TV column for Friday, July 24


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Home Free,” 8 p.m., Fox.

If you missed this
show's debut on an overcrowded Wednesday, catch it on this thoroughly
undercrowded night. “Home Free” is a huge leap from Fox's
mean-reality-show days.

We meet nine likable
duos, each desperate to be the one that wins a gorgeous home. First,
they link to remodel a standard house, under the skilled eye of Mike
Holmes ... who must eliminate one duo each week. The catch: Those
“losers” don't realize they've won the house they just worked on.
The final minutes of the show, as that begins to sink in, are a total
delight.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Great Performances: Dudamel Conducts a John Williams Celebration
With the LA Phil,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

The first few
minutes of this concert show us the stunning range of composer John
Williams. First is a blast of trumpets and the rousing theme to the
1984 Olympics; then comes the haunting pain of Itzhak Perlman's
violin, with music from “Schindler's List.”

Some viewers will
consider Perlman's segment a tad slow, but stick around. Soon,
conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharonic have the
jazzy joy of “Catch Me If You Can,” then the booming sounds of
“ET” and “Star Wars” and such, plus a children's chorus
soaring with “Amistad.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Terminator” (1984), 8 p.m., BBC America, and
more movies.

For all the
commotion of its sequels, this original “Terminator” – smaller
and tauter – remains a classic. Now it leads a packed movie night,
at 8 p.m. on cable.

There are laughs
with “Ghostbusters” (1984) on IFC, hugs with “The Blind Side”
(2009) on TNT and screams with “Scream 2” (1997) on MTV. Also,
Starz has the animated “Big Hero 6” (2014).

Other choices
include:

More movies, cable.
If you're looking for large-scale adventure, there are two more
choices, from top directors. Chris Columbus' “Harry Potter and the
Chamber of Secrets” (2002) is 7-10 p.m. on ABC Family; Tim Burton's
“Alice in Wonderland” (2010) is 9-11:30 p.m. on TBS.

“Elementary,” 8
p.m., CBS. Launching a night of CBS reruns, Kitty is beginning to
crumble as her danger grows. As Sherlock tries to help, we learn
about the start of her relationship as his protege.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. When a neurosurgeon is killed, the case leads to the
disappearance of four reform-school boys, 40 years ago. Also,
McGarrett's car has been stolen.

“Knock Knock
Live,” 9 p.m., Fox. Well, it's not live any more, but it was on
Tuesday. This reruns the debut, with Ryan Seacrest hosting a show
that surprises strangers with gifts and opportunities.

“The Messengers”
series finale, 9 p.m., CW. It's time for the Messengers to battle the
Four Horsemen.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. When Jamie intervenes in an abusive relationship, he
becomes the guy's target. Meanwhile, his dad (the police
commissioner) faces the fall-out from insensitive remarks that were
made by his own father (the former commissioner) and leaked to the
press.

“Missing in
Alaska” debut, 10:03 p.m., History. Every year, this channel says,
4,000 people disappear in Alaska; most are never found. In the
northwest part of the state, one region is even compared to the
Bermuda Triangle, with exotic explanations. In this series, experts
trace cases.

TV column for Thursday, July 23


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Wayward Pines” finale, 9 p.m., Fox.

Last week, Ethan
(Matt Dillon) finally told townspeople the truth: They're somehow in
the distant future; outside the massive fences is a scorched world,
with creatures ready to kill them.

Now the new woes
pile up: Pilcher – the town founder, who called himself Dr.
Jennings – has turned off the fence electricity, with deadly
results. Nurse Pam (Melissa Leo) confronts him. The intense Academy
students take action. Fox still calls this the “season finale,”
but sometmes admits it's more than that – the series finale,
wrapping up an odd but compelling story.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Rookie Blue,” 10 p.m., ABC.

The season began
with Traci (Enuka Okuma) loaning her apartment to Andy (Missy
Peregrym) ... who then had to fight off an attacker. A massive search
for the neighborhood's serial rapist failed.

Now, four episodes
later, Traci fails to show up for a raid that she's been organizing.
Fearing that the rapist has returned, Andy and Gail start a frantic
search.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Fugitive” (1993) and “Rectify,” 7 and 10
p.m., Sundance.

