TV column for Sunday, June 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Tony Awards, 8-11 p.m., CBS.

Tonight is short on
suspense and long on “Hamilton,” which is fine. Few musicals have
reached such total success – raves, sell-outs, a Pulitzer Prize and
a record 16 Tony nominations. Lin-Manuel Miranda has three of those,
for the score, the book and his performance as Alexander Hamilton.

There will be a
performances from “Hamilton,” the other musical nominees
(“Shuffle Along,” “School of Rock,” “Waitress,” “Bright
Star”) and musical-revival nominees (“Color Purple,” “She
Loves Me,” “Spring Awakening, “Fiddler on the Roof”). And
Gloria Estefan sings with her “On Your Feet” cast.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Celebrity Family Feud,” 9-11 p.m, ABC.

Last summer, “Feud”
emerged as a surprise ratings hit. It will be back for a new season
on June 26, but here are some quick reruns. There's Rob Gronkowski
vs. Holly Robinson Peete, Bill Envgvall vs. Keke Palmer, Cheryl Hines
vs. Niecy Nash ... and Katy Mixon vs. the “Duck Dynasy” clan.

All of this is
hosted by Steve Harvey, who is everywhere. He also would have been
hosting a “Little Big Shots” rerun, if the hockey play-offs
ended early; they didn;t and Game 5 is at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Preacher,” 9 p.m., AMC.

OK, maybe the whole
can be less that the sum of its parts. During its first three
episodes (the second one reruns at 7:55 p.m.), “Preacher” has
been in no hurry to give us a clear-cut story. Still, the separate
portions are weird and wonderful, in a “Fargo” and “Breaking
Bad” kind of way.

Formerly a crook and
now a small-town preacher, Jesse has acquired odd powers. His
ex-partner Tulip wants him to go on a revenge mission. Stalkers want
to steal the power. The enigmatic Cassidy wants to survive. And Jesse
is just befuddled ... as are viewers, sometimes in a pleasant way.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “The Last Ship” season-opener, 9 and 10 p.m.,
TNT.

At first, things
seem way too easy. The anti-virus developed by the late Rachel Scott
succeeded; Americans are rebuilding from disaster. Captain Chandler
(Eric Dane) and his crew – already heroes for their work with Scott
– are busy spreading the cure worldwide.

This is pleasant ...
but not dramatic. Don't worry; a half-hour into the season, “Last
Ship” becomes a sensational shoot-em-up, a life-and-death story
with good guys scrambling to save the world.

Other choices
include:

“High School
Musical” (2006), 6 p.m., Disney; plus sequels at 7:50 (2007) annd
9:45 (2008). On the night that musicals are honored on Broadway, we
can also see the films that helped bring them to a new generation.
Jaunty music and slick choreography overcome any story weaknesses.

“Cooper Barrett's
Guide to Surviving Life,” 7 and 7:30 p.m., Fox. This offbeat comedy
has attractive people groping with their first years as grown-ups.
Early episodes had fairly good humor and fairly bad ratings, so Fox
exiled the reruns to distant slots. Now it has two new episodes that
sound promising: Neal must overcome an old grudge; Cooper and Kelly
try to make each other jealous by dating others.

“Saving Private
Ryan,” 1998, 8 p.m. to 12:03 a.m., A&E. Steven Spielberg's
classic captures the horror of war and the honor of heroism. Tom
Hanks stars, with Matt Damon leading a great supporting cast.

“Brooklyn
Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox. Jake works on his own, to catch a
serial killer. For Fox, it's a returns to the strong Sunday comedy
line-up, which also has “Last Man on Earth” at 9:30.

“Three Bedrooms,
One Corpse,” 9-11 p.m., Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Realtors
never know what they'll find at a showing. Helping her mother, Aurora
Teagarden (Candace Cameron Bure) finds a body. That launches another
OK mystery; the two previous Aurora films (also OK) ar at 5 and 7
p.m.

“Ride With Norman
Reedus” debut, 10 p.m., AMC. “I have a pretty cool job,” Reedus
admits in this docu-series. “I get to ride my motorcycle and kill
zombies. He does that, in his “Walking Dead” role as Daryl
Dixon. Now we see him on his own, biking with friends. The opener –
400 miles along the California coast, with jewelry-designer Imogen
Lehtonen – is moderately interesting.

TV column for Saturday, June 11


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Two O.J. Simpson miniseries, FX and ABC.

One of the greatest
shows of the just-departed season was “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
Looking back to a trial that fascinated the world in 1994, FX found
fresh depth and detail. It had vivid portraits of the eccentric
defense team and (especially) overworked prosecutors Marcia Clark and
Christopher Darden.

Now that reruns from
2 p.m. to midnight on FX ... on the same night that a second
mini-series – this one a documentary – begins. “O.J.: Made in
America” shows its first chapter from 9-11 p.m. on ABC; then the
entire thing will be shown over four nights on ESPN, starting Tuesday.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The American West” debut, 10:10 p.m., AMC.

