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.

TV column for Wednesday, May 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Survivor” finale, 8 p.m., CBS, with reunion special at 10.

Maybe beauty will
prevail, after all. The former “Beauty” tribe emerged with half
of the final four – Michele Fitzgerald, 24, a New Jersey bartender,
and Tai Trang, 51, a San Francisco gardener.

The one “Brawn”
survivor is Cydney Gillen, 23, a Georgia body-builder; the “Brains”
survivor is Aubry Bracco, 29, a social-media marketer from Cambridge,
Mass. Tonight, one will win the million-dollar prize; then Jeff
Probst reconvenes everyone to talk about what happened.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC, and more.

It's a night of
season-finales for ABC's dandy comedies, so you'll want to see or
record them. That peaks here, with so much disarray that no one seems
to notice Alex is home for the summer. Claire is fretting about
firing someone; Phil thinks he caught Luke in bed with a girl.

Meanwhile, Claire's
dad finds that re-entering the work force is harder than he thought.
And with Cam taking a summer job out of town, he and Mitchell
disagree about sharing Lily.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Royal Pains” season-opener, 10 p.m., USA.

For years, USA
thrived on light adventures or dramas in pretty places. This one,
about a doctor in the Hamptons, was a prime example. But ratings
dropped as viewers turned to deeper and darker drtamas; this
eighth-and-final season will be limited to eight episodes.

In this opener, Hank
treats a hard-headed politician, Divya sees a career hurdle and
Jeremiah makes a shaky return. Also, Eddie (Henry Winkler) has a
surprise that draws mixed reactions.

Other choices
include:

“Nature,” 8
p.m., PBS (check local listings). The season ends with a soaring
moment, when scarlet macaws are released into the Guatemalan jungle.
Raised in captivity, they'll replenish the shrinking numbers in
nature. That's the work of a diligent rescue facility: A veterinarian
tackles his first delicate surgery on a tiny potoo; his girlfriend, a
zoologist, cares for the 700 creatures in rehabilitation.

“The Middle,” 8
p.m., ABC. As Brick's middle-school graduation nears, complications
grow, His song has been cut from the program; also, Sue is supposed
to start her Dollywood job that same day.

“The Goldbergs,”
8:30, ABC. Erica frets about what to put in the school time-capsule.
Adam has a bigger worry -- “Hell Week,” when the seniors harass
the incoming freshmen.

“Empire,” 9
p.m., Fox. Even by raucous Lyon standards, the family fights have
been extreme lately. In this season-finale, Jamal refuses to make
music until the others settle down. And during the wedding of Hakeem
and Laura, Cookie convenes a meeting of people from her past.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 9 p.m., NBC. A week before the
season-finale, Brad Garrett plays a corrections official, retaliating
after being charged with sexually assaulting female inmates.

“Chicago, P.D.,”
10 p.m., NBC. Oliver Platt crosses over, in his role as a “Chicago
Med” psychiatrist. He's called in to help when a traumatized girl
is the only survivor of a shooting.

“The Americans,”
10 p.m., FX. This show veered into compelling turf when Paige told
her pastor (in confidence, she thought) that her parents are Russian
spies; tonight, that's part of a crisis. Also, her mom (usually
unflinching) is dismayed about making a friend's husband think they'd
had sex. This subtly crafted hour has more twists, even extending to
the former FBI boss (Richard Thomas).

TV column for Tuesday, May 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“NCIS” season-finale, 8 p.m., CBS.

Michael Weatherly
has been playing Tony DiNozzo almost forever. He started in two “JAG”
episodes that spawned “NCIS”; he did one episode apiece on the
Los Angeles and New Orleans spin-offs. And now he's leaving after 13
seasons and 305 “NCIS” episodes.

This is a big story,
wrapping up a multi-week search for an escaped British spy who
targets agents. Joining the hunt are two actors (Sarah Clarke and
Duane Henry) who may be regulars next year. Also involved is Tony's
dad, played by Robert Wagner ... whom Weatherly once portrayed in a
TV movie.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Coupled” debut, 9 p.m., Fox.

Desperate for a
post-“Idol” reality hit, Fox links with “Survivor” producer
Mark Burnett to re-imagine dating shows. Several new touches work
splendidly – a gorgeous Caribbean setting, a breezy host (Terence
J), a multi-racial feel, an emphasis on one-on-one conversations.
Also, there's an acknowledgement that these people might have sex.
“Adults do that, you know,” one woman explains.

