TV column for Tuesday, April 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Last Days in Vietnam,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Forty years ago
today, Saigon was in chaos. North Vietnamese troops were close; for
government loyalists, the ragged exit of April 29-30 seemed like
their only chance.

Many created
makeshift plans; by truck, boat and helicopter, they reached the
American ships. And hundeds were simply abandoned, when a White House
order arbitrarily ended the evacuation early. It's a dramatic story,
beautifully told by Rory Kennedy (Bobby's daughter), in an
Oscar-nominated film.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Weird Loners,” 9:30 p.m., Fox.

These two people are
truly frightened of commitment: Stosh can't handle two days with his
son; Zara withers at the notion of “taco Tuesday” coming every
week.

So they both lie.
Stosh has experience and skill in such things; Zara doesn't. That's
in an episode that keeps the show's best habits – sharp dialog,
handed to skilled actors – and avoids its worst ones.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Dancing With the Stars,” 8 p.m., ABC.

On June 1, 2005, ABC
tried a modest summer fling, based on a British show. There were only
six contestants, none of them stars; it was all over in six weeks,
with Kelly Monaco edging John O'Hurley.

Now, five weeks
early, “Stars” celebrates its 10th anniversary. After
a 45-person opening number, it anges from Monaco to a duel of the
most-recent champs, Meryl Davis and Alfonso Ribeiro. One bit has
seven football stars, three of them – Donald Driver, Hines Ward and
Emmitt Smith – champions.

Other choices
include:

“The Voice,” 8
p.m., NBC. It's time to trim the field from eight to six.

“The Day the '60s
Died,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Continuing the two-night
Vietnam emphasis that started Monday, PBS views the 1970 day when
four Kent State students were killed.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. The murder of a Naval Intelligence officer brings back two
previous characters: Matt Jones plays Ned Dorneget, formerly a
probationary agent and now a cyber expert; Jamie Bamber (“Battlestar
Galactica”) plays Jake Malloy, a federal attorney.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. Lasalle's brother is back, under
less-than-ideal circumstances: He can't remember what happened last
night and his girlfriend's body is in the trunk of his car. Despite a
mountain of evidence, Lasalle (Lucas Black) scrambles to prove him
innocent.

“New Girl,” 9
p.m., Fox. Forever fumbling in romance, Jess somehow considers
herself to be a “love doctor.” She's not, but that propels a
fairly good episode involving Coach and his classy girlfriend.

“One Big Happy,”
9:30, NBC. Last week's episode ended in mid-crisis. The original
marriage was invalidated and Prudence reluctantly revealed secrets
... including a past marriage. Now Nick refuses to re-wed, as she
nears her deadline for leaving the country. It's a so-so episode, but
ends cleverly.

“Chicago Fire,”
10 p.m., NBC. An apartment fire is linked to a rape and attempted
murder ... and to a crime from a decade ago. That brings Det. Olivia
Benson from New York, launching a crossover. This reruns at 8 p.m.
Wednesday, leading into “Chicago P.D.” and “Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit.”

TV column for Monday, April 27


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

It's a big week for
“Stars,” with a double elimination and a return to two-a-week
episodes. This Tuesday brings a 10th-anniversary special;
next Tuesday has a results show..

Last week, the
oldest people hir bottom; Patti LaBelle was sent home, Robert
Herjavec survived. Riker Lynch and Noah Galloway were in the bottom
four, but Lynch put himself in good shape for this week by landing
the top judges' score, 37 out of 40. Nastia Liukin and Willow Shields
had 34 apiece, with 32 for Rumer Willis, 31 for Chris Soules, 29 for
Galloway and LaBelle and 28 for Herjavec.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Voice,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC.

Blake Shelton
remains in control, as usual. He's already had four of the seven
champions; now he has three of the eight finalists.

Adam Levine – the
only other multi-winner – is down to one .. and would have had
zero, if viewers hadn't saved Joshua Davis. Christina Aguilera and
Pharrell Williams have two apiece.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Dick Cavett's Vietnam,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

Wednesday marks the
40th anniversary of Americans' final, frantic departure
from Vietnam. Now PBS' marks that with a brilliant documentary
Tuesday and with this oddly interesting film.

