TV column for Monday, April 25


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

No show works harder
than “Jane” to keep us entertained. It has the narrator's
interjections, terse and funny ... And words popping up on the screen
... And tonight, it even adds variations on silent-movie scenes. All
of those -- plus gorgeous sets -- supplement a hyper-busy,
telenovela-style plot.

Tonight, that plot
slows down (until the final minutes), to allow some well-crafted
character moments. There's an ethical crisis for Jane and a career
crisis for her fiance Michael. And the arrival of Petra's twin
continues to bring both humor and drama – two things “Jane”
does well.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Mike & Molly” return, 8 p.m., CBS.

After five years of
adequate ratings – and after movie stardom for Melissa McCarthy –
this comedy's final season has been ignored. CBS ran six episodes in
January and February, then re-shelved it.

Now the final seven
will air; there's one tonight, then two apiece for the next three
Mondays. Tonight, Mike (Billy Gardell) finds a stray dog; Molly
(McCarthy) has trouble warming up to it.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The National Parks,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

In 1903, two
remarkable men visited the Yosemite Valley. John Muir was a Scottish
native, a nature activist and, at times, a loner; Theodore Roosevelt
was president. They walked, talked, camped and observed; Roosevelt
soon expanded Yosemite National Park and more.

Interest kept
growing; on Aug. 25, 1916, a separate National Parks Service was
created. As the 100th anniversary nears, PBS reruns Ken
Burns' superb six-night, 12-hour documentary.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Lucifer” season-finale, 9 p.m., Fox.

Last week, Lucifer
faced duo threats – a venomous preacher and Malcolm Graham, the
corrupt cop who died and was retrieved from Hell. Then the preacher's
body was found and Lucifer was arrested.

And tonight? Some of
the urgency is lost, because too many characters have supernatural
solutions. At the core, however, is Chloe, a cop who's a mere human.
Tonight, things get personal and scary for her.

Other choices
include:

“Dancing With the
Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Last week was “switch-up” time, with
new partners and no elimination; all nine celebrities remain.
Tonight, they re-create dances from “Footloose,” “Hairspray,”
“Slumdog Millionaire,” music videos and more.

“Gotham,” 8
p.m., Fox. Bruce Wayne gets closer to learning who's behind the
murder of his parents. Also, Detective Gordon tries to get
information from someone who was close to Galavan.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8:30, CBS. Here's a funny rerun, from the stretch when
Sheldon and Amy had split. She hesitantly tries a second date with
Dave, played by “Office” co-creator Stephen Merchant.

“Scorpion”
season-finale, 9 p.m., CBS. In two previous episodes, Joshua Leonard
(“Blair Witch Project”) played a former team member. Now he's
back, kidnapping Toby.

“Why They Hate
Us,” 9 p.m., CNN, rerunning at midnight. With calm precision, Fareed Zakaria views the
history of trouble between Americans and Muslims. He goes back to
1949, when a conservative visitor was shocked by dancing and kissing
in Greeley, Colo.; he views modern times, when an American-born
zealot retains Internet power, five years after his death. In this
strong hour – scheduled for April 11, then delayed -- Zakaria finds
some hate-filled passages in the Koran ... and similar ones in the
Old Testament.

“Turn”
season-opener, 10 p.m., AMC. It's 1778 now and this spy business is
serious; we're reminded of that with chilling moments at the
beginning and end of the hour. In between, Abe – revolutionary spy
in a crown-supporting family – has a tough project and a giant
colleague: Angus MacFadyen has played other epic characters, from
Blackbeard to Zeus; now he's great as Robert Rogers, the fierce
turncoat.

TV column for Sunday, April 24


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Game of Thrones” season-opener, 9 p.m., HBO.

If you get HBO, your
night is set, with the season-openers of “Thrones,” “Silicon
Valley” (10 p.m.) and “Veep” (10:30). If you don't ... well,
visit someone; kingdoms are wobbling, lives are changing.

While other
Lannisters try to rebuild their crumbling power, Tyrion (Peter
Dinklage, who's won two Emmys in the role) scrambles to rule the city
of Meereen. Two of the dragons are still there, but Daenerys – who
once ruled the city and all three dragons -- is now lost and in
danger. Meanwhile, the Wall is in peril, after the apparent death of
Jon Snow. Good people seem to die a lot here.

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

Next week wraps up
what has been a deep, dark season. It started with Sidney (the
village vicar) wrongly accused of an affair with a teen-ager; she
died after asking her friend Gary to induce a miscarriage. Later,
Geordie (Sidney's police pal) was shot and almost killed.

