TV column for Monday, Jan. 8


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Brave” return, 10 p.m. , NBC.

Seven weeks ago, a
compelling hour saw Sgt. “Jaz” Khan take a huge risk. She killed
a terrorist in an Iran hotel, then was captured. Viewers were stunned
... and had to wait until tonight for the follow-up. Now her
colleagues try to concoct a near-impossible rescue. The result –
like the previous hour – is compelling. Spurts of sharp action
accompany intense drama, with subtly perfect performances by Natacha
Karam and Mike Vogel as Jaz and Adam, and by Anne Heche as their boss
at headquarters.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: College football, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN2.

When this year's
final four was announced, it included two teams from the SEC. There
was grumbling ... especially from the Big Ten, which retaliated by
winning seven of its eight bowl games.

Still, the SEC
proved itself by winning both semi-finals. Now Alabama and Georgia
collide in Atlanta for the national championship. ESPN starts its
pre-game show at 7:30 p.m. ET.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “In Cold Blood” (1967), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies.

Earlier this fall, a
superb documentary retraced the slaughter of a kindly Kansas family.
Such stories are part of our current obsession with true-crime tales;
but now let's go back to the original.

Truman Capote, a
small-town native, was fascinated by the Kansas killings. His book
was gently and beautifully detailed ... then was adapted into this
involving movie. In black-and-white, Richard Brooks captured the
solemn beauty of the people and the place. Robert Blake and Scott
Wilson play the killers.

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

Jennifer Brea was
heading toward a sunny life. A Harvard doctoral student, she married
Omar Wasow, now a nationally known computer expert who, among other
things, taught Oprah Winfrey how to use E-mail. Then Brea was
suddenly stricken, barely able to move.

This is myalgic
encephalomyelitis, called “chronic fatigue syndrome” and
sometimes derided. No one knows why it happens or why 80-percent of
its victims are female. As Brea waits for a cure, she has linked with
sufferers around the world ... and has made this jolting,
Sundance-winning film.

Other choices
include:

“The Bachelor,”
8-10 p.m., ABC. Not all moments are equally romantic. One woman gets
a Malibu date; 15 others go to a demolition derby.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Here's a transplanted rerun of last season's
terrific finale. Amy is away and Sheldon's former assistant is back.
She has a doctorate now and is still obsessed with him.

“Kevin Can Wait,”
8:30 p.m., CBS. After learning that the cookie jar he sold was
important to his daughter, Kevin goes on a road trip to retrieve it.
Also, his friend Kyle needs to get back to the dating world; his
first idea – Vanessa (Leah Remini) – is rejected.

“Better Late Than
Never,” 9 p.m., NBC. A trip to Germany brings light moments –
ranging from a bear to a David Hasselhoff concert – plus serious
ones, as Henry Winkler traces his family's Holocaust past.

“Young Sheldon,”
9 p.m., CBS. Even when he was 9, Sheldon didn't take kindly to
doubters. In this low-key and charming rerun, he's obsessed with
disputing a NASA scientist.

The Good Doctor”
return, 10 p.m., ABC. After leaping to the top of the ratings in its
first half-season, “Good Doctor” detours: For the entire hour,
Shaun is on an impromptu road trip with his gorgeous neighbor. The
Shaun/Lia scenes are OK, boosted by two likable actors, but the
hospital scenes fail. Stiff actors struggle with a story that
includes the usual indecisive-patient cliche.

TV column for Sunday, Jan. 07


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Golden Globes, 8 p.m., NBC.

Seth Meyers has
already done a terrific job hosting the Golden Globes and the White
House Correspondents dinner. Now he gets his turn at the Globes.

It's a great year
for indie-style movies. Nominees: (for comedy or musical) “Get
Out,” “Lady Bird,” “I, Tonya,” “The Greatest Showman”
and “The Disaster Artist”; (and for drama) “The Post,”
“Dunkirk,” “The Shape of Water,” “Call Me By Your Name”
and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” TV newcomers
nominated are “Handmaid's Tale,” “SMILF” and “The Marvelous
Mrs. Maisel.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Ghosted” return, 8:30 p.m., Fox.

