TV column for Saturday, May 19


TODAY'S MIGHT-SEE:
Royal wedding, 7 a.m. ET, everywhere.

This may require an
early wake-up. You'll need time to prepare tea and crumpets, put up
your posters and -- for sports fans – drink beer and place bets.
(Hint: The smart money is on “I do.”)

The hourlong
ceremony is only part of it. Plans (subject to late change) have
coverage starting a 4 a.m. ET on CBS, PBS and BBC America; 4:30 on
NBC; and 5 a.m. on ABC, E, Freeform and TLC. That's alongside the
perpetual coverage on the news channels.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Wedding aftermath.

Some of us may
forget to be up in time for the ceremony; others will want to relive
it all. Not to worry, there are marathon follow-ups on BBC America (9
a.m. to 4 p.m.), E (10 to 3) and news channels.

There are also
recaps. You can catch two-hour ones on BBC America at 4, 6, 8 or 10
p.m. and on CBS at 8 p.m.; one-hour ones are on E (7 p.m.), ABC (10
p.m.) and TLC (10:07).

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Saturday Night Live” season-finale, 11:29 p.m.,
NBC, and more.

After a string of
sharp episodes, “SNL” had a so-so one last week, with Amy Schumer
hosting. Now there's every reason to expect an instant comeback: Tina
Fey – the former “SNL” head writer –hosts, Nicki Minaj is
music guest and this might be a night for both royal and political
satire.

And if you can't
wait for that? Two “SNL” alumni, Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon,
will cover the wedding on HBO via their alter-egos, Cord and Tish.
That's 7:30-9:30 a.m., rerunning at 9:45 p.m.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: Royal movies, wedding movies.

Commoners seem to
keep marrying royalty. Here are two movies that ran in theaters –
the bland “The Prince and Me” (2004) at 10 a.m. on Freeform and
the clever “Enchanted” (2007) at 3 p.m. on E. Also, Hallmark
reruns royal romances at 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. and 12:30, 3, 5 and 7
p.m., with a new one at 9.

Others simply use
weddings for comedy fodder. E has two so-so films, “Bride Wars”
(2009) at 5 p.m. and “27 Dresses” (2008) at 8 and 10:30; USA has
the fun “Wedding Crashers” (2005) at 11:30 a.m.

Other choices
include:

Royal documentaries,
morning, cable. TLC has separate profiles of Prince Harry and Meghan
Markle, at 9 and 10 a.m,; Reelz profiles their romance at 8 a.m.,
then has other royal documentaries until 1 p.m.

“Dater's Handbook”
(2016), 10:30 a.m., Hallmark. Markle is known mainly for “Suits,”
but she did star in this Hallmark film. She plays a wedding planner
who decides to try an organized approach to dating. Kristoffer Polaha
and Jonathan Scarfe co-star.

“American Idol,”
8-10 p.m., ABC. On Sunday, the show's top three singers will have
their last chance to draw votes, with the winner announced the next
day. First, this rerun hs the top five performing.

“Farenheit 451,”
8 p.m., HBO. Ray Bradbury's censorship tale has seemed timely in 1953
(the novel), in '66 (the FrancoisTruffaut movie) and, alas, now, with
this remake.

“Patrick Melrose,”
9 p.m., Showtime. In last week's opener, we learned that Patrick is a
mess. Now – in what's virtually an hourlong flashback – we learn
why. Some of the side characters are terrific, but the main one
(Patrick's cruel and bitter father) is merely a drab monotone.

“Royally Ever
After,” 9-11 p.m., Hallmark. After all those reruns, Hallmark has
this new movie in which – surprise? -- a young American learns that
her fiance is a prince.

More Meghan, 10 and
11 p.m., cable. At 10, Smithsonian reruns the Markle hour of its
“Million Dollar American Princesses” series; that's preceded at 8
p.m. by “The Queen at 90” and followed at 11 by documentaries on
the Buckingham and Windsor worlds. And at 11:02, Lifetime reruns
“Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance”; it's a surprisingly good
movie ... but you may have reached overload.

TV column for Friday, May 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Masters: Bombshell,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS.

What people remember
about Hedy Lamarr is basic: “She was the best-looking movie star
ever,” Mel Brooks says here. Growing up in a prosperous Austrian
family, she posed for nude photos at 16, had nude scenes in a movie
at 18, then became a Hollywood star.

