TV column for Friday, Aug. 19


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Superstore,”10:30 p.m., NBC.

In the midst of its
mega-rated Olympic coverage, NBC pauses to show off a micro-rated
comedy. It's a special episode of the likable (if erratic)
“Superstore,” set in a time prior to last spring's season-finale.

The store plans an
Olympic-themed sale... something that triggers Glenn's frenzied
patriotism and Dina's plans for an epic closing ceremony. There's a
fictional gold medalist (played by Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night
Live”), plus several real ones – figure-skater Tara Lipinski,
speed-skater Apolo Anton Ohno and gymnast McKayla Maroney. And along
the way, Mateo reveals an important secret.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: Olympics, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 8-10:30 p.m., 11:35 p.m. to 3 a.m.,
NBC.

With
two-and-a-fraction days left, Usain Bolt has a shot at yet another
gold medal, this time with his Jamaican team in the four-by-100-meter
relay. That's in prime time, where NBC (mixing live and tape) also
has the men's hammer, the women's pole vault and 5,000-meter and
more.

The cable channels
start live coverage early – 6:30 a.m. ET on Golf, 7 a.m. on the NBC
Sports Network and 9 a.m. on USA. CNBC starts at 5 p.m. ET, wth the
men's basketball semi-finals at 6.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Movies, cable.

The bad news is that
cable is playing it safe, with movies it shows often. The good?
They're shown so much because they're popular, mainstream and
well-made, maybe worth seeing again.

That starts with the
first and third “Austin Powers” movies, at 6 p.m. (1997) and 8
p.m. (2002) ET on IFC; AMC has “The Breakfast Club” (1985) at
6:30 and 8:30. And at 8, there;s “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013)
on FX, “The Help” (2011) on CMT, “You've Got Mail” (1998) on
Pop and more.

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef,”
8-10 p.m., Fox. In the first part of this rerun, the losers of a
previous challenge now have 90-minutes to create a three-layer
birthday cake. Then everyone is hauled to a vegetable field for the
next challenge – 75 minutes for teams to prepare a meal for 100
hungry farmers.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a fire broke out near a
top-secret government container and key information was stolen. To
learn what happened, Sam and Callen go undercover as firefighters.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Shades of Iron Man: This rerun says the government has
developed a suit that is high-tech and indestructible. It's been
stolen and the team races to find it.

“Great
Performances at the Met,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). A
decade ago, Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient”) directed an
acclaimed “Madama Butterfly.” He died two years later, but is
still listed as the producer of this version. Directed and
choreographed by his widow Carolyn Choa and starring Kristine
Opolais, it drew raves when it opened at the Met in March.

“Killjoys,” 9
p.m., Syfy. Dutch, D'avin and Alvis head to an old research facility
on Arkyn. Meanwhile, Johnny and Pawter are trying to rally support in
the impending battle for Westerly.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. This rerun puts the spotlight on Erin, an assistant
district attorney. After a case ends with a hung jury, she takes it
over; working with the department's detective (Steve Schirripa of
“The Sopranos”), she searches for the witness who disappeared.

“Dark Matter,”
10 p.m., Syfy. Don't you hate it when your vehicle's tech devices
blink out, flinging you into an alternate reality? That happens to
the Raza tonight.

TV column for Thursday, Aug. 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Olympics, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 8 p.m. to midnight, 12:35 to 4:30 a.m.,
NBC.

With only three-plus
days left, there are still plenty of medals to hand out. In prime
time, NBC goes live with the gold-medal finals of men's beach
volleyball. Mixing live and tape, it has the men's 200-meter, shotput
and decathlon; women have finals in javelin, 400-meter hurdles and
platform diving.

There's much more on
cable. Live coverage starts at 8 a.m. on NBC Sports Network, 9 on
Golf, 10 on USA, 2 p.m. on MSNBC and 5 p.m. on CNBC.

TONIGHT'S MUST SEE
OR RECORD: “The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore” finale, 11:30
p.m., Comedy Central.

The decision to
cancel Wilmore was sudden and startling. Yes, ratings were low ...
especially after Jon Stewart left the lead-in “Daily Show.”
Still, satirical shows thrive during an election year; Wilmore had
moments of brilliance ... and seemed likely to have many more.

