TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 16


TONIGHT'S
MUST-SEE: “CMA Fest 2017,” 8-11 pm., ABC.

Each
June, much of countrydom converges on Nashville for this fan
festival. ABC tapes evening concerts and merges them into one
mega-show.

This
year's fest did have a few older performers (John Anderson, Trace
Adkins, Jeff Cease of Black Crowes) and perpetual stars (Blake
Shelton, Chris Young, Rascal Flatts). Mostly, though, it obsesses on
the new: Tonight, hosts Kelsea Ballerini and Thomas Rhett perform; so
do Sam Hunt, Dustin Lynch, Maren Morris, Eric Church, Cassadee Pope,
Brett Young, Old Dominion and Florida Georgia Line.

TONIGHT'S
MIGHT-SEE: “America's Got Talent,” 8 p.m., NBC.

On
Tuesday, “Talent” started its live portion; 12 acts performed and
viewers voted. Tonight, viewers have some touch-up work, creating an
“instant save” as seven acts advance to the semi-finals. The same
thing will happen for two more Tuesday-Wednesday blocks.

Also
tonight, last year's champion, Grace VanderWaal, will perform/ She's
a singer and ukulele player who was 12 when she won. The show's first
winner (Bianca Ryan) was 11, but in the nine years after that, there
were no other female or child champs.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Marlon” debut, 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC.

“Tackling
the big issues, I see,” Ashley (Essence Atkins) says. She's mocking
her ex-husband Marlon (Marlon Wayans), but she could be mocking the
show itself. Until now, this timeslot went to “The Carmichael
Show,” which did tackle big issues, often cleverly; in contrast,
“Marlon” is loud and slight.

Wayans
plays a childish chap, in love (understandably) with ex-wife Ashley
and their kids. The second episode, in which she learns he has a
storage shed filled with memories, has some good moments; the first
doesn't. In that one, he's so obnoxious it's hard to see how she (or
viewers) would stick near him.

Other
choices include:

Elvis
Presley movies, all day, Turner Classic Movies. It was 40 years ago
today that Presley died at 42. He made plenty of bad movies, but TCM
saves the better ones for evening -- “Jailhouse Rock” (1957) at 6
p.m. ET, the concert film “That's The Way It Is” (1970) at 8 and
“Viva Las Vegas” (1964) at 10.

“MasterChef,”
8 p.m., Fox. The top 12 home chefs head to Las Vegas, where they
prepare food for 50 celebrities, to help celebrate the 50th
anniversary of Caesar's Palace.

“Mr.
Mercedes,” 8 p.m., DirecTV and AT&T, rerunning at 11. Hodges,
the retired cop, remains haunted by the case he couldn't solve and
taunted (via computer, mail and more) by the killer. In a good
episode, his friends fret about his sanity, but a victim's sister
(Mary-Louise Parker) hires him.

“Salvation,”
9 and 10 p.m., CBS. In the first hour, Grace and Darius have a tough
mission – slipping into Russia to prevent a nuclear conflict; in
the second, their tougher mission is slipping back out, after being
framed for murder. Also, Liam tries to convince Jillian to re-join
the project.

“The
F Word” season-finale, 9 p.m., Fox. Each episode has had a team
(family or friends) emerge as the winner. Now Gordon Ramsay chooses
two teams to compete for the $100,000 top prize.

“Law
& Order: Special Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. In a rerun,
Anthony Edwards (“ER”) plays a police sergeant whose son is
accused of rape.

“Greenleaf,”
10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. On Tuesday, the season-opener
(rerunning at 9 p.m. today) saw the aftershocks of Grace's
confrontation with Mac. Now the show settles into its regular night.
Grace ponders her future with Darius; Charity is desperate to contact
her ex-husband.

TV column for Tuesday, Aug. 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“America's Got Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC.

After approximately
three zillion audition episodes, “Talent” finally has its top 36
acts. From here on, this ratings-champion will move more quickly.

On each of the next
three Tuesdays, a dozen acts will perform and viewers will vote. Each
Wednesday – including a final “save” by viewers – seven acts
will move to the semi-finals.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Hollywood Game Night” return, 10 p.m., NBC.

Now that “World of
Dance” has ended its first season, this show steps into the
summer's coziest slot.

Host Jane Lynch has
the three actors who play siblings on “This Is Us” -- Sterling
Brown, Chrissy Metz and Justin Hartley. Others are comedian Bill
Engvall and two reality show people – businessman Marcus Lemonis
and fashion guy Carson Kressley.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Greenleaf” return, 10 p.m.,
Oprah Winfrey Network;
reruns at 1 a.m.

