TV column for Friday, May 9



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Hawaii Five-0” season-finale, 9 p.m.,
CBS.


Nick Jonas seems like such a pleasant chap when he’s with
the pop-idol Jonas Brothers; now he returns as Ian Wright, evil genius. The
daughter of Grover (Chi McBride) has been kidnapped; to get him back, Wright
says, Grover must help steal $100 million.


And there’s another villain on the way, to wrap up this fourth
season. Wo Fat has escaped.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “24,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.


If you missed the opener, here’s a second chance before the
next episode Monday. With one exception – the show runs only 12 hours – this edition
is pure “24”: A world-changing story takes place in one day; it’s wildly improbable,
yet immensely riveting.


Jack Bauer has been on the run for four years. Suddenly,
violently, he surfaces in London, just as the president (William Devane)
arrives with his daughter (Kim Raver), Jack’s ex-lover. A suspicious CIA agent
(Yvonne Strahavski of “Chuck”) may be Jack’s equal.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” 8 p.m.,
CMT; “Key & Peele,” 9-10:30 p.m., Comedy Central.


Over the past two years, Keenan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele
have injected TV with fresh wit. Their humor – sometimes racial and often very
clever – works wonderfully in sketches and beyond.


In a new “Line” tonight, Key has his second guest stop. Then
(after a “Line” rerun at 8:30), switch to cable for three reruns of the duo.
And at 11:30, catch a “Playing House” rerun; Key is a regular as Mark.


Other choices include:


“Traffic” (2000), 5:45 p.m., Sundance; or “Training Day”
(2001), 8 p.m., TNT. It’s an Oscar-winners night. In “Day,” Denzel Washington –
usually the good guy – won for playing a corrupt cop; “Traffic” won for director
Steven Soderbergh and supporting actor Benicio Del Toro, plus its editing and
adapted script.


“Unforgettable,” 8 p.m., CBS. Why do fictional versions of
high school reunions so often include murder? Aren’t most real reunions
murder-free? Anyway, that happens again, this time when Carrie goes back home.
Since she remembers every detail of her life, she has lots to ponder in
figuring what happened.


Movies, 8 p.m., cable. You can choose just about any genre –
action (Paul Walker’s 2001 “Fast and the Furious” on Bravo), animation (“Tangled,”
2010, on Disney), broad comedy (“Anchorman,” 2004, on TBS or “Bad Teacher,”
2011, on FX) or just cute (“Puppy Love,” 2012, on Hallmark).


“Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. A double-murder case leads to more: A
father-and-son duo has arrived, with an important artifact to deliver to “the
Portland Grimm.”


“Blue Bloods” season-finale, 10 p.m., CBS. After probing a
case he was supposed to ignore, Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is confined to modified
duty. Suspecting a cover-up, he goes to his dad (Tom Selleck), the police commissioner;
they may be onto something big.


“Hannibal,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. Jack and his team learn the
truth about Freddie Lounds’ disappearance. Also, Alana worries about Will’s
mental health; Mason Verger worries that his sister will usurp him.


TV column for Thursday, May 8



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Two and a Half Men” season-finale, 9:01
p.m., CBS.


Last week’s funny episode ended with Alan realizing that
Gretchen (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) is his ideal – someone who admires how he’s
freeloaded for 11 years. She’ll marry him … if admits to Larry (her brother and
Lyndsey’s boyfriend) that he’s not Jeff Strongman; instead, he’s Lyndsey’s
ex-boyfriend.


Now Larry starts to absorb this. Wedding plans wobble
forward … and Gretchen’s ex-husband arrives, played by real-life husband Brad
Paisley, the country star. There’s potential here.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: American Comedy Awards, 9-11 p.m., NBC.


George Schlatter, the “Laugh-in” producer, figured this out
28 years ago: Award showas are best when funny people win; if you create awards
strictly for comedy, the laughs won’t end.


