TV column for Wednesday, April 30



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Mixology,” 9:31 p.m., ABC.

Four weeks from its finish, this sleek comedy keeps getting
better. Yes, there’s still too much Bruce, but at least this episode admits how
annoying he is; its other stories are first-rate.


Last week ended with Liv (very drunk and virtually engaged)
suddenly kissing Ron (the droll Englishman) … who passionately returned the
kiss, even though he was talking to Jessica at the time. That’s when Liv’s
boyfriend arrived. Tonight’s episode ends hilariously, with the sexy bartender’s
song to Jessica.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Chicago P.D.,” 10 p.m., NBC.


Tuesday’s “Chicago Fire” started with a fierce bomb blast at
a hospital, alongside a race day. Firefighters made some rescues and disabled a
second bomb, but now there’s much more for the police to do.


One cop (Kim Burgess) was already at the race; now she frets
for her niece. A firefighter (Shay) has been concealing a serious injury. And
police question everyone – especially those involved with the Syrian
ambassador’s surgery – as they worry about more bombs.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Suburgatory,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.


For three seasons, Dalia has avoided effort or emotion. “Grades
don’t define me,” she explains; she focuses on what does define her – tanning,
shaping, glossing and such.


Somehow, her mother still expects her to get into a good
college; an admissions officer disagrees. The result – contrasted with Dalia’s
diligent neighbor Tessa – makes a clever episode, especially when Dalia
explores her potential in the military or the fast-food industry.


Other choices include:


“American Idol,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. The bad news is that it’s
an all-white final-five, for only the second time in 13 seasons. The good news
is that – despite last week’s departure of the talented C.J. Harris – these are
gifted singers. Tonight, each is mentored by Jason Mraz and does a song chosen
by viewers.


“Survivor,” 8 p.m., CBS. Things have been tough for the
pretty people lately. Only one of the six members of the original “Beauty”
tribe (Jefra Bland, 23, a former Miss Kentucky Teen USA) remains, against three
each from “Brawn” and “Brains.” Tonight brings some auction strategy.


“The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. Sue is suddenly serious about
earning a scholarship. Frankie is serious about work – trying to cover up the
fact that she forgot to send appointment-reminder cards to the patients.


“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC. Failing at his one task (waiting
at home for a repairman), Phil tries to concoct an elaborate lie. The pressure
gets to him … and to Gloria, who is planning the family portrait.


“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” 10 p.m., CBS. A series
based entirely on cyber-crimes? That’s what CBS has in mind, anyway. This
episode doubles as a pilot film, with Patricia Arquette as the cyber-expert.


“The Americans,” 10 p.m., FX. Philip is wavering now,
weighed down by last week’s missions (which went lethally off-plan) and by the
ongoing dispute over his daughter’s new interest in Christianity. In the midst
of this come tough assignments and a risky decision to trick Annelise into
doing one of them.


TV column for Tuesday, April 29



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Chicago Fire,”10 p.m., NBC.

It’s race day in Chicago, a bright and cheery time.
Firefighters are setting up a booth; an off-duty cop (the Kim Burgess character
from “Chicago P.D.”) brings her niece.


Then a bomb bursts in a hospital, bringing high-octane
trouble. One firefighter is buried; another is concealing a brutal injury. Two
little girls hover near death. One doctor is stuck on a ledge, another is grabbing
a spare liver. It’s a gripping hour that leaves some crises for Wednesday’s “Chicago
P.D.”


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Fargo,” 10 p.m., FX.


Who was that guy whose body was discovered in the Minnesota
snow? This hour – skillfully mixing slow humor and quick violence -- starts
with a flashback, then booms ahead.


Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) has been asked to stifle a blackmailer;
naturally, he sees a chance to take over and blackmail for much more. A Duluth
cop (Colin Hanks) realizes he let himself be intimidated into not catching
Malvo during a traffic stop. And only one deputy suspects what viewers know –
that mild-mannered Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) killed his wife


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle,” 9
p.m., PBS (check local listings).


As the Hispanic community grew and transformed in Los
Angeles, Ruben Salazar seemed to ignore it. He married a non-Latino, lived in
Orange County, assimilated.


Then Salazar, a Los Angeles Times reporter, began to agree
with the young rebels he had once scoffed at. He criticized officials and the
police … then was killed by a police tear-gas canister. The events, more than
40 years ago, still draw controversy and help illustrate a changing era.
Ranging from Salazar’s editors to his daughter to his richly written journal,
this hour tells a strong story.


Other choices include:


“Agents of SHIELD,” 8 p.m., ABC. Cobie Smulders – known
mostly for “How I Met Your Mother” – plays Agent Maria Hill, a role she’s
already had in two movies. She tries to help Coulson as his team crumbles.


“Glee,” 8 p.m., Fox. Shirley MacLaine guests as a socialite,
befriended by Blaine. Also, Rachel endangers her Broadway role by auditioning
for TV; Mercedes tries to include Santana in her record deal.