Cavett describes
being “about as ignorant as you can get on world affairs,” but
his talk show waded into the subject. We see people for the war
(Barry Goldwater, Herb Klein, Henry Kissinger, Hubert Humphrey) and
against (from Groucho Marx and Woody Allen to then-Sen. Wayne Morse
and future-Sen. John Kerry). Perspective comes from historians and,
especially, retired Gen. Wesley Clark.

Other choices
include:

“The Driver”
finale, any time, www.acorn.tv.
The first two chapters (already on this screening service) saw David
Morrissey as a good-guy cabbie whose live was shattered after his son
joined a cult. Lured by an ex-con friend into driving for a crook, he
sank into trouble ... which was complicated when he anonymously
rescued someone his friend had battered. Now comes a strong,
emotional finish.

“2 Broke Girls,”
8 p.m., CBS. Max and Caroline seek extra money managing Nash's
modeling career. Also, Sophie and Oleg attempt what may be, for them,
impossible -- a month of pre-wedding celibacy.

“Mike &
Molly,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. Emmy-winner Margo Martindale returns as
Peggy's long-estranged sister. Finally getting to meet his aunt, Mike
finds her warmth to be opposite his mom's approach.

“Jane the Virgin,”
9 p.m., CW. Jane must focus on the baby, after learning of its breech
position. Also, she asks her ex-fiance Michael to catch Petra in a
lie.

“The Draft,” 9
p.m., PBS (check local listings). Used sparingly during the Civil
War, the military draft became a powerful force during World War I
and again from 1940-73. This documentary launches PBS' two-night,
five-hour block timed to the 40th anniversary of the
Vietnam war's end.

“Tales of the Grim
Sleeper,” 9-10:45 p.m., HBO). Lonnie Franklin was a friendly,
chatty man, his Los Angeles neighbors say. He also dealt in stolen
cars ... was a convicted felon ... carried a gun ... and roughed up a
woman in public. He was arrested that time, but somehow his DNA was
never taken. Only when his arrested son produced a partial match was
he suspected of killing anywhere from 10 to 100-plus women; he now
awaits trial. This documentary is interesting, but oddly disjointed.

“Castle,” 10
p.m., ABC. Rick and his daughter are flying to London when the air
marshal is found murdered. With Beckett's help from the ground, they
must solve this quickly.

TV column for Sunday, April 26


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

After taking a week
off for country-music awards, these shows return strongly. That
starts with a potent juxtaposition on “Madam Secretary”: A
nuclear treaty is being signed with Iran, just as its people are
killing a man for being gay ... and just as Elizabeth may help kill
her friend, who's now a fugitive.

At 9, “Good Wife”
sees Alicia resign because of voter fraud. And at 10, “Battle
Creek” sets aside its usual humor, instead telling a personal and
powerful story. Centering on the commander (Janet McTeer, a two-time
Oscar-nominee) and her adoptive son, it delivers twists, surprises
and deep emotion.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Radio Disney Music Awards, 8 and 9:30 p.m., Disney, with preview at 7:30.

Last Sunday had one
big awards show; tonight has two smaller ones for specialty
audiences.

Zendaya hosts this
teen/tween party and performs; Kelly Osbourne – who quit “Fashion
Police” after the show mocked Zendaya's dredlocks – is a
presenter and Jennifer Lopez gets a special award. Also performing:
Nick Jonas, Becky G, R5, Shawn Mendes, Sheppard, Tori Kelly, Sabrina
Carpenter, more.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Daytime Emmys, 8 and 11 p.m., Pop.

Back in the days of
Susan Lucci and Oprah, this was a hot item. But soaps slipped (there
are only four left) and talk shows slowed; last year, no network
carried the awards.

Now the former TV
Guide Network steps in. Tyra Banks hosts, Betty White gets a special
award and CBS has more nominations (62) than ABC, NBC and Fox
combined. Non-daytime viewers will recognize some of the soap
nominees (Anthony Geary, Alison Sweeney and lots of guest stars),
plus the talk and gameshow hosts, including Martha Stewart, Steve
Harvey, Pat Sajak and Craig Ferguson.

Other choices
include:

“Brooklyn
Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox. After a five-week break, this returns
with a dandy sight gag. That sets up the problem: Jake (Andy Samberg)
tries to catch a crook with his body battered.

“Secrets and
Lies,” 9 p.m., ABC. A week before the finale, Ben's discovery in
the attic adds to his tension with his wife .

