Pacific-time-zone version: Jan. 28 TV column



(Right below this one, you'll find my regular TV column for Tuesday, Jan. 28. That day, however, has substantial differences on the West Coast; as a result, here's a separate one for the Pacific time zone.)



TONIGHT’S SHOULD-SEE: State of the Union, 6 p.m. PT, ABC,
CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and news channels.


After a year ranging from slowdowns to shutdown, this night
lets both sides re-think and re-energize. Barack Obama’s speech and the
Republican response (by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, chair of the
House Republican conference) will get heavy attention.


Coverage goes to 7:30 p.m. on ABC, CBS and Fox, 8 p.m. on
NBC and PBS, forever on news channels.


TONIGHTS MIGHT-SEE: “Cougar Town,” 10 p.m., TBS.


It’s Buccaneer Week in Gulf Haven, bringing complications
for everyone. Laurie boosts her cake shop by baking erotica, Bobby stirs a
“Jaws”-like panic by complaining about jellyfish … and as mayor, Andy makes the
ultimate request: For the first time in 10 years, his acerbic wife Ellie should
be charming.


Like all “Cougar Town” episodes, this is scattered and
inconsistent, but has bursts of sharp humor. Using its sunny setting, this
provides a bright backdrop and (by comedy standards) an epic feel.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: Fantasy shows, 9 p.m., CW and cable.


This is the hour when fantasy fans get extra choices. On
“Supernatural” (CW), Sam and Dean demand to know where Garth has been … then are
stunned by what they learn. On “Ravenswood” (ABC Family), Caleb and Miranda
probe Collins’ secret; Remy and Luke probe Dillon’s.


Then there’s “Face Off” (Syfy), one of the better reality
competitions. This is the first week of individual challenges for the talented
make-up people and it requires them to create dragons. They push hard – “I
might be a little insane,” one says – with impressive results.


Other choices include:


“Agents of SHIELD,” 8 p.m., ABC. Next week, this show
returns to new episodes for the second half of its season. First, this rerun
has Coulson work the system to find secrets that endanger Ward and Fitz.


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Launching a night of CBS reruns, Tony
and McGee are working as civilians, probing a fatal blast at a black-tie
dinner.


“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. A murder victim was the
head of a company making a secret vaccine.


“The Goldbergs,” 9 p.m., ABC. In a transplanted rerun, Brenda
intervenes in the busy romantic life of her dad (George Segal). Meanwhile, her
sons discover a “channel between the channels” on their TV.


 “The Haves and Have
Nots,” 9 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. Jeffery suspects Wyatt was involved in
the hit-and-run. That reruns at 10 p.m. and is preceded by an 8 p.m. rerun.


“Building Wild,” 9 p.m., National Geographic. Each week,
this show has two mismatched guys build clever places in the wilderness, often
with found material. Tonight, they try a cabin that rotates.


“Justified,” 10 p.m., FX. A relative threatens Boyd.
Meanwhile, Raylan searches for a missing informant.


“Person of Interest,” 10:01 p.m., CBS. This rerun goes back
to when Carter was still alive. Tonight, she gets a rookie partner; the new person-of-interest
is an Online entrepreneur.


TV column for Tuesday, Jan. 28



(Please note: In the Pacific and Mountain zones, check local listings because networks and stations make varied adjustments on State of the Union night.)


TONIGHT’S SHOULD-SEE: State of the Union, 9 p.m. ET, ABC,
CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and news channels.

After a year ranging from slowdowns to shutdown, this night
lets both sides re-think and re-energize. Barack Obama’s speech and the
Republican response (by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, chair of the
House Republican conference) will get heavy attention.


Coverage goes to 10:30 p.m. on ABC, CBS and Fox, 11 p.m. on
NBC and PBS, forever on news channels.


TONIGHTS MIGHT-SEE: “Cougar Town.” 10 p.m., TBS.


It’s Buccaneer Week in Gulf Haven, bringing complications
for everyone. Laurie boosts her cake shop by baking erotica, Bobby stirs a
“Jaws”-like panic by complaining about jellyfish … and as mayor, Andy makes the
ultimate request: For the first time in 10 years, his acerbic wife Ellie should
be charming.


Like all “Cougar Town” episodes, this is scattered and
inconsistent, but has bursts of sharp humor. Using its sunny setting, this
provides a bright backdrop and (by comedy standards) an epic feel.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: Fantasy shows, 9 p.m., CW and cable.


There are plenty of “State of the Union” alternatives at 9
p.m., including ones (see below) on National Geographic and the Oprah Winfrey
Network. Mostly, though, this is an hour for fantasy fans.


On “Supernatural” (CW), Sam and Dean demand to know where
Garth has been … then are stunned by what they learn. On “Ravenswood” (ABC
Family), Caleb and Miranda probe Collins’ secret; Remy and Luke probe Dillon’s.
And on Syfy, “Face Off” is one of the better reality competitions.