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. A Marine photographer disappears,
before he can testify in a controversial murder trial. Meanwhile, Abby tries to
help a young homeless woman reconnect with her family.


“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. Some important software
has been stolen and the lead engineer’s 10-year-old daughter is missing. Sam,
who once provided protection for her, searches for a link.


“New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox. Worried that a dance will be
sabotaged, Jess gets her friends to chaperone.


“The Mindy Project,” 9:30, Fox. Mindy is dating a cop (Tim
Daly); Danny is unhappy.


“Celebrity Wife Swap,” 10 p.m., ABC. After being a regular
in four situation comedies (from “Martin” to “Happily Divorced”), Tichina
Arnold has a leisurely life in New York with her husband (an assistant
basketball coach) and their 9-year-old daughter. Kelly Packard, a former
“Baywatch” beauty, has a busy California life, with her husband (a doctor),
four kids and many animals. Now they swap coasts and lives.


“Game of Arms” season-finale, 10 p.m., AMC. This show has
been following arm-wrestling teams in five cities. Now they converge for a
double-elimination tournament in Los Angeles.


TV column for Monday, April 28



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

Last year Ryan Hardy only had to worry about one brilliant
serial killer (Joe Carroll) and a handful of minions. Now there’s a second
master (Lily Gray), plus evil twins and the question of if Claire is alive.


Now this second season concludes with Ryan and Joe (Kevin
Bacon and James Purefoy) teaming on Lily’s turf. If the first season-finale was
any indication, expect something tough and tense.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Warehouse 13,” 9 p.m., Syfy.


With only four episodes left, “Warehouse” is in top form,
deftly mixing action, humor and emotion.


Tonight’s fun is at a Renaissance Fair, where a bumbling
juggler seems to be at the core of violence. The warmth – and the action aftershocks
– come when Claudia tries to nudge her sister out of a 15-year coma. “Warehouse”
has its share of silliness, but it also has skilled actors; there’s great work
tonight from Allison Scagliotti as Claudia, Joanne Kelly as Myka and Saul Rubinek
as their mentor Artie.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “All About Ann,” 9 p.m., HBO.


Ann Richards did everything with zest and gusto. As a Texas
mom and lawyer’s wife, she was at the center of every party and all the fun; as
a candidate, she campaigned furiously. A liberal in a conservative state,
admitting she was a recovering alcoholic and ducking cocaine rumors, she
started 18-percentage-points behind and was elected governor.


Four years later, Richards collided with the new combination
of George W. Bush and Karl Rove. Still, this fond portrait offers someone who broke
down barriers while using humor, candor and sheer zest.


Other choices include:


“Dancing With the Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Ricky Martin –
who has sold 70 million albums – opens with "Vida,” his World Cup song,
backed by the pro dancers. Then the competition resumes; seven dancers remain,
after last week’s ouster of Drew Carey.


“The Voice,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. The top 10 singers perform;
two will be ousted Tuesday.


“Friends with Better Lives,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. Kate’s love
life is a bit hectic and now she has accidentally slept with a male prostitute.
She’s wondering if there’s a way to take it back.


“Mike & Molly,” 9 p.m., CBS. Susan Sarandon returns as
the author Molly idolizes. Mike and Carl haven arrested her for driving under
the influence.


“Fish Tank Kings” season-opener, 9 p.m., NatGeo Wild. The
trouble with the creating a 5,000 gallon shark tank is finding a way to hoist
it through a second-story window. The trouble with a massive octopus tank is …
well, catching a massive octopus. Both projects get “Kings” off to a colorful
start.


“Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). In
2006, Chris Paine’s documentary (“Who Killed the Electric Car?”) criticized the
neglect and mistakes that kept us confined to gasoline; five years later, he
was far more upbeat with “Revenge of the Electric Car.” This rerun is now
slightly outdated, but offers an optimistic look at fresh interest by General
Motors and Nissan, plus the scrappy individuals behind Tesla and behind efforts
to rework existing cars, one at a time.


“The Blacklist,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. When a Czech politician is
framed for murder, Red suspects a man – known as The Kingmaker – who is behind
powerful politicians.  


TV column for Sunday, April 27



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed,” 10 p.m.,
Comedy Central.

For centuries, Gaffigan says, people have disliked fruit.
Artists only painted it because they knew no one would steal it; donuts would
have been swiped during the first session.


Gaffigan thinks that way. On the surface, he’s an Everyman,
a beefy father-of-five from Indiana; beneath that is a David Letterman favorite
whose sharp wit focuses on everyday things. He distrusts kale and any food with
its own casing; oranges are bad, clams are worse. He also frowns at weddings; “when
I see someone cry, I say, ‘Don’t worry, it probably won’t last.’”


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Bletchley Circle,” 10 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).


Tall, confident and clever, Millie figures she can improvise
her way through any situation. It’s a perfect role for Rachael Stirling, the
daughter of PBS favorite Diana Rigg.


