TV column for Wednesday, June 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“24 Hours to Hell and Back” debut, 9 p.m., Fox.

Here, remarkably, is
someone who's more irritable and irritating than Gordon Ramsay. The
guy owns a failing restaurant in a gorgeous setting, an hour from
Manhattan. He yells at employees and snipes at customers – all
while he has outdated equipment and past-its-date food.

That puts Ramsay in
the rare position of urging him to mellow out. Meanwhile, Ramsay's
team has 24 hours to re-decorate and re-equip the restaurant,
re-train its staff and revise its menu. The result is fun.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.

Our summer
Wednesdays settle in. There's no more basketball (which took over ABC
last Wednesday) and no more hockey (which was supposed to be on NBC
tonight, before things ended abruptly).

So now we savor
ABC's reruns – led by “Modern Family,” with five best-comedy
Emmys. Tonight, Claire and Phil are out of their comfort zones: She
drives a big rig; he tries survival camping

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Season-openers, 10 p.m., cable.

For some reason,
three reality openers collide, pondering real-estate, hamburgers and
sunken treasure.

That last one is
“Caribbean Pirate Treasure,” on Travel; Philippe Cousteau –
whose granddad Jacques pioneered underwater TV – dives with his
wife Ashlan. CNBC counters with “The Deed,” with Sidney Torres
buying into wobbly properties. And A&E has “Wahlbergers”: The
famous Wahlbergs (Mark and Donnie) help their brother Paul expand
their burger busines.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “The Split,” 10 p.m., Sundance.

Last week, two
people were rebuffed after clumsy moves: Hannah's husband tried to
kiss her sister Nina; Hannah's younger sister tried to kiss the vicar
... who was giving her pre-marriage counseling, Then the sisters
found that their mom had been concealing letters and presents from
their dad.

All of this strained
believability, but packed a fierce emotional impact. And yes, these
things will resurface tonight: When the family gathers for a dinner,
Nina has a lot of alcohol and a lot of words.

Other choices
include:

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. With the hockey season ending early (just
as basketball did), NBC has quickly inserted its “Ninja” try-outs
from Miami.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. Yes, it's an all-Gordon-Ramsay night. Before his new show
debuts, this one has Ramsay show contestants how to break down a crab
and how to prepare crab Benedict.

“The Goldbergs,”
8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC. Giving his son Adam a driving lesson, Murray
learns something about his own dad. In the second rerun, Beverly has
a solution to “empty nest” despair.

“The Originals,”
9 p.m., CW. After all their fights and squabbling, the Mikaelson
siblings must work together, as rage soars in New Orleans.

“Reverie,” 10
p.m., NBC.What does an ordinary family guy do in his virtual-reality
dreams? This one robs banks; Mara tries to learn why ... and finds
her life in danger.

“Code Black,” 10
p.m., CBS. Willis and Rox (Rob Lowe and Moon Bloodgood) rush to the
scene of a boat crash. Leanne (Marcia Gay Harden) tries to save a
brother and sister who tried a viral challenge.

“Particle Fever,”
10 p.m., PBS. How do you turn physics into an entertaining
documentary? This film starts with interesting people and an imposing
subject – the giant Hadron super collider. Monica Dunford – a
young physicist who bicycles to work each day – compares it to “a
five-story Swiss watch.” The film adds clever animation and is
slickly edited by Walter Murch, a triple Oscar-winner.

TV column for Tuesday, June 12


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

For a while, it
looked like this show – still in its auditions – would have some
serious competition tonight: ABC had moved “Bachelorette” to
Tuesday (this week only), because of Monday basketball.

Alas, ABC has been
in flux lately. The basketball finals only lasted four games, instead
of seven; also, “Roseanne” -- the starter for Tuesdays – is
gone. In a late move, the network returned “Bachelorette” to
Monday and has comedy reruns – two “Middle” and two “Black-ish”
tonight. NBC can dominate.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Bold Type” season-opener, 8-10:02 p.m., Freeform.

The first season of
this show was a happy surprise. Sleek and smart, it was proof that
this channel has gone far from its days as ABC Family and (before
that) Fox Family and The Family Channel.

The three “Bold”
women, newcomers at a New York magazine, were vibrant and vulnerable,
assertive and caring, encased in the adventure of city life. The
plot, however, propelled too quickly; as this second season starts,
they all have bigger-deal job s and two of them have big-deal lovers.
“Bold” has lost the zest of the new-life/new-possibilities days.
Still, these are interesting people, worth following.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Last Defense” debut, 10:01 p.m., ABC.