The show spent 15 years on ABC, Fox and cable, then
vanished. Now NBC (which is also bringing back “Last Comic Standing” this
summer) has the rights, added a Johnny Carson Award for Bill Cosby. It’s a
great idea … tarnished because CBS shows are staying away. For this first year,
the TV nominees are so-so, the movies are lame, but the stand-up comedy categories
are first-rate. Expect some laughs.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Jerry Maguire” (1996), 8-11 p.m.,
AMC; “A Thousand Clowns” (1965), 10 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies.


Comedies really should have clever scripts, you know. These
two had dandy, Oscar-nominated ones.


For “Clowns,” Herb Gardner adapted his own play about a free
spirit who might have to compromise for his nephew and a lovable woman; Jason
Robards, Barry Gordon and Barbara Harris are perfect. For “Maguire,” Cameron
Crowe beautifully directed his own script and gave Tom Cruise a great supporting
cast, including Renee Zellweger, young Jonathan Lipnicki and Oscar-winner Cuba
Gooding Jr.


Other choices include:


“Grey’s Anatomy,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC. In last week’s episode
(rerunning at 8 p.m.), Derek tackled a difficult surgery with his sister Amelia
(Caterina Scorsone). Now he’s out of town and she tells Meredith what she
things of this Seattle experience. Also, Callie gets bad news and Bailey faces
consequences.


“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Before watching the comedy-award
show, catch TV’s best comedy. Tonight, Penny has a role in an awful film,
causing her to re-evaluate her life.


Pro-football draft, 8 p.m., ESPN. Here’s the first round of
the NFL draft. Barring a late move, Houston starts by choosing defensive dynamo
Jadeveon Clowney or quarterback “Johnny Football” Manziel. Then it’s St. Louis
(which also drafts 13
th), Jacksonville and Cleveland (also going 26th).


“The Millers,” 8:31 p.m., CBS. One night after playing a
dead-serious lawyer on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” the talented
Jeffrey Tambor returns as Nathan’s boss, now attracted to Nathan’s mom.


“American Idol,” 9 p.m., Fox. The show’s tradition has tonight’s
three survivors getting home-town visits. The loser joins a stellar list of
fourth-finishers, with Chris Daughtry, Tamyra Gray and LaToya London.


“Surviving Jack,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. Frankie tries alcohol,
Rachel wants birth-control and their parents fume.


“Elementary,” 10:01 p.m., CBS. An ordinary-seeming murder
case is suddenly tied into international intrigue and British intelligence.
Also, a shaken Watson ponders her links to Sherlock and his brother.


TV column for Wednesday, May 7



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “American Idol,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

The show is down to its final four, after reminding us that
the judges’ reprieve is only temporary.


Last week, Sam Woolf was ousted anew, four weeks after
judges gave him their “save.” His fifth-place finish matched the first saved
singer, Matt Giraud in 2009. Others have finished sixth (Casey Abrams), fourth
(Michael Lynche) and second (Jessica Sanchez). Now the survivors -- Caleb
Johnson, Jessica Meuse, Jena Irene and Alex Preston -- sing of break-ups and
make-ups.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Criminal Minds” and “CSI: Crime Scene
Investigation,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS.


Seasons are wrapping up now. First, “Minds” starts the two-week
finale of its ninth season; Texas prostitutes are being killed (possibly for
religious reasons) and investigators’ lives are endangered.


Then “CSI: ends its 14th year, with a murder
linked to a long-ago heist. That introduces a retired lawman (Treat Williams)
and marks the exit of Captain Brass, who tries to reunite with his troubled
daughter.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Mixology,” 9:31 p.m., ABC.


Sleek and smart, this comedy keeps getting better, even as
its audience remains small. With three episodes left, we can start to guess who
might end up together at the end of all the bar flirting.


Now the most cynical people, Bruce and Maya, are thrown
together. She’s alone at the bar, because her friend Liv is obsessing on a
droll Englishman. Sweet-spirited Tom likes Maya, but moves slowly; Bruce says
he’ll fake-flirt with her to impress Jessica. Stick around, because it wraps
into a clever plot.