In 1950s London, Millie is dealing in the black-market … and
in a bigger, scarier mess than she can handle. In this two-parter, her friends
– all former wartime code-breakers – scramble to save her. Some things work out
way too conveniently, but it’s an involving story with a skilled actress at the
core.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Silicon Valley” and “Veep,” 10 and
10:30 p.m., HBO.


Each week, “Silicon” satirizes techno-zillionaires, as an
earnest chap creates a big-money product. Tonight, he wakes up with a hangover
and the news that he gave his loud landlord a key position.


That episode is fairly good, but ”Veep” promptly follows with
a brilliant Silicon satire. Preparing her presidential campaign, Selina visits
a young tech whiz; under the playful image, she finds cunning.


Other choices include:


“The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox. Bart gets his teacher pregnant?
Well, sort of; it involves a voodoo doll.


“Resurrection,” 9 p.m., ABC. After a one-week movie break,
this show returns with people trying to rescue Rachael. Also, doctors keep
searching for clues about the people who returned from the dead


“The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS. Alicia becomes a witness, when
a body is found in the home of her client, Colin Sweeney. The episode was
directed by Josh Charles, after he left his acting role as Will.


“Game of Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO. Last week saw Jaime have sex
with his sister, alongside Joffrey’s casket. Even among “Game” royalty, this is
poor form; now he discusses his honor with Brienne. Meanwhile Tyrian is in jail
and his wife has fled; Wildlings and Daenerys make aggressive moves.


“Nurse Jackie,” 9 p.m., Showtime. Jackie’s family continues
to crumble. At work, however, she makes a masterly move, after finding an
overmedicated patient.


“Californication,” 9:30, Showtime. Hank’s life gets more
complicated – in funny ways, mostly – when the adult son he just met becomes an
assistant on the overwrought cop show he writes for.


“The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS. For Patrick Jane, the cases
have been much larger since he started working with the FBI. Now he finds a
vast human-smuggling ring.


“Mad Men,” 10 p.m., AMC. While Don takes a sudden trip, the
ad-firm partners face a decision.


TV column for Saturday, April 26



TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Despicable Me” (2010), 8 p.m., ABC; “The
Little Mermaid” (1989), 8:30, Disney.

Two Disney-owned networks compete with each other, giving us
some good animated choices.


“Mermaid” is the sweet one, with romance, optimism and
gorgeous artwork; it also has terrific songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, including
the Oscar-winning “Under the Sea” and the nominated “Kiss the Girl.” By
comparison, “Despicable” goes for the laughs, complete with a villain (Steve
Carell) who has his own minions and a scheme to steal the moon.


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


Here’s a rerun of Louis C.K.’s second hosting bit, with Sam Smith
as the music guest. It has some great moments when Kenan Thompson hosts “Black
Jeopardy,” with C.K. as the only white contestant, a black-history professor from
Brigham Young University.


That won’t match the brilliant bit they did previously, as
Lincoln and an ex-slave, but it brings some big laughs. When C.K. finally gets
a correct answer (to “things white people lie about”) he’s told: “Actually, we
would have accepted any answer.”


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Orphan Black” (BBC America) or “Da
Vinci’s Demons” (Starz), 9 p.m.


There’s something wrong with a world in which two of the
best and most imaginative dramas are at the same time. Fortunately, “Demons”
promptly reruns at 10.


Last week’s “Orphan” season-opener saw Sarah searching for
her daughter; now she’s shocked by where that leads. And last week’s “Demons”
(rerunning at 8), saw both Leonardo da Vinci and Prince Lorenzo Medici find
fresh trouble at the end of their journeys; tonight, the prince is in a bloody
game and the painter is at the Vault of Heaven … along with his enemy Riario.


Other choices include:


“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1” (2010) and “Part
2” (2011), 5:30 and 9 p.m., ABC Family. The epic tale concludes in this cable
double-feature.


Racing, 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox. NASCAR is in Richmond, Va.,
launching a night of sports overload. ESPN has the basketball play-offs at 7
and 9:30 p.m. ET and the NBC Sports Network has hockey playoffs at 7:30. In the
afternoon, there’s more of each – basketball at 2 and 4:30 on TNT, hockey at 3
on NBC,


“Two and a Half Men,” 8 p.m., CBS. This reruns the episode
that brought back Rose, Charlie’s old stalker. She has to help out, after Alan’s
affair with Lyndsey puts Walden in danger.


“Bad Teacher,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. In a quick rerun of Thursday’s
opener, we see Meredith (Ari Graynor) find herself divorced and -- due to a bad
pre-nuptial agreement -- broke. Her solution is to fake a resume and become a
teacher at a ritzy school, where she’ll find a rich dad to marry. The principal
(David Alan Grier) is gullible; colleagues are inspired (Sara Gilbert),
suspicious (Kristin Davis) or amused (Ryan Hanson).


“NCIS,” 9 p.m., CBS. This rerun has Gibbs re-examine a
hit-and-run case, after learning about a confidential alibi. Meanwhile, McGee
is suspicious of Tony’s odd behavior.


“Joan & Melissa,” 10 p.m., WE. Joan Rivers insists her
daughter be her magician’s assistant.