What people didn't
know was her sharp, inventive mind. She kept a lab in her movie
trailer, worked nights at home, came up with small inventions and
patented a huge one. The Navy ignored her torpedo-guidance ideas
during World War II, but began to use them in the '60s. It's a
fascinating story.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Hawaii Five-0” season-finale, 9 p.m., CBS.

The eighth season
ends for this show, a week after “Blue Blood” wrapped its season.

A Russian
nuclear-attack submarine suddenly appears off the coast of Waikiki;
soon, the team spots a Russian spy ring that's been operating almost
in the open. Meanwhile, Tani makes an unnerving discovery at Adam's
house and feels conflicted.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Once Upon a Time” series finale, 8 p.m., ABC.

For seven seasons,
this has delivered epic-size adventure. Flashing between various
realities, it's had a collision of fairytale characters, new and old.
The ideas were big; the ratings were modest.

Now it has brought
back some of the departed characters -- Emma Swan, Belle, the young
version of Henry ... and, especially, Snow White and Prince Charming.
They lead the fight against the Wish Realm's version of
Rumpelstiltskin.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: Royal wedding talk, everywhere.

BBC America, which
is quite big on this, uses the entire day for royalty specials. That
peaks with looks at the weddings of William and Kate (7:30 p.m.),
Charles and Diana (8:30) and then a profile of Prince Harry and
Meghan Markle at 9. Those promptly repeat at 10:05, 11:05 and 11:35.

And yes, there's
more. There's a special at 8 p.m. on CW and two on TLC – 8 p.m. on
Harry, 9:02 on Markle. National Geographic reruns the excellent
“Diana: In Her Own Words” at 8 p.m.; that repeats at 11,
sandwiching a Harry special at 10. And PBS wraps its five-day “Royal
Wedding Watch” at 10:30.

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef
Junior” finale, 8-10 p.m., Fox. This started with 40 talented
cooks, ages 8-13. Now we're down to the final three, going for a
$100,000 prize. Preparing three-course dinners are Avery Meadows, 8,
of Kingwood, Texas; Beni Cwiakala, 9, of Chicago; and Quani Fields,
11, of Lawrenceville, Ga.

“Undercover Boss:
Celebrity Edition,” 8 p.m., CBS. Idina Menzel, the Tony-winning
“Wicked” star, dons disguises. She works with a wedding singer
and considers doing singing telegrams while wearing a chicken suit.
She's even supposed to sing her hit song (“Let It Go”) to
children.

“Blindspot,” 8
p.m., NBC. Jane and Weller try to finally catch Roman.

“Agents of SHIELD”
season-finale, 9 p.m., ABC. Coulson's life is in jeopardy. And there
are bigger issues – including the possible destruction of the
Earth.

“Life Sentence,”
9 p.m., CW. Discussing their future, Stella and Wes get a surprise.
Also, her brother – usually a ladies' man -- is thrown off by a
young woman he meets at his community service job.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. A detective was gunned down before he could testify
against a career criminal; Danny investigates. Also in this rerun,
Frank investigates an attack on Garrett.

TV column for Thursday, May 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Grey's Anatomy” and “Station 19” season-finales. 8 and 9
p.m., ABC.

The TV season
officially ends Wednesday, so lots of shows are wrapping up,
including these two: One finishes its 14th season; the
other its first.

“Grey's Anatomy”
will tie “ER” next season, becoming roughly the fifth-longest
drama series ever, It's stingy about tonight's plot details;
“Station 19” isn't. The final interviews are here, to choose a
new station chief; Andy hopes for the job, which her dad held. Then a
massive skyscraper fire changes everything. Also, Ben (Jason George)
– formerly a “Grey's” surgeon – passes a rookie milestone.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Gotham” season-finale, 8 p.m., Fox.

Fans will have to
savor this one for a long time. Fox says “Gotham” won't be back
until mid-season – football will consume its Thursdays next fall –
and that will be the final season.

Lately, Gotham City
has been consumed by crime and chaos. Now Detective Gordon is warned
that more destruction is coming; he faces a potentially devastating
decision. Meanwhile, Barbara Kean rallies her underworld forces and
young Bruce Wayne hits a turning point.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Life in Pieces” season-finale, 9 and 9:30 p.m., CBS.

CBS' other Thursday
comedies ended last week, so now “Pieces” gets an hour to itself.
Jen and Greg get some surprising news in the first half-hour, then
struggle to keep it secret in the second.