More iffy is the
show's promise to have “accomplished, sophisticated” women. Its
has a “Bachelor”-type mix -- a lawyer and a CEO, but mostly
starter-job folks. It also has some unsophisticated shrieks.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Frontline,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

How did this happen?
After other forces – Saddam, bin Laden, Al-Qaeda – were crushed,
how did ISIS become a quick powerhouse? This richly researched hour
points at two administrations. Neither Barack Obama nor Dick Cheney
agrees to be interviewed, but other key players did.

Trying to claim a
Saddam/bin Laden connection, the film said, Cheney brought attention
to a minor figure, Abu Musab al-Zargawi. When the U.S. disbanded the
Iraqi army, Zargai recruited for ISIS. He was killed and ISIS faded
... until the 2011 Iraq troop withdrawal made a revival easy.

Other choices
include:

“The Voice,” 8
p.m., NBC. A week before the season-finale, the field will be trimmed
in half. On Monday, eight people sang and viewers voted. Tonight, the
top three will be spared and the bottom two will be sent home. That
leaves the middle three to perform, with judges saving one of them.
Also performing will be Alicia Keys and OneRepublic.

“Megyn Kelly
Presents,” 8 p.m., Fox. When Kelly and Donald Trump clashed in an
August debate, both seemed to benefit. Now she has a special,
interviewing Trump, plus actors Laverne Cox (“Orange is the New
Black” and Michael Douglas and LegalZoom.com founder Robert
Shapiro. It's reportedly Shapiro's first TV interview since a
mini-series mocked his role on the O.J. Simpson defense team.

“Agents of
SHIELD,” 9 and 10 p.m., ABC. These are the hours the show has
pointed to all season. The evil scheme of Hive is now clear; there's
a confrontation, with not everyone surviving.

“Secrets of the
Dead,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Most experts feel
Cleopatra was buried in an ancient city that sank into the sea.
Disagreeing is a criminal lawyer (and self-taught archaeologist) from
the Dominican Republic. This interesting film watches as she
continues her 20-year search.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. With 900 pounds of explosives missing, New
Orleans is in danger. The search includes agents from Homeland
Security (Ivan Sergei) and the Coast Guard (Toni Trucks).

“Person of
Interest,” 10 p.m., CBS. Reese protects a police analyst who is
probing a computer glitch.

“The Night
Manager,” 10 p.m., AMC. Now we start to realize the immensity of
the illegal-arms operation that Roper (Hugh Laurie) has built. In a
compelling hour (the fifth of six), one man (Tom Hiddleston) works
undercover to stop him, with shrinking support from British spies.

TV column for Monday, May 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Mike & Molly” series finale, 8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS.

If “Mike &
Molly” had always been this good, it wouldn't be cancelled. Over
six seasons, it's veered between good moments and loud goofiness;
these final two episodes, however, are all good.

Waiting for word
about an adoption, Mike and Molly obsess. They try church and a
psychic. They panic; they break down a door. There are big sight
gags, witty moments, bits of warmth and the balancing skepticism of
Mike's mom. And then an OK series has a great ending.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Person of Interest,” 10 p.m., CBS.

For the first three
episodes of this final season, Shaw (Sarah Shahi) has been missing,
captured by the evil Greer. Now she's back, in a sensational
performance by Shahi.

Now Shaw is fragile,
brutal, lustful and more. This is an extremely adult episode,
involving sex, gore and violence. By the end of the hour, you'll see
key characters shot to death. But stick around to the end; this is
fantasy-fiction as strong as Shahi's performance.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Castle” season-finale, 10:01 p.m., ABC.

At its core, this
has had two mismatched people solving crimes and semi-solving life.
Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) is a cop, smart and practical; Rick Castle
(Nathan Fillion) is a crime novelist, given to bizarre theories
before settling on the real villain.

But now this is
Katic's final episode, written in a way that could also serve as a
series finale. Along the way, the team settles the “LokSat”
mystery that has lingered through the season.

Other choices
include:

“19-2”
season-opener, anytime, www.acorn.tv.
This well-crafted Canadian show borrows a familiar American notion –
mismatched police partners. One is a city guy, suspected of
corruption; the other is a self-described “country hick.” In the
season-opener, they chase a young gunman in a high school; the result
offers a solid emotional backdrop to a tough, tense story.

“The Voice,”
8-10:01 p.m., NBC. In two busy nights, the field will be cut in half.
Tonight, the eight singers perform; on Tuesday, we'll learn who's in
the final four, competing next week for the title.