In 1997, police in a
Texas town were called to a murder scene. Two boys, 6 and 5, had been
stabbed to death; the throat of their mother, Darlie Routier, had
been slashed.

Routier was
convicted and has spent two decades on death row. At 48, she insists
this was done by an intruder; she also says the prosecution misused a
video of a graveside event, an attempt to give her son a posthumous
birthday party. Now hers is one of two stories traced in a seven-week
series, produced by actress Viola Davis (“How to Get Away With
Murder”) and her husband, actor-director Julius Tennon.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “The Hunger Games” conclusion (2015), 6 p.m., and
“Animal Kingdom,” 9 p.m, TNT, rerunning at 10.

It's a busy night
for this cable channel. First is the conclusion to the four-movie
“Hunger Games” epic. Then is a new round of “Animal Kingdom,”
with the family crime business wobbling.

“We need money, or
we could lose everything,” J insists. Everyone is scrambling for
money – Nicky to impress old classmates, Craig to maybe get an
apartment with Renn. Some of that is disastrous, but inside
prison,“Smurf” (Ellen Barkin) – the mother and grandmother of
these guys – keeps scheming. We're soon reminded how fierce she is
... and how flailing the others sometimes are.

Other choices
include:

“Civilizations”
return, 8 p.m., PBS. After a couple weeks of pledge drives, most
stations are now leaping into PBS' summer season. This seems to
typify the network, for good and bad. Steeply ambitious, the hour
spans the globe and spans 1,000 years, while showing artists'
depictions of nature. It's often gorgeous ... and sometimes
overwrought, with Simon Schama's overstated analysis.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, the murder victim was being investigated for
bribery and fraud. Later, “48 Hours: NCIS” (10 p.m.) views
real-life cases.

“Beat Shazam,” 8
p.m., Fox. This name-that-tune show gets a personal touch, when
Michael Bolton shows up.

“The 100,” 9
p.m., CW. Pausing for a rerun, “100” shows Octavia's troubles
inside the bunker. To keep control, she turns to an unlikely ally.

“Genius,” 10
p.m., National Geographic. In the ninth chapter of the 11-week
series, we see the young Picasso finding a mad love to get away from
his troubled marriage to Olga. We also see the older Picasso fume,
when Francois Gilot resists him and follows her own artistic path.

“Million Dollar
Listing New York” season-opener, 10 p.m., Bravo. tat title is an
understatement: The new season has real-estate listings in the
multi-millions.

TV column for Monday, June 11


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Supergirl,” 8 p.m., CW.

Life has been good
lately for “Supergirl” fans. The show has been renewed for a
fourth season and will move to Sundays, which is open turf for
fantasy. And it still has two episodes left for this season.

Lately, we've
learned that Serena – the villain in the 1984 “Supergirl” movie
– has been scheming. Now Supergirl learns the depth of her plans;
aided by Mon-El and Alura, she prepares for next week's season-ending
confrontation. Also, J'onn prepares to say goodby to his father (Carl
Lumbly).

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Fairy-tale evening, Freeform.

Last December,
Freeform (owned by Disney) tried some corporate synergy -- a special
showing Disney-themed weddings. Now that's been expanded into a
series.

Two Disney cartoon,
appropriately, surround the debut . It's the lovely “Mulan”
(1998) at 6 p.m., the “Weddings” opener at 8 and “Beauty and
the Beast” (1991) -- rippling with clever songs – at 9:01.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Dietland,” 9 p.m., and “Unapologetic,” 10:01
p.m., AMC.

Last week's
“Dietland” opener mixed a little humor and a lot of rage. At a
magazine that preaches sleekness and beauty, our heroine (simply
named Plum) has neither; she's the ghostwriter for the sleek editor
(Juliana Margulies). Now she's secretly helping a guerilla feminist
operation.

Tonight, she's in
withdrawal from her diet protocol; also, the feminist protesters are
turning increasingly violent. That's followed by the second week of
Aisha Tyler's talk show. Margulies is scheduled as one of the guests,
along with actress Yvette Nicole Brown.

Other choices
include:

“Hobbit”
trilogy, 1-11 p.m., TNT. If any kids have just started summer
vacation, they can celebrate by staring a screen for 10 hours. The
films are at 1 p.m. (2012), 4:30 (2013) and 8 (2014).