First is a terrific
film about a straightforward world. A guy (Harrison Ford) was
wrongfully convicted of murder; all he has to do is break free, elude
a great cop (Tommy Lee Jones) and find the real killer.

Then “Rectify,”
a Peabody Award-winner, has a deeper, subtler world. We doubt that
Daniel killed his girlfriend, but to end his prison nightmare, he
signed a confession and plea bargain; he faces a deadline to leave
town. Tonight brings great scenes probing his anger issues ... and
strong detours to the women he's impacted -- his sister and
sister-in-law, superbly played by Abigail Spencer and Adelaide
Clemens.

Other choices
include:

“The Astronaut
Wives Club,” 8 p.m., ABC. In 1964, John Glenn launched his first
run for the U.S. Senate. This sees him on the campaign trail, with
his shy wife and her outgoing friend Rene Carpenter.

“Mom,” 8:30
p.m., CBS. Christy's quiet night alone is interrupted by a neighbor
(Colin Hanks). Also in this rerun, Bonnie's time with Alvin is
interrupted by his ex-wife (Beverly D'Angelo).

“Dateline,” 9-11
p.m., NBC. On Thursdays that are stuffed with non-reruns, NBC turned
out to be the loser. In a last-minute move last week, it exiled
“Aquarius” and “Hannibal” to Saturdays; now it must resort to
airing true-crime documentaries on TV's best night.

“Mistresses,” 9
p.m., ABC. Things go way too far for everyone – Joss helping
Calista's vengeance, Karen in her love triangle and Harry in the
aftershocks of having sex with his boss' mistress.

“Under the Dome,”
10 p.m., CBS. Big Jim has been taken prisoner by the corporation
that's trying to harness the dome's energy. Now he pumps Catherine
(Marg Helgenberger) for information.

“Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,”
10 p.m., FX. Johnny (Denis Leary) has to come up with five songs for
the album he'll make with his old bandmates and the talented daughter
he just met. Alas, they want him sober and he says he can't create
that way. The result is uneven, but has some funny moments.

“Married,” 10:30
p.m., FX. As her 40th birthday nears, Lina insists she
doesn't really want it noted. Her husband and friends aren't so sure;
the resulting party bounces between very funny and bittersweet. It's
a fine showpiece for the talented Judy Greer ... who did, indeed,
turn 40 on Monday.

TV column for Wednesday, July 22


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Last Comic Standing” season-opener, 9-11 p.m., NBC.

It's been a bumpy
ride, with eight previous seasons sprawled over 12 years. One time,
NBC skipped the show for three summers; another, it ordered two
editions ... then skipped the finale of the second.

Now “Comic” is
back, with more changes. It's shorter (eight weeks), has its fourth
host (Anthony Jeselnik) and has changed one of the judges (Norm
Macdonald replaces Russell Peters, alongside Roseanne Barr andKeenen
Ivory Wayans). At the core, however, is a show spotlighting gifted
comics.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Extant,” 9 p.m., CBS.

This is an ambitious
summer show, with Oscar-winners as producer (Steven Spielberg) and
star (Halle Berry). Ratings have slipped in this second season,
though, so CBS is moving it an hour earlier.

Tonight, Molly
scrambles to find a virus that would destroy alien hybrids. Also, her
artificial-human son escapes from his keeper, in an attempt to stir
his wiped-away memories of her..

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Debuts of “Home Free,” 9 p.m., Fox, and “Twinning,”
10 p.m., VH1.

In many ways, these
shows are opposites. “Home Free” -- a feel-good, home-fix-up show
-- has a terrific host (Mike Holmes) and, tonight, a wonderful
ending; “Twinning” has neither.

Still, there's a
common point: “Home Free” has a likable set of twins ...
inclucing the first person who gets a time out, for being overzealous
with a sledge hammer; “Twinning” pits a dozen sets of twins,
varying widely: Two guys dress alike and have never been apart for
more than 12 hours; two women have had sharply different looks for a
decade. You'll soon hate some twins and root for others.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No,” 9 p.m., Syfy,
repeating at 11.

Twice now – first
in Los Angeles, then New York – airborne sharks have rained down;
both times, Finn (Ian Ziering) has fought back with guts, luck and
(at times) a chainsaw. But now an attack is zooming down the entire
East Coast; as usual for disaster films, national monuments are early
targets.

