TV column for Saturday, Nov. 21

“Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

Last season, “SNL”
had fun mocking those uber-dramatic car commercials featuring Matthew
McConaughey. Now McConaughey takes over as host -- his second time
and his first in a dozen years. Adele has her third turn as music

Let's assume that
“SNL” is best when an actor or comedian is host. The Donald Trump
episode had strong ratings, but weak humor; a week later, the
Elizabeth Banks one was a sharp improvement.

“Turkey Hollow,” 8 p.m., Lifetime.

It was almost a
half-century ago that Jim Henson thought of this amiable tale. Now,
25 years after his death, it's been turned into a movie that seems a
bit quaint and slight, but is thoroughly charming.

Engulfed in work and
divorce, a man takes his somber daughter and wide-eyed son to Turkey
Hollow. His hippie aunt (Mary Steenburgen) lives there, near a
scheming turkey-farmer and a forest said to hold a monster. And then
... well, Muppet-like touches provide some family fun.

ALTERNATIVE: More family films, 8 p.m., NBC and cable.

NBC's “Free Birds”
(2013) fits the season. A time machine (voiced by George Takei) helps
two turkeys (Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson) visit the first
Thanksgiving, where they try to change the menu.

There's more: “The
Smurfs 2” (2013), on FXX, has Neil Patrick Harris and other
live-action people trying to help the animated Smurfs. “Northpole”
(2014) on Hallmark has gorgeous settings, as an elf (Bailee Madison)
nudges a boy to help the Clauses (Robert Wagner and Jill St. John).

Other choices

“Ash vs. Evil
Dead,” 6:20 to 8 p.m. Starz, then 9, 9:30 and 11. You can catch up
on the series – bloody, gory, over-the-top, yet quite fun – in
one messy night. In the opener (6:20), the demons are back and Ash
must end his low-profile life in a hardware store. In the second
episode (7:03), his co-worker finds horror when visiting her parents.
The third (7:30) basically adds Lucy Lawless, as a mysterious woman
surveys that carnage. The new episode (9, rerunning at 9:30 and 11)
has an unlikely alliance.

Football, 7:30 p.m.,
Fox, and 8 p.m., ABC. Tonight's top games are both in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State (ranked No. 6) hosts Baylor (No. 10) on Fox; Oklahoma
(No. 7) hosts Texas Christian (18) on ABC.

“Code Black,” 8
p.m., CBS. Cress Williams has already made an impact on “Friday
Night Lights” (as the troubled father of a football star) and “Hart
of Dixie” (as the mayor). Now he's the new attending surgeon and
the son of Dr. Guthrie; in this rerun, he starts work and promptly
battles with Leanne.

“Da Vinci's
Demons,” 8 p.m., Starz. Last year's nasty episode found Leonardo
being tortured and drifting into dreams of a quiet life. Tonight,
he's paranoid and avoiding his friends.

Thanksgiving,” 8 p.m., Food Network. With the holiday just five
days away, Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri and Giada De Laurentiis offer tips
on everything from turkey to Brussels sprouts.

“Dr. Who,” 9
p.m., BBC America. A magical alien world, it seems, is hidden inside

“The Muppet
Christmas Carol” (1992), 10 p.m., Lifetime. Fresh from “Turkey
Hollow,” you should enjoy this gentle gem, with Michael Caine as
Scrooge. It was written by the late Jerry Juhl, who was the prime
“Muppet Show” and “Fraggle Rock” writer and co-wrote the
“Turkey Hollow” story.

TV column for Friday, Nov. 20


“Shining a Light: A Concert For Progress on Race in America,” 8
p.m., A&E, History, Lifetime, FYI and Lifetime Movie Network.

In a year shattered
by racial issues, music greats converge. The concert is expected to
include Bruce Springsteen, Pharrell Williams, John Legend, Sia, Jamie
Foxx, Sting, Pink, Ed Sheeran, Nick Jonas, Smokey Robinson, Big Sean,
Miguel, Jill Scott, Tori Kelly, Rhiannon Giddens, Andrea Day, Tom
Morello, Eric Church and the Zac Brown Band.

At 10 p.m. on A&E,
Williams and Legend will join Alicia Keys and reporters Soledad
O'Brien, Michele Norris and Byron Pitts, talking with people in
Charleston, Baltimore and Ferguson.

“Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Steve Schirripa,
best known at Bobby Baccalieri on “The Sopranos,” moves to the
other side of the law, as an investigator for the district attorney.
Erin (Bridget Moynahan) needs him after she takes over a case that
had a hung jurry.

Also, there's a
tricky role for Will Estes and Vanessa Ray: They're 37 and 34, but
their characters (Jamie and Eddie) go undercover as an elderly
couple, in a neighborhood troubled by gangs.

ALTERNATIVE: “First You Dream – the Music of Kander & Ebb,”
9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

For decades, John
Kander and Fred Ebb filled Broadway with great music. A couple shows
were big hits (“Cabaret,” “Chicago”); some were modest
successes, some flopped, but the songs soared.

This concert mostly
skips the familiar songs (except for including “New York, New York”
and “Cabaret”) and finds other gems. “All About Us” didn't
reach New York, but “At the Rialto” and “Military Man” are
amazing songs. Norm Lewis tops a great cast, alongside Kate Baldwin,
Heidi Blickenstaff, James Clow, Julia Murney and Matthew Scott.

Other choices

Junior,” 8 p.m., Fox. The 20 survivors face a mystery box
challenge, then must come up with a spectacular fish dish. Two of
them will be ousted.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. The big Thanksgiving dinner has shrunk;
only Eve, the youngest daughter, will be there ... and she resists a
family custom. Meanwhile, Kristin learns that Mandy lied about where
she and Kyle will be for the holiday.

Movies, 8 p.m.,
cable. Here are the starting points in two series of action epics --
“Lord of the Rings” (2001) on TNT and “The Hunger Games”
(2012) on ABC Family. For family fun, “Despicable Me 2” (2013) is
8 and 10 p.m. on FX.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. Thanksgiving dinner becomes a culture clash of sorts.
Ken's wife insists she's more Japanese than he is Korean; soon, each
is pushing traditional food for the guests.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. When a professor is killed, Danny goes undercover as his

“Grimm,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. This seemed like a good idea in the kings-and-castles days: A
mobster sends three guys on a quest, to win his daughter's hand;
things soon turn lethal. Meanwhile, Nick has trouble settling into
home life with his ex-nemesis Adalind and their baby.

“Z Nation,” 10
p.m., Syfy. After taking refuge in a hotel run by white-collar
survivors, Murphy – whose zombie-resistant body is crucial – is
shot at. The next job is to figure out who did it.

TV column for Thursday, Nov. 19

“How to Get Away With Murder” mid-season finale, 10 p.m., ABC.

The trouble with
good TV dramas is that they often have fewer episodes. Most shows
have 22 a year; classy cable ones have 13 or fewer. “Murder” --
sort of copying the cable people – has only 15 (the same as last
year); only six will remain when it returns this winter.

Packed into the
tight schedule are elaborate plots, Viola Davis' Emmy-winning
performance, a lot of frustration – and the expectation of sone
ansers and jolts tonight: We'll learn who shot Annalise; in the case
of the Hapstalls (accused of killing their parents), a breakthrough
will bring a deadly result.

II: “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.

Nothing says
Thanksgiving quite like going to thre aquarium with your
ex-girlfriend. Sheldon does that with Amy tonight, as they try out
the just-friends approach.

Alongside “Life in
Pieces,” that brings an hour of Thanksgiving episodes – usually a
great time for TV comedy. Here, Wolowitz reluctantly works in a soup
kitchen with Bernadette, Leonard and Penny – who is surprised by
how much Leonard knows about her. Elon Musk, the entrepreneur, plays

ALTERNATIVE: “The Art of More,” anytime,

Tommy (Christian
Cooke) was a tough Brooklyn kid whose dad talked about art. As a
soldier in Iraq, he found a way into the art world; now he has a new
name (Graham) and a big-deal setting.

Working for a
high-end dealer, his top targets are the cultured and troubled
Davenport (Cary Elwes) and the hard-edged Brukner (Dennis Quaid); his
opponent is the classy and sexy Roxanna Whitman (Kate Bosworth). This
is a slick production, bouncing easily between glamour and rage; all
10 episodes are available (with commercials) online, beginning today,
and you might find yourself binging.

