TV column for Sunday, March 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Downton Abbey” finale, 9-11, PBS.

An elegant,
six-season tradition ends. It doesn't surprise us that this finale
has subtlety, depth and a quiet knack for understated emotions; it
DOES surprise us that it's also stuffed with plot developments.

The sisters are now
at opposite extremes: Mary's married, but her husband feels aimless;
Edith broke up with Bertie, who hesitated after learning of her
illegitimate daughter. Their servants grapple with a new society;
even Carson -- the unflinching, unchanging butler – can't stop a
moving world. You'll be startled by how much happens in this finale
... and by how fond you've become of these quiet people.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.

In Thursday's
stunning opener, the Warrens fell apart after young Adam disappeared.
His mom became a politician, with his sister as her canny aide. His
brother drank and crumbled; his dad had an affair.

And then, 10 years
later, Adam stumbled home. This superb follow-up has the aftershocks
on everyone, with brilliant work by Joan Allen (as the mom) and
Andrew McCarthy (as the falsely convicted neighbor). The cop who
originally worked the case tries to figure it out; the brother keeps
trying to add one more intriguing question: Are we REALLY sure this
is Adam?

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Once Upon a Time” return, 8 p.m., ABC.

At first, this
series seemed to juggle two genres -- kid-friendly fairy tale and
grown-up adventure. Now? We can forget the kid part; darker and
deeper, the show goes straight to Hell. Literally.

In the previous
episode (rerunning at 7 p.m.), Dark Ones sought souls and Hook was
thrust to the Netherworld. In this new hour, everyone searches for
him there. Things aren't any cheerier in the fairytale portions;
Regina keeps working on stealing (really) Snow White's heart.
Storywise, this is grim and Grimm; visually, however, “Once Upon a
Time” remaoins dazzling.

Other choices
include:

“The Simpsons,”
8 p.m., Fox. Fresh career options: Lisa interns with a veterinarian;
her mom cleans up crime scenes.

“Madame
Secretary,” 8 p.m., CBS. On a ship full of Libyan refugees, there
may be information about where to find the world's most-wanted
terrorist.

“The Good Wife,”
9 p.m. Sunday, CBS. After an Oscar break, “Wife” starts the final
two months of its seven-season run. Alicia (Juliana Marguiles) is
hoping to relax with her new guy Jason (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the
private eye; her familiy, however, keeps interfering. Also, she's
trying to learn details of the latest grand-jury probe of her
husband, the governor.

“The Walking
Dead,” 9 p.m., AMC. Rick and his allies face a new enemy and may be
outmatched.

“Last Man on
Earth” return, 9:30 p.m., Fox. Returning from a three-month break,
this oddly clever show has an episode with NONE of its regulars. In
the past, we've had brief glimpses of Phil's brother (Jason Sudeikis)
on the International Space Station. Now he's back on Earth, with only
two other actors – Mark Boone Junior (“Sons of Anarchy”) as a
survivor, Jacob Tremblay (“Room”) as an imaginary view of Phil as
a kid. The result is sometimes funny, but always strange and
interesting.

“Quantico”
return, 10 p.m., ABC. Sure, a lot has been settled now. Alex
(Priyanka Chopra) was cleared of charges; Elias admitted to being the
insider who aided the bombing. But as Alex testifies, she still
suspects someone else was involved. And in the flashback portions,
new FBI recruits arrive.

“Billions,” 10
p.m., Showtime. After a one-week Oscar break, we're at the aftermath
of a superb episode. Meeting to forge a compromise, Bobby Axelrod and
the district attorney (Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti) instead
collided; Axe walked away – and now gets the full force of legal
rage.

TV column for Saturday, March 5


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

Jonah Hill is
sometimes a sidekick in movies, but on “SNL” he's a star. This
will be his fourth time hosting the show ... tying him with Melissa
McCarthy, each close to joining the “Five Timers Club” that the
show makes a big deal about. This time, the music guest is Future.

You can spend much
of the night with Hill: At 6:20 p.m. on Comedy Central, he stars in
“Get Him to the Greek” (2010), trying to keep track of a rock
star (Russell Brand).

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Spy” (2015), 8 p.m., HBO.

If you're not
watching Hill, then catch McCarthy – another sidekick turned star.

