TV column for Tuesday, March 22


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Heartbeat” debut, 9 p.m., NBC.

Like many soap
heroines Alex (Melissa George) is blonde and beautiful, with a
tangled life. Her ex-husband, a gay rock star, helps with their kids.
She lives with one surgeon and is smitten by another.

But Alex happens to
be a brilliant surgeon herself, one of the best. Beautifully played,
she's tough and skilled. This first hour is fairly good; the second
(8 p.m. Wednesday, its regular slot), is overwrought.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The People v O.J. Simpson,” 10 p.m., FX.

At first, this
splendid hour says, jurors were happy in their hotel. Then came the
rules – no TV (except old tapes), no swimming, censored newspapers.
Over eight months, there was dismay and dismissals.

Meanwhile, we see
the trial proceed. Tonight, a prosecution witness withers; then the
hour ends with a bombshell that thrusts us toward the final two
episodes.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Beyond the Tank” return, 10 p.m., ABC.

Sometimes, it's
smart to settle for pretty good. Three years ago, ABC dumped “Body
of Proof” from this slot, despite OK ratings; since then, it's
spent a fortune on shows that failed instantly. This year alone it
had “Wicked City” and “Of Kings and Prophets,” now cancelled
after two grisly episodes.

So it retrieves back
this “Shark Tank” spin-off. Tonight, Mark Cuban and Barbara
Corcoran deal with two companies whose stales stagnated; Kevin
O'Leary calls one that was rejected.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “You Me Her” debut, 9 p.m., Audience Network
(DirecTV and AT&T).

Jack and Emma are
bright, attractive people, married (to each other) with children.
They're also in a sexual slump. Then they learn of “escorts” who
offer everything except (supposedly) sex.

That launches a fun
twist on romantic-comedy notions, with subtle writing and perfect
casting. Greg Poehler (Amy's brother) is thoroughly likable as Jack,
just as he was in “Welcome to Sweden.” Rachel Blanchard is
wonderful as Emma; a restaurant scene with the rent-a-girlfriend
(Priscilla Faia) is beautifully done. Combined with Wednesday's
“Rogue” season-opener, it's a fine week for Audience.

Other choices
include:

“Last Days in
Vietnam,” 8-10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). After more than a
decade of warfare, the U.S. saw the North Vietnamese overrun Saigon.
The final withdrawal (April 30, 1975), like much of the war, was
chaotic. Rory Kennedy -- whose uncle was president during the war's
early years -- made the compelling documentary, rerunning here. She
includes Vietnamese allies who got out and those who were left behind
... and the Americans who were stunned by the order to abandon them.

“New Girl,” 8
p.m., Fox. As the wedding nears, the bride (Cece) is distracted by a
job. Now the groom (Schmidt) needs Jess to help with the planning.
Complicating things is his dad (Peter Gallagher).

“NCIS.” 8 p.m.,
CBS. When a Navy officer is killed, his widow and his mistress accuse
each other.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. After his daughter is attacked on campus,
Pride (Scott Bakula) finds a surveillance van filled with photos
documenting his life.

“iZombie,” 9
p.m., CW. This clever show has Rose (an involuntary zombie) munching
the brains of murder victims – absorbing memories and
personalities. Tonight, it's a research scientists.

“Stitchers”
season-opener, 10 p.m., Freeform. The idea is the same as “iZombie”
– except no brain-nibbles are needed. (“This is not zombies,” a
character says. “This is science.”) As the first season ended,
Cameron killed himself, so Kirsten could search his brain. But can he
be brought back to life? And if he can, will he (and Kirsten) be the
same people? The result is a fairly good episode.

TV column for Monday, March 21


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Dancing With the Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

The new season
manages to include some Donald Trump connections. There's Marla
Maples, 52, the second of his three wives; and Geraldo Rivera, 72,
runner-up in Trump's final “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Others include a
meteorologist (Ginger Zee), a deaf model/actor (Nyle DiMarco), a
singer (Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men), three actresses (Kim Fields,
Mischa Barton and Jodie Sweetin) and four athletes – fighter Paige
VanZandt and football's Doug Flutie, Von Miller and Antonio Brown.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Gotham” (Fox) and “Supergirl” (CBS), both 8 p.m.

Choose either one
and you'll find an interesting father. For Kara, who is Supergirl,
the dad is played by Dean Cain, who's been super himself. (Two
decades ago, he starred in the Lois and Clark” series.) Tonight,
J'onn J'onzz tells how he met the dad; also, Siobhan (Italia Ricci)
plots against Kara.

And on “Gotham,”
Penguin meets his father ... who is, of course, played by Paul
Reubens of Pee-wee Herman fame. Also: Bruce tries to get
street-smarts; Gordon's role in Galavan's death could be exposed.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Magicians,” 10 p.m., Syfy.