Amber Stevens West
has jumped smoothly between clever comedies. As soon as NBC canceled
the ambitious “Carmichael Show,” she landed a role here as Annie,
a tech worker.

Now, returning from
a five-week break, “Ghosted” nudges her into the main story:
She's an expert on the creature Max and Leroy (Adam Scott and Craig
Robinson) are tryig to find, so they bring her along. Alas, Max's
survival skills are weak; soon, they're lost in the woods.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Chi” debut, 10 p.m., Showtime.

Here is Chicago life
on a deeply human level. We meet Coogie, a quick-thinking schemer ...
his brother Brandon, an aspiring chef who has a job, a girlfriend, a
car and a future ... Kevin, a shy kid whose older sister is with
Emmett, a slick player ... and Jada, Emmett's take-no-crap mom.

We also meet other
grown-ups – Ronnie, a drifter whose son became a teen basketball
star ... and Cruz, a decent cop in an overwhelming job. In the first
hour, these people are thrust together by happenstance and human
frailty. The result is deftly nuanced, deeply involving ... and, at
times, hard to watch.

Other choices
include:

“Doctor No”
(1962), 10 a.m., BBC America, Here's the first James Bond movies --
less flashy than the films that followed, but thoroughly
entertaining. BBC America follows with “Goldfinger” (1964) at
12:30 and 8:30 p.m., “Thunderball” (1965) at 3 and “From Russia
With Love” at 6 and 11. And for a fairly good comedy variation,
catch Melissa McCarthy's “Spy” (2015), at 8 and 10:30 p.m. on
FXX.

Figure skating, 3
p.m. ET, NBC. Here are the finals for free dance, with Olympic-team
spots at stake.

Golden Globes
previews, 4-8 p.m., E. This is what E lives for – the confluence of
celebrities and gowns. It has a Globes preview at 4, then starts
red-carpet coverage (with Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic) at 6.
Also, NBC has briefer red-carpet coverage at 7.

“The Simpsons,”
8 p.m., Fox. At a science-technology conference, Lisa falls for a
jazz pianist (Ed Sheeran) and Bart finds he has a knack for
chemistry.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. When napalm is detected at a crime scene,
the team looks for possible links to terrorism.

“Last Man on
Earth,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. Will Forte – the show's creator, producer
and star – keeps bringing in other “Saturday Night Live”
alumni. He's already had Jason Sudeikis, Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell
and more; now Fred Armisen is a guy who was in prison when the virus
struck.

“Madam Secretary,”
10 p.m., CBS. As usual, Elizabeth has trouble at home (her daughter
is dating Dmitri, who's being followed by a Russian assassin) and at
work: The vice-president (Jayne Atkinson), fearing that Elizabeth
will be a presidential candidate, sets her up for failure.

TV column for Saturday, Jan. 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Golden Globes, 8 p.m., NBC.

Seth Meyers has
already done a terrific job hosting the Golden Globes and the White
House Correspondents dinner. Now he gets his turn at the Globes.

It's a great year
for indie-style movies. Nominees: (for comedy or musical) “Get
Out,” “Lady Bird,” “I, Tonya,” “The Greatest Showman”
and “The Disaster Artist”; (and for drama) “The Post,”
“Dunkirk,” “The Shape of Water,” “Call Me By Your Name”
and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” TV newcomers
nominated are “Handmaid's Tale,” “SMILF” and “The Marvelous
Mrs. Maisel.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Ghosted” return, 8:30 p.m., Fox.

Amber Stevens West
has jumped smoothly between clever comedies. As soon as NBC canceled
the ambitious “Carmichael Show,” she landed a role here as Annie,
a tech worker.

Now, returning from
a five-week break, “Ghosted” nudges her into the main story:
She's an expert on the creature Max and Leroy (Adam Scott and Craig
Robinson) are tryig to find, so they bring her along. Alas, Max's
survival skills are weak; soon, they're lost in the woods.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Chi” debut, 10 p.m., Showtime.

Here is Chicago life
on a deeply human level. We meet Coogie, a quick-thinking schemer ...
his brother Brandon, an aspiring chef who has a job, a girlfriend, a
car and a future ... Kevin, a shy kid whose older sister is with
Emmett, a slick player ... and Jada, Emmett's take-no-crap mom.