This story cleverly
sets her up as a desk-bound minion who's suddenly the only one
available to go out in the field. It has plenty of sight gags
(McCarthy's specialty), but that's alongside a fairly smart script.
Jude Law and Jason Statham play your usual spy guys, one suave and
the other tough.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Mythbusters” series finale, 8 p.m., Discovery.

For 14 seasons, 248
episodes and more than 900 explosions, this has explored long-held
beliefs, usually disproving them. Now Discovery says the finale will
be explosive (literally).

Afterward, all five
of the hosts will gather at 9 p.m., for an instant reunion special.
And there's one more: At 8 p.m. Sunday, an unaired duct-tape episode
will show up on the Science Channel.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Black Sails,” 9 p.m., Starz, repeating at 10 and
11.

Last week's fierce
hour (rerunning at 1:15 and 8 p.m.), had a sort of pirates summit. It
also set up a key possibility: Return the treasure to the Spanish (by
way of the English), to avoid an attack on Nassau.

That part is oddly
anti-climactic tonight, but two scenes show the “Sails” strength
as a character drama. In one, we see how commanding – and how
brutal-- the one-legged John Silver is becoming; in another, the
English leader offers surprising depth, going eye-to-eye with Captain
Flint.

Other choices
include:

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, only one employee escaped a
Department of Defense shooting. Sam and Callen head to Mexico to find
the survivor, while others search for a motive.

“Rosewood,” 8
p.m., Fox. This rerun finds a troubled young genius accused of
murder. As Rosewood probes the case, his health troubles worsen and
Villa's people problems complicate things.

Election coverage, 8
p.m. ET, cable news channels. After the huge rush of “super
Tuesday,” here's a milder day. There's the primary election in
Louisiana, plus caucuses in Kansas, Nebraska (Democrats only) and
Kentucky and Maine (Republicans only).

Basketball, 8:30
p.m. ET, ABC. The Chicago Bulls host the Houston Rockets, with
pre-game at 8.

“Lucifer,” 9
p.m., Fox. A star quarterback is, of course, a friend of Lucifer.
When a woman's body is found in his swimming pool in this rerun, he
turns to his pal for help.

“Where Are They
Now?” 10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. This visits Chris Soules, the
Iowa farmer who found TV fame on “Bachelorette,” “The Bachelor”
(later ending his engagement) and “Dancing With the Stars.” It
also meets Laila Ali, who was a boxing champion like her dad
Muhammad; and Kristina Wagner, the “General Hospital” actress and
ex-wife of former “GH” star Jack Wagner.

TV column for Friday, March 4


(Please note: This happens to be the start of the
pledge drives for many PBS stations, so please double-check local
listings. Most will still carry this “American
Masters” on Friday, but some won't; the East Lansing station, for instance, will hold the "Masters" until March 25.)

By Mike Hughers

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Masters,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Loretta Lynn's story
– richly told in the “Coal Miner's Daughter” movie (1980) –
has been a country classic. It's told here with one revision – she
was 15, not 13, when she married – and many updates.

There are lots of
comments from other stars – from Willie Nelson and Bill Anderson to
Miranda Lambert and an enthusiastic Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood.
But the best accounts come from Lynn and her kin; her son Ernest
eagerly describes his parents' fierce fights, then points out the
irony: She kept complaining about her husband, but his misdeeds
fueled decades of great country songwriting.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Amazing Race,” 8 p.m., CBS.

We might have
expected Darius and Cameron Benson to dominate; the brothers are
young, fit and (as Internet parkour and juggling stars) high-flying.
Still, they fumbled a Colombian challenge last week and were the
second duo eliminated; first, out were YouTube stewardess Marty Cobb
and her daughter.

That leaves nine
duos left in this clash of Internet and social-media stars. Tonight,
CBS says, two of them start a romance; also, there's one of the
show's biggest footraces for first place.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Sleepy Hollow,” 8 p.m., Fox.

Almost three
centuries ago, legends of a “Jersey Devil” emerged. Much later,
the notion would be popular ... and would even be the name of a pro
hockey team.

Now such a creature
wreaks havoc in Sleepy Hollow; Ichabod Crane, the time-traveler, must
recall his 18th century experience with the creature. Meanwhile,
Abbie continues to have trouble with the aftermath of her ordeal; her
sister Jenny faces some stumbling in her new relationship with Joe.

