TV column for Sunday, Aug. 13


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Teen Choice Awards,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

OK, this isn 't
exactly the Nobel Prize or the Peabody Awards. It's a show in which
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has nominations from three movies.
Still, we can expect lots of fun and music.

It opens with “iSpy”
by rapper Kyle (with Lil Yachty and Rita Ora) and closes with Ora.
Lil Yachty also does “Forever Young.” Also performing are Rae
Sremmurd; Louis Tomlinson with Bebe Rexha; Clean Bandit with Zara
Larsson; and French Montana. Miley Cyrus and Maroon 5 get special
awards.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Nineties,” 9 p.m. ET, CNN (barring breaking news).

Yes, the computer
revolution began in the 1980s. Still, the next decade brought its
giants. The World Wide Web didn't reach the public until 1991. Amazon
started in '94, ebay and Match.com in '95, Google and PayPal in '98
... a year after Steve Jobs returned to save a dying Apple.

This hour views all
of those changes, plus the emergence of controversy. There were
predators and pornographers, plus hackers, the bursting dotcom bubble
and the non-bursting Y2K.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Dramas end and start, cable.

Two shows end their
seasons. At 9 p.m. (repeating at 10) is TNT's “Claws”; Desna is
chased by Roller who's chased by the Russians. At 10 is Showtime's
“I'm Dying Up Here,” set in 1970s comedy. Tonight, Goldie forces
Cassie to take a stand; then an event changes everything for her
comedy club.

Also at 10, the “Get
Shorty” series has its dandy debut on Epix. Loosely based on an
Elmore Leonard novel (which became a 1995 movie), this links a
low-level movie producer (Ray Romano) with a lower-level mobster
(Chris O'Dowd). The result ripples with a droll, “Fargo”-style
humor.

Other choices
include:

“Tangled”
(2010), 6:50 p.m., and “Tangled: The Series,” 8:30, Disney. We
can see Rapunzel and a former thief in the movie and in the TV
series. Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi star in both.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., ABC. Is it really fair to pit an
athlete-turned-actor against a brainy space scientist? We'll see in
this rerun, when Rick Fox's family faces Neil deGrasse Tyson's. The
other match has Nich Lachey leading boy-band veterans against Carnie
Wilson and girl-groupers.

“Funderdome,” 9
p.m., ABC. This is what we all deserve for football season – a
tailgate cooler that includes drink dispensers, a grill and a
Bluetooth speaker. Competing for funding, it goes against a tailgate
chair that turns into a goalpost for a high-energy game.

“Chesapeake
Shores,” 9 p.m., Hallmark. Abby's dad (Treat Williams) plans to
sell the nightclub that he built with Trace (Jesse Metcalfe), Abby's
past and now-current boyfriend.

“$100,000
Pyramid,”10 p.m., ABC. Two “This Is Us” stars, Justin Hartley
and Crissy Metz, compete. So do singer Usher and football star Von
Miller.

“The History of
Comedy,” 10 p.m., CNN (barring breaking news). Viewing the tendency
to mock politics and political leaders, this ranges from court
jesters to cartoonists to sketches and one-liners.

“Oklahoma City
Bombing: As We Watched,” 10 p.m., American Heroes Channel. This
views the 1995 crisis that killed 168 people and injured hundreds. It
follows the quick investigation that led to the arrest and conviction
of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

TV column for Saturday, Aug. 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Orphan Black” finale, 10 p.m. ET, BBC America.

A great series
concludes tonight ... and, we'll assume, a great career is just
starting.

When “Orphan”
began five years ago, Tatiana Maslany was an obscure Canadian
actress. At first, she was Sarah, a streetwise drifter who took the
identity of a lookalike cop; then she added a dizzying set of other
clones, uncovering the conspiracy that created them. She's won an
Emmy, a Television Critics Association award and more, in a terrific
show that concludes tonight.

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

This is a big week
for “SNL.” On Thursday, it opened its summer run of “Weekend
Update”; now it has an exceptionally good rerun, with Louis CK as
host and the Chainsmokers as music guests.