We also meet other
grown-ups – Ronnie, a drifter whose son became a teen basketball
star ... and Cruz, a decent cop in an overwhelming job. In the first
hour, these people are thrust together by happenstance and human
frailty. The result is deftly nuanced, deeply involving ... and, at
times, hard to watch.

Other choices
include:

“Doctor No”
(1962), 10 a.m., BBC America, Here's the first James Bond movies --
less flashy than the films that followed, but thoroughly
entertaining. BBC America follows with “Goldfinger” (1964) at
12:30 and 8:30 p.m., “Thunderball” (1965) at 3 and “From Russia
With Love” at 6 and 11. And for a fairly good comedy variation,
catch Melissa McCarthy's “Spy” (2015), at 8 and 10:30 p.m. on
FXX.

Figure skating, 3
p.m. ET, NBC. Here are the finals for free dance, with Olympic-team
spots at stake.

Golden Globes
previews, 4-8 p.m., E. This is what E lives for – the confluence of
celebrities and gowns. It has a Globes preview at 4, then starts
red-carpet coverage (with Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic) at 6.
Also, NBC has briefer red-carpet coverage at 7.

“The Simpsons,”
8 p.m., Fox. At a science-technology conference, Lisa falls for a
jazz pianist (Ed Sheeran) and Bart finds he has a knack for
chemistry.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. When napalm is detected at a crime scene,
the team looks for possible links to terrorism.

“Last Man on
Earth,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. Will Forte – the show's creator, producer
and star – keeps bringing in other “Saturday Night Live”
alumni. He's already had Jason Sudeikis, Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell
and more; now Fred Armisen is a guy who was in prison when the virus
struck.

“Madam Secretary,”
10 p.m., CBS. As usual, Elizabeth has trouble at home (her daughter
is dating Dmitri, who's being followed by a Russian assassin) and at
work: The vice-president (Jayne Atkinson), fearing that Elizabeth
will be a presidential candidate, sets her up for failure.

TV column for Saturday, Jan. 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Ten Day in the Valley” conclusion, 9 and 10 p.m., ABC.

This has been a much
better mini-series than ABC deserves. It's smartly written, with
deeply detailed characters, beautifully played. But it was derailed
by the network – yanked (with little warning) from the schedule ...
shelved for almost two months ... then buried on Saturdays.

Still, it's been
worth catching, as Jane searched for the daughter who was kidnapped
by her assistant (now slain) and then re-kidnapped by someone else.
(Yes, that requires some use of coincidence.) Now Jane flees, while
Bird (the honest cop) works the case.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: Football play-offs, 4:20 p.m. ET, ESPN; 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC.

For decades, TV
people have longed for the day when Los Angeles – with its
mega-media audience – would have a pro team again. Even better
would be for LA to have a contender.

Now, suddenly, both
have happened. Last season, after 20 years in St. Louis, the Rams
returned to LA ... and fell flat, with a 4-12 record. This year, they
leaped to 11-5, won their division title, and now host Atlanta (10-6)
on NBC. Earlier, ESPN has Kansas City (10-6) hosting Tennessee (9-7).

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Rocky” (1976) and “Chuck” (2016), 7 and 9 p.m.,
Showtime.

Most people agree
that “Rocky” is a great film. It won three Academy Awards
(including best picture) and was nominated for seven more; the
American Film Institute puts it behind only “Raging Bull,” among
the best sports movies in history.

Still, some people
said the plot – an obscure lug fights a flashy champion – lacked
believability. Think again: “Rocky” has a sharp similarity to
Chuck Wepner's real-life championship fight with Muhammad Ali. Here
are both films – Sylvester Stallone as Rocky, Liev Schreiber as
Wepner – side by side.

Other choices
include:

Figure skating, 4
p.m. ET and 8 p.m., NBC. These are the U.S. finals, with Olympic
spots at stake. The women were Friday, pairs are this afternoon, with
men tonight and free dance at 3 p.m. Sunday.

“The Four,” 8-10
p.m., Fox. Here's a quick rerun of Thursday's debut of this music
competition.