Other choices include:


“Survivor,” 8 p.m., CBS. This is one of the few shows in
which beauty doesn’t prevail. Last week, Jefra Bland – the final survivor from
the “Beauty” tribe – was ousted. Now, two weeks from the season finale, three
from “Brains” and three from “Brawn” try to crack a code and reach the final
five.


“The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. Frankie tries “office hours,”
only dealing with kids’ requests from 5-6 p.m.


“Beethoven” (1992) and “Beethoven’s 2nd” (1993), 8 and 10
p.m., AMC. The first film has a giant St. Bernard bring havoc to an ordinary
family; the second adds her pups. Both provide family fun, with lots of sight
gags and occasional cuteness.


“Suburgatory,” 8:30 p.m., ABC. Plans for the teen wedding of
Lisa and Malik are nudging forward. Tessa is planning it on a mini-budget and
her dad might be needed when Malik’s family boycotts the wedding.


“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC. With their wedding budget
soaring, Mitchell and Cam might sell some prized possessions. Also, Jay, Gloria
and Manny challenge each other to go outside their comfort zones.


“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” 9 p.m., NBC.
Usually a worthy show, “SVU” reverts to its ugliest habit – barely disguised celebrity
cases. Despite a disclaimer at the beginning and a few switches, it is clearly
working on Woody Allen, with a tad of Roman Polanski near the end. Bradley
Whitford and Samantha Mathis are excellent, but this is still an underhanded
assault, under the guise of fiction.


“The Americans,” 10 p.m., FX. With three episodes left this
season, things tighten. At the FBI, Stan’s close to discovering the Russian
spies – including his neighbors. Their contact is targeted by a fierce pursuer.
Stan’s marriage is crumbling at the same time that his lover is being
threatened by her Soviet bosses. It’s a strong hour that also adds the talented
Zeljko Ivanek as a bitter and sickly engineer.  


 

TV column for Tuesday, May 6



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The Mindy Project,” 9:30 p.m., Fox.

Last season, this smart show started by showing Mindy’s daydream
-- that her life would be like a Meg Ryan movie. Sure, she’s now a doctor with
good friends; still, she’s no closer to a romantic-comedy life.


Now “Project” comes full-circle. In one half-hour, we get a
Meg-worthy bundle of plot twists (including, of course, the Empire State
Building). The humor is fairly good; the character touches are a delight.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE (annex): “Playing House,” 10 p.m., USA.


The laughs don’t have to end at 10 p.m. After “Mindy” (or
ABC’s “Trophy Wife” or NBC’s “Growing Up Fisher”), catch this clever show at 10
and Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer” at 10:30.


After coming close with NBC’s “Best Friends Forever,”
Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham have scored. Again, they are writers and
producers; again, they play friends. In last week’s dandy opener, a corporate
hot-shot (St. Clair) returned for the wedding of her eight-month pregnant
friend (Parham, using her real pregnancy), then stayed when the almost-groom
turned out to be a cheater. Tonight, he disappears.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Secrets of the Dead.” 9 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).


Scholars can tell you a lot about six of the “seven wonders
of the ancient world.” They’ve visited the sites and, in many cases, touched
the artifacts. But what of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Why did King
Nebuchadnezzar, who wrote extensively, never mention gardens?


For 20 years, Stephanie Dalley has developed a theory --
wrong king, wrong place. She argues that the gardens were 300 miles north of
Babylon and a century earlier than assumed. This hour has slow points, but in a
desolate, war-torn land, it’s intriguing to see a grey-haired Oxford professor
talk of splendor


Other choices include:


“Agents of SHIELD,” 8 p.m., ABC. Learning of Ward’s
betrayal, the team infiltrates HYDRA.


“Glee,” 8 p.m., Fox. The New York City careers of these
former glee-clubbers are going in opposite directions. Rachel is starring in
“Funny Girl” on Broadway; Kurt (Chris Colfer, who wrote this episode) is
starring in a retirement-home production of “Peter Pan.” Tonight, Rachel tries
to mend her reputation.


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Tony is sent to France to retrieve an
admiral’s daughter. After he enters a controversial crime scene, he needs help
from the rest of the team.