“So You Think You
Can Dance,” 8 p.m., Fox. Last week, this excellent show had
auditions in New York. Tonight, it does the same in Los Angeles.

“Mom,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. When Christy's car breaks down, Adam is willing to loan her
money. Alas, his girlfriend Bonnie won't let him; she's also
Christy's mom, creating family trouble.

“9-1-1,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. While facing outside crises – including a disaster at a
children's birthday party – people also have personal problems to
deal with. For Abby (Connie Britton), that includes a life-changing
decision concerning her mother, who has Alzheimer's.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. With its Tuesday slot being borrowed by a
non-fiction show about real NCIS cases, this series has temporarily
moved to Mondays. Tonight, Lund (the lab forensics guy) is being
questioned by the FBI for his actions during a foot chase of a
high-value fugitive.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. When the murder victim is someone Holmes and Watson know,
Sherlock gets more obsessive. That's a setback for his neurological
recovery; now his sobriety wavers.

“Running Wild With
Bear Grylls,” 10:01, NBC. This reruns the series opener, which put
Grylls in the Appalachian Mountains with actor Zac Efron.

TV column for Sunday, June 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Tony Awards, 8-11 p.m., CBS.

Each year, the
Broadway people put on a great show. Alongside some OK comedy, there
are spectacular production numbers from the nominated musicals and
others.

And tonight? We're
not expecting much comedy -- Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles are hosts
– but the music is promising: The best-new-musical nominees are
“Frozen,” “Mean Girls,” “SpongeBob” and “The Band's
Visit”; the nominated revivals are “My Fair Lady,” “Carousel”
and “Once On This Island.” Viewers will recognize such nominees
as Tina Fey, Amy Schumer and Denzel Washington.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Celebrity Family Feud,” season-opener, 8 p.m., ABC, and
more.

ABC has drawn strong
summer ratings with its Sunday game shows. Now that starts with some
pop-culture stars: One team includes Kim Kardashian and Kanye West;
another includes her sister Khloe, plus their mom and half-sister,
Kris and Kendall Jenner.

Steve Harvey hosts,
with Michael Strahan's “$100,000 Pyramid” at 9 p.m. and Anthony
Anderson's “To Tell the Truth” at 10. That's encouraging: Game
shows had been on networks for 34 years before their first black
host (Adam Wade, “Musical Chairs,” 1975). Now there are three in
one night.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Claws” season-opener, 9 p.m., TNT, rerunning at 10.

This is suddenly a
TV trend – women dabbling in crime, then becoming immersed in the
life. NBC's “Good Girls” will be back for a second season; first,
“Claws” starts its second year big-time.

Desna (Niecy Nash)
did some money-laundering for Uncle Daddy, while running her nail
salon. But then Ruval, a Russian mobster, killed Daddy's wife and
took charge; tonight brings another fierce power shift. Personal
problems? Virginia is pregnant via Desna's autistic brother ...
Ruval's niece had Roller's baby ... And Desna's lover has a secret
scheme. It's all big, brash and quite entertaining.

Other choices
include:

Animation marathon,
FX. Here are the same films – terrific ones, mostly – that ran
Saturday, but now three hours earlier. It's “Hercules” (1997) at
12:35 p.m., “Wreck-It Ralph” (2012) at 2:40, “The Incredibles”
(2004) at 4:45 and “The LEGO Movie” (2014) at 7:30, with “Mulan”
(1998) at 9:55.

“One Strange
Rock,” 7 p.m., Fox. Violence can be a good thing – at least in
the molding of a planet. In this hour of the richly filmed series,
astronaut Nicole Scott tells how cosmic violence shaped Earth.

Hockey or reruns,
NBC. The network scheduled the sixth game of the best-of-seven hockey
finals, at 8 p.m. ET. If that's not needed, it will rerun “America's
Got Talent” and “World of Dance,” at 8 and 10.

“Ghosted,” 8:30
and 9:30 p.m., Fox. This was one of a flurry of fairly good comedies
Fox canceled. It still has seven new episodes, with two scheduled for
tonight and others on five more Sundays.

“Pose,” 9 p.m.,
FX, rerunning at 10:30. Early in this second episode, writer-director
Ryan Murphy shows his great range. The first minutes – at a flashy
“ball” in 1987 New York – are big and brash; the next few – a
young, gay man, hesitant about sex – are tender. None of this is
likely to draw a broad audience; all of it, however, is done with
consummate skill.

