TV column for Tuesday, Jan. 21



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

As the J.D. Salinger mystique grew, people envisioned a
solemn hermit. After his 1951 “Catcher in the Rye” drew cascades of praise, he
disappeared into the New Hampshire woods. He had nothing published in the
second half of his 91 years.


The actual story, we’re told here, is deeper and richer. Salinger
was an outgoing and confident young man who even carried pages of “Catcher”
into the D-Day invasion. He married three times and had long friendships with
young women. And he wrote obsessively, including several books that will emerge
in the next few years. The result is a fascinating portrait of a complex and
gifted man.


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


This clever comedy is about to take a long break, not
returning until April 1. Meanwhile, it has one more assault on Mindy’s
fractured love life.


Last week, she saw former fiancé Casey in Los Angeles; now
Cliff has broken up with her for lying about it. She wants to chase him, but
Danny takes her to see his dad (Dan Hedaya).


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Originals,” 8 p.m., CW.


Get ready for one of the darkest – and wettest – hours in TV
history. Davina’s life is veering out of control; “she’s hemorrhaging magic”
one person says.


The result plunges the city into a fierce storm. Some people
scramble to save New Orleans, others to revive dead witches. It’s all very dark
and damp and emotionally powerful.


Other choices include:


“Klondike,” 7 and 9 p.m., Discovery. First is a rerun of
Monday’s opener, with the gold-hunters racing to tiny Dawson City in the Yukon.
Then a new chapter (rerunning at 11:04) finds food running short and trouble
erupting between two real-life characters – Bill Haskell and shop-owner Belinda
Mulroney.


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a widow urges the team to
probe her husband’s death in Afghanistan.


“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox. Jeffords (Terry Crews)
is back as a street cop now. He takes advice from Jake about controlling his
emotions.


“New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox. As Nick tries to throw Jess a great
birthday party, Winston and Coach compete to make the perfect cake. Also,
Schmidt helps Cece in her new bartending job.


“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun of the
season-opener, Sam and Deeks are rescued, but lives are still in danger and the
after-effects of the torture linger.


“Chicago Fire,” 10 p.m., NBC. Here’s a situation many
Northerners have been through lately: On a freezing cold night, there’s a power
failure.


TV column for Monday, Jan. 20



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Sleepy Hollow” season-finale, 8-10
p.m., Fox.

In a style usually reserved for cable shows, “Hollow: has
epic visuals, wild imagination … and a short season. This first one only has 13
hours; the second will be the same.


The final two run in one bunch tonight. First, Ichabod – the
Revolutionary War soldier who jumped to our time -- and Abbie read George
Washington’s Bible and find secrets about his death. Then Capt. Irving (Orlando
Jones) makes a huge decision; soon, good and evil collide.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Klondike” opener, 9 p.m., Discovery;
repeats at 11:05.


In 1897, the world converged on a frozen section of Canada.
Gold had been discovered; Americans and find Europeans headed north. Dawson
City, the tiny capital of the Yukon, bloated to 40,000 people.


Now Paul Scheuring (“Prison Break”) has molded a three-night,
six-hour mini-series, mixing real (writer Jack London, entrepreneur Belinda
Mulroney) and fictional and. Familiar stars -- Tim Roth, Sam Shepard, Abbie
Cornish – and newcomers worked in Calgary temperatures that neared minus-30.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Fosters,” noon to 8 p.m. and
9-10 p.m., ABC Family.


Deftly mixing solid drama and attractive young actors, “Fosters”
views a lesbian couple’s children – biological, foster, adopted – in joy and
(often) crisis. Here’s a catch-up marathon and a new hour.


Callie (the excellent Maia Mitchell) has run away and is
staying with Rita (Rosie O’Donnell), whose no-nonsense approach will require
some adjustments; Brandon searches for her. Meanwhile, Mariana is attracted to
a cute guy – played by Garrett Clayton, who did “Teen Beach Movie” with
Mitchell.


Other choices include:


“Hollywood Game Night” season-opener, 8 and 9 p.m., NBC.
With “The Voice” waiting until after the Olympics, this show will borrow
Mondays. Its first hour has women (Julie Bowen, Beth Behrs, Valerie Bertinelli)
against men (Jason Alexander, Martin Short, Lester Holt). Its second includes
Mario Lopez, Alyssa Milano, Michael Chiklis, Thomas Lennon, Paget Brewster and
Retta.


“The Bachelor,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. For Cassandra, a date
brings a minor scare, when Juan Pablo Galavis veers into the ocean; she doesn’t
know he has a special water-car. For Chelsie, there’s a bigger scare; he wants
her to bungee jump. Others do things they’re good at (a bikini pool party) or
not (soccer).


“Mom,” 9:30 p.m., CBS. This could be dangerous: Christy and
her mom reveal long-held secrets.


