TV column for Thursday, July 27


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Night Shift,” 10 p.m., NBC.
This muscular
medical show keeps finding new ways to turn doctors into action
heroes. This season, it did that by having TC return to duty in
Afghanistan; now he's back home, forcing him to deal with the fact
that his friend and colleague, Topher Zia, was killed by a drunk
driver.
Meanwhile, Kenny
joins Drew at a mixed-martial-arts group for veterans – and finds
himself in a life-or-death crisis. Also, Cain (Mark Consuelos) and
Jordan treat hotel-fire victims.
TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Battle of the Network Stars,” 9 p.m., ABC.
This would seen like
a classic mismatch – TV cops vs. TV comedy people. Cops (even
make-believe ones) are in fine shape ... especially Lorenzo Lamas.
He's joined by Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox of “CHiPs,” Kelly Hu
of “CSI: NY” and Jodi Lyn O'Keefe of “Nash Bridges.”
Their competition
doesn't seem imposing. There's tiny Jenna von Oy of “Blossom,”
quirky Willie Garson of “White Collar” and pleasant Dave Foley of
“NewsRadio,” plus Todd Bridges of “Diff'rent Strokes” and
Leigh-Allyn Baker of “Good Luck Charlie.”
TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Married at First Sight” finale, 8-10 p.m.,
Lifetime.
No one said it would
be easy to marry a stranger; our ancestors did it, but they weren't
burdened by options. Now, after six weeks together, these couples
must decide if they're going to stay married.
It's tricky, as we
saw in last week's episode (rerunning at 7). Cody Knapek and Danielle
DeGroot haven't had sex; Knapek seems displeased with this. Anthony
D'Amoco and Ashley Petta were slow to get an apartment; he seems
hesitant to live near her sister. And Nate Duhon and Sheila Downs had
an all-out fight. She proclaimed the marriage “a complete and utter
failure,” then kissed and made up.
Other choices
include:
“Hollywood Game
Night,” 8 p.m., NBC. While boy bands are being formed on ABC,
boy-bander Nick Lachey will be here. So will his wife Vanessa, plus
singers Michael Bolton and Ne-Yo and comedy actors Chris Parnell and
JB Smoove.
“Boy Band,” 8
p.m., ABC. The 13 remaining guys sing songs from hit movies. Then
they re-form into three groups to perform, before two guys are
eliminated.
“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Bert has won the “genius award.” This
embitters Sheldon ... who figures no one can be a genius who is a
geologist ... and who isn't Sheldon.
“Kevin Can Wait,”
8:31, CBS. At Christmastime – yes, this is a rerun -- Kevin helps
Mott's seven kids get ready.
“Hooten & The
Lady,” 9 p.m., CW. In Egypt, Alex and Hooten try to find the
long-lost tomb of Alexander the Great. So, of course, do some bad
guys.
“Zoo,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. Jamie (Kristen Connolly) is under arrest, but still manages to
manipulate Mitch and Logan into helping her hunt the group that's
been sterilizing humans.
“The Mist,” 10
p.m., Spike. Getting to the hospital was no overall solution for
Kevin; now he's an involuntary test subject on what drives the mist.
Also, Nathalie has a violent encounter with Link.

TV column for Wednesday, July 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Snowfall,” 10 p.m., FX.

TV often delivers
helpful life lessons, so here's one: Whenever you throw a body in the
trunk and drive it somewhere for burial, make certain – REALLY
certain – that it is dead.

That issue provides
a wild detour to this sometimes grim story of the spread of cocaine
in 1980s Los Angeles. If “Snowfall” simply ended here, it would
be a great four-part mini-series. It continues, alas, so we'll see
what happens in this plotline and two others. One involves the early
days of the CIA's Contra-and-cocaine scheme; the other has a Latino
threesome that did one murder to cover up another.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Little Big Shots: Forever Young” season-finale, 8 p.m., NBC.

Steve Harvey rules a
big chunk of summer TV. Last week's Nielsen ratings put two of his
shows in the top 10 (“Celebrity Family Feud” and this one) and
another at No. 23 (“Funderdome”).

Now “Forever
Young” finishes its season – but may continue in reruns on
Wednesdays, just as Harvey's “Little Big Shots” has Saturday
reruns. Tonight, Harvey meets a 72-year-old pole dancer and an
81-year-old “dance machine,” plus a trick roper, an “inflatable
theater” performer ... and Chipps Cooney. Seven years ago, at 61,
Cooney gave a hilariously un-magical magic act on “America's Got
Talent.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Wild Alaska Live,” 8 p.m., PBS.