“Nurse Jackie,”
9 p.m., Showtime, rerunning at 10:30. In a moving episode, Jackie has
a lowly hospital job and isn't allowed near the patients. That's hard
on her psyche, harder on the patients' health.

“Last Man on
Earth,” 9:30, Fox. The world's known population has now expanded to
seven. In a funny episode, the newest arrival (Boris Kodjoe) makes
the other two guys justifiably jealous.

“Happyish”
debut, 9:30 p.m., Showtime, repeating at 10. On one level, this is a
clever satire of an empty corporate life. Getting in the way,
however, is a sophomoric obsession with crude language. Beavis,
Butt-Head and Bart (Simpson) would nominate this for show of the
year.

“American
Odyssey,” 10 p.m., NBC. Almost killed by U.S.-hired mercenaries, an
American soldier (Anna Friel) tries to avoid execution by telling of
a flashdrive with vital information. Tonight – in an hour that's
sometimes well-crafted and sometimes overblown – there's a key
turning point.

“Queens of Drama”
debut, 10 p.m., Pop. Soaps are declining, but this cable channel
still wants some of the viewers. It reruns CBS' soaps from 6:30-8
p.m. weekdays. Now if follows the daytime Emmys with this reality
show; former soap stars -- Vanessa Marcil, Hunter Tylo, etc. -- try
to craft a new series.

And more: It's a big
night everywhere: On HBO, “Game of Thrones” (9 p.m.) ends with a
jolt; a fairly good “Silicon Valley” (10:02) leads to a hilarious
“Veep” (10:30). On PBS' “Masterpiece” hours, “Mr.
Selfridge” (9 p.m.) has the boss' son take over as deputy; then a
quietly potent “Wolf Hall” has doom for Thomas More and gloom for
Anne Boleyn. On NBC's “A.D.” (9), Pontius Pilate wants revenge.

 

 

TV column for Saturday, April 25


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“When Calls the Heart” season-opener, 8 and 10 p.m., Hallmark.

Last season began
with a young woman (Erin Krakow) seeing opposite worlds. In the city,
she had wealth, comfort and a rich suitor; in the Canadian frontier,
she had hard work and a shy Mountie. She taught school in a
hard-scrabble town that have been ravaged by a mine disaster.

Now the second
season begins with that same contrast: She heads home to see her sick
mother, just as a judge ponders blame for the tragedy. It's a fairly
good episode, with likable characters – Lori Loughlin co-stars as
one of the widows – and a rich feeling for life's basics.

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

Right now, Chris
Hemsworth seems to be everywhere. His “Thor” movie (2011) is on
FX, at 6:30 p.m. today and 5:30 p.m. Sunday; his “Avengers: Age of
Ultron” reaches theaters next weekend.

And now NBC tosses
in this rerun of its March 7 “SNL.” Hemsworth hosts, with the Zac
Brown Band as music guests.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Toy Story 3” (2010), 8-10 p.m.,. ABC.

A busy family-movie
night on the Disney-owned channels is led by this film, which won
Oscars for best animated movie and best song (“We Belong
Together”). Andy is getting ready for college, which doesn't give
him much time for Buzz and Woody and such; they find new life at a
day-care center.

Also today, the
Disney Channel has “Teen Beach Movie” (2013) at 8 p.m. and ABC
Family has both “Princess Diaries” films. The first (2001, 7
p.m.) is a good one; the second (2004, 9:30 p.m.) is weak.

Other choices
include:

Sports, Fox and NBC.
For Fox, it's a NASCAR race at 6 p.m. ET from Richmond. For NBC, it's
hockey at 8 p.m. ET, with the Stanley Cup play-offs.

White House
Correspondents Dinner, 6 p.m., C-Span and 7 p.m., CNN. News networks
will start covering this early, but the prime comedy portions may not
start until about 9 p.m. Cecily Strong beomes only the fouth woman in
charge, in the three decades since the show has had comedians host.
And yes, she knows correspondents: Her dad was the Associated Press
chief in the Illinois capitol.

“Scorpion,” 8
p.m., CBS. This was one of the episodes CBS used in the two-night
aftermath of the pro football conference championships, propelling
“Scorpion” to top ratings. David James Elliott (“Jag”) plays
an injured federal agent; the team tries to jog his memory and
prevent a missile launch.