“The Blacklist,” 10 p.m., NBC. Here’s the benefit of a good
science education: A man has found a way to alter suspects’ DNA; now Red tries
to catch him.


“Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Rocky
Braat rarely knew comfort at home or in school. He a one good friend (Steve
Hoover), but no goal. Then, in India, he found an orphanage for kids with HIV.
Hoover films him there, finding \waves of joy and agony. It’s a tough film, but
worth it.


“Castle,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. When a pop star is found dead,
Beckett and Castle first suspect his partying lifestyle. Then fresh evidence
emerges.


TV column for Sunday, Jan. 19



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The Following” season-opener, about
10:30 p.m. ET (after football), Fox.

Last season ended explosively (literally). Ryan (Kevin
Bacon) rescued Claire and escaped before the lighthouse blew up, with killer
Joe Carroll inside; then he and Claire were stabbed by a Carroll follower.


Now it’s a year later and Ryan has a quiet life, including
dinner with his niece (a cop). Then come new attacks by people in Carroll masks.
It’s a strong start for a show that returns to Mondays on Jan. 27.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: Football, 3 p.m. ET, CBS; and 6:30
p.m., Fox.


Here are ideal match-ups, with the winners going to the
Super Bowl.


First are classic quarterbacks, ones who stand in the pocket
and fire; Tom Brady’s Patriots visit Peyton Manning’s Broncos. Then are
scramblers; Colin Kaepernick’s 49ers visit Russell Wilson’s Seahawks.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “True Detective,” 9 p.m., HBO.


Fresh from his movie Golden Globe, Matthew McConaughey
offers stunning, Emmy-worthy TV work as a Louisiana homicide detective, working
a case and being probed about it 17 years later.


Last week’s brilliant episode contrasted his crumbling
persona with his normal-guy partner (Woody Harrelson). Tonight, we see the
cracks in the partner’s life; a locker-room scene offers two great actors,
devouring excellent material.


Other choices include:


Romance movies, cable. At 1 p.m. and 8 p.m., Hallmark has
“June in January,” about a rushed wedding. At 7 and 11:30 p.m., UP debuts “The
Town That Came A-Courtin’,” a fairly pleasant tale based loosely on a true
story (with ending added). Lauren Holley, Cameron Bancroft and Valerie Harper
star.


“The Good Wife,” 8 p.m., CBS. A rerun night for CBS dramas
starts with the season’s second episode: Working the first case for her new
firm, Alicia struggles to get documents from her old one.


“Masterpiece,” 9 and 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Two
splendid series run back-to-back, when the season’s first “Sherlock” follows “Downton
Abbey.” For “Abbey,” there’s a turning point for Edith, romantic possibilities for
Mary and Rose and a scheme from Edna. Most of it is beautifully done;
overshadowing that, however, is the clumsy, ongoing plot in which Anna refuses
to mention the rape.


 “Shameless,” 9 p.m.,
Showtime. Just as Fiona finally has her life together – job, boyfriend, health
plan – the others keep falling apart. Her 13-year-old sister ponders sex, her
brother finds that street-smarts don’t work in college … and their dad needs a
new liver. It’s a messy and entertaining soufflé.


“Betrayal” finale, 10:01 p.m., ABC. Sara has been shot,
leaving both families with tough decisions.


“Girls” and “Looking,” 10 and 10:30 p.m., HBO. Adam’s crazed
sister adds chaos to Hannah’s birthday party. Then comes the fairly clever
debut of a comedy about gay men looking for love in San Francisco.


“House of Lies,” 10 p.m., Showtime. Monica’s meltdown caps a
wild episode.


“Episodes,” 10:30 p.m., Showtime. Last week’s opener set up problems
(and big laughs) tonight: Matt has a drunken-driving arrest (with kids in the car)
and the network has a hyper-attractive new boss.


TV column for Saturday, Jan. 18



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Chicago P.D.,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC.

After a decade of being walloped by the cable networks, NBC
crafted this cop show. In the cable style, it has violence – two beheadings
early – and a nasty anti-hero; it’s also semi-serialized.


In “Chicago Fire,” corrupt cop Hank Voight was jailed. Now
he’s used his influence to be freed … and is in charge of a tough unit. The first
hour includes a tragedy and sets up the second hour: Antonio (Jon Seda) learns
his son has been kidnapped. The rest, sometimes overwrought, is tough, taut and
cable-like.


 TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “The
Following,” 9 p.m., Fox.


On the eve of the second-season debut, here’s another chance
to see the first-season finale.


Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) -- a serial killer with fierce
followers – has kidnapped his ex-wife Claire. Now Ryan (Kevin Bacon) – once the
FBI agent who caught Carroll, also Claire’s lover -- tries to save them.
There’s a lighthouse confrontation, a big moment … and then a detour,
propelling us to the next season.