Yes, there are odd
moments; there always are. They include CK as a lawyer with lovely
eyelashes and as an angry soda-fountain clerk. Still, there's much
more: CK's long monolog about racism, Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump
and Bill O'Reilly, a satire of Kendall Jenner's Pepsi ad ... and an
odd film with a sad clown at a guy's 53rd birthday party.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Turn” finale, 9 p.m., AMC, rerunning at 10:15.

This is farewell
night for Saturday scripted shows.

Last week, Abe's
spying paid off powerfully. Using his information (plus some huge
help from the French navy), George Washington got his mega-victory at
Yorktown. Now we see the personal aftershocks: Abe re-bonds with his
family, Benedict Arnold faces the disdain of a nation and of his
wife. We also see the efforts to formally end the war and start a
nation.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Rescue Dog to Super Dog” debut, 10 p.m., Animal
Planet, rerunning at midnight.

A young Marine
veteran, Kelani Cruetzburg found himself overwhelmed by depression.
Then he was given Bas, a dog who gave him a fresh sense of purpose.

Such stories are at
the core of this reality series. Nate Schoemer (also an ex-Marine)
and Laura London take dogs from shelters and bring them to people in
need. Some dogs learn specific tasks; others, like Bas, simply do
what they're best at – becoming great friends.

Other choices
include:

J.K. Rowling films,
cable. Freeform loads up (again) on Harry Potter films. It has the
third and fourth ones at 8:30 and 11:45 a.m., skips one and has the
final three at 3:30, 7:15 and 10:50 p.m. Rowling's “Fantastic
Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2016) – great visuals, so-so
story – is at 8 p.m. on HBO.

“School of Rock,”
7-9:30 p.m., Bravo; also, 8:30 p.m., Nickelodeon. Mike White wrote a
clever script about a drifter rocker (Jack Black) who becomes a
substitute teacher. Richard Linklater directed skillfully; the result
was a delight, leading to a Broadway musical and to the Nick series.

“Doubt” finale,
8 and 9 p.m., CBS. Stuffed with stars – Katherine Heigl, Elliott
Gould, Laverne Cox, Dule Hill – this failed in a good timeslot,
then was exiled to Saturdays. Now Sadie (Heigl) gives her closing
argument in the murder trial of her sometimes-lover (Steven Pasquale)
... who is holding something back. There are two other cases and her
mother (Judith Light) is in prison and has cancer.

“Love Connection,”
9 p.m., Fox. Here's a rerun of the July 20 episode of this amiable
dating show, hosted by Andy Cohen. It's preceded at 8 by an “F
Word” rerun with Gordon Ramsay.

“Summer in the
Vineyard,” 9 p.m., Hallmark. The modestly pleasant “Autumn in the
Vineyard” (2016), which reruns at 7, had Rachael Leigh Cook and
Brendan Penny competing for ownership of a vineyard. Now the sequel
has them ready for their first vintage.

“In an Instant,”
10 p.m., ABC. In 1994, a gunman with a homemade bomb took over the
Salt Lake City library. Librarians acted quickly to get most people
out of the building. One person who stayed, however, was a sheriff's
lieutentant with a concealed weapon. This rerun tells the story.

TV column for Friday, Aug. 11


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“MacGyver,” 8 p.m., CBS.

After being bumped
last week by the “We Day” special, “MacGyver” returns with a
rerun that offers two pluses – a peek imto its hero's roots and a
guest spot by John Heard, who died last month at 71.

Heard plays the
middle-school science teacher who inspired Mac. Now his latest
prodigy, Valerie, has been kidnapped. That happens just as Mac and
Bozer (Lucas Till and Justin Hires) are visiting their old hometown;
Mac – armed only with pliers and speaker wire – rushes to the
rescue.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Dark Matter,” 9 p.m., Syfy.

A terrific season
has just three episodes left. Ratings have been so-so and there's no
word yet on a fourth season, so let's savor this while we can.

Lately, part of the
story has been propelled by the Android and her newly discovered
memories. Now one of them takes the crew to a suspicious dwarf star
facility on Nova 17.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Son of Sam: The Killer Speaks,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Thursday marked the
40th anniversary of the day David Berkowitz was arrested.
He promptly confessed to the “Son of Sam” killings, ending a year
of terror.