This brings back
Cassie Scerbo as Nova, the action hero from the first “Sharknado,”
and piles up the cameo roles, some of them (David Hasselhoff, Mark
Cuban, Frankie Muniz) substantial. It has many flaws – scarce
humor, grisly violence, disjointed story – but never claimed to be
classy.

Other choices
include:

“Black-ish,”
8-10 p.m., ABC. Fresh from its Emmy nomintion (for star Anthony
Anderson), this comedy offers four straight reruns. It starts with
Dre (Anderson) trying to preserve Halloween traditions; it concludes
with him reluctant to tell his mom that his sister (Raven-Symone) is
a lesbian.

“Melissa &
Joey,” 8 p.m., ABC Family. This is basically a clip show, with
scenes from the past. Still, the basic set-up – a parlor game --
brings laughs of its own.

“Baby Daddy,”
8:31 p.m., ABC Family. As Bonnie prepares for yet another wedding
day, her sons are in charge of her dress. The results, of course, are
disastrous.

“Suits,” 9 p.m.,
USA. Eric Close is know as a co-star of many shows (including
“Without a Trace”) and as the cheating mayor on “Nashville.”
But in five “Suits” episodes, he was Travis Tanner, Harvey's
enemy. Now he returns, claiming to be a changed man.

“Modern Family,”
10 and 10:30 p.m., ABC. Both transplanted reruns center on Claire.
The first, which is hilarious, has her stuck in the airport and
spying on the family via computer; in the second, she must quickly
shoot a commercial for her dad's closet company.

“The Jim Gaffigan
Show,” 10 p.m., TV Land. This quietly clever comedy got off to a
good start last week. Tonight, Jim tries to cut back on junk food;
then a kid's birthday cake tempts him.

TV column for Tuesday, July 21


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Knock Knock Live” debut, 9 p.m., Fox; and its lead-in.

Fox has floundered
lately, but this is its big week. It starts two shows -- “Knock”
tonight and “Home Free” on Wednesday – and ends another
(“Wayward Pines” on Thursday). And at 8 p.m. today, it has an
anniversary party for “So You Think You Can Dance,” with favorite
dancers from its first 10 years.

Then comes a simple
concept: If people hear a knock on the door, they may soon be talking
live to Ryan Seacrest (in a Los Angeles studio) and co-host Kellie
Pickler, winning prizes and more.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Hollywood Game Night,” 10:01 p.m., NBC.

The idea sounds
slight - show-business people in a make-believe living room, playing
parlor games. But it works because it has a sharp host (Jane Lynch),
fun guests and cleverly written questions.

So it's logical that
Lynch has an Emmy-nomination as best game host – which she won last
year. And that this took the Writers Guild's game-show award.
Tonight's round has two singers (Josh Groban, Ciara), two comedians
(Wanda Sykes, Jerry Ferrara) and two actors (Cheryl Hines, Michael
Chiklis.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Tyrant,” 10 p.m., FX.

This story of a
fictional Middle Eastern country is becoming as thick and imposing as
... well, the politics of real Middle Eastern countries. It's
villain-vs.-villain, as we look for the least-objectonable.

Barry, a Pasadena
pediarician, had tried to peacefully overthrow his brother's evil
regime. He was arrested, convicted and left in the desert to die.
Bedouins saved him ... then were overrun by rebels with their own
form of tyranny. In a tough and violent hour, all three sides strike
hard.

Other choices
include:

“Tut,” 5, 7 and
9 p.m., Spike. You can catch the full mini-series, but be warned:
This odd tale – Tut as a warrior king – requires huge suspension
of disbelief. As the final chapter (9 p.m., rerunning at 11 p.m. and
1 a.m.) begins, Tut is in a tough spot. As tribesmen prepare to
attack, Egypt;s army is ravaged by disease; he must reluctantly turn
to the general who failed to help him and claimed he was dead.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. After a rescue mission in Syria, there's evidence that an
American-grown terrorist was involved in the kidnapping. Also in this
rerun, colleagues question Tony's odd behavior.

“Black-ish,”
8:30 p.m., ABC. Are we sure Santa is white? In this rerun, Dre
(Emmy-nominee Anthony Anderson) wants to take over the job at the
office Christmas party.