“The Good Doctor,”
8 p.m., ABC. In an excellent rerun, we see Shaun's first full day at
the hospital. With colleagues skeptical about his youth and autism,
he's confined to the sidelines.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, Torres' stake-out partner suddenly disappears. Also,
Susan Blakely guests as Ducky's friend, offering him a fresh
opportunity.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. Tammy's ex-husband embezzled $80 million
intended for Katrina victims. This tends to make him unpopular; now
his troubles grow, when he's linked to the murder of the son of a Mob
boss.

“The Lion King”
(1994), 9 p.m., Freeform. With lush animation – matched by Elton
John's lush music – this is a classic. It's preceded by Disney's
animated “Tarzan” (1999) at 6:55.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. This reruns the two-rapper night: Chance
the Rapper hosts, with Eminem as music guest.

TV column for Friday, Jan. 5


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” return, 8 p.m., CW.

Last month, this
clever show reached a turning point. Rebecca had survived her
obsession with Josh and had survived a suicide attempt. No longer
employed, she has a therapist ... and a new obsession, with her
former boss. Then cane a four-week break.

Now “Crazy”
re-starts slowly. Neither of tonight;s music numbers has Rebecca;
there's a splashy piece by Darryl and a funny little one by Josh's
mom. There's also a mild plot, suggesting that this witty and
eccentric show has bigger things ahead.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Figure-skating, 8-11 p.m., NBC.

On Feb. 9, the
Winter Olympics will begin, elevating skaters to the top of the
sports world. So the U.S. championship – with Olympic-team spots at
stake – get extra attention.

The NBC Sports
Network has been covering the early rounds, wrapping them up from
12:30-6:30 p.m. ET today. Then NBC has the finals. The women are
tonight; Saturday has pairs (4 p.m. ET) and men (8 p.m.), Then free
dance will be 3 p.m. ET Sunday.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Mysteries & Scandals” debut, 9 p.m., Oxygen.

In her CNN years,
Soledad O'Brien showed she's a smart and diligent reporter. Now she
uses approximately 12 percent of that talent, to re-tell famous crime
stories.

The first seven
minutes offer a bland retelling of the O.J. Simpson story; then comes
the fascinating crime that sent him to prison. This was a bizarre
botch – retrieving sports artifacts that (a court later ruled)
belonged to Simpson anyway ... but doing it with threats and guns.
Simpson got nine years, the gunmen went free; one “friend” sold a
secret tape for $150,000. It's an odd story, told by key players.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: Music specials, 9 and 10 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

We can catch three
great singers in back-to-back (or cheek-to-cheek) reruns. First are
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, in a 2014 “Great Performances,” doing
jazz songs from their “Cheek to Cheek” album.

Then is the misnamed
“Alan Cummings Sings Sappy Songs.” There's no sappiness here;
Cummings beautifully does the songs from Gaga, Miley Cyrus and more;
he also dedicates wrenching songs to his troubled father and
grandfather.

Other choices
include:

“Child Support”
debut, 8 p.m., ABC. Viewers have enjoyed the young “experts” on
ABC's “Toy Box.” Now grown-ups try to answer questions, but can
be bailed out by a panel of kids. Fred Savage – the former “Wonder
Years” star and a busy director – hosts; Ricky Gervais works with
the kiddie panel.

“Hell's Kitchen”
and “9-1-1,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. First, Gordon Ramsay calls the
contestants late at night, giving each $20 to buy ingredients for
three restaurant-quality pasta dishes. Then is a rerun of the
excellent “9-1-1” debut, boosted by strong work from Connie
Britton, Peter Krause and Angela Bassett. “MacGyver,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. And you thought a karaoke microphone was a silly tiong to have
at home? Mac needs it after his house has been rigged with bombs by
his nemesis, The Ghost.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. This is a tough task – round up every gang-related
criminal on the island. That happens after the death of an FBI agent
who was cracking down on gangs.

“Agents of
SHIELD,” 9:01 p.m., ABC. With Daisy's life in danger, she gets
unexpected help.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Frank, the police commissioner, is at odds with a drug
policy led by his daughter. Meanwhile, his son Danny re-opens a case
a reporter was investigating when killed.