This is the second
of three nights for an epic project. Mixing pre-taped features and
live reports (live-on-tape on the West Coast), it offers a sprawling
view of Alaskan nature.

Chris and Martin
Kratt anchor from Tongass National Forest, at what is 4 p.m. in
Alaska. Tonight, Steve Backshall helicopters to the massive Juneau
Icefield, Liz Bonnin is at Katmai National Park, where bears frolic
during salmon season. The first night was Sunday and the third will
be next Sunday.

Other choices
include:

Novak/Hitchcock
night, 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. First, we see Kim
Novak being interviewed in 2013. Then are great Alfred Hitchcock
films -- “Vertigo” (1958), with Novak, at 8 p.m.; “North by
Northwest” (1959) at 10:30, “Psycho” (1960) at 1 a.m.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. The 15 remaining home chefs start with an odd challenge:
Reach into a mystery box and get a random body-part of a cow; that
must be the starting point for a dish.

“Salvation,” 9
p.m, CBS. Last week, Grace (Jennifer Finnigan) took a daring – and
wildly unlikely – step: She used her government position to grab
the uranium needed for Darius to try a private rocket that might stop
the asteroid from destroying the Earth. Now he has to accelerate his
plan before the Pentagon shuts him down. Also, Liam bumps across his
one-time love Jillian, a science-fiction writer.

“The Carmichael
Show,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC. This interesting show keeps finding
ways to mix comedy with serious subjects – some political and some
personal. This time, both episodes are personal. First, Maxine's
sister has a past connection to Jerrod's brother; then, in a rerun
from last season, Jerrod's mom may be suffering from depression.

“Modern Family,”
9 and 10 p.m., ABC. In the first rerun, Phil considers joining the
club that has been his father-in-law's refuge. In the second, their
sons are overwhelmed planning the school dance.

“This Is Us,” 10
p.m., NBC. Gerald McRaney's superb, Emmy-nominated work here has
consisted of only five episodes. Now two will rerun on consecutive
weeks. Tonight flashes back to when the family took young Kate to the
hospital on Christmas Eve ... and found Dr. K (McRaney) as a patient.
It also sees Kevin with his playwright (and new girlfriend),
celebrating Hanukkah.

And more, cable.
New, scripted shows? It's “Suits” (USA) at 9 p.m., “Queen
Sugar” (Oprah Winfrey Network), “Blood Drive” (Syfy) and
“Cleverman” (Sundance) at 10, the Emmy-nominated “Full Frontal
With Samantha Bee” (TBS) at 10:30. Also, sharks (Discovery and
NatGeo Wild) and movies.

TV column for Tuesday, July 25


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Bold Type,” 9:01 p.m., Freeform.

For all of its
wildly unlikely plot twists, this remains a charming show. In this
episode, we don't believe for a moment that a young writer, after one
quick political piece, would be on a panel with a Pulitzer
Prize-winner. Or that a job applicant would let a misunderstanding
spiral into a large lie.

For that matter, we
don't believe some of the things worn at a fashion-and-lifestyle
magazine. But the three young women at the core are great characters
– bright, optimistic, caring, talented, yet filled with doubts and
mis-steps. Tonight, again, it's fun watching their journey.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Somewhere Between,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Monday's opener saw
Laura (Paula Patton) wake up on the beach, mourning her daughter's
murder. She stumbled home ... and found the girl there. Now she's
reliving the previous week, trying to change fate.

That won't be easy.
There's a serial killer out there and no one would believe her story.
She turns to a former cop (Devon Sawa) to help her do a quick
investigation.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Jury Speaks” season-finale, 9 p.m., Oxygen.

Boosting its new
image as a true-crime network, Oxygen wraps up an unusual series.
Over four nights, we hear from some of the jurors (about half of
them) that gave not-guilty verdicts in high-profile cases.

The new one involves
Robert Durst, the real-estate heir who at some points spoke of
killing people and, in one case, dumping the dismembered body parts.
That's preceded by O.J. Simpson at 6 p.m., Michael Jackson at 7 and
George Zimmerman at 8. Switching the order, extra reruns have Jackson
at 10 p.m., Durst at 11, Zimmerman at midnight and Simpson at 1 a.m.