“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. A news reporter claims she
knows what group is responsible for an explosion at a military-sponsored
charity event.


“New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox. Before breaking up, Jess and Nick
had booked a romantic suite on a cruise. Now they decide to bring everyone
along. The result is erratic, but has some very funny moments.


“Growing Up Fisher,” 9:30 p.m., NBC. Each person – Mel, his
ex-wife, their kids – has a secret.


“Fargo,” 10 p.m., FX. Remember that cliché of the police
boss who refuses to accept the obvious? Tonight, that’s taken to an absurd extreme.
It’s a rare misstep for an otherwise brilliant show. Tonight’s hour starts by
telling how the supermarket king really got his start. Then the Fargo guys
close in on Lester, convinced that he’s the one who killed their contact in
Bemidji.


TV column for Monday, May 5



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “24” opener, 8-10 p.m., Fox.


For eight straight years, Jack Bauer saved officials, his
loved ones and (quite often) the world – always in one day and barely in time.
Then “24” quit and he disappeared.


Four years later, he’s back in a 12-hour version that again
covers 24 hours of story. We’re instantly reminded how preposterous the stories
are; tonight, Jack takes the most circuitous plan possible, needing constant
breaks to survive. We’re also reminded that this doesn’t really matter. Sleekly
conceived and tautly directed by Jon Cassar, this is riveting TV that has us
gleefully suspending disbelief.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “The Blacklist,” 10:01 p.m., NBC.


There are plenty of season-finales tonight, but this one -- the
start of a two-parter – stands out.


Furious about learning that Red was around at the time of
her father’s death, Liz refuses to work with him again; also, she tells the FBI
everything she knows about her husband’s secret life. Red promptly brings in a
case too big for anyone (including Liz) to ignore, leading to next week’s
crises.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Louie,” 10 and 10:30 p.m., FX.


After taking a year off, Louis CK is back with a show that
is even better – and weirder – than before. The stories still offer a
heightened version of his own life – a divorced dad who chats with fellow
comedians (tonight’s poker-game dialog is way too adult for many viewers) and
is often quite weary.


The first episode is about getting older, complete with bad
back (Charles Grodin plays an awful doctor) and iffy sex life; it manages to
tie things together in a wonderfully Seinfeldian way. Appropriately, Jerry
Seinfeld is in the second episode, playing a cruel version of himself. That sparks
a bizarre adventure involving a gorgeous model, played by Yvonne Strahovski
(“Chuck”), who’s also the new “24” antagonist.


Other choices include:


“The Voice,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. The eight finalists push for
a spot in next week’s semi-finals.


“So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Last week,
NeNe Leakes was ousted and Amy Purdy, the Paralympic snowboard star, was
hospitalized with a shoulder injury. Now we learn if she’ll continue.


“2 Broke Girls,” 8 p.m., CBS. It seems that Caroline missed
a test and never graduated from high school. In this season-finale, Max wants
to help her get her degree and re-connect with her mother.


“The Tomorrow People,” 9 p.m., CW. Here’s another
season-finale, with Stephen feeling he may be too late to prevent the end of
the human race. If he’s right, it won’t be much of a second season.


“Mike & Molly,” 9 p.m., CBS. Molly spots an apparent
tryst between her sister Victoria and Mike’s police partner Carl. She’s not
sure if she should tell Mike.


“Warehouse 13,” 9 p.m., Syfy. After three mostly serious
weeks, “Warehouse” has one of its goofiest detours – with an unwilling Pete and
Myka propelled inside a Spanish-language soap opera. It’s fun for a moment, but
we look forward to seeing the show raise its stakes in its next (and final) two
episodes.


“Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). The
Jayson Blair story defies all logic: A gifted reporter, working for a great
newspaper (the New York Times), fabricated stories. This compelling film
skillfully blends Blair, his colleagues and the El Paso reporter who found her
words under his byline.


“Bates Motel,” 10-11:02 p.m., A&E. One more
season-finale: Romero and Dylan try to wrap up the drug war, while Norman feels
haunted by his past.