“Zoo,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. The show's five lead characters have assembled into a team now,
asked by a top intelligence agent to learn what's behind the
worldwide animal attacks. They find that a prison escapee may be
involved and an FBI agent may know something about the prison fire.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds the team rushing to find
who was behind a deadly explosion that was aimed at Pride (Scott
Bakula).

“Frontline,”
10-11:30 p.m, PBS (check local listings). Joaquin Guzman has been in
the headlines since his July 11 escape from Mexican prison. Know as
“El Chapo,” he was the country's top drug kingpin for a decade.
This film followed filmmakers trying to interview him, before his
arrest on Feb. 22, 2014.

“Royal Pains”
season-finale, 10 p.m., USA. This series began six years ago with
Hank's fiancee dumping him, after he lost his hospital job. Now he
bumps into her and has a revelation.

TV column for Monday, July 20


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox,.

It was exactly a
decade ago, that “Dance” began as the little cousin of “Amercan
Idol.” Now “Idol” prepares for its final season and “Dance”
booms ahead with its new judges (Paula Abdul, Jason Derulo) and its
intriguing new “stage vs. Street” format.

Tonight brings the
first viewer-vote ousters and the first time that the 18 survivors
must mix it up, tackling different genres. And Tuesday, (one day
late), the show has an anniversary special.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Tut,” 9 p.m., Spike, rerunning at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.

As the mid-section
of this mini-series begins, Egypt has mourned (briefly) Tut, its
pharaoh. Now his widow (and half-sister) is marrying his best friend.
Except that Tut is actually racing home, along with the beauty
(half-Egyptian, half-outsider) who saved him on the battlefield, plus
a loyal soldier.

This was set up in
the opener, an odd fact-and-fiction blend that made Tut an action
hero. That reruns at 7 p.m., leading to new troubles. Illness
spreads, a warring tribe looms, a dynasty wobbles. There are
shattering moments at the beginning and end tonight, in a tale that's
lavish and intense, but hard to like.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Magic, 8 p.m., CW or Tru TV.

On either network
you'll find master magicians at work. The CW's “Penn & Teller:
Fool Us” has the episode that was slated for the season-opener,
then delayed. There's humor (Handsome Jack), beauty (Mistie) and
great tricks, including a guy who deftly slides between computer
images and real objects.

Also, Tru TV reruns
the delightful “Carbonaro Effect,” blending magic, hidden cameras
and Michael Carbonaro's droll ability to convince some people that
the impossible just happened. That's 8-11 p.m. and midnight to 3
a.m.; there's another marathon Wednesday, a week before the second
season begins.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “POV: Return to Homs,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

Reversing the
Hollywood route, this documentary starts with optimism, then sinks
into despair. We meet Abdul Basset Saroot at 19, handsome, athletic
(listed as the second-best young soccer goalkeeper in Syria) and a
charismatic revolutionary; we meet Ossama al-Habaly, recording the
revolution.

That footage soars
with the idealism of young masses, singing of freedom; then the army
strikes. Some of the scenes – walking through abandoned apartments,
each full of furniture and memories – are haunting. The result won
the 2014 Sundance Film Festival prize for world-cinema documentaries.

Other choices
include:

“The
Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Next week, Kaitlyn Bristowe has
the odd task of choosing between enemies. Nick Viall, 34, and Shawn
Booth, 30, seem to have nothing in common except their career choice
(software sales) and their dislike for each other. Tonight, the show
pauses to let this year's contestants comment and confront each
other.

“2 Broke Girls,”
8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Valerie Harper plays a successful
photographer with a secret.

“Mike &
Molly,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. In real life, Billy Gardell managed to shed
70 pounds during the show's first four-and-a-half seasons. This rerun
sees Mike (Gardell) reach a personal weight goal ... then make the
risky move of eating a piece of pie.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. This rerun finally sees Walter learn what happened to Cabe
(Robert Patrick) in Baghdad. Also, Paige is jolted when her son risks
his life to help the team.

“Running Wild with
Bear Grylls,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. Jesse Tyler Ferguson (“Modern
Family”) doesn't claim to be a macho man. Now, however, he's
climbing the “Mountain of Thunders” in the Italian Alps.

“Whispers,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. Claire and Sean had assumed that the “Dril” is
something new. Now, however, they meet someone who had a deadly
encounter with him more than 30 years ago.