Now it's Geordie who
faces serious accusations, with Sidney scrambling to clear him. At
the same time, Sidney tries -- with the help of his long-time friend
(now married to someone else) -- to stop Gary's execution. It's as
emotional hour, lightened (slightly) by Sidney's assistant and by his
housekeeper.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS.

This should be a
pleasant time for Alicia: She's hosting a party to celebrate the
upcoming marriage of Howard and Dorothty (played by Jerry Adler, 87,
and Mary Beth Pell, 76).

But tonight – two
weeks before the finale of a first-rate series – everything is
going wrong. Also, Peter – Dorothy's son, Alicia's husband – is
heading to another trial; Eli asks Jason to investigate him.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Little Giant,” 9 p.m., NatGeo Wild.

The making of a bull
elephant faces steep barriers, this documentary says: Gestation is
almost two years, childhood is 13 years ... with a third of the
babies dying in the first year.

We see why in this
quietly involving film. In East Africa, a young male must keep up
with his matriarchal herd, in a marathon trek that confronts drought,
humans and some eager lions.

Other choices
include:

“Leverage,” 9
a.m. to 11 p.m., Ion. Each Sunday, Ion has a marathon of this
smart-but-overlooked series. Today starts with the team infiltrating
a car-theft ring; it ends with a valuable potato. Really.

“The Simpsons,”
7:30 and 8 p.m., Fox. First is a rerun in which Bart savors – for a
while – the notion that he's a sociopath. Then a new episode finds
the mismatched Simpson and Flanders families taking a trip to the
Grand Canyon; a crisis ensues.

“Madame
Secretary,” 8 p.m., CBS. Some truly strange twists have seen
Elizabeth's college-prof husband (Tim Daly) involved in heavy-duty
spy stuff. Now he's dispatched – along with his CIA boss (Jill
Hennessy) and a colleague (Carlos Gomez) -- to get the world's most
wanted terrorist.

“The Family,” 9
p.m., ABC. Brilliantly crafted through each perverse twist, this
reaches a precarious point. Claire, running for govrnor, now realizes
that her cherub-faced daughter Bella is the ultimate schemer, even
training Ben to pose as her brother Adam. Now Claire prepares for her
debate. This pseudo-Adam is eyed by Claire during his latenight walks
and by Nina the cop at his therapy session. “Last Man on Earth,”
9:30 p.m., Fox. This odd (and sometimes funny) episode faces the
latest crisis: With Tandy apparently sterile, someone else must
volunteer to impregnate Carol, in order to continue the human
species. Meanwhile, Gail keeps drinking and there's a fresh twist in
the final minute.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. John Noble – who has been superb as a “Fringe” star
and a “Sleepy Hollow” co-star – returns to his role as
Sherlock's dad, Morland. This time, it's perilous: When his employee
is killed, Morland becomes his son's prime murder suspect.

TV column for Saturday, April 23


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Monsters University” (2013), 8 p.m., ABC.

From Batman and
Superman to Captain Kirk or the Muppets, our heroes seem to get
prequels. So Mike Wazowski and Sullivan – heroes of the 2001
“Monsters, Inc.” -- deserved this one.

Sulley (John
Goodman), the son of a famous monster, is a big man on campus; Mike
(Billy Crystal) is a newcomer with a problem – he's just not scary.
A friendship and an animated hit emerges.

TODAY'S MIGHT-SEE:
More animation, Freeform.

This is a golden age
for animated movies – well-written ones that appeal to most kids
and some adults. So now ABC has one movie and Freeform (formerly ABC
Family) has four more.

“Cars 2” (2011),
likable despite a lame spy plot, starts this at 4:15 p.m.;
“Despicable Me” (2010), which launched all those minions, is at
7. The fun “Incredibles” (2004), is at 9 and “Wall-E” (2009)
is at 11:45. All four films resurface on Sunday, each two hours
earlier.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Unlikely Animal Friends” return, 8 p.m., NatGeo
Wild.

It's tough to be the
new kid on the block or the new critter at the zoo. At Cincinnati's
zoo, however, Blakely is a personal welcome wagon. He's an Australian
shepherd who becomes a short-term friend to newcomers; his friends
have ranged from foxes and an ocelot to a warthog and a wallaby.

That's one of many
charming, low-key tales of inter-species interaction. A lion and a
tiger nuzzle; a tree kangaroo climbs in the woods by day and on its
owner's back at night. Cats – who seem to be good at this –
befriend a pot-bellied pig and a Flemish giant rabbit.