As two cable
specials have pointed out this week, Berkowitz now says he's become a
devout Christian, calling himself “Son of Hope.” He's also done
few prison interviews; here's one, with CBS.

Other choices
include:

“Captain America:
The Winter Soldier” (2014), 7-10:30 p.m., Fox. Here's the first of
a cascade of light (mostly) films with broad audience appeal. At 8
p.m. are dramas -- “The Sixth Sense” (1999) on Lifetime and
“Jurassic Park” (1993) on Spike. For comedies, “Due Date”
(2010) is at 8 p.m. on CMT; at 8:30, Comedy Central has “Wedding
Crashers” (2005) and MTV has “The Hangover” (2009).

“America's Got
Talent” (NBC), 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a rerun of Tuesday's
episode, the last with the judges in charge. They trim the field to
36; next week, live episodes begin and viewers vote.

“Killjoys,” 8
p.m., Syfy. Dutch (the terrific Hannah John Kamen) deserts her
colleagues and risks a dangerous procedure, connecting her to
Aneela's memories.

“Chesapeake
Shores,” 8 p.m., Hallmark. In a change, Hallmark will rerun
Sunday's season-opener. With pretty people in a gorgeous setting,
problems pop up. Trace faces two crises, one with family and the
other with the law. Abby must rush to work and her sister is
overwhelmed by the start of her inn.

“Blue Bloods,” 9
p.m., CBS. Nudged an hour earlier than usual, the show reruns an hour
that tackles controversy. Judy Reyes plays a community activist who,
it turns out, isn't a citizen; Erin and her investigator try to
prevent her deportation. Meanwhile, Erin's father (Tom Selleck), the
police commissioner, must decide if the New York police will join a
federal raid of a local gang.

“Beat Shazam,” 9
p.m., Fox. More competition reruns: This one (the Aug. 3 episode of
the music gameshow) follows an 8 p.m. rerun of Wednesday's
“MasterChef,” with a visit by last year's winner, Las Vegas DJ
Shaun O'Neale.

“Wynonna Earp,”
10 p.m., Syfy. When a vengeful wish goes awry, allies battle each
other.

TV column for Thursday, Aug. 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Weekend Update: Summer Edition” debut, 9 p.m., NBC.

This has been a boom
year for any show – real or fake – that deals with the news.
“Saturday Night Live” has seen its ratings jump 36 percent, NBC
says, giving it the most viewers in 23 years.

So now the show
spins off some extra “Weekend Update” half-hours on summer
Thursdays, anchored by Colin Jost and Michael Che. We're guessing
that they'll find something to joke about.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Night Shift,” 10 p.m., NBC.

This summer series
tends to offer an adequate mix of medical, military and personal
stories. In a San Antonio hospital, surrounded by military bases,
many of the doctors are active-duty or veterans.

Now that's the focus
of this episode, as vets fill the waiting room. It's an hour written
and directed by veterans; others have guest roles, including infantry
vets Josh Kelly (“UnReal”), who was in Afghanistan, and Dan
Lauria (“Wonder Years”), who was in Vietnam.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “First in Human” debut, 9-11 p.m., Discovery,
rerunning at 11.

Deidra Williams had
run out of options. She was gravely ill from a sickle-cell ailment
and her doctors had no solution. Then she went to “Building 10,”
on the National Institute of Health campus.

There, she recovered
via bone marrow stem-cell transplants from her sister. That story
and others are told in this documentary series about a government
program that sometimes finds medical miracles.

Other choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a hilarious rerun, the guys finally have a
plan for getting Sheldon out of the way: They buy him tickets to an
historic railway.

“Boy Band,” 8
p.m., ABC. The odds are starting to look good for the guys still in
the running. Only nine remain and there may be five spots in the
band. Tonight, they're split into three groups, to perform songs made
famous by women.

“Project Runway”
preview, 8 p.m., Lifetime. The new season will start next Thursday.
First, Tim Gunn introduces the 16 contestants and shows their
audition tapes.

“The Story of
Diana” conclusion, 9-11 p.m., ABC. Here's the second half of the
documentary film that started Wednesday. It bumps “Battle of the
Network Stars” and “The Gong Show.”