Other choices
include:

“America's Got
Talent” and “World of Dance,” 8 and 10 p.m., NBC. Both shows
have the second night of cuts by judges. For “Dance,” these are
the final cuts before next week's finals in each division.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, a chief petty officer has escaped from her captors.
Now the team searches for a motive in the kidnapping ... and for her
husband.

“The Fosters,” 8
p.m., Freeform. Jude works on an underground school newspaper with
Mariana and questions his compatibility with Noah. Also, Callie and
Aaron have their first real date. And last week Lena was startled to
realize she knows one of the new neighbors; now they're coming for
dinner.

“Black-ish,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., ABC. The first rerun is serious; Bow takes action when
her daughter stumbles across inappropriate websites. The second is
lighter, with family trip to Disney World.

“Animal Kingdom,”
9 p.m., TNT. The big church heist has police questioning Amy. Pope –
who likes her and who helped with the heist – tries to divert them.
Also, Baz follows “Smurf,” to see what she's hiding. And Craig
plans an unusual heist of his own.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, a brutal copycat murder on a
street car re-opens an old case for Dr. Wade (CCH Pounder).

“The Shooter,”
10 p.m., USA. Last week's season-opener saw gunmen open fire on a U.S
Marine gathering in Germany. Bob Lee Swagger (Ryan Phillippe) sees it
as an attack on his old military unit ... and tonight's flashbacks
show why. In this high-octane, moderately interesting hour, Swagger
searches for bad guys in Germany and his former boss is on the run in
Southeast Asia.

TV column for Monday, July 24


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Midnight, Texas” debut, 10 p.m., NBC.

Following a family
tradition, Manfred claims to talk to the departed. “Some of it's
real; a lot of the time it's theater,” he admits. Then it gets way
too real and he needs to flee. On the advice of his dead grandmother,
he retreats to a Texas town where people are left alone.

This is a peaceful
place, if you ignore the vampire, witch, angel, assassin and
Satanists. Like “True Blood,” this springs from the novels of
Charlaine Harris. And like “True Blood,” it's not for everyone,
what with the gore and the weirdness. Still, it has rich, Southern
Gothic passion.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

When the show picked
a brainy lawyer (Rachel Lindsay, 31), it included some professionals
to choose from. There were two doctors, two lawyers, a law student
and more. Instead, she's getting physical.

Bryan Abasolo (a
Miami chiropractor, 37) did reach the final three, but he's alongside
two personal trainers -- Eric Bigger, 29, of Los Angeles and Peter
Kraus, 31, who has a training business in Madison, Wis. Tonight, they
meet her family and have “overnight dates” in Spain. It's a
neatly diverse group: Lindsay and Bigger are black, Kraus is white,
Abasolo has Colombian roots.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Loaded,” 10 p.m., AMC.

Last week's debut
rippled with wit, as four likable blokes became instant millionaires,
selling their videogame to Americans. Now one guy obsesses on revenge
and another tries to rekindle romance.

It's another strong
hour, cleverly written and perfectly played, and it adds a fresh
twist: The new boss (Mary McCormack) arrives in London; she's ready
to work, just when the guys expect to play.

Other choices
include:

“Shark Week”
(Discovery) and “SharkFest” (NatGeo Wild). These are here all
week, so get used to them. NatGeo confines its shark stuff to 10
hours (4 p.m. to 2 a.m.), but Discovery goes all day. It has reruns,
then a “Sharkopedia” edition of “Phelps vs. Shark” at 7 p.m.
and new hours from 8 to 11:30.

“So You Think You
Can Dance,” 8 p.m., Fox. Wedged alongside bigger reality shows
(“Bachelorette,” “American Ninja Warrior”) this has terrific
dancers, now in the second of three callback hours.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. In a very funny rerun, Bonnie faces the fact that no one – not
even her boyfriend or her daughter – lists her as an emergency
contact.

“Preacher,” 9
p.m., AMC. Last week's episode was so-so, but now “Preacher”
rebounds wonderfully. There's a slow preamble that will make sense
eventnually; then we return to The Saint of Killers. We learn his
back story and see him collide with Jesse. The result is smart and
well-crafted, but gory.

“Will,” 9 p.m.,
TNT, rerunning at 10. A newcomer, William Shakespeare already has a
hit show and the love and lust of the theater owner's beautiful
daughter. What could go wrong? Much, from anti-Catholic scourges to
Marlowe's efforts to show him the naughty side of London's elite.