Other choices

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. As rumors circulate, the doctors face a new crisis: A
wildfire brings a steady stream of injured firefighters.

“Bones,” 8 p.m.,
Fox. Preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving together, colleagues must
jump into a big case: A journalist was killed, shortly after exposing
National Security Agency corruption.

“Life in Pieces,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. In the TV tradition, the family Thanksgiving has
problems. Timothy and Sophia need a replacement for their spoiled
turkey ... Colleen's cauliflower brings a bad reaction ... and at the
Harvest Festival with her grandfather, Samantha sneaks into the maze
with her boyfriend.

“The Blacklist,”
9 p.m., NBC. Still on the lam, Red and Liz are suddenly separated
from each other. Samar makes a risky decision to help her, while Tom
and Cooper continue efforts to exonerate her.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. Having helped a young addict (Emily Osment), Bonnie and
Christy are newly obsessed with good deeds. Their next project is
played by familiar comedy star Judy Greer.

“2 Broke Girls,”
9:30 p.m., CBS. When their shower breaks, Max and Caroline take the
logical solution: Get a job at an upscale gym, so they can use the
locker room.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. Facing a complex case involving facial-recognition
software, Sherlock is distracted by his father (John Noble). He
agrees to help him ... if his dad promises to then leave town.

ALSO: “The Hunting
Ground,” an important documentary about campus rape, was scheduled
for tonight. With the ongoing coverage of Paris events, it's now been
moved to 8 and 11 p.m. ET Sunday.

TV column for Wednesday, Nov. 18

“Fargo,” 10 p.m., FX.

Already a very good
mini-series, “Fargo” becomes a great one as it focuses Ed and
Peggy Blomquist in small-town Minnesota. She (Kirsten Dunst) is a
beautician, with dreams of attending a self-help seminar; he (Jersse
Plemons) is a butcher, with dreams of buying the shop.

Both dreams faded
after they accidentally killed Rye Gerhardt. Last week, the Gerhardts
sent people to kill Ed. As he quietly told Peggy afterward: “The
shop burned down and I killed another fella – maybe two.” Now the
search – for Ed and Peggy and for Rye's brother Dodd – grows in
wild ways.

II: “Supergirl,” 8 p.m. CBS.

In an extremely late
switch, CBS has yanked the scheduled episode – a good one – and
replaced it with one timed to Thanksgiving. Kara's foster mother –
played by Helen Slater, who starred in the 1984 “Supergirl” movie
– visits; a scientist, she may disapprove of Kara's superhero

Meanwhile, a
volatile co-worker has an accident that – as these things so often
happen in the comic-book world – creates a transformation into the
villainous Livewire.

ALTERNATIVE: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” 8 p.m., CW.

Sure, Valencia knows
what guys like. (Hint: It's sex.) But Rebecca knows what parents
like; now she plans to make a great impression, mingling with Josh's
big, Filipino family during Thanksgiving.

There are solid
laughs there, juxtaposed with the tough times faced by Greg, the nice
guy Rebecca overlooks. He's played by Santino Fontana, a Broadway
star who was the prince in the “Cinderella” musical, At one
point, Greg even sings a passionate ballad; this is a truly talented

ALTERNATIVE II: “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local

Jyoti Singh insisted
she'd be a doctor, some day starting a rural hospital. To pay for med
school, she worked full-time at a call center; to help, her parents
sold their ancestral land. Then, near graduation, she went to the
“Story of Pi” movie; on the way home, she was raped and killed.

The case brought
passionate protests about India's attitudes toward women. So will
some of the comments here by those convicted: “A girl is far more
responsible for rape than a boy .... A decent girl won't roam around
at 9 o'clock at night.” Grotesque global attitudes are magnified

Other choices

“The Voice,”
8-10 p.m., NBC. In a busy, three-night stretch last week, “Voice”
trimmed from 20 singers to 12. Now it's back to two nights, with one
person to oust.

