TV column for Monday, May 23


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Dancing With the Stars” (ABC) or “The Voice” (NBC), 8 p.m.

Both shows will pick
their winners Tuesday, so this is the last chance for viewers to
vote. On ABC, it's one hour and the final three: Nyle DeMarco -- the
deaf model-actor, 27, already an “America's Next Top Model”
champion -- faces martial artist Paige VanZant, 22, and meteorologist
Ginger Zee, 35.

On NBC, it's two
hours and the final four, this time split evenly between all four judges. Blake Shelton has Adam Wakefield. Pharrell Williams has Hannah
Huston, Christina Aguilera has Alison Porter and Adam Levine has Laith Al-Saadi, who received the final save.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Bachelorette,” 9:01-11 p.m., ABC.

JoJo Fletcher's
place in “Bachelor” history is unenviable: She's the only one to
hear “I love you,” yet be rejected. Now she's in charge, with
guys ranging from the charming Jordan Rodgers -- a former college
quarterback, like his superstar brother Aaron – to one who babbles
and goes virtually naked.

Others strain for
attention with what they ride (a motorcycle, a fake unicorn) or wear
(kilts, a Santa suit). Musically, one plays the piano (beautifully),
one plays the guitar (adequately); Wells Adams, a Nashville disc
jockey, tops that with All 4 One, an cappella group, as his personal
soundtrack.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Odd Couple,” 8:59 and 9:29 p.m., CBS.

For most of the
season, CBS ignored this show; now it's gone the other way. After
seven months on the shelf, “Odd Couple” has been airing twice a
week and will get a Monday spot this fall.

That makes sense.
“Odd Couple” gets a tad silly at times, lacking the smarts of a
“Mom” or “Big Bang Theory”; still, it fires out fast-paced
jokes, some of them quite funny. Tonight's first episode has Felix
and Oscar competing heatedly for president of the tenant association;
the second, the season finale, has Oscar reluctantly trying Online
dating ... and ending up with Felix's ex-wife.

Other choices
include:

“Clean Break,”
any time, www.acorn.tv. In a small
Irish town, a car dealer finds his business is failing and his
daughter is out of control. He concocts a revenge scheme, in this
four-part drama.

“The Price is
Right,” 8 p.m., CBS. Over the next three nights, the show will have
primetime specials with contestants and fans of “Surivivor”
(tonight), “Big Brother” and “Amazing Race.” This one has
audience favorite Rupert Boneham and others, including three past
winners – Tina Wesson (Season 2), Rob Mariano (22) and Jeremy
Collins (31).

“Gotham”
season-finale, 8 p.m., Fox. There's a crisis (again): Det. Gordon and
young Bruce Wayne are captive in the research facility under Dr.
Strange's strange asylum. Also, the inmates plan an escape.

“Houdini &
Doyle,” 9 p.m., Fox. Reports are spreading about a high-leaping
beast with demonic eyes. For Conan Doyle, who believes in the
supernatural, this is possible; Harry Houdini has his doubts.

“Whose Line Is It
Anyway?” season-opener, 9 and 9:30 p.m., CW. Each summer, CW
scatters some new shows (low-budget, pleasant-enough) amid the
reruns. This one has brilliant improvisers – Ryan Stiles, Wayne
Brady and Colin Mochrie. They link with Gary Anthony Williams in the
first half-hour and Keegan-Michael Key in the second.

“Person of
Interest,” 9:59 p.m., CBS. Angry about not being told what's
happening, Fusco tackles some missing-persons cases on his own.
Meanwhile, Finch and Reese head to a wedding, to protect two people
the machine identified.

“Blindspot”
season-finale, 10:01 p.m., NBC. While the team struggles to save a
friend, Weller searches for the truth and Jane tries to help Oscar.

TV column for Sunday, May 22


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Billboard Music Awards,” 8-11 p.m., ABC.

These people work
hard to assemble stars, past and present. There's an award to Celine
Dion, who will sing ... and another to Britney Spears, who will do a
medley of her hits. Madonna will perform a tribute to Prince. And
there are duets – Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, Nick Jonas and
Tove Lo.

There's much more,
with music by Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Fifth Harmony, Ariana Grande,
Pink, the Go-Gos, Meghan Trainor, Shawn Mendes, DNCE and even a new
Adele video.It should be fun.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Masterpiece: Wallander” finale, 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).