TONIGHT’S ODDITY: “Flowers in the Attic,” 8-10 p.m.,
Lifetime.


A while back, “Flowers” – the 1979 novel and ’87 movie –
brought a flurry of praise and attacks. This remake justifies neither; with
contrived plot and stiff dialog, it feels like a wayward soap opera.


When her husband dies, Corrine (Heather Graham) moves back
to the family mansion. There, her mom (Ellen Burstyn) insists the kids stay
hidden – temporarily, they’re told – upstairs. The result defies logic … then
seems way too easy … yet never hints at whatever the underlying psychology is.


Other choices include:


“Hancock” (2008), 8-10 p.m., ABC. An alcoholic superhero
(Will Smith) needs an image makeover.


“Almost Human,” 8 p.m., Fox. Kennex is targeted by a madman
who attaches bombs to necks, then broadcasts deaths over the Internet. Doran
could help, but he’s slowed by a power deficiency.


“Mike & Molly,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a loud and rather
witless effort, Mike grasps to learn why he’s had no success in getting Molly
pregnant.


Screen Actors Guild awards, 8-10 p.m. ET, TBS and TNT.
Awards season begins. This one is for acting only, in movies and TV, with
individual and ensemble awards. Also, Rita Moreno gets a lifetime award


“Forrest Gump” (1994), 8-11 p.m., VH1. This dandy fable won
six Oscars, including best picture.  


“2 Broke Girls,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a romantic
weekend for Caroline and Andy becomes much clumsier with Max along.


“When Calls the Heart,” 9 p.m., Hallmark. Last week’s
season-opener brought another mining disaster to this small community. Now the
widows are expected to do the mining.


“Saturday Night Live,” 10 and 11:29 p.m., NBC. A shortened
rerun is followed by a new hour with Drake as both the host and the music
guest.


TV column for Friday, Jan. 17



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

In a beautifully understated performance, Donnie Wahlberg
captures the quiet pain of a former combat soldier, trying to save another
veteran. Danny (Wahlberg) tries to brush aside his son’s questions about the
war, while pursuing a vet who has disappeared with his own son.


It’s a solemn and well-crafted story, paired with a lesser
one that sees Danny’s dad (Tom Selleck), the police commissioner, pondering a
decade-old murder case.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Helix,” 10 p.m., Syfy.


Last week’s taut opener saw doctors from the Centers for
Disease Control arrive at a mysterious Arctic research facility, where a virus
was spreading from monkeys to people.


Now some doctors feel they have it contained. Then come the
fierce aftershocks, with one of them attacked and infected.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Banshee,” 10 p.m., Cinemax.


The two hallmarks of pay-TV – sex and violence – peak
tonight, much of it well-crafted. The sex arrives in the opening montage,
setting up the brutal collisions that follow.


As usual, the hero (an escaped convict who assumed the
identity of now-Sheriff Lucas Hood) bashes heads. Now there are more people in
play -- Nola Longfellow, the fierce American Indian assassin …. Siobhan Kelly,
Hood’s deputy, confronting her nasty ex-husband … and Carrie Hopewell, the
alternate identity of a former jewel thief. Carrie’s been told to keep a low
profile in prison; don’t expect her to.


Other choices include:


“Cold Justice,” 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., plus 8 p.m., TNT. You can
catch the entire first season during the day, then start the second one at
night. What you’ll get is some serious non-fiction, with small-town cases
re-opened by skilled pros. Yolanda McClary worked in the Las Vegas crime lab (the
“CSI” setting) for 26 years; Kelly Siegler has been a Texas lawyer for 16 years,
prosecuting and winning 68 murder trials.


“Last Man Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. When Boyd has trouble
staying still, the school suggests medication; his grandfather (Tim Allen) and
father object. Also, Mandy makes a belated effort to be a good student.


“The Neighbors,” 8:31 p.m., ABC. As the high school reunion
nears, Marty savors a chance to re-unite his old “hair band.” Debbie (Jami
Gertz) dreads a confrontation with her old nemesis (Lori Loughlin).


 “Hawaii Five-0,” 9
p.m., CBS. Police re-open the long-ago case involving the murder of Chin’s
father.


“Great Performances at the Met,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local
listings). Anna Netrebko stars in the Tchaikovsky opera “Eugene Onedin.”


“Raising Hope,” 9 p.m., Fox. Three generations compete in a
hot-dish competition, when Virginia faces her mother-in-law (Shirley Jones) and
her daughter-in-law.


“Enlisted,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. After last week’s terrific
opener, here’s a fairly good second episode. Pete, the supersoldier, is
deadlocked in competitions with Jill Perez. Meanwhile, his brother Randy –
who’s great at human relations – may flunk rifle marksmanship.


 “Patton Oswalt:
Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time,” 10 p.m., Epix. Oswalt turns his daily
experiences into the fodder for some amiable stand-up comedy.