“Dancing With the
Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Last week, Alexa PenaVega was ousted by
viewer-vote ... shortly after getting a perfect score from judges.
Her husband Carlos is still in the running, alongside Bindi Irwin
(who also had a perfect score), Nick Carter, Tamar Braxton and Alek

“Pioneer Woman's
Ultimate Thanksgiving,” 8 p.m., Food Network. There's still time to
plan a throwback holiday. Ree Drummond prepares such not-everyday
items as maple-whiskey turkey and pumpkin-gingersnap cheesecake with
salted caramel sauce.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. Blackmailers want toforce the team to break into the
United Nations and help assassinate a deadly arms dealer.

“Minority Report,”
9 p.m., Fox. After spending early weeks on the fringe, Wilmer
Valderrama's role as Det. Blake expands; we learn his back story and
he's nudged into the core of the plot. Still, that story – a cop
using someone who can see crimes before they happen – remains
fairly flat and uninvolving.

“Blindspot,” 10
p.m., NBC. This plot keeps popping up – including last month on
“NCIS”: Agents (or cops or such) pose as a couple when going
undercover. This time, it's Jane and Weller.

TV column for Tuesday, Nov. 17

“American Experience,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

William Morgan was a
middle-class Midwestern kid in Toledo, Ohio. A Catholic, he was
expelled from two schools and ran away to join the circus; his dad,
an engineer, retrieved him. After a dishonorable discharge from the
Army, he tried the circus (again) and met some Miami mobsters.

That's when Fidel
Castro's revolution captured his imagination. Knowing no Spanish, he
went to the hills of Cuba. He became known as “the American
commandante,” famous, respected ... then executed for joining
another overthrow attempt, this time against Castro. It's a
fascinating story, well-told.

“Chicago Med” debut, 9 p.m., NBC.

By now, we know what
to expect from Dick Wolf's “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.”
-- solid (if unexceptional) character drama, against the backdrop of
big action scenes.

Now “Med”
arrives, slightly linked with the others. Will Halstead, a doctor,
has a brother on “P.D.”; April Sexton, a nurse, is an old friend
of Severide from “Fire.” All converged last spring, when the
hospital was bombed; now it re-opens ... just as a crash creates a
new crisis. “Med” has old pros (Oliver Pratt, S. Epatha
Merkerson) plus Yaya DaCosta (who played Whitney Houston on cable) as

ALTERNATIVE: “The Bastard Executioner,” 10 p.m., FX, rerunning at

This show started
with many of the elements from “Sons of Anarchy” – creator Kurt
Suter, actress Katey Sagal, flawed heroes and fierce violence. Its
backdrop (14th-century Wales) hasn't hooked viewers the
way Califorrnia bikers did; still, this extra-length season-finale
could be worth catching.

Wilken (Lee Jones)
is a rebel who took the identity of an executioner. Inside the
fortress, Chamberlain Milus Corbett (Stephen Moyer) has distrusted
him. Now, however, the two link in a rescue effort.

Other choices

“Erin Brockovich”
(2000) and “Finding Neverland” (2004), 6 and 9 p.m., ABC. Two
real-life stories are beautfiully told, each drawing a best-picture
Oscar nomination. Julia Roberts won an Oscar as activist Brockovich;
Johnny Depp was nominated as J.M. Barrie, the “Peter Pan” author.

“The Voice,” 8
p.m., NBC. Giving the “Chicago Med” debut a hardy lead-in, this
trims to 11 singers.

“The Muppets,” 8
p.m., ABC. Scooter has long had a crush on Chelsea Handler. When he
books her on the show, things heat up on-air and in his own life. And
on a double date, Kermit finds that Fozzie's girlfriend may be
harboring some secrets.

“Fresh Off the
Boat,” 8:30 p.m., ABC. TV comedies tend to be at their best with
Thanksgiving episodes. ABC has a bundle of them Wednesday, but here's
a warm-up: Finally getting a chance to prepare the feast for her
extended family, Eddie's mom obsesses on outdoing her sister.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. The case against a petty officer is being thrown out because of
a legal technicality. Still, he volunteers to face a court martial,
hoping to prove he's innocent.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. The city has been crippled by a blackout.
Pride pushes ahead, however, with an effort to solve the murder of a
family friend's fiance.

“Chicago Fire,”
10 p.m., NBC. Severide's anger boils over, when Captain Patterson
undermines him during a call. Also, Chief Boden's neighbor asks a
favor that has major consequences.