Returning
to her home town – and to the mega-church her parents run –
Grace
has found secrets and crises. She tried
to confront her evil Uncle Mac, but that was delayed by a car
accident.

Now
the confrontation
sends aftershocks
through the family
. Meanwhile, there's
bad news
for
her younger sister Charity,
whose
ex-husband
Kevin
fell
in love with a
man.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Bachelor in Paradise,”
8-10:01
p.m., ABC.

Alongside
all the fuss and alcohol, it seems, “
Paradise”
can produce romance.
To remind us, here
is
the June wedding of Evan Bass and
Carly Waddell, who met on the show.

Bass
is 34 and runs erectile-dysfunction clinics in Nashville; he tied for
ninth in
JoJo Fletcher's “Beachelorette.” Waddell is 31 and a cruise-ship
singer
who finished fifth in Chris
Soules' “The Bachelor.”
They're
expecting a baby, which will be her first and his fourth. After the
wedding, tonight's show will have people discuss the break in this
year's “Paradise” taping; then the fuss resumes.

Other
choices include:

“NCIS,”
8 p.m., CBS. This rerun shifts the focus to Jimmy Palmer (Brian
Dietzen). He's out on a ledge (literally) to save a suicidal
stranger.

“The
Fosters,” 8 p.m., Freeform. Callie has been trying to avoid
trouble; now, however, she comes across an issue that's important to
her. Also, Jude and Taylor get notoriety for their gaming videos.

“Leah
Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” season-opener, 9 p.m., A&E.
The first season – which has reruns from 4-9 p.m. -- was a surprise
both in its ratings success and its Emmy nomination. The new one
starts by meeting two women who grew up in the Cadet Org of
Scientology.

“The
Bold Type,” 9:01 p.m., Freeform. This episode starts with two of
its
young women deeply
in love and in lust
with good guys.
That's all quite pleasant – bright, beautiful people embracing life
– but where can a drama go from here? Tonight, it piles on the
complications – alternate romance, alternate substances and more.
Detours
and all,
“Bold” remains boldly watchable.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a Seabees unit has been
infected by a super virus. Now that threatens the entire Naval base
... and the city of New Orleans ... and, specifically, Dr. Wade (CCH
Pounder). She's been infected and has only hours to live, if she
can't find an antidote.

“Manhunt:
Unabomber,” 10 p.m., Discovery. The “Unabomber” says he'll quit
his bombing if his manifesto is published. The FBI refuses, but Jim
Fitzgerald, a profiler, feels someone may recognize the writing
style. Eventually, Attorney General Janet Reno (Jane Lynch) must
decide.

TV column for Monday, Aug. 14


TONIGHT'S ODDITY:
“Bachelor in Paradise” opener, 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

For good or (mostly)
bad, this season has drawn waves of attention. It began taping in its
usual mode – lots of drinking and mixing, by people who look fine
in swimwear. Then taping was briefly suspended, while producers
probed whether some of the drunken sex was consensual.

They decided it
wasn't criminal, but one man left show and ABC chief Channing Dungey
called it “a wake-up call” pointing to “safety issues.” Host
Chris Harrison will discuss that as the show opens.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

The brief “World
of Dance” season has ended now and Fox has the dance crowd to
itself. That comes just as it reaches its best part – the top 10
dancers, each paired with a past star.

There are people
whose forte is tap -- (Lex Ishimoto), ballroom (Sydney Tormey) cha
cha (Kiki Nyemchek), contemporary (Logan Hernandez, Taylor Siive,
Koine Iwasaki), hip-hop (Dassy Lee, Mark Villaver, Mark Green); and
some combination (Kaylee Millis). They'll dance, one will be sent
home (based on last week's votes) and then viewers will vote anew.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Diana: In Her Own Words,” 9-11 p.m., National
Geographic.

“Boy, was I
troubled,” Princess Diana says quietly. These are the secret tapes
she gave to Andrew Morton, for his book. Now portions are played
here, skillfully blended with footage from the time.

Diana describes an
unhappy childhood at home and a joyous one at school. Just 19 – “I
had never had a boyfriend” -- she married Prince Charles; on the
honeymoon, he brought eight books and cufflinks from Camilla Parker
Bowles. By then, she says, bulimia had caused her waist to shrink
four-and-a-half inches, to 23. There would be more crises with
Charles ... and a revival as a solo humanitarian.