After getting the
news Monday that his show is ending, Wilmore put together an episode
that was sweet-spirited in approach, yet fierce in its satire. We can
expect more of that tonight.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” 10 p.m., FX;
rerunning at 11.

Romance has been a
wild roller-coaster for Flash. He showed Gigi the land he bought in
New Jersey, proposed to her ... and was abruptly rejected. In last
week's episode (rerunning at 10:30), he and Ava announced they're a
couple; Johnny fumed, Gigi did some apartment-remodeling with a
chainsaw.

Now everyone is
supposed to set this aside: It's time for “Feast” -- the
potato-famine musical that Campbell Scott co-opted from Rehab. Scott
(playing a perverse version of himself) even insists that all his
people fast before the show. It's a busy and funny episode, for a
show that's been at its best lately.

Other choices
include:

-- “60 Days In,”
10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 9-11:03 p.m., A&E. The first season was a
ratings success, watching volunteers go undercover at the county jail
in Jeffersonville, Ind. You can sample that in the afternoon, then
catch the new season tonight, with a “pre-show” at 8:45 p.m. and
then a new crop of volunteers.

-- “No Country for
Old Men” (2007), 5:15 and 8 p.m. ET, IFC. A strong movie night is
led by this Oscar-winner. At 8 p.m., kids can choose between two
animated films, “Brave” (2012) on Disney and “Ice Age”
(2002) on Nickelodeon. Grown-ups have Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan in
the subtly crafted “Brooklyn” (2015), at 9 p.m. on HBO.

-- “American
Experience,” 8-11 p.m., PBS. The two-week rerun string of
presidential portraits concludes with this richly detailed look at
George H.W. Bush.

-- “The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. For years, Sheldon has raved about his
grandmother. In this terrific rerun, we finally meet her. As played
by June Squibb, 86, an Oscar-nominee for “Nebraska,” she's a
sweet-face lady who's only sweet when Sheldon is there. Also, this is
the episode in which Raj meets Claire at the comic-book store; for
the first time, he's not sure about his relationship with Emily.

-- “Life in
Pieces,” 8:31 p.m., CBS. Consider this a variation on all those
cowboy movies about who gets water rights: When property lines are
redrawn, John (James Brolin) and his neighbor (J.B. Smoove) disagree
on who gets to use the hot tub.

-- “My Last Days,”
9 p.m., CW. After Wednesday's superb opener, here's the mid-section
of a three-day portrait of people facing life-shortening ailments.
Kate Lazo, 25, has a severe form of stomach cancer. Isabel Bueso was
told her ailment (called MPS VI) would bring her death before 20; at
21, she's busy researching MPS and creating awareness events.

-- “Queen of the
South,” 10 p.m., USA. Teresa scrambles to save a witness. Also, her
mentor Camila tries to reassire people that she's shed her troubles
and is back in the drug-dealing business.

 

TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“My Last Days” opener, 9 p.m., CW.

Claire Wineland is
19 and bubbly, a sweet-face teen who seems luminous on her podcast.
Darth Vader – yes, that's now his legal name – is none of those
things. After surviving a brutal childhood decades ago, he became a
tough and imposing force, plowing through “mudder” survival
tests.

Exact opposites ,
they have one thing in common: Both learned they'll die early. Justin
Baldoni (a “Jane the Virgin” co-star) has beautifully crafted
this first of consecutive three nights of documentaries about people
facing death. Claire (with cystic fibrosis) and Darth (leukemia) are
worth knowing.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The A Word” season-finale, 10 p.m., Sundance.

After a fairly slow
start, “A Word” ends its seaon superbly. Even if you've skipped
the first five episodes, you'll be engrossed with this one. All you
need to know is this:

Paul and Alison are
struggling in small-town England. His widowed father owns the local
brewery, where Paul's brother (who's had job and marital troubles)
works. Now Paul is opening his pub today. His teen daughter will be
there; so will Joe, the 5-year-old whom Paul and Alison have never
publicly acknowledged is autistic. Then a crisis stirs emotions,
transforms lives and grips viewers.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Olympics, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 8 p.m. to midnight, 12:35
to 4:30 a.m., NBC; also, cable.

