants to find him ... and maybe to have mega-power.
Gillian Anderson, who plays Scully, says this is her last season;
producers say only that they'll wrap up some things and leave others
open. We'll see.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” conclusion, 10
p.m., FX; rerunning at about 11 p.m., midnight and 1:30 a.m.

For eight weeks,
this has given us the complex stories of two opposite men. Versace
(Edgar Ramirez) and Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) were handsome,
smart, charming and gay. But Versace also had talent; Cunanan simply
had a blur of increasingly large lies.

Brilliantly acted
and filmed, this is still tough to watch. There's been none of the
offbeat touches that made the O.J. Simpson series (by the same
people) so fascinating; instead, it slides deeper into tragedy. Now
the end: Already wanted for four murders, Cunanan nears his final
one.

Other choices
include:

“The Martian”
(2015), 7-10 p.m., FX. This smart and entertaining Matt Damon film
launches a good movie night. “Transformers” (2007, 8 p.m., TNT)
is fun; “Breakfast at Tiffany's” (1961, 8 p.m. ET Turner Classic
Movies) has the luminous Audrey Hepburn and a great Henry Mancini
score.

“Riverdale,” 8
p.m., CW. Archie Andrews – maybe the sunniest person in the
comic-book universe – keeps getting darker here. Now he's
perilously close to being a villain, as he helps Veronica's dad in a
scheme that would decimate the South Side. Betty and Veronica also
keep getting more ominous; tonight, “Riverdale” slides
precariously between drama and overwrought soap opera.

“Speechless”
season-finale, 8:30 p.m., ABC. Last week, JJ was put in charge of the
student film project. After a shaky start, he came up with a
well-received horror film. Now it goes to a film festival.

“9-1-1”
season-finale, 9 p.m., Fox. Yes, there are a lot of season-finales
tonight. (Next Wednesday has the return of Fox's “Empire” and
“Star” and the debuts of two ABC comedies.) This one includes a
domestic disturbance and a horrific motorcycle accident, plus Bobby
(Peter Krause) trying dating.

“Life Sentence,”
9 p.m., CW. Everyone is grappling for a new life now. Stella, free of
cancer, tries to be a patient advocate ... her sister goes to a
writers' camp ... and their dad tries dating. It's a fairly good
episode with, once again, the best drama scenes going to their mom.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. It's time to taste the high life: Gloria and Mitchell
are invited to a party at Oprah's house, but can't bring anyone else;
the family stays in the country home of Haley's new boss.

“Chicago P.D.,”
10 p.m., NBC. To catch a meth ring, Upton (Tracy Spiradakos) must go
back to an old undercover identity. And Voigt, feeling increasing
pressure from Woods, needs a favor.