Other choices
include:

“Raiders of the
Lost Ark” (1981), 12:30 p.m., USA. Here is Steven Spielberg's
superb adventure, followed by its sequels – the fairly good “Temple
of Doom” (1984) at 3:01 p.m., the delightful “Lost Crusade”
(5:35 p.m.) and the merely OK “Crystal Skull” (2008) at 8:22 p.m.

More movies, 7 p.m.
and beyond, cable. There are two great, Oscar-winning performances
tonight – George C. Scott in “Patton” (1970), at 7 p.m. on
Sundance; and Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl” (1968), at 8 p.m.
ET on Turner Classic Movies. At 7:30, Pop has Aaron Sorkin's clever
“American President” (1995). At 8 are adventures -- “Jurassic
World” (2015) on HBO, “The Fugitive” (1993) on IFC and
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (2011) on FX.

“American Grit,”
8 and 9 p.m., Fox. Here are quick reruns of the first two hours, both
similar. After an interesting start, they close out with a sort of
torture, pushing people near the point of collapse. In one episode, a
person does collapse, in what's way too close to being snuff-TV.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. Last Saturday, CBS caught many people by
surprise, pulling its movie (“Hear My Song”) and replacing it
with reruns. This time, the rerun is expected: The team searches for
a teen girl who is missing and may have been recruited by terrorists.

“Outlander,” 9
p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10 and 11. In 18th-century
Paris, Jamie is busy with political moves and Claire, using her 1948
nursing skills, is considered a gifted healer.

“Amy Schumer:
Mostly Sex Stuff,” 9:58 p.m. and midnight, Comedy Central. Two days
after launching the fourth season of her sketch show, Comedy Central
reruns a Schumer stand-up special.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. On the eve of his “Game of Thrones”
season-opener, “SNL” reruns the episode with Peter Dinklage
hosting. Gwen Stefani is the music guest.

TV column for Thurday, April 21 (slightly out of order)


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Inside Amy Schumer” season-opener, 10 p.m., Comedy Central.

This has had three
previous seaons, but now Schumer is a full-scale movie star. The
opener is erratic, as usual – the unscripted sex chats are so-so, a
fake commercial goes overboard – but has great moments.

Schumer does a
variation on the “most interesting man” commercials. And pitches
Lin-Manuel Miranda (the “Hamilton” creator and star) an awful
version of a hip-hop Betsy Ross musical. And – adding some sharp
satire – sees her medical care taken over by an all-male
Congressional committee.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Mom.” 9:01 p.m., CBS.

In the “Mom”
world, big laughs and deep emotions co-exist. That's especially true
tonight, in one of the best episodes of one of TV's best shows.

Bonnie (Allison Janney) is giddy about her new lover (William
Fichtner) ... who doesn't get her obsession with Alcoholics Anonymous
meetings; he will. Her daughter Christy fumes about the arrival of
Travis, who was the boyfriend of the late Jodi. He's the one who
bought drugs, then fled before the ambulance arrived.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Back to the Future” trilogy, 6 p.m. (1985), 8:30
(1989) and 11 (1990), AMC; and/or “Time Traveling Bong,” 10:30
p.m., Comedy Central.

Time-travel can take
all forms, from the dead-serious “Terminator,” “12 Monkeys”
and “Time After Time” to the sheer fun of these two. “Future”
is the all-time best, with a great original film and two fairly good
sequels. “Bong” is loose and loopy, but finds some big laughs.

In Wednesday's
opener, two cousins (Ilena Glazer and Paul Downs, both of “Broad
City”) puffed their way to Salem and to dinosaur days. Now they
visit cavemen, slavery and Michael Jackson's childhood. The result a
little lame (and a bit crude) at first, but gets much funnier on
Michael's turf.

Other choices
include:

“Pride &
Prejudice” (2005), 6:30 and 9:40 p.m., Oxygen; or “Some Like It
Hot” (1959), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. Here are two more
great movies. “Pride” remakes a classic brilliantly, thanks to
the visual touch of director Joe Wright. “Hot” is a
black-and-white gem: The American Film Institute put it at No. 22 on
the list of best American movies ... and at No. 1 in the list of
funniest movies.

“Bones,” 8 p.m.,
Fox. The show returned last week with Hodgins showing some zest ...
until word came that his paralysis seems non-reversible. Now he
fumes, in a way that is believable but terribly repetitious. There
are also some stabs at humor, plus a so-so case about the death of an
anti-feminist.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Three days before the “Game of Thrones”
season-opener, we see the gang watching the show at a viewing party.
That's when a Sheldon-Leonard dispute explodes.