It's never wise to
push a button without knowing what it does. Penny did that at the end
of last week's hour and ended up in ... well, “Neitherland,”
which is neither here nor there. Now Quentin and Alice try to rescue
him ... even if it requires the tricky concept of “sex magic.”

Clearly, “Magicians”
keeps getting weirder. Julia has new friends toying with ''time
magic”; Eliot finds life is harder with double Margo. This hour
seems thoroughly excessive at first, but ends strongly.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Vera,” any time, www.acorn.tv.

Two terrific
actresses link to start this show's sixth season. There's Brenda
Blethyn, the two-time Oscar-nominee, who is superb as a tough and
frumpy police detective. And Cush Jumbo, who plays her assistant
here, before becoming Lucca on “The Good Wife.”

In the
season-opening movie, they're in a tangled story of deceptions, amid
the sprawling beauty of rural England. After a tough start, Jumbo's
final story delivers a strong emotional impact.

Other choices
include:

“Major League
Legends,” 5-9 p.m., Smithsonian. Here's the complete, four-part
series. First are reruns—excellent ones on Henry Aaron and Babe
Ruth, a so-so one on Lou Gehrig – then a good new one on Ted
Williams. Obsessed for decades only with hitting a baseball, Williams
eventually excelled at two more things – being a Korean War pilot
and a master fisherman; his hour repeats at 11.

“The Voice,”
8-10 p.m., NBC. Over the next two nights, the show wraps up its
“battle rounds.” Coaches choose two-person face-offs and pick a
winner ... with the chance the loser will be “stolen.”

“Crazy
Ex-Girlfriend,” 8 p.m., CW. Last week, Rebecca – suddenly broke –
still managed to hop a plane, hoping to “accidentally” bump into
Josh in Hawaii. Alas, Josh wasn't going there after all ... and on
the plane seat next to Rebecca was her therapist. Tonight, Josh and
others scramble to find her.

“Jane the Virgin,”
9 p.m., CW. Jane's dad is used to fake adventures on his telenovela,
but now he's been kidnapped for real. Also, Petra is back to work and
showing no interest in her baby.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. Scott Porter – the former “Friday Night Lights” and
“Hart of Dixie” co-star -- plays Cabe's protege in Homeland
Security. When they're kidnapped in Africa, the team tries to help.

“Damien,” 10
p.m., A&E. Police are starting to notice that people keep dying –
suddenly, messily – near Damien. Meanwhile, a mystery woman
(Barbara Hershey) tries to control him. That's in an episode that
keeps getting nastier ... especially when Damien recounts a war-zone
memory.

“Blindspot,”
10:01 p.m., NBC. Jane considers leaving the FBI. Also, Zapata goes
undercover to probe a death-row case.

 

TV column for Sunday, March 20


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

After triumphing
with “Grease,” Fox is ready to try it again – another live
musical, sprawling across several stages. This one -- done in New
Orleans in modern dress – tells of Jesus' final hours.

Stages are on the
Mississippi River, plus a processional taking an illuminated cross
past local landmarks. Tyler Perry will narrate the show, which uses
pop songs. Jencarlos Canela, a telenovela star, plays Jesus, with
Chris Daughtry as Judas, Tricia Yearwood as Mary, Seal as Pilate and
Prince Royce as Peter, plus Christian-music stars Yolanda Adams and
Michael W. Smith.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Ice Age: The Great Egg-scapade,” 7:30 p.m., Fox.

Maybe you've already
heard explanations for the whole Easter-bunny thing, but here's a new
one: Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo) starts an egg-sitting venture. A
single mom (Taraji Henson) rounds up customers; then a pirate bunny
(Seth Green) steals the eggs, disguises them and hides them.
Fortunately, a good bunny helps the search. After a slow start, this
is an animated delight. We'll let historians determine why “Ice
Age” has had Christmas and Easter events occur thousands of years
BC.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.

Unlike some other
deep dramas, this has a fast-paced plot. In its opener, Adam
staggered home, a decade after he was kidnapped at age 8. Last week's
hour (the third) showed how his father and sister framed the neighbor
(already a convicted child-molester); it also showed, possibly, the
real kidnapper.

Tonight, that pace
sometime hits extremes. A shooting is hard to believe; so are the
events in the final minute. But even when “Family” goes
off-track, it remains compelling. Several characters – led by
Adam's cold-eyed mom (Joan Allen) and conscience-ridden sister
(Alison Pill) are beautifully drawn.