“Dancing With the
Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. For Jodie Sweetin, it was classic good
news/bad news: She had a perfect score from judges ... then learned
she'd been ousted via last week's viewer votes. Now the five
survivors – Antonio Brown, Nyle DiMarco, Wayne Morris, Paige
VanZant and Ginger Zee – compete for spots in next week's finals.

“Gotham,” 8
p.m., Fox. As a stand-alone episode, this is a disappointment,
leaving everything in limbo. As a preview of next week's
season-finale, it's powerful; forces converge in Hugo Strange's
asylum.

“Houdini &
Doyle,” 9 p.m., Fox. With his wife in a coma, Conan Doyle wants
desperately to believe in a faith healer; his friend Harry Houdini is
a non-believer. That sets up a moderately interesting story,

“Jane the Virgin”
season-finale, 9 p.m., CW. Two seasons ago, Jane (the waitress) and
Michael (the cop) were looking forward to their wedding.
Complications intervened, but now it's time for their wedding ...
maybe. She's still completing her college thesis and more troubles
may arise. Thet often do.

“Blindspot,”
10:01 p.m., NBC. The team finds a newborn baby with a tattoo similar
to one of Jane's.

TV column for Sunday, May 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Quantico” season-finale, 10 p.m., ABC.

This has been a
rarity – a quick ratings success. Viewers forgave the show's
excesses and savored its terrific star (Priyanka Chopra) and its
two-part plots, leaping between FBI training and future cases.

Now – on a night
stuffed with ABC finales – i's graduation day at Quantico; next
season will be rooted elsewhere. And flashing forward, the agents
scramble to get the people behind New York attacks; Alex (Chopra) has
a face-to-face confrontation with a terrorist.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY
II: “Once Upon a Time” season-finale, 7-9 p.m., ABC.

Here's where ABC's
finale-flurry starts – with an ambitious two-parter that poses a
sobering thought: Maybe this world would be better off without magic.

That's what young
Henry thinks, with good reason: Robin Hood is dead, Regina is
grieving, Gold has stolen the Hades crystal and life looks dark; the
kid starts a rogue mission to destroy all magic. Also, the good guys
scramble to open a portal and return Merida and others to
Storybrooke.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Masterpiece,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

From its beginning
(nine years and 10 movies ago), “Wallander” has matched the
Swedish landscape – slow, stark, solemn and oddly beautiful.
Kenneth Branagh has brilliantly played a smart cop who pushes ahead
diligently, through any personal troubles.

But now, at just 55,
he's showing dangerous signs of forgetfulness, just as he tackles a
tough case: A woman's body has been found, a teen-ager is missing and
a young biker is suspected. Some parts don't make much sense now, but
they become clear next week, in the final film of a great series.

Other choices
include:

“The Simpsons,”
7:30 and 8 p.m., Fox. First is a rerun, with Lisa pondering a one-way
trip to Mars. Then the season-finale has a quirk: The final three
minutes (on both coasts) will be live, with some version of the Homer
character answering viewers' questions.

“Little Big
Shots,” 8 p.m., NBC. The nine-episode season was such a success
that it sticks around for reruns. This one ranges from a pool prodigy
to an 11-year-old dancer on Janet Jackson's tour.

“The Queen at 90,”
8-10 p.m., Smithsonian. On April 21, Elizabeth II had her 90th
birthday. This ambitious documentary includes comments from many of
her family members.

“The Family”
season-finale, 9 p.m., ABC. By now, viewers know this was all a
compelling scam. Adam died in captivity; his sister trained Ben (a
fellow captive) to pretend to be him, advancing the political career
of her mother, Claire. Now Claire visits the place where the boys
were held. Police close in on the villain (Doug), while an FBI agent
nears death. And Ben gets shattering news.

“The Carmichael
Show,” 9:01 p.m., NBC. Maxine (Amber Stevens West) is visited by
her rich father. Ironically, West does have a rich-and-famous father
(Shadoe Stevens, a radio star and actor). Here, the dad is played by
Adam Arkin ... whose own rich-and-famous dad is AlanArkin.

“Last Man on
Earth” season-finale, 9:30 p.m., Fox. Last week offered a terrific
send-off for Mike (Jason Sudeikis), the astronaut who recently
returned to Earth: He wrote a note and quietly left, so his brother
wouldn't see him die. Alas, now the brother goes after him; it's a
lame ending to a good season.

“NCIS,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, Gibbs' surgeon (Jon Cryer) is thrilled to be
involved in a case.