Other choices
include:

“Harry Potter and
the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), 6:45 p.m., Freeform. Two British
fantasy epics collide today. This is the third of the Potter films;
at 8 p.m., TNT has “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (2010).
“Smaug” is the middle of a trilogy, alas, with neither a
beginning nor an end.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Eve has an annoying friend who
wants to move in with the family; Mike, of course, opposes the idea.
Also, there's trouble after Kristin hired her sister Mandy to design
the restaurant's uniforms.

“Erin Brockovich
(2000), 8 p.m., WE. We can sample half of Julia Roberts' four Oscar
nominations tonight. She won an Academy Award for this terrific,
true-life tale; she was nominated for “Pretty Woman” (1990, 8
p.m., Oxygen), which has a lame story, but a brilliant, start-making
perfornamce.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. Feeling distant from his daughter, Ken takes her and her
friends to an Emblem3 concert. Also, his wife takes thier son to the
clinic ... where his fear of needles causes chaos.

“Second Chance,”
9 p.m., Fox. Back when he was a cop, Jimmy covered up a murder by a
drug-lord's girlfriend who was his secret informant. Twenty years
later, she's a big-time drug dealer and he's in a new, young body
(no, it's not a true story), confronting his past.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, the bomb squad is attacked and there's a
threat: Explosions are coming, unless arsonist Jason Sinclair (former
utlimate-fighting champ Randy Couture) is freed.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds a newspaper reporter attacked while
wearing police gear during a ride-along.

TV column for Thursday, March 3


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Family” debut, 9 p.m., ABC.

Here's more proof
that ABC can match anyone – even cable – in great drama. “Family”
-- which promptly moves to Sundays -- ranks alongside its current
“American Crime” and upcoming “Secrets & Lies.” Each uses
a crime story as the start of a deeply layered character drama.

We won't spill the
plot – try to avoid the ads, which say way too much – except for
this: A decade apart, this family gets two huge jolts, the second one
leaving bigger mysteries. There's brilliant work by Joan Allen (as
the matriarch), Alison Pill (her daughter) and Andrew McCarthy (a
convict).

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

The show has its top
10 now, with more performances tonight – includiong a couple other
stars. Demi Lovato does “Stone Cold” and “Confident”; Harry
Connick does “(I Do) What We Do.”

Also, we learn which
eight have survived ... then vote on who will be back next week. The
line-up includes four men and six women, ages 15 to 24.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Colony,” 10 p.m., USA.

Two weeks from its
season-finale, this show has seemingly tied itself into unbeatable
knots. Aliens (never shown) have taken control, using Earthlings as
collaborators. Desperate to get his younger son back, Will (Josh
Holloway) has joined the government.

What he doesn't
realize is how deeply his wife (Sarah Wayne Callies) is into the
resistance. Tonight, that peaks: He has a lead on catching Broussard,
the resistance leader she's high on. In a house full of secrets and
disclosures, some high-pressure moves aim for opposite goals.

Other choices
include:

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Over 12 seasons, Meredith has transformed from a nervous
resident to an experienced surgeon. Now a patient from her first
surgery is admitted with a new aeurysm, this time as Amelia's
patient. Meanwhile, Arizona ponders whether to resume dating.

“You, Me and the
Apocalypse,” 8 p.m., NBC. In the sixth of 10 episodes, these
farflung stories finally start to merge. The skeptical priest (Rob
Lowe) finds Jamie and tells him about his roots. Rhonda (Jenna
Fischer) finds her son ... the hacker who has (for now) escaped from
Jamie's evil twin Ariel.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. A fairly good rerun catches Sheldon and Amy
post-break-up. He's jolted that she's dating somene, played by
Stephen Merchant, co-creator of the British “Office.

Demate, 9-11 p.m. ET, Fox News Channel. The Republicans debate in Detroit. All five survivors are expected, including Donald Trump, who skipped a previous Fox debate after grumbling about Megyn Kelly.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. A health scare sends Bonnie into a panic. Christy tries to
be supportive ... which isn't easy when you have a high-maintenance,
high-panic mom.

“How to Get Away
with Murder,” 10 p.m., ABC. As Annalise begins a dangerous plan to
protect her team from Philip, Wes pushes for information about his
mother's death.