Here's the 12th
and final movie about police Det. Kurt Wallander. Most have been set
against the stark Scandinavian countryside; all have richly reflected
that same pensive mood.

But now there's an
added element, as Wallander's memory fades. After he left his pistol
in a restaurant, he had to turn in his badge; still, he pushes ahead
with a complex case involving his daughter's father-in-law.
Brilliantly performed (as usual) by Kenneth Branagh, “Wallander”
ends emotionally.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Preacher” debut, 10-11:30 p.m., AMC.

As each intriguing
scene rolls by, a thought builds: “Hey, this is fascinating; I
wonder what it's about.”

There are preachers
who explode (literally) in Africa and Russia. There's makeshift
anti-aircraft fire in Kansas ... a violent bartender miles above
Earth ... a barroom brawl between a pastor and a pack of Civil War
re-enactors. Each scene is beautifully directed by Seth Rogen and
Evan Goldberg, who helped adapt the graphic novel. Still, we wish we
knew what it was about; we'll stick with it to find out.

Other choices
include:

Red-carpet coverage,
6-8 p.m. ET, E. This cable channel handles the fashion-gushing duties
for the Billboard awards. ABC skips that and has the “America's
Funniest Home Videos” season-finale at 7.

“Psycho” (1960),
6:30 and 11:30 p.m., and “Nebraska” (2013), 9 p.m., Sundance. An
evening of black-and-white movies? It works because these two films –
an Alfred Hitchcock thriller and a drama-comedy with deep characters
– are beautifully crafted.

“All the Way,”
6:45 p.m. , HBO. If you missed the debut Saturday, here's another
chance. On Broadway, this won Tonys for best play and best actor; now
the movie again has Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Johnson, this time with
Anthony Mackie (Falcon in “Avengers:) as Martin Luther King.

“The Simpsons,”
7:30 and 8 p.m., Fox. First, a rerun finds an off-brand of drink
hurtling Bart and Lisa into puberty. Then the season-finale puts
Margein prison and forces Homer to do housework.

“Bob's Burgers,”
8:30 and 9:30 p.m., and “Family Guy,” 9 p.m., Fox. It's
season-finale time for all of Fox's animated shows. For “Burgers,”
the second episode happens to be its 100th overall.

“The Carmichael
Show,” 9:01 p.m., NBC. This comedy has been inconsistent, but hits
its stride whenever people start debating a controversial subject. It
so, the next couple episodes are promising – they view
porn-addiction tonight and Donald Trump next Sunday.

“Masterpiece: Mr.
Selfridge” finale, 10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings). This is
a show that stayed too long. Its start – brashly creating a London
deparrtment store – was fascinating; the end, with Harry
Selfridge's gradual decline, has been monotone. Still, the final few
minutes are excellent.

 

TV column for Saturday, May 21


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

Fred Armisen has
managed to spend most of his life in New York. He grew up on Long
Island, spent a decade on “SNL,” then became the band leader for
Seth Meyers' late show. He leaves occasionally – making short,
delightful seasons of “Portlandia” – but keeps returning.

Now Armisen – who
used to portray Barack Obama -- is back to host his old show,
wrapping a season that's had some fun with the political chaos.
Singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett is the music guest.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “All the Way,” 8 p.m., HBO, repeating at 12:55 a.m. and at
6:45 p.m. Sunday.

The movie “Selma”
showed Lyndon Johnson as a go-slow guy, clashing with Martin Luther
King over civil-rights marches. On Broadway, however, there was an
opposite view -- Johnson as a fierce force, charming and bullying, as
he pushed the historic Civil Rights Act through a reluctant Congress.

That won Tony awards
for best play and Bryan Cranston's performance. Now it's been adapted
into a movie, with Cranston again starring; Anthony Mackie – Falcon
in the “Avengers” films – plays King.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Spymasters,” 9-11 p.m., CBS.

This is the sort of
serious subject newsmagazines often skip. Under the “48 Hours”
banner, CBS talks to all 12 people who have led the CIA. “I found
that I was making decisions on life and death,” Leon Panetta
(2009-2011) says.

Donald Trump has
said he'd using waterboarding and more, but others have said torture
is immoral and produces unreliable results. “The agency is not
going to do this again,” Michael Hayden (2006-9) says.