Much of NBC's
coverage is tape-delayed, but the network plans to go live with the
women's beach-volleyball gold-medal match. That's the event Kerri
Walsh Jennings of the U.S, has won (with her previous partner) in
three straight Olympics, during a 112-match winning streak.

There's more in
prime time, including men's decathlon and women's finals in 200-meter
run, 100-meter hurdles and long jump. On cable, live coverage starts
at 6:30 a.m. on Golf, 8 a.m. on NBC Sports Network, 9 a.m. on USA and
11 a.m. on MSNBC.

Other choices
include:

“Trainwreck”
(2015), 7:55 p.m., HBO. Amy Schumer's comedy – sometimes raunchy,
often clever -- leads a good movie night. For kids, there are
animated movies -- “Monsters vs. Aliens” (2009) at 7 p.m. on AMC,
“Ratatouille”(2007) at 8:30 on Freeform. And for any age, “We
Bought a Zoo” (2011) -- an amiable trifle based on a true story –
is 8 p.m. on FXX.

“The Real
O'Neals,” 8-10 p.m., ABC. In four straight reruns, these amiable
people try to adjust to sudden changes, after Kenny came out as gay
and his parents separated. The trickiest part comes at 9 p.m., when
they hope to keep all of this secret from the visiting grandmother
(Frances Conroy).

“MasterChef,” 8
and 9 p.m., Fox. Retreating to reruns during the Olympics, this
ranges from a mystery-box challege to splitting into teams to help 30
teens celebrate sweet-16 birthdays.

“American
Experience,” 9-11 p.m., PBS. Here's the second half of a rerun,
profiling Ronald Reagan.

“American Gothic,”
10 p.m., CBS. Garrett is finally forced to reflect on the 14 years he
spent in solitude. The result reveals family secrets.

“Tyrant,” 10
p.m., FX. This started as a tale of a good American, overwhelmed by
evil when he visits his native land. But now it has flipped: Consumed
by rage over the murder of his daughter, Bassam (Barry when he's back
in the U.S.) overstepped tragically. An upcoming election has brought
tough posturing on all sides. Until then, Bassam remains president,
plunging into deeper trouble.

“Mr, Robot,”
10:01 p.m., USA. By now, Elliot (Rami Malek) knows that Mr. Robot
(Christian Slater) is just in his imagination, a figment taking the
image of his late father. He's quit trying to resist him, however,
and simply tries to get along. Meanwhile, Joanna faces an ultimatum.

TV column for Tuesday, Aug. 16


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Scream” season-finale, 10 p.m., MTV.

Last week, young
viewers learned things that their elders knew many movies ago: 1)
Don't visit a lonely farm at night, especially if you're in a
serial-killer story; and 2) If you find a body, don't pull the
pitchfork out and hold it, just as the police arrive.

Now the mayor is
dead; Emma and Audrey have been arrested. To warm up for tonight's
finale, you can try more youth scares from “Dead of Summer,” at 9
p.m. on Freeform. Two weeks before the season-finale, the camp
counselors try to recover from a night of horror.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: Olympics, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 8 p.m. to midnight, 12:35-4:30 a.m.,
NBC.

Some track-and-field
events have their finals today, while gymastis apparatus competition
continues. NBC has gold-medal finals for women's 1500-meter run and
men's high jump and 110-meter hurdles.

That's tape-delayed,
but the cable networks will resist that. NBC Sports Network goes live
at 8 a.m. ET, USA at 9, MSNBC at noon and CNBC at 5 p.m.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “New Girl,” 8:30 p.m., Fox.

Jess never seems
headed for a solid, settled love life. Sure, she's dating Sam (David
Walton), a bright and handsome doctor; now, however, she confesses to
Cece that she's had a sex dream about Nick.

Also in this rerun,
Winston mopes because his police partner (Nasim Pedrad) has a
boyfriend. But Schmidt hears that the guy is a talent agent for pets;
he wants an audition for Furguson the cat.

Other choices
include:

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, Tony's identity has been stolen by several people.
Now it seems like he's blackmailing senators.

“Brooklyn
Nine-Nine,” 8 p.m., Fox. Terry (Terry Crews) frets that the
precinct thinks he's a joke. Now he wants Jake (Andy Samberg) to help
solve a case from his past.