This is the first week of individual challenges for the talented
make-up people and it requires them to create dragons. They push hard – “I
might be a little insane,” one says – with impressive results.


Other choices include:


“Agents of SHIELD,” 8 p.m., ABC. Next week, this show
returns to new episodes for the second half of its season. First, this rerun
has Coulson work the system to find secrets that endanger Ward and Fitz.


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun of the season-opener, Tony
and McGee are working as civilians, probing a fatal blast at a black-tie
dinner.


“The Haves and Have Nots,” 9 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network.
Jeffery suspects Wyatt was involved in the hit-and-run. That reruns at 10 p.m.
and is preceded by an 8 p.m. rerun.


“Building Wild,” 9 p.m., National Geographic. Each week,
this show has two mismatched guys build clever places in the wilderness, often
with found material. Tonight, they try a cabin that rotates.


“Justified,” 10 p.m., FX. A relative threatens Boyd.
Meanwhile, Raylan searches for a missing informant.


“The Goldbergs,” 10:30 p.m., ABC. In a transplanted rerun, Brenda
intervenes in the busy romantic life of her dad (George Segal). Meanwhile, her
sons discover a “channel between the channels” on their TV.


“Two and a Half Men,” 10:30, CBS. In a funny rerun, Alan
befriends Lyndsey’s boyfriend, to learn what this guy has that he doesn’t.


TV column for Monday, Jan. 27



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

The first season’s finale saw a lighthouse burn with serial-killer
Joe Carroll inside. But the season-opener – which ran eight days ago and reruns
at 8 p.m. today – delivered some jolts.


Followers, wearing Carroll masks, committed subway murders.
One man told Ryan (Kevin Bacon) that the killer is still alive. And in a
closing scene, viewers saw a bearded Carroll.


So far, Ryan hasn’t told the FBI. Tonight, phone calls nudge
him toward a confrontation.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “How I Met Your Mother,” 8 p.m., CBS.


For eight seasons, “Mother” has been careful not to show us
Ted’s wife-to-be. But now – in the final season, in the 200
th
episode overall – she’s played by Cristin Milioti and gets the focus.


This episode takes her viewpoint. It shows how she met Ted
and what she’s been up to for eight years.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).


In July of 2010, a new Arizona law allowed police to demand
the papers of anyone who seems to be an illegal immigrant. Passions boiled.
There were protests and court challenges; the key state senator was recalled,
the most-visible sheriff was re-elected.


This documentary tries to tackle everything, recording people
on both sides. The result is thorough and fair, but chaotic; like the issue
itself, this film triggers a whirl of angry voices.


Other choices include:


“The Bachelor,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. The international portion
begins tonight. Logically, it finds Sharleen (an opera singer from Germany) on
a solo date with Juan Pablo Galavis, a former soccer player from Venezuela.
That’s in South Korea; the other women split into two groups of six – one for
pop music and dancing, the other for an offbeat night, ranging from karaoke to
a fish pedicure.


“2 Broke Girls,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. Deke invited everyone to
his home at the dumpster. Soon, Caroline learns something key about his
background.


“Mike & Molly,” 9 p.m., CBS. After a fight (about money)
with Molly’s mom, Mike and Molly move in with his acerbic mother.


“Mom,” 9:30, CBS. Christy’s dad (Kevin Pollak) has been
absent throughout her life. Now, however, she tries to get to know him – a project
that upsets her mom.


“The Blacklist,” 10 p.m., NBC. As Liz probes an adoption
agency, Red has a new mole suspect.


“Archer,” 10 p.m. FX. Things keep getting worse for our
hero, who traded real drugs for counterfeit money. Now he frets about both
sides – police and drug kingpins – in a sometimes-funny episode.


“Castle,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. Here’s a cops-and-robbers
variation on “The Devil Wears Prada”: The assistant to a tyrannical magazine
editor has been killed.


 

TV column for Sunday, Jan. 26



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: Grammy awards, 8-11 p.m., CBS.


Known for its “Grammy moments,” this show tends to mix-and-match
splendidly.


Tonight has Sara Bareilles and Carole King, Stevie Wonder
and Pharell Williams, Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons, Robin Thicke and
Chicago, Metallica and China Lang Lang, Pink and Nate Ruess of Fun, Def Punk
and Nile Rodgers of Chic. It links Blake Shelton, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson
and Merle Haggard, closing with Nine Inch Nails, Dave Groh, Lindsey Buckingham
and Queens of the Stone Age.


Separate performers include Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Keith
Urban, Lorde, Kacey Musgraves, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Hunter Hayes, John
Legend and the duo Macklemore & Robin Lewis.


TONIGHT’S ODDITY: “Masterpiece Mystery,” 10 p.m., PBS.


Nothing on TV can match “Sherlock” for whip-smart dialog.
It’s slick, smart … and sometimes excessive.