Other choices
include:

Basketball, all day,
CBS and cable. By the end of the day, the NCAA tournament will have
its Sweet 16. CBS has tip-offs shortly after noon, 2:30 p.m. and 5
p.m. ET ... but then switches to Sunday dramas, with TruTV taking the
7:30 game. TNT is at 6 and 8:30 p.m. ET, TBS at 7 and 9:30.

“Little Big Shot,”
7 and 8 p.m., NBC. First is a rerun of last week's fun hour,
including a dazzling, 4-year-old pianist, a 5-year-old “animal
hypnotist” and a 6-year-old choir conductor. Then a new hour ranges
from an auctioneer to twins who play in a brass band.

“The Passion of
the Christ” (2004), 7 and 9 p.m. ET, UP. This is the centerpiece of
a Palm Sunday movie marathon. You can see Jim Caviezel as Jesus here
(directed by Mel Gibson), Christian Bale in “Mary, Mother of Jesus”
(1999) at 1 p.m. ET and Jeremy Sisto in the “Jesus” mini-series
(also 1999) at 3. Other films are “The Book of Esther” (2013) at
11 a.m. and Judas (2004) at 11 p.m.

“Madam Secretary,”
8 p.m., CBS. This is supposed to be a pleasant campus tour for
Elizabeth and her daughter. Then protestors arrive, objecting to U.S.
involvement in a Chilean mining operation.

“The Good Wife,”
9 p.m., CBS. Only six episodes remain in the final season of this
well-crafted drama. Alicia's romance is interrupted by allegations
that her daughter plagiarized her college-entrance essay. Meanwhile,
colleagues have a tough case: A grieving father (Blair Underwood) put
up a billboard, calling a store-owner a murderer. Now he's being
charged with defamation.

“Quantico,” 10
p.m., ABC. In the flashforward, Simon struggles with his new reality.
And in the training sessions, tensions between Liam and Drew boil
over.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. This is the new night for “Elementary,” which gives
its Thursday spot to a light action show, “Rush Hour.” Tonight,
the murder victim is someone who donned a costume and fought crime;
first, Sherlock must determine his real identity.

TV column for Saturday, March 19


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Basketball, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC; all day, CBS and beyond.

Right now,
basketball Is ready to gobble all our TV time. ABC has the two
leading pro teams, with the Golden State Warriors visiting the San
Antonio Spurs; CBS and cable have the college tournaments.

The women fill
ESPN2, starting at noon ET; by the end of the night, they'll be down
to 32 teams. For the men, CBS has back-to-back games, tipping off
shortly after noon, 2:30, 5 and 7:30 p.m. ET. TNT has games at 6 and
8:30 p.m., TBS at 7 and 9:30. By the end of the night, the men will
be halfway toward trimming their field to 16.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT SEE:
“Where Are They Now?” 10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network.

Two decades ago,
Oprah's Book Club debuted with instant results. Jacquelyn Mitchard's
“The Deep End of the Ocean” had peaked at No. 14 in sales; it
leaped to No. 1 and stayed there for 13 weeks.

What happened to
her? She's gone on to have several other successful novels ... then
lost her money in a Ponzi scheme that reportedly drained $190 million
from 1,000-plus people. Here's an update on her, plus looks at
singers Naomi Judd and Gerardo and chef Carla Hall.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
“The Jungle Book” (1967), 6:45 p.m., Freeform.

As songwriter
Richard Sherman tells it, he and his brother were summoned one day by
Walt Disney. They were asked if they'd ever read Rudyard Kipling's
“The Jungle Book.” They hadn't ... which pleased Disney, who felt
the book (and an adaptation by his staff) was too dark.

So the Shermans
wrote jaunty songs for a cheery tale. You can catch that now – four
weeks before Disney's new, “Avatar”-style version – on a day of
animated gems. That includes “Dumbo” (1941) at 1, “Alice in
Wonderland” (1951) at 2:30, “A Bug's Life” (1998) at 4:30 and
“Ratatouille” (2007) at 9.

Other choices
include:

“Bridesmaids”
(2011), 6 and 9 p.m., E. This comedy, like the cartoons, seems
slotted to appeal to the non-basketball crowd. Kristen Wiig starred
and co-wrote it, with lots of laughs and little subtlety.

“Rosewood,” 8
p.m., Fox. An ex-con had been trying to turn his life around. Now
he's been murdered; in this rerun, Dr. Rosewood and Villa search for
the killer. Also, Villa's having bad dreams and Rosewood finds a
change in his relationship with Kat (Nicole Ari Parker).

More movies, 8 p.m.,
cable. The epic “Avatar” (2009, FX) was great on a big screen and
is OK here. Others are the terrific “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”
(1982) on IFC and “Monuments Men” (2014), a sturdy – but
sometimes scattered – George Clooney film on AMC, rerunning at
10:30. “The Lone Ranger” (2013, USA) has great moments, but tries
too many of them, repeating itself.