Colleen and Matt
send a video thank-you that seems to please no one; also, they have
an awkward situation with their surrogate. And young Samantha? In the
first episode, she wants a second piercing in her ear; in the second,
her parents plan a surprise birthday party which, of course, goes
badly.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance,” 6-8 p.m.,
Lifetime.

We really didn't
expect to like this movie. Lifetime's “William & Kate” film
was a tad dull ... possibly because the real-life people are dull.
This one, however, is mostly a pleasure; if the real-life Prince
Harry and Meghan Markle are half this interesting, we like them both.

Ignore the first
flashback scenes. From the moment these two meet, they're a delight.
Markle seems bright, funny and strident; Harry is an interesting
blend of sensitive and fun-loving. Parisa Fitz-Henley (“Midnight,
Texas”) and newcomer Murray Fraser make them people worth spending
time with.

Other choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Sheldon was already bitter when he wanted the
“Professor Proton” hosting job and it went to Wil Wheaton. In
this rerun, he wants a guest spot on the show ... and that goes to
Amy.

“Supernatural”
season-finale, 8 p.m., CW. An impulsive decision could alter life for
one of the brothers.

“Arrow,” 9 p.m.,
CW. With a new ally, Oliver has what CW calls an epic final battle
with Diaz.

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 9-11 p.m., NBC. On May 30, a new summer edition will
start on Wednesdays. First, however, there are a couple specials,
This one is an “all-star” edition with Allyssa Beird, Jessie
Graff, Jesse Labreck, Flip Rodriguez and “Cowboy Ninja” Lance
Pekus.

“SWAT”
season-finale, 10 p.m., CBS. Sherilyn Fenn (“Twin Peaks”) is back
as Street's mom, now out on parole and endangering his career. Also,
the team races to prevent terrorist bombings.

“Quantico,” 10
p.m., ABC. Here's one show that will continue into the summer,
sparing us some rerun overload. Tonight, an emir has been
assassinated and team members are hired to protect a prince. They
soon realize the killer is closer than they'd thought.

TV column for Wednesday, May 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Modern Family” season-finale, 9 p.m., ABC.

ABC's entire
Wednesday line-up – a good one -- ends its season. The night
generally starts and ends well (with “The Goldbergs” and
“Designated Survivor”); in-between are two OK comedies and one
terrific one. That's “Modern Family,” winner of five Emmys for
best comedy series.

Tonight, it has
large-scale set-ups: Phil sneaks off to “Hero-Con,” dressed as
his favorite character ... and then commits the ultimate fan faux
pas. Gloria throws an epic-scale dinosaur party for young Joe ...
only to have her nemesis – Dr. Donna Duncan (Jane Krakowski) –
throw a bigger party next door.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Empire,” 8 p.m., Fox.

When “Empire”
focuses on music or family, it's terrific; when it turns to business
schemes, it gets tangled up. Tonight is business, occasionally dull
and often defying credibility.

Eddie (Forest
Whitaker) is scheming to take control of the record label and sell it
to a tech guy; Lucious and Cookie have a counter-scheme – a
high-tech rent party – that looks way too easy here. There are
plenty of complications; the music, however, is good.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Riverdale” season-finale, 8 p.m., CW.

Last week brought
fierce jolts: Hiram Lodge (Veronica's dad) had manipulated a gang war
to tear the South Side apart. To prevent it, Jughead surrendered
himself to be beaten by the enemy. As the hour ended, his dad was
carrying his maybe-lifeless body.

Is Jug dead? We find
out tonight. We also learn who's elected student-body president and
mayor; and we see Betty battered by guilt about her family's
homicidal past. Much of this hits soap-opera extremes, including one
bizarrely random kiss. Still, “Riverdale” has characters we can't
stop rooting for.

Other choices
include:

“Thee Blacklist”
season-finale, 8 p.m., NBC. One key question has lingered: Whose
bones are in that duffel bag? Red and Liz have been scrambling to
find out; today, NBC promises, viewers will know.

“The Goldbergs”
season-finale, 8 p.m., ABC. Rejected by Lainey for the prom, Barry
plans a mega-prank. And when Erica announces her college plans, her
furious dad makes her pay for rent and food.

“Star,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. A week from the season-finale, relationships are still tangled.
Jahil (Benjamin Bratt) explores his pas love for Carlotta (Queen
Latifah) ... Simone and Angel consider fleeing, after getting a
discouraging letter about immigration ... And Alex ditches Noah at an
important event.