“The Odd Couple,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. This comedy tends to be quick, slick, funny ... and
overlooked. Tonight, Oscar dates the young nanny of his neighbor
Charlotte (Teri Hatcher); Emily insists that she and Felix finally do
something that she prefers.

“Scandal,” 9
p.m., ABC. Flashbacks show more about how Jake joined the bad guys.
Meanwhile, Olivia finally learns of his plan ... but it's already in
motion and she must hurry,

“American Grit,”
9 p.m., Fox. The problem with this reality show – alongside all the
macho speeches – is basic: The racing is fun, but the rest is
merely torture, seeing who will collapse first. That becomes brutally
obvious during the final minutes here, complete with an ice-water
immersion ordeal.

“Game of Silence,”
10 p.m., NBC. There's some solid drama, as three men investigate the
warden, guards and inmates who brutalized their boyhood. The show's
lone weakness is Gil, a character who is wildly overwrought. He
dominates this hour, re-visiting a former guard who's given key
testimony.

TV column for Friday, April 22


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Hell's Kitchen,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox.

Last week's episode
(rerunning at 8 p.m.) brought a surprise, with Gordon Ramsay dumping
two people instead of one. Departing were Jared Bobkin (the only
remaining guy) and Manda Palomino.

That leaves Ashley
Nickell, 27, of Orlando; Kristin Barone, 27, of Chicago; and Ariel
Malone, 26, of Hackensack, NJ. Tonight, they try some 40-minute
speed-cooking, then take turns working the hot plate for dinner
service. Afterward, Ramsay will decide which two are in next week's
finale.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Dr. Ken,” 8:31 p.m., ABC.

In real life, Ken
Jeong's switch went smoothly: Fresh from his medical degree, he
started doing stand-up comedy during his residency in New Orleans. He
won a contest there and soon was full-time funny.

That doesn't make
good fiction, though, so now we get a variation: Dr. Ken's college
buddy (played by Jeff Ross) is a stand-up and urges him to give it a
try. In proper sitcom style, it doesn't go well.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Mission Critical: Orangutan on the Edge,” 9 p.m.,
NatGeo Wild.

This is Earth Day,
which people take seriously. Disney usually opens a big-screen nature
film – this year's is being delayed until 2017 -- and NatGeo Wild
fills the night with specials.

Its reruns deal with
cougars (7 p.m.), leopards (8 and 11 p.m.) and the elephants that
survived Mozambique warfare (10 p.m.). And this new hour follows
biologist Tim Laman and his wife, Cheryl Knott, as he photographs
rain-forest orangutans. There are some rare views from a treetop
camera; also, there's an involving chance to follow one orangutan
female through tragedy and romance.

Other choices
include:

“Thunderbirds Are
Go,” any time, Amazon. Back in the 1960s, some kids were wowed by
the science-fiction action delivered by “Thunderbirds”
marionettes. This new version – following a rescue team in 2060 –
switches to computer animation and seems ... well, adequate.

“The Amazing
Race,” 8 p.m., CBS. For the second time, Cole LaBrant – known for
his six-second comedy videos on Vine – finished in last place with
his mother Shari ... and for the second time, they found it was a
non-elimination round. Now the six duos continue, with Frisbee stars
Brodie Smith and Kurt Gibson in first place.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. Wrapping up its season a month early (as
does “Dr. Ken”), this has Mike (Tim Allen) getting a surprise
party to celebrate his 25th anniversary working at Outdoor
Man.

“Wreck-It Ralph”
(2012), 8-10 p.m., Disney. This cleverly written animated film – a
videogame bad-guy tries to change -- leads a night filled with
entertaining films. Also at 8 are “The Help” (2011) on CMT,
“Avatar” (2009) on FX and Eddie Murphy's triumphant “Beverly
Hills Cop” (1984) on IFC.

“Grimm,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. New kinds of monsters keep finding Portland. This one seems to
liquify and remove all its prey's bones.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. A chemical spill helps six inmates – including Kono's
husband Adam – escape.

“Time Traveling
Bong,” 9:30-11 p.m., Comedy Central. If you missed the first two
parts, catch them at 9:30 and10. The first – with a close call in
old Salem – is quite funny; the second starts poorly (in caveman
days), then gets better. Then fhe finale debuts at 10:30, leaping
from old Greece to the future, ruled by a company a lot like
Monsanto. There's a sharp ending to a goofy-but-fun tale.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun of the season-opener, there are rumors of a
terrorist attack on New York. Frank (Tom Selleck) puts his police
force on high alert.