Movies, 8 p.m.,
cable. One strong choice was delayed, when Lifetime decided to hold
“Cleveland Abduction” until next week. There are plenty of other
possibilities, led by “Jurassic Park” (1993) on AMC,
“Bridesmaids” (2011) on E and the amazing “Boyhood” (2014) on
Showtime.

“Criminal Minds,”
9 p.m., CBS. A rerun eyes the murders of people with big social-media
followings.

“Orphan Black,”
9 p.m., BBC America. In last week's season-opener (rerunning at 8
p.m.), Sarah searched for her twin Helena, while their clones faced a
fresh threat. Tonight, Castor pursues the clones for tissue samples;
Helena, pregnant and captive, is examined by a mysterious villain.

“Tatau,” 10
p.m., BBC America. This show opened last week with Kyle getting a
tattoo, starting a trip to the Cook Islands ... and being convinced
he'd found a body underwater. Now he's enmeshed in the Maori
traditions, trying to learn more about tattoos and his sudden knack
for premonition.

T

TV column for Friday, April 24


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.

With high ratings
and a low profile, this solid show is sometimes overlooked. Now it
detours slightly from its crime-of-the week habit; a two-parter
(concluding next week) ends the season.

When someone close
to him is gunned down, the police commissioner (Tom Selleck) puts his
entire department into action; His son (Donnie Wahlberg) starts by
questioning Mario Hunt. Guest stars include Cliff (Method Man) Smith
as Hunt and Dennis Haysbert as the deputy chief.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Messengers,” 9 p.m., CW.

Last week's opener
was compelling and confusing, while introducing mismatched people.
There was a nurse and a preacher, an undercover cop in mid-crisis and
a 6-year-old girl in a coma. An astronomer was bright-eyed, hoping
she'll track aliens; a teen swimmer was gloomy, ducking his
tormenters.

Then each was struck
by an invisible force after a meteor landed. Each seemed to die ...
and then to recover. Now each heads to Houston; so does an ominous
guy, played by Diogo Morgado – who's fresh from being Jesus in the
“Bible” mini-series and movie; tonight, we'll start to learn what
this is about.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Voces,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

For most actors,
life is a juggling act; for the five women who dubbed “Desperate
Housewives” into Spanish, that's magnified. Some are divorced; one
is a young widow. They've moved far from their homes -- Mexico,
Venezuela, Uruguay – and faced Hollywood's assumptions about
Latinas.

These are talented
people. Two are singers, one does comedy. One has an Emmy (for PBS'
“Story Time”); one has voiced 1,000 characters, another has
ranged from Barbie to Minnie Mouse. Still, this stylish film shows
one being evicted from her home and another retreating to her home
country.

Other choices
include:

“Cedric's Barber
Battle,” 8 p.m., CW. In the ancient past, barbers settled for
flat-tops and crew-cuts; now they're expected to be artists and
masters of verbal jibes. In tonight's OK episode, Cedric the
Entertainer is in Texas, watching haircuts that create wrestling
masks and wanted posters.

“Night at the
Museum 2” (2009), 8-10 p.m., Fox. The original had a clever idea,
with Ben Stiller as a museum security guard, unaware that the
exhibits come alive at night. This sequel moves things to the
Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., with a big supporting cast led by
Robin Williams and Owen Wilson.

More movies, cable.
Here are three delights: “Enchanted” (2007, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Family) has a cartoon princess become a live-action Amy Adams. “Fast
Times at Ridgemont High” (1983, 9 p.m., IFC) is a teen classic;
“North by Northwest” (1959, 10 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies) is
a Hitchcock gem.

“Bruce Jenner –
The Interview,” 9-11 p.m., ABC. Diane Sawyer interviews the former
Olympic champion (and former Kardashian stepfather), who is
reportedly transitioning into being female.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Think of this as the dark side of “The Hangover” and
“Grown Ups.” After partying hard, three guys – Jaleel White,
Kevin Farley (Chris' brother) and Pauly Shore – wake up with
hangovers and with a woman's body in their suite. They try to
remember what happened.

“America's
Ballroom Challenge,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). This
three-week competition is hosted by former champions Mary Murphy (“So
You Think You Can Dance”) and Tony Meredith.

“Lost Girl,” 10
p.m., Syfy. Trying to rescue her giddy friend, Bo has plunged into
Hell, where she has a showdown. That follows the 9 p.m. “Bitten,”
with a reluctant merging of witches and werewolves.