“Nova Wonders,”
9 p.m., PBS. Two of our favorite things – computers and brains –
are compared in this fascinating hour. Some computers master one
skill – from chess to driving to voice recognition – beautifully;
brains master many things, with a fraction of the energy. The hour
also profiles Rana el Kaliouby, an Egyptian-born computer whiz who
doubles as a likable co-host for ths show.

“Designated
Survivor” season-finale, 10 p.m., ABC. The president has enough
trouble dealing with the hacker and the Congressional investigation.
Then a natural disaster threatens the lives of two staffers.

“Inside the Royal
Wedding,” 10 p.m., NBC. Other networks have already had their
specials, often focusing on the bride. Now Savannah Guthrie and Hoda
Kotb focus on the wedding. They talk to people who will be there ...
who worked other mega-events ... or who are experts in fashion and
such.

“SEAL Team,” 10
p.m., CBS. Jason (David Boreanaz) hides the severity of his
concussion, so he can lead a final mission to avenge Echo Team's
deaths.

TV column for Tuesday, May 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Roseanne,” 8 p.m., ABC.

Many of us doubted
this notion of reviving a show that has been gone for 20 years. ABC
only took eight episodes, tossed into the last gasps of the season.
Then, instantly, “Roseanne” soared.

This episode shows
why. An almost-perfect half-hour (except for some oafish moments for
Jackie), it leaps nimbly from broad comedy to sharp one-liners and
some moments of solid drama. Most shows have no feeling for
blue-collar, modest-income life; in this episode, all those details –
health benefits, co-pays, waitress jobs – are crucial. They lead to
some revealing moments ... and to some big laughs.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “New Girl” series finale, 9 and 9:30 p.m., Fox.

A terrific series
ends just the way it should – often weirdly funny, occasionally
just weird.

The first half-hour
starts with the world's worst wedding toast and ends with one of the
world's worst baby names. In between are a wedding curse and a mom
(Jamie Lee Curtis) who assures Jess: “You'll get it right next
time.” The second episode has lots of strange things about moving
out of the loft. It has sharp lines -- “You know who else liked
balconies? Hitler” -- a flashforward and a truly odd twist.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Rise” season-finale, 9:01 p.m., NBC.

Everything has
pointed to this moment: In a hard-scrabble town, a high school opens
the gritty musical, “Spring Awakening.” Along the way, we've seen
deep personal troubles for the actors and their families. The
directors had a big fight; the principal demanded sharp cuts in the
play.

At times, this has
seemed wildly unlikely. Still, there's a subtle brilliance to the
dialog, the directing and the acting. This finale leaves us with
mixed emotions, but with respect for a great craftsmanship.

Other choices
include:

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Attending a memorial service for a friend lost at sea, Gibbs has
key questions: Was there foul play? And is the guy really dead?

“The Voice,” 8
p.m., NBC. On Monday, the final eight contestants sang and viewers
voted. Tonight, the top three will advance to next week's finale and
the bottom two will be ousted. Then the three who are in-between will
compete for the remaining spot in the final four.

“Cinderella,” 8
p.m., TNT. Kenneth Branagh, not usually a fairy-tale guy, directed
this gorgeous film. There are other good 8 p.m. movies -- “The
Bourne Ultimatum” (2007) on AMC, “Crazy Stupid Love” (2011) on
CMT – but HBO's “Snatched” is only so-so, despite Amy Schumer
and Goldie Hawn.

“The Middle,”
8:30 p.m., ABC. A week from the finale of a terrific, nine-year
series, Frankie is desperate to keep everyone together. She tries to
convince Axl not to take a job in Denver.

“Black-ish”
season-finale, 9 p.m., ABC. This show startled viewers by having the
parents separate. Tonight, Dre has a sleek dream-house in the canyon,
but Bow things it's a bad place for the kids to visit.

“NCIS: New
Orleans” season-finale, 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. Like many TV heroes,
Pride (Scott Bakula) bends the rules; unlike most, he faces a grand
jury indictment for abuse of power. Now he assembles a team that
includes a hacker (Tom Arnold), a lawyer, a journalist and a retired
Green Beret.

“Chicago Med”
season-finale, 10 p.m., NBC. Well, at least no one can be accused of
overacting. An absurd number of huge events are packed into this
hour, many of them involving people the doctors already know. The
characters seem not just stoic, but almost unaware. While
experiencing a cascade of tragedy and triumph, pretty people reveal
little urge to emote.