Other choices
include:

Sports overload,
three networks. The playoffs gain momentum, with both hockey (St.
Louis at San Jose, 7:15 p.m. ET, NBC) and basketball (Cleveland at
Toronto, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). At the same time, Fox starts its
Saturday-night baseball line-up at 7:15 p.m. ET; varying by region,
it has Rangers-Astros, Cubs-Giants or Nationals-Marlins.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Fresh from seeing Tony's emotional departure Tuesday, viewers
can catch him in full-heroic duty, in this rerun of the
season-opener. While a quirky surgeon (Jon Cryer) struggles to save
Gibbs, Tony and a CIA agent (Mimi Rogers) head to Shanghai, hoping to
take down the villains.

“Toy Story”
(1995), 8-10 p.m., ABC. Two decades ago, the first full-length Pixar
film transformed the movie business. It had a great concept (the
after-hours lives of classic toys), an Oscar-nominated script and
computer animation. It's had two sequels (with another coming), two
TV specials and more. From “Finding Nemo” to “Inside Out,”
Pixar has emphasized wit while making a fortune.

“Despicable Me”
(2010), Disney; or “Despicable Me 2” (2013), FX, both 8 p.m. In
life after “Toy Story,” animated movies dominate, including this
overload. Fortunately “2” reruns at 10:30.

“Outlander,” 9
p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10:05 and 11:09. The time in Paris has been
harrowing for Claire and her husband. Now he's in prison for dueling
and she's in the hospital, where doctors struggle to save her and her
unborn baby. Also, the king asks her to judge two men accused of the
dark arts.

“Dr. K's Exotic
Animal ER: Gloves Off,” 10 p.m., NatGeo Wild. The “Dr. K”
series follows Dr. Susan Kelleher in South Florida; at 9 p.m., it
opens its season with a sumo dragon, a macaw and more. Then this
spin-off includes laser treatment for birds.

“Party Over Here,”
11 p.m., Fox. The season-finale of this sketch-comedy show is also
its second “best-of” compilaton.

TV column for Friday, May 20


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“I Love Lucy,” 8-9 p.m., CBS.

This is the latest
special to add color to old “Lucy” episodes ... and also the
best. Some episodes – from the days when the show had only two or
three writers – were sparse on laughs until reaching the big sight
gags. This one, with five writers, starts quite well, then keeps
getting better.

Lucy plans to steal
the ultimate Hollywood souvenir – John Wayne's footprints and
signature at the Grauman theater. By the time Wayne shows up in the
second half-hour, the humor is cascading; instead of one big sight
gag, there's a crescendo of them, each expertly handled by Lucille
Ball.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Grimm” season-finale, 8-10 p.m., NBC.

When one character
asks what happened, the reply -- “too much” -- is succinct and
accurate. Way too much happens, in a two-parter that sets some record
for facial transformations and fight scenes. One fight – Nick
attacks Capt. Renard (newly elected mayor) in the precinct station –
is truly absurd.

There are, of
course, good reasons to be mad at Renard. He's part of a scheme that
killed a candidate and forced Adalind – Nick's enemy-turned-lover –
to move in with Renard. Other plot details include Nick's late lover
Juliette (now the alive Eve), a magic splinter and (despite a good
finish) too much.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Shining” (1980), 7-10:30 p.m., AMC, and more.

Some great talents –
Stanley Kubrick, Stephen King, Jack Nicholson – combined for a
scary film that's brilliantly crafted, despite running too long.

Some more big films
follow at 8 p.m. on cable, including two Steven Spielberg classics.
He directed “Jaws” (1975, IFC) and produced “Back to the
Future” (1985, VH1). Also at 8: “Captain America: The First
Avenger” (2011, FX) and “Walk the Line” (2005, CMT), the
excellent Johnny Cash film.

Other choices
include:

“Easy A” (2010),
8-10 p.m., Fox. Emma Stone drew strong reviews for her performance as
a smart teen who's overlooked until she contrives a tale about sex
with an older guy.

“Masters of
Illusion” season-opener, 8 and 8:30 p.m., CW. When ABC's comedies
ended their seasons, Fridays became way too ... well, grim. Now this
show provides summertime fun. Dean Cain hosts, introducing a
fast-paced collection of magicians. Jonathan Pendragon is in both of
tonight's episodes.

“The Originals”
season-finale, 9 p.m., CW. Doom looms for the Mikaelson siblings.
Overrun by his enemies, Klaus goes on trial for centuries of
misdeeds. Elija and Freya scramble to save their family.