“Somewhere
Between” debut, 10 p.m., ABC. Laura (Paula Patton) is a TV news
producer, helping police find a serial killer. Then comes a rare
opportunity: She can re-live a wretched week and try to make it
better. After ths debut (taking advantage of the “Bachelorette”
lead-in), this airs on Tuesdays..

“People of Earth”
season-opener, 10:30 p.m., TBS. Like many people, Ozzie (Wyatt Cenac)
felt that his boss was an alien, out to destroy Earthlings. Unlike
most (we assume), he was right. Now this clever show returns, with
that ex-boss living in an alien-centric town.

TV column for Sunday, July 23


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Grantchester,” 9 p.m., PBS.

As a 1950s village
vicar, Sidney has seen lives crumble. His true love is divorcing and
disinherited, with a baby; the Church of England says a vicar can't
marry a divorcee. His friend had an affair ... his assistant is gay
and closeted ... his housekeeper's money was stolen by her long-lost
husband.

All of this gnaws at
a decent (if morose) man. Tonight, he leaves his clerical collar and
tries a solo journey. The result mixes a solid mystery and some deep
portraits of people who are good (usually) and flawed (always),
setting up next week's strong season-finale.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Shark Week” and “Shark Fest,” all day, Discovery and NatGeo
Wild.

Ever since 1988,
Discovery has entertained, frightened and (occasionally) informed us
with this week. This year's eight-day edition begins with reruns
today and new hours starting at 6 p.m. It also has a fresh gimmick:
At 8 p.m. (rerunning at 11:36), Olympian Michael Phelps tries to outswim
a shark.

That's the same day
that NatGeo Wild begins its six-day SharkFest. The reruns start at
noon; at 8 p.m. ET (rerunning at 11) is a fast and impressive hour,
viewing the few creatures that dare to attack sharks.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Spartan” finale, 9-11 p.m., NBC.

Mostly, NBC has
filled its summer Sundays with reruns, but here's an exception: For
six Mondays – following “American Ninja Warrior,” from the same
producers – we've seen teams tackle an elaborate obstacle course;
now the winners compete for the $250,000 championship.

Olympic champion
Apolo Ohno hosts with Kelvin Washington; MJ Acosta and baseball's
Nick Swisher are reporters. It's part of a macho night, colliding
with John Cena's “American Grit,” at 9 p.m. on Fox.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “The Nineties,” 9 p.m. ET, CNN (barring breaking
news) and more.

On the first day of
the 1990s, David Dinkins became New York City's first black mayor.
That seemed to signal a new era – but didn't. For three days in
1991, blacks and Orthodox Jews fought in New York's Crown Heights
neighborhood; on the other coast, things would become more intense.

This documentary
takes us briskly through Rodney King, O.J. Simpson and more. It
competes with a rerun (3-9 p.m., National Geographic) of a series
called “The '90s: The Last Great Decade?” That title feels
ironic, when the channel follows it (9 and 11:30 p.m.) with the
blistering riot film, “LA 92.”

Other choices
include:

More decades, cable.
Alongside that '90s cascade, there are other decades to sample. From
9 a.m. to 3 p.m., National Geographic reruns “The '80s: The Decade
That Made Us”; and at 8 p.m., Smithsonian's “America in Color”
visits the '50s, with the Cold War, McCarthyism, Rosa Parks and, for
fun, Elvis.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., ABC. One match-up has the families of Louie Anderson
and Christina Milian. The other has comedy actors; it's men vs.
women, pitting a husband and wife (Paul Scheer of “Fresh Off the
Boat” and June Diane Raphael of “Grace & Frankie”) against
each other,

“Wild Alaska
Live,” 8 p.m., PBS. The PBS people love nature and rarely go live.
Now they combine the two, going live in some time zones at 8 p.m. ET
(4 p.m. in Alaska) today, Wednesday and next Sunday. With wildlife at
its summertime peak, Chris and Martin Kratt anchor from Tongass
National Forest. Steve Backshall is at Glacier Lake, tracking salmon
migration; Liz Bonnin is at Katmai National Park – one of the most
remote spots in the U.S. -- where bears grab those salmon.

“Game of Thrones,”
9 p.m., HBO, rerunning at 11:30. There's trouble everywhere: Tyrion
Lannister sets a plan to conquer Westeros; Jon Snow faces a revolt.

“First Ladies
Revealed” season-finale, 9 p.m., Smithsonian. This looks at
presidents' wives – from Eleanor Roosevelt to Hillary Clinton –
who became activists.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, one team member is being held
and tortured at an unknown location. Another learns he was betrayed.