Other choices
include:

“Juno” (2007), 8
p.m., Pop, or “Julia” (1977), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies.
Both movies – a sharp comedy and a real-life, wartime drama – won
Oscars for their scripts. “Julia” also won for the supporting
performances of Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Robards.

“Hooten and the
Lady,” 9 p.m., CW. Hooten's latest project is to find a Faberge egg
in Moscow. When Alex arrives to help, she confronts her arch-enemy
... who now deals with the black market

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. In a family ravaged by drugs and drink, things get serious when
12-year-old Roscoe is caught smoking pot. Reactions are stern – and
surprisingly funny.

“Life in Pieces,”
9:30, CBS. Yes, there are more odd souls in this extended family. In
this rerun, we meet Colleen's eccentric father; we also meet cousin
Mikey (Greg Grunberg of “Ally McBeal”), shattered by a breakup
and about to be set up on a date.

“CBSN: On
Assignment,” 10 p.m., CBS. In the volley of threats between the
U.S. and North Korea, Guam keeps being mentioned as a target.
Vladimir Duthiers visits military bases there and in South Korea and
Hawaii. Another report views how Iceland may be effectively
eliminating Down syndrome.

“Midnight, Texas,”
10 p.m., NBC. It's nice to be able to see dead people ... but not so
good if they won't go away. Now Manfred seems to have conjured up an
ancient being who seduces and feeds on men. He and others head to a
roadside bar to stop her and protect the town's anonymity.

“Loaded,” 10
p.m., AMC. Leon decides the perfect way for everyone to focus on the
new game is to spend some time on his new yacht. The result, AMC says
is 24 hours of sex, drugs and murder.

TV column for Sunday, Aug. 13


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Teen Choice Awards,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

OK, this isn 't
exactly the Nobel Prize or the Peabody Awards. It's a show in which
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has nominations from three movies.
Still, we can expect lots of fun and music.

It opens with “iSpy”
by rapper Kyle (with Lil Yachty and Rita Ora) and closes with Ora.
Lil Yachty also does “Forever Young.” Also performing are Rae
Sremmurd; Louis Tomlinson with Bebe Rexha; Clean Bandit with Zara
Larsson; and French Montana. Miley Cyrus and Maroon 5 get special
awards.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Nineties,” 9 p.m. ET, CNN (barring breaking news).

Yes, the computer
revolution began in the 1980s. Still, the next decade brought its
giants. The World Wide Web didn't reach the public until 1991. Amazon
started in '94, ebay and Match.com in '95, Google and PayPal in '98
... a year after Steve Jobs returned to save a dying Apple.

This hour views all
of those changes, plus the emergence of controversy. There were
predators and pornographers, plus hackers, the bursting dotcom bubble
and the non-bursting Y2K.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Dramas end and start, cable.

Two shows end their
seasons. At 9 p.m. (repeating at 10) is TNT's “Claws”; Desna is
chased by Roller who's chased by the Russians. At 10 is Showtime's
“I'm Dying Up Here,” set in 1970s comedy. Tonight, Goldie forces
Cassie to take a stand; then an event changes everything for her
comedy club.

Also at 10, the “Get
Shorty” series has its dandy debut on Epix. Loosely based on an
Elmore Leonard novel (which became a 1995 movie), this links a
low-level movie producer (Ray Romano) with a lower-level mobster
(Chris O'Dowd). The result ripples with a droll, “Fargo”-style
humor.

Other choices
include:

“Tangled”
(2010), 6:50 p.m., and “Tangled: The Series,” 8:30, Disney. We
can see Rapunzel and a former thief in the movie and in the TV
series. Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi star in both.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., ABC. Is it really fair to pit an
athlete-turned-actor against a brainy space scientist? We'll see in
this rerun, when Rick Fox's family faces Neil deGrasse Tyson's. The
other match has Nich Lachey leading boy-band veterans against Carnie
Wilson and girl-groupers.

“Funderdome,” 9
p.m., ABC. This is what we all deserve for football season – a
tailgate cooler that includes drink dispensers, a grill and a
Bluetooth speaker. Competing for funding, it goes against a tailgate
chair that turns into a goalpost for a high-energy game.

“Chesapeake
Shores,” 9 p.m., Hallmark. Abby's dad (Treat Williams) plans to
sell the nightclub that he built with Trace (Jesse Metcalfe), Abby's
past and now-current boyfriend.