This is one of those times, as Watson (Martin Freeman)
marries Mary Morstan, played by Amanda Abbington, Freeman’s longtime life
partner. Refusing to acknowledge his mixed emotions, Sherlock Holmes plunges
into a case. It’s all quite witty … so much so that it virtually ignores the
case itself.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Girls,” 10 p.m., HBO; and
“Episodes,” 10:30 p.m., Showtime.


Put these two together and you have a reminder of how good
some pay-cable comedies can be.


“Girls” has Hannah (Lena Dunham) learning of a death. Her
thoughts are of career, not mourning; soon, there’s a brilliant view of our
varied responses to death.


Then “Episodes” has people adjust to the new network boss;
under his imposing exterior, he’s a self-described mess. Meanwhile, Matt dreams
of getting out of the show.


Other choices include


Grammy previews, cable. The red-carpet previews start at 5
p.m. ET on the TV Guide Network (including Chris Harrison) and 6 p.m. on E
(with Ryan Seacrest). E also has a Grammy preview at 4 p.m. and a post-Grammy
show at 11:30 p.m.; TV Guide simply reruns the red-carpet show at 8 and 11.


Pro Bowl, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC, with pre-game at 7. An already
meaningless game became more so when the NFL skipped conferences and went with
random teams chosen by two former greats. Jerry Rice’s team is led by Drew
Brees and Philip Rivers, Deion Sanders’ by Andrew Luck and Cam Newton.


“The Bachelor: Sean and Catherine’s Wedding,” 8-10:01 p.m.,
ABC. Amid a sea of busted engagements, “Bachelor” celebrates its rare
marriages. In November of 2012, Sean Lowe proposed to Catherine Giudici; here’s
their wedding live, plus preparation plans.


“Masterpiece Classic,” 9 p.m., PBS. “Downton Abbey” finally
resolves (sort of) its troubled Anna-Bates storyline. Meanwhile, a tenant issue
gives us a fresh picture of Robert, the estate’s patriarch.


“Castle,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. This transplanted rerun has two
competing teams, one with Beckett and the other with Castle, probing the death
of a former child star.


 

TV column for Saturday, Jan. 25



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

Seth Meyers is wrapping up a great, eight-and-a-half year
run as “Weekend Update” anchor. Now he’s getting set to take over the weekday
late slot (12:35 a.m.) after the Olympics.


That means Meyers has only two more Saturdays at the desk,
before Cecily Strong (now his co-host) takes over. Tonight, Jonah Hill hosts,
with Bastille as music guest; another episode reruns at 10 p.m.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Lizzie Borden Took an Ax,” 8-10
p.m., Lifetime.


Back in 1892, some people assumed murder was the exclusive
domain of thugs and brutes and … well, males. Then Borden – 32, from a wealthy
Massachusetts family – was accused of savagely axing her father and step-mother
to death.


No one knows if she did it; this film follows the historical
events, adds its own view near the end. What makes it worthwhile is its period
look, skilled direction and solid cast. Christina Ricci stars, with Clea DuVall
as her sister and Billy Campbell as a defense attorney facing steep odds.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Black Sails” debut, 9 p.m., Starz;
also 10:10 and 11:20 p.m. and 2:20 a.m.


Back in 1715, pirates still ruled the sea and controlled the
lawless New Providence Island.


Their world was changing, though, as the British Navy
grasped for control. First, Captain Flint tries for a big score. He links with
Eleanor Guthrie – who uses her father’s power to rule the island … and with a
scheming young sailor named John Silver. This series is a “Treasure Island”
prequel, tossing in all the touches – violence, strong visuals, strong women,
occasional sex – that modern audiences want.


Other choices include:


“The Godfather” (1972) and “The Godfather, Part II” (1974),
9 a.m. and 1 p.m., then 5:30 and 9:30 p.m., AMC. Two of all-time great movies
are show (twice) back-to-back.


“Flushed Away” (2006), 8-10 p.m., ABC. Life always seems
difficult when you’re flushed down a toilet and into the London sewer. That’s
what happens to a mouse in this animated film.


“Shaun White: Russia Calling,” 8 p.m., NBC. Desperately
needing stars for the Winter Olympics, NBC turns to White -- young (27), flashy
and a winner. He won snowboarding gold in the last two Olympics; he also has a
record 13 gold medals in the X Games, plus 10 ESPY awards. This documentary
(produced by White) watches him juggling his training, businesses and relationships.


“Mike and Molly,” 8 p.m., CBS. Mike makes the mistake of
storming off. Molly retaliates by shopping.


“Two and a Half Men,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. Jenny move in with her
grandmother (Holland Taylor) and grandma’s rich boyfriend (Carl Reiner).


“NCIS,” 9 p.m., CBS. Transporting a body from a crime scene,
Ducky and Jimmy disappear.


“School of Rock” (2003), 10:01 p.m., MTV. Jack Black plays a
floundering musician who schemes his way into a substitute-teaching job. The
result has heatr, humor and some dandy music.