“100,000 Pyramid,”
9 p.m., ABC. The emphasis is on quick, clever people. Tonight's
celebrities are comedians Leslie Jones and Mario Cantone and actors
Julie Bowen and Debra Messing.

“To Tell the
Truth” season-opener, 10 p.m., ABC. One person is the world's
fastest backward talker, another is the most unlucky rodeo clown.
Also, there's a couple that's been married 112 times. In each case,
they're alongside two ringers. Panelists – comedian Nikki Glaser,
gymnast Gabrielle Douglas, actors Octavia Spencer and Dermot Mulroney
– try to figure out which ones are real.

TV column for Saturday, June 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Crossing” finale, 8 and 9 p.m., ABC.

On a stark
shoreline, a compelling story unfolded. People washed ashore,
seemingly from nowhere. They said they were time-trekkers, fleeing a
brutal future; the sheriff (Steve Zahn) believes them, but “federal
officials” resisted. They want containment -- and maybe
annihilation.

On Monday, we
learned more: Some trekkers had arrived previously; they want to wipe
out this new group ... and are posing as officials. Meanwhile, a few
refugees bribed a guard, started to escape ... and were confronted. A
shot was fired, setting up the finale of the first season; there
won't be a second.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Animation, all day, cable.

Two networks
combine, making it a great day for families. FXX starts early, with
“Ice Age: Continental Drift” (2012) at 11 a.m. It has “Rio 2”
at 1 p.m., “Penguins of Madagascar” (2014) at 3, “Madagascar 3”
(2012) at 5 and “Minions” (2015) at 7 and 9.

Freeform starts with
“Hercules” (1997) at 3:40 p.m., then has three straight films
with scripts that are clever enough for adult consumption --
“Wreck-It Ralph” (2012) at 5:45, “The Incredibles” (2004) at
7:50 and the brilliant “The LEGO Movie” (2014) at 10:30.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Patrick Melrose” finale, 9 p.m., Showtime.

If you missed the
first four parts of this mini-series, don't fret; they rerun at 4:55,
5:58, 7 and 8 p.m. But be warned that this is a dark and bitter tale:
Patrick – with no ambition, but much money, privilege and rage –
informs us: “Life isn't just a bag of (feces), but a leaky one.”

Then why watch?
Because the story is sometimes spiced by brilliant speeches, many of
them said by the immensely talented Benedict Cumberbatch. In the
finale – amid a confusing swirl of flashbacks -- he's at the
funeral of his mother, whose main sin was indifference. There are
small glimmers of hope.

Other choices
include:

“Cloak &
Dagger,” 1:40 and 2:40 p.m., Freeform. This time, the Marvel TV
people got everything right, perfectly blending angst and fantasy. We
meet two teens scrambling through troubled lives; we also see the
event they don't realize they shared, a decade ago. And we get a hint
of their emerging powers. The result is beautifully filmed and deeply
emotional.

Baseball, 7:15 p.m.
ET, Fox. Two sports (basketball and hockey) have been peaking now,
with a third (soccer) starting its World Cup flurry on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Fox has three baseball games, varying by region, with some
rivalries. It's Yankees-Mets, Astros-Rangers and
Rockies-Diamondbacks.

“Overboard,”
1987, 7:30 p.m., CMT, and 8 p.m., Reelz. A carpenter (Kurt Russell)
is cheated by an heiress (Goldie Hawn) ... then gets his revenge when
she has amnesia. It's an enjoyable comedy ... that's been remade as
an adequate movie (starring Anna Faris) now in theaters.

“Ransom,” 8
p.m., CBS. The prime minister of the Netherlands has taken a hard
line, saying kidnappers won't be paid. Now her own daughter has been
kidnapped and Eric must find a solution.

“Taken,” 8 p.m.,
NBC. Bryan tries to protect his cousin, who's the target of a crime
syndicate. Also, Kilroy (Adam Goldberg) is being blackmailed.

“Rocky” (1976),
Paramount, or “Blue Crush” (2002), CMT; both 10 p.m. Here are two
movies about athletes – a beefy boxer (Sylvester Stallone) and a
slender surfer (Kate Bosworth) – facing steep odds.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. The scheduled rerun (barring a late change)
has Natalie Portman as host, with Dua Lipa as music guest.