“School of Rock,”
8:30 p.m., Nickelodeon. The 2003 movie – written by Mike White and
starring Jack Black – was a delight, with a jobless musician
tricking his way into a teaching job. The TV version debuted last
week, with Tony Cavalero starring; tonight, Summer asks Tomika to
help her audition.

“Lucifer,” 9
p.m., Fox. A shooting at a fashion show intrigues Lucifer in this
rerun, so he tries to get Chloe interested in the case. Also, Maze
tells Amenadiel she wants to go back to Hell.

“Black Sails,” 9
p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10 and 11. Setting up next week's
season-finale, Flint and Silver prepare to go to war, while others
try to free Vane. Also, Eleanor risks everything to help Rogers.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Chris Hemsworth hosts this rerun, with
Chance the Rapper as music guest.

TV column for Friday, March 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Basketball, all day, four networks.

The second day of
the NCAA tournament is here, wiping out CBS's soaps, cop shows and
“The Amazing Race.” The network starts at 12:15 p.m. ET with
Dayton (seeded No. 7) and Syracuse (10); then powerhouse Michigan
State (2) faces Middle Tennessee (No. 15). At 7:15 p.m., CBS has West
Virginia (3) and Stephen F. Austin (14) at 7:10, then Notre Dame and Michigan.

Cable adds more.
TruTV has one doubleheader at 12:40 pm. ET and another at 7:27 p.m.
ET; TNT has them at 1:30 and 6:50 p.m., TBS at 2 and 7:20 p.m.

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

A clever blend of
cop show and supernatural thriller, this starts with a broad notion:
A few people have the rare gene that makes re-generation (and eternal
life) possible. One was a crabby ex-cop: Genius siblings have
re-generated him as a tough young man; only his son Duval, an FBI
man, knows.

Alongside all that
weirdness are skillfully drawn characters. Adhir Kalyan (Timmy in
“Rules of Engagement” ia Otto, consumed by his emotional need for
his sister Mary (Dilshad Vadsaria, from “Greek” and “Revenge”).
Tonight, that explodes in events that leaves Duval shattered and
explosive.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Daredevil” and “Pee-wee's Big Holiday,” any
time, Netflix.

Two weeks after
releasing the “House of Cards” season, Netflix has another big
Friday. The key is the second season of “Daredevil,” a blind
superhero lawyer (three words that rarely go together).

Also important,
however, is “Holiday.” Three decades after triumphing in the Tim
Burton film “Pee-wee's Big Adveture,” Paul Reubens' boyish
character finally has another movie of his own. This time, an odd
stranger talks him into taking his first real holiday trip.

Other choices
include:

“The Bourne
Identity” (2002) and “Bourne Supremacy” (2004), 7 and 9:30
p.m., AMC. These smart adventures launch a night of high-octane
films. You can even choose Captain America by himself (2011, 8 p.m.,
FX) or with his pals in the impressive “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
(2015) at 9 on Starz.

“Inside Out”
(2015), 7:20 p.m., Starz. As the weekend starts, families can catch a
gem. It won the Academy Award for animated feature and was nominated
for a script filled with grown-up wit. For another animated choice,
“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” (2008) is 7 p.m. on
Nickelodeon.

“Sleepy Hollow,”
8 p.m., Fox. After a supernatural event, Abbie and Ichabod are forced
to work with some foes. Meanwhile, her sister Jenny is trying to fix
her fractured relationship with Joe.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. Reba McEntire plays Mike's long-ago
girlfriend, now a famous climber. She agrees to sell her products at
the store ... but only if he travels with her promotional tour

"Wall Street Week," 8 p.m., Fox Business Network.The show makes its FBN debut, nudging "Stossel" back to 9. In the opener, Maria Bartiromo and others talk with Gen. David Petraeus, the former CIA director, about issues -- ISIS, oil, privacy -- affecting business. 

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. Ken's self-esteem – always quite high – soars after he
gets to be an expert witness at a trial. Then it plummets when an
attorney (Jim Rash) shreds his testimony.

“Grimm,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. Never trust an evil mask-maker. Now one is designing masks that
make wrestlers deadly. Meanwhile, Captain Renard prepares for his
ultimate power thrust.

“Animal Storm
Squad,” 10 p.m., NatGeo Wild. A tornado ripped into Van, Texas,
last May, killing two people, injuring 42 and damaging 50-plus homes.
While most efforts focused on the people and property, this likable
squad tried to rescue pets. This is the second episode of a feel-good
reality show.