“Jazz,” 9-11
p.m., PBS (check local listings). The ninth of 10 chapters in Ken
Burns' terrific documentary views the late 1950s. As rock soared,
jazz lost some of its popularity. Still, the free-jazz sound drew new
fans and persistent debates.

“Undercover Boss”
and “Blue Bloods,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. For now, CBS will have new
episodes of “Boss” on both Sundays and Fridays – where it will
be followed by drama reruns. Tonight has the head of United Real
Estate Group, followed by an unspecified “Blue Bloods.”

“Banshee” series
finale, 10 p.m., Cinemax, rerunnin at 11 and midnight. Brutal,
lustful and well-crafted, this has been a solid surprise. zit
concludes with Hood ready to leave town – almost.

“Wynonna Earp,”
10 p.m., Syfy. A serial killer targets Wynonna as the next victim.
That's a poor choice, in a series based on a graphic novel about a
beautiful demon-fighter in the West.

TV column for Thursday, May 19


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.

This is the starts
the final week of the “sweeps” ratings period and of the official
TV season. Tonight (and six more nights) will be stuffed with
season-finales. Still, this rerun is today's best show.

It's a story that
had a five-year build-up: Sheldon and Amy finally consummate their
relationship. That includes some wonderful dream scenes, with Bob
Newhart as the late Professor Proton; even posthumously, Proton is a
funny guy. The result was the season's best episode of TV's best
comedy.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Blacklist,” 9 p.m., NBC.

For the previous
three episodes, Red (James Spader) and the team have focused intently
on one goal: Find the people responsible for killing Liz.

Now, NBC says, this
season-finale has them getting close ... until there's a major
detour: A betrayal leaves the team rushing to save one of its own.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Grey's Anatomy” and “The Catch,” 8 and 9-11
p.m., ABC.

The Shonda Rhimes
dramas tend to end their seasons with jolts. Last week's “Scandal”
-- with Jake having two vice-presidential offers AND a gun to his
head – was a prime example. Now “Anatomy” has Callie and
Arizona continuing their custody fight, while Jo reveals she's kept
secrets from Alex.

That season-finale
is followed by another – spread over two episodes – on “The
Catch.” Alice makes a push toward bringing down Ben's associates,
then ends up in jeopardy. Meanwhile, his boss Sybil Griffiths is in
town, ordering an ambition heist, pulled off during a high-end
wedding.

TONIGHT'S
MIGHT-RECORD: Teen movies, all night, Turner Classic Movies.

For a brief spurt,
American International Pictures delivered youthful entertainment on
tidy budgets. Tonight's line-up start and ends with goofiness --
“Beach Party” (1963) at 8 p.m. ET and “Dr. Goldfoot and the
Bikini Machine” (1965) at 5 a.m., ET. In between are some serious
attempts.

“The Wild Angels”
(1966, 10 p.m.) was boosted by Roger Corman's direction, Peter
Bogdanovich's help and a great score by Mike Curb (later California's
lieutenant governor). Corman's “The Trip” (1967) is 11:45 p.m.;
“Wild in the Steets” and “Three in the Attic” (both 1968) are
1:15 and 3:15 a.m.

Other choices
include:

“Legends of
Tomorrow” season-finale, 8 p.m., CW. Here's a re-set for the
time-travelers: Rip returns them to Central City, where they'll
decide whether to continue.

“Bones,” 8 p.m.,
Fox. Violence among acapella singers? A group's leader has been fired
and an ousted singer -- Jordan Fisher of Teen Beach” and “Grease
Live” -- is a prime suspect.

“The Odd Couple,”
8:30 and 9:30 p.m., CBS. In the first episode, Felix has a drastic
way to get his roommate Oscar to know his girlfriend better – have
them go on a sort-of date. In the second, he wants to impress her by
learning to drive; he asks everyone – except Oscar – to teach
him.

“The 100”
season-finale, 9 p.m., CW. Against steep odds, it's time for a
confrontation.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. A terrific season ends with Christy realizing how much it
would cost to continue college all the way through law degree. And
now that her daughter – a third-generation alcoholic – is back
home, there's something new: Bonnie, Christy's mom, tries to be a
disciplinarian.

“Rush Hour,” 10
p.m., CBS. Carter is supposed to protect a beauty who's a witness
against her brutal boss. In the tradition of such stories, he's soon
falling for her.