“Superstore,”
9:30, NBC. In a rerun, a late shipment forces all the workers to stay
at the store overnight. That creates collisions, humor and, of
course, bonding.

“Zoo,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. First, the team must rescue Isaac, who is the son of Abe and
Dariela. Then Mitch and Jamie head to California, seeking information
on a new hybrid.

“In the Heat of
the Night” (1967), midnight ET, Turner Classic Movies. This superb
film won five Oscars, including best-picture and best actor (Rod
Steiger). It's part of an all-day Sidney Poitier marathon that
includes “To Sir, With Love” (1967) at 8 p.m. ET and “The
Defiant Ones” (1958) at 10.

TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Story of Diana” opener, 9-11 p.m., ABC.

This mismatch seemed
to fascinate people worldwide: A teen-ager -- living with three
flatmates and working as a pre-school assistant – was dating the
heir to the British throne.

Lady Diana Spencer
was tall, well-born and undereducated. Her wedding with Prince
Charles was seen by 750 million people worldwide; her subsequent
highs and lows kept drawing intense interest. Now People magazine and
ABC have linked for this four-hour film (concluding Thursday), which
mixes fresh interviews – including Charles Spencer, Diana's brother
– and old footage.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Carmichael Show” finale, 10 and 10:30 p.m., NBC.

A worthy experiment
concludes. For three seasons – but only 32 episodes, mostly in the
summer – Jerrod Carmichael has offered comedy with substance. Some
episodes were political, some were social. The quality was wildly
uneven, but each week remained interesting.

Now NBC has no plans
for a fourth season and is pushing the final episodes back an hour.
In the first, Jerrod and Maxine celebrate the third anniversary of
their first date and examine problems in meeting each other's
expectations. In the second, a discussion of money brings a
revelation about Maxine.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Mr. Mercedes” debut, 8 and 11 p.m., Audience Network
(DirecTV/AT&T).

Two master writers
combine. From “L.A. Law” and “Ally McBeal” to “Goliath”
and “Big Little Lies,” David E. Kelley has done some of TV's best
writing; now he adapts a Stephen King novel.

Don't expect King's
usual supernatural touch this time; the 10-week story sticks to great
characters and a fierce crime. Brendan Gleeson stars as a retired
cop, reluctantly returning to the search. Jack Bender – a gifted
force behind “Lost,” “The Last Ship” and more – directed it
beautifully.

Other choices
include:

“Kingsman: The
Secret Service” (2015), 7-10 p.m., FX. The British have always
known how to make super-spy stories fun. Here's a slick one, with a
wide-eyed young guy (newcomer Taran Egerton) working with a pro
(Colin Firth). The result – with a sequel coming next month –
mixes wit and action.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. The judges' cuts have finally ended and
the live round will begin Tuesday. First, here's a recap special,
looking at what's happened so far.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. Last summer's winner was Shaun O'Neale, a gregarious chap,
then 33, working as a Las Vegas DJ. Now he visits the show, using his
cookbook for the mystery-box challenge. Afterward, the elimination
round is coconut-themed.

“Speechless,”
8:30, ABC. In a rerun, Dylan really doesn't want a birthday party,
but his mother plans one anyway. She's like that, you know.

“Salvation,” 9
p.m., CBS. Scrambling for a way to save the Earth, Darius (the tech
mogul) has a dangerous mission for Grace and Harris (goverment
officials, aware of the crisis) and Liam (the grad student who
discovered it on his own). Meanwhile, Jillian confronts Liam about
his secret.

“Snowfall,” 10
p.m., FX. So far, Franklin has ignored the warnings of his uncle
Jerome; now he turns to him for guidance. Meanwhile, Teddy (the CIA
guy) ponders a new future for his family. And Gustavo, the
wrestler-turned-criminal, finds business partners from his past.

“The Lowe Files,”
10 p.m., A&E. Ever since he was a kid in Malibu, Rob Lowe has
been fascinated by the fact that a sort of underwater cave had been
found off the California coast. In his mind, it was an underwater
alien base; now he takes his sons to investigate.