“Pretty Little
Liars,” 8 p.m., Freeform. Mrs. Grunwald has a vision that the women
are in danger yet again. Also, they demand answers from the doctor
who delivered Mary's baby. Meanwhile, Ali decides to return to work,
grasping for some normalcy; Emily and Paige go after the same
swim-coach job.

“Lucifer,” 9
p.m., Fox. As a crime-solving partner, Lucifer isn't very dependable.
In this rerun, he becomes bored with a case, quits it ... then wants
to rejoin it when something personal has been stolen.

“MadTV,” 9 p.m.,
CW. This is a quick rerun of the second episode, which aired two
weeks ago. “MadTV” alumni Ike Barinholtz (now of “The Mindy
Project”) and Bobby Lee host.

“Zoo,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Trying to determine the origin of a set of triple helix animal
bones – crucial to solving the virus – Mitch (Billy Burke)
reluctantly asks his father (Robin Thomas) for help. Also, Jackson
(James Wolk) faces the toughest decision of his life.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Pride's daughter has been
attacked on campus. Investigating, the team finds a shock – a
surveillance van, filled with photos of his every move.

TV column for Monday, Aug. 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Experience.” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

It's time for the
second half of a splendid set of reruns. Last weerk. we got two
nights of John Kennedy, then one apiece of Lyndon Johnson and Richard
Nixon; now it's Jimmy Carter tonight, Ronald Reagan on Tuesday and
Wednesday and George H.W. Bush on Thursday.

These are wildly
different people ... which is what makes elections so interesting or
bizarre. And “Experience” tends to trace them beautifully,
catching the merger of personalitty and policy,

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: Olympics, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 8 p.m. to midnight, 12:35 to 4:30
a.m., NBC.

Yes, it would be
ironic if we scuttle Carter for the Olympics. He is, after all, the
one who pulled the U.S. out of the 1980 games. The games' final week
begins today, with gold-medal finals in track-and-field; in prime
time, NBC has the women's 400-meter and men's 800-meter and pole
vault.

That's tape-delayed,
so avoid spoilers. Some of the cable channels have wrapped things up
now, but live coverage starts at 8 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, 9
a.m. on USA and noon on MSNBC.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Making of the Mob: Chicago,” 10 p.m., AMC,
rerunning at 11.

Now the Mob has lost
its two biggest assets – Al Capone and Prohibition. Capone faces
seven-years in prison (some of it in Alcatraz) for tax evasion, as
his mind and body deteriorate from syphilis. His aides scramble for
ways to make money in new (and crooked) ways.

They try taking over
the Hollywood labor unions, They also follow Sam Giancana's lead,
seizing the numbers racket from Chicago's blacks. This hour is way
too graphic, but spins a strong story.

Other choices
include:

“The
Disappearance,” any time, www.acorn.tv.
Lea is a blond beauty in Lyon, France, heading to a music festival on
her 17th birthday. There is a bright, French-style joy to
the early moments ... until, she simply disappears. In the first of
eight hours, “Disappearance” (with English sub-titles) offers
solid drama, capturing depth to the family members, an earnest cop
and – in her absense – to Lea.

“Mom,” 8 and 9
p.m., CBS. In the first rerun, Bonnie goes with the man (William
Fichtner) she met on the phone; in the second, he's jealous of the
time she spends at Alcoholic Anonymous. The latter episode is funny
and moving, as we meet the guy who was with Jodi on the night she
overdosed.

“True Life,” 8
p.m., MTV. Four survivors talk about the Orlando shooting and their
attempt to resume daily life.

“Rizzoli &
Isles,” 9 p.m., TNT. When an accountant is slain, the women find
themselves investigating a complex Ponzi scheme.

“The Odd Couple,”
9:30 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Felix wants to learn how to drive. That's
bad news for Oscar, who's offended that he's not asked to teach him
... and worse news for everyone who tries.

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. This rerun finds Cabe captured in Africa. Now the team
must rescue him.

“Mistresses,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. Harry's sister Kate is finally moving out of his
place ... but not before the damage has been done. She created a rift
between Harry and Joss, who soon descends into pills.