“$100,000
Pyramid,”10 p.m., ABC. Two “This Is Us” stars, Justin Hartley
and Crissy Metz, compete. So do singer Usher and football star Von
Miller.

“The History of
Comedy,” 10 p.m., CNN (barring breaking news). Viewing the tendency
to mock politics and political leaders, this ranges from court
jesters to cartoonists to sketches and one-liners.

“Oklahoma City
Bombing: As We Watched,” 10 p.m., American Heroes Channel. This
views the 1995 crisis that killed 168 people and injured hundreds. It
follows the quick investigation that led to the arrest and conviction
of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

TV column for Saturday, Aug. 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Orphan Black” finale, 10 p.m. ET, BBC America.

A great series
concludes tonight ... and, we'll assume, a great career is just
starting.

When “Orphan”
began five years ago, Tatiana Maslany was an obscure Canadian
actress. At first, she was Sarah, a streetwise drifter who took the
identity of a lookalike cop; then she added a dizzying set of other
clones, uncovering the conspiracy that created them. She's won an
Emmy, a Television Critics Association award and more, in a terrific
show that concludes tonight.

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

This is a big week
for “SNL.” On Thursday, it opened its summer run of “Weekend
Update”; now it has an exceptionally good rerun, with Louis CK as
host and the Chainsmokers as music guests.

Yes, there are odd
moments; there always are. They include CK as a lawyer with lovely
eyelashes and as an angry soda-fountain clerk. Still, there's much
more: CK's long monolog about racism, Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump
and Bill O'Reilly, a satire of Kendall Jenner's Pepsi ad ... and an
odd film with a sad clown at a guy's 53rd birthday party.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Turn” finale, 9 p.m., AMC, rerunning at 10:15.

This is farewell
night for Saturday scripted shows.

Last week, Abe's
spying paid off powerfully. Using his information (plus some huge
help from the French navy), George Washington got his mega-victory at
Yorktown. Now we see the personal aftershocks: Abe re-bonds with his
family, Benedict Arnold faces the disdain of a nation and of his
wife. We also see the efforts to formally end the war and start a
nation.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Rescue Dog to Super Dog” debut, 10 p.m., Animal
Planet, rerunning at midnight.

A young Marine
veteran, Kelani Cruetzburg found himself overwhelmed by depression.
Then he was given Bas, a dog who gave him a fresh sense of purpose.

Such stories are at
the core of this reality series. Nate Schoemer (also an ex-Marine)
and Laura London take dogs from shelters and bring them to people in
need. Some dogs learn specific tasks; others, like Bas, simply do
what they're best at – becoming great friends.

Other choices
include:

J.K. Rowling films,
cable. Freeform loads up (again) on Harry Potter films. It has the
third and fourth ones at 8:30 and 11:45 a.m., skips one and has the
final three at 3:30, 7:15 and 10:50 p.m. Rowling's “Fantastic
Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2016) – great visuals, so-so
story – is at 8 p.m. on HBO.

“School of Rock,”
7-9:30 p.m., Bravo; also, 8:30 p.m., Nickelodeon. Mike White wrote a
clever script about a drifter rocker (Jack Black) who becomes a
substitute teacher. Richard Linklater directed skillfully; the result
was a delight, leading to a Broadway musical and to the Nick series.

“Doubt” finale,
8 and 9 p.m., CBS. Stuffed with stars – Katherine Heigl, Elliott
Gould, Laverne Cox, Dule Hill – this failed in a good timeslot,
then was exiled to Saturdays. Now Sadie (Heigl) gives her closing
argument in the murder trial of her sometimes-lover (Steven Pasquale)
... who is holding something back. There are two other cases and her
mother (Judith Light) is in prison and has cancer.

“Love Connection,”
9 p.m., Fox. Here's a rerun of the July 20 episode of this amiable
dating show, hosted by Andy Cohen. It's preceded at 8 by an “F
Word” rerun with Gordon Ramsay.

“Summer in the
Vineyard,” 9 p.m., Hallmark. The modestly pleasant “Autumn in the
Vineyard” (2016), which reruns at 7, had Rachael Leigh Cook and
Brendan Penny competing for ownership of a vineyard. Now the sequel
has them ready for their first vintage.

“In an Instant,”
10 p.m., ABC. In 1994, a gunman with a homemade bomb took over the
Salt Lake City library. Librarians acted quickly to get most people
out of the building. One person who stayed, however, was a sheriff's
lieutentant with a concealed weapon. This rerun tells the story.