“Baskets,” 10
p.m., FX. This semi-comedy slogs down when focusing on dismal Chip
Baskets (Zach Galifianakis). It's better when veering to two people
played with deadpan precision by non-actors – Eddie the rodeo owner
(Ernest Adams) and Martha (Martha Kelly), Chips' only friend. So
tonight's episode – an odd road trip with Chip, Eddie and Martha
–is one of its best in an uneven series.

“Adam Devine's
House Party” season-opener, 12:30 a.m., Comedy Central. The show
moves to Hawaii, where each half-hour continues to have three
comedians and a slight situation-comedy overlay. That part tonight is
OK, but two of the comedians are superb: Jacob Williams is droll and
witty; Chris Garcia has a brilliant bit playing his own father, a
hard-working immigrant with a silly son.

TV column for Wednesday, March 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Real O'Neals” debut, 8:30 and 9:31 p.m., ABC.

Eileen O'Neal
(Martha Plimpton) wants to have the most envied family in the parish,
always doing things just right. Then a cascade of secrets pour out in
one loud (and funny) scene.

That pilot --
overwrought, but fun – is one of two episodes airing today, before
“O'Neals” moves to Tuesdays. In the second, Eileen tries to “fix”
her gay son Kenny ... who's still figuring out how to break up with
his girlfriend. Also, Kenny – prone to imaginary conversations –
turns to Jimmy Kimmel.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Rosewood” return, 8 p.m., Fox.

After slumping in
the fall, the show returns big-time – new hours on Wednesdays,
reruns on Saturdays – with a busy plot. A serial killer seems to be
targeting Dr. Rosewood (Morris Chestnut) ... whose romance get
complicated ... while his poiice colleague lusts with his brother
(Taye Diggs).

With its Miami
settings and telegenic cast, “Rosewood” is a great-looking show.
Alas, the case falls into place way too easily and parts of the show
– expecially involving the police captain – are pure TV-hokum. In
particular, a country-club confrontation by Rosewood's mother seems
way too contrived.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Survivor,” 8 p.m., CBS; and “Hell's Kitchen,” 9
p.m., Fox.

Now that “American
Idol” has trimmed to one night a week, these shows have reality
fans to themselves. For “Survivor,” this is the second
“brains-brawn-beauty” edition; “brawn” dominated the first
one, but this time it has lost the first two people, Darnell Hamilton
and Jennifer Lanzetti.

Meanwhile, “Hell's
Kitchen” has its top 10 (as does “Idol,” on Thursdays).
Tonight, they hear guitarist Steve Vai, have two competitions and
(winners only) have a paintball battle.

Other choices
include:

“A Year in Space,”
8 p.m., PBS (check local listings). One day after astronaut Scott
Kelly was set to conclude his record 334-day mission, some PBS
stations will have an all-space evening. This hour will be followed
by reruns of “Nova” (profiling Neil Armstrong) and Tuesday's
“American Experience,” with an interesting look at pre-NASA
pioneers in the Air Force.

“The Goldbergs,”
8 p.m., ABC. Each season, this has an homage to a 1980s movie; it's
done “Goonies” and “Ferris Bueller,” so now comes “Dirty
Dancing.” Erica plans to make that the theme to the school dance.
Her mom helps, then realizes there's a backlash. Worse, Erica's dad
tries to dance.

“Baby Daddy,”
8:30 p.m., Freeform. It's time for some farce-style mix-ups. Everyone
seems to guess wrong about who wants to date whom, or (in one case),
what the sexual preference is.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. What do you do when life gets way too busy? Claire
secretly hires a personal assistant; Jay and Gloria cut corners while
parenting, without telling each other.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 9 p.m., NBC. Probing the exploitation of
Catholic schoolgirls, the team finds a web of corruption involving
cops, judges, proscecutors and legislators.

“CSI Cyber,” 10
p.m., CBS. Transplanted from its usual Sunday spot, this show has
Python kidnap Avery's surrogate daughter. To find her, the team must
decipher elaborate puzzles.

“American Crime,”
10 p.m., ABC. Next week is the season-finale of what has been a
brilliant mini-series, clearly one of TV's best. Last week, with a
bullied teen in jail for shooting someone who grabbed him on the
schoolgrounds, the coach (Tim Hutton) blamed the school
administration. Then his daughter told him she's the one who sold
drugs to the shooter. Now the aftershocks build.