The story is 150
years old, but it seems like current events in the Middle East. After
a war, the victors have trouble keeping control; guerrilla fighters
are fueled by rage, revenge and (sometimes) religion.

Jesse James
harnesses the skills and hatred he acquired as a Confederate soldier;
Crazy Horse is sparked by a vision that said he was invincable. Gen.
U.S. Grant – a winner in war, is perplexed in this “peacetime.”
This starts a strong documentary series, filled with re-enactments,
plus brief comments by historians, actors (including Robert Redford,
who produced the series) and Sen. John McCain.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: More cowboys, noon to 10:10 p.m., AMC.

AMC softens us up by
showing how the West was fun in John Wayne films -- the rowdy
“McLintock” (1963) at noon, the tough “True Grit” (1969) at 3
p.m. and “The Sons of Katie Elder” (1965) at 6.

Then it goes the
other way, showing us that this was a brutal, bitter time. “Hell on
Wheels” -- returning for its final seven episodes – starts with
“The Swede” (a Norwegian, actually), Cullen's enemy. We see him
as the victim (via flashback) and then the villain. It's
well-crafted, but excrutiating to watch.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944), 8 p.m. ET, Turner
Classic Movies.

On a night stuffed
with cowboys, soldiers, lawyers and ninjas, we need s cheery tale of
a family during the 1904 World's Fair. Vincente Minnelli, 42,
directed Judy Garland, 22. The next year, they married.

Minnelli gave the
film a glowing palette and Garland soared with great music. In its
list of the best movie music, the American Film Institute put one of
the film's songs (“The Trolley Song”) at No. 26 and another
(“Have Yourself a Merry Christmas”) at No. 76.

Other choices
include:

“Roots,” 4 p.m.
to midnight, A&E. Here's another chance to see the epic remake in
one gulp, on one of the four networks that simulcast it, beginning on
Memorial Day.

“People's List”
debut, 8 p.m., ABC. People magazine and ABC News combine for a summer
series that plans to look at celebrities, social-media stars and,
we're told, regular people.

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a rerun of Wednesday's try-outs,
from Atlanta.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. This rerun finds the team heading to Cuba, after a woman
from Cabe's past asks for help catching a Serbian war criminal. Alana
De La Garza (“Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders”) guests as the head
of Homeland Security.

“Outlander,” 9
p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10 and 11. Sometimes, there's a military
advantage to having a spouse who time-traveled. Leading his men into
battle, Jamie takes advantage of Claire's knowledge of history.
Meanwhile, she uses her nursing skills ... and is reminded of the
fierce cost of warfare.

“Maya and Marty,”
10 p.m., NBC. Here's a rerun of Tuesday's hour, filled with “Saturday
Night Live” favorites: Tina Fey and Steve Martin join regulars Maya
Rudolph, Martin Short and Kenan Thompson.

TV column for Friday, June 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The LEGO Movie” (2014, TBS) or “The Social Network” (2010,
National Geographic), both 8 p.m.

On a slim night for
network viewers (unless they're sports fans), cable offers superb
movies. “Social Network” arrives with Oscars for its music, its
editing and Aaron Sorkin's brilliant script. It has five more
nominations, including best picture and Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook
creator Mark Zuckerberg.

By comparison, “LEGO
Movie” wasn't even nonminated for best animated feature, a bizarre
snub. This is a gem with wit, style, a big surprise and terrific
music, starting with “Everything is Awesome” and ending with a
clever ode to darkness. The result is a delight for kids and some
grown-ups.

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

This rerun offers an
example of why the “Five-0” romances sometimes sputter: McGarrett
has planned a first date with Lynn (Sarah Carter, who's been terrific
as a relentless cop in “Rogue”) on a deserted island. Alas,
there's a mobster hiding there who wants to kill them to keep his
spot a secret.

Meanwhile, the
others scramble to save the father of a football star: Gamblers say
they'll kill him unless his son throws the game.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Sports, ABC and Fox.

Americans seem fond
of games where people move fast and score often. On TV, they like
something with each team nearing 100 points; they're slower to
embrace 1-0 thrillers.

Tonight, we get
those opposites. At 9 p.m. ET (with pre-game at 8 and 8:30), ABC has
the fourth game of the pro-basketball best-of-seven series, with
Golden State at Cleveland. Fox counters with Copa America, which has
16 national soccer teams from the Americas, at 10 sites around the
U.S. Tonight has Chile and Bolivia at 7 p.m. ET and Argentina and
Panama at 9.

Other choices
include:

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a rerun of Tuesday's episode. It's
the second of this season, which has added Simon Cowell as a judge.

“Masters of
Illusion,” 8 p.m., CW. This new episodes includes Michael
Grandinetti, Barry and Stuart and more ... including, CW says, a
“human beverage dispenser.” It's followed by more magicians, on
reruns of “Illusion” at 8:30 and “Penn and Teller: Fool Us”
at 9.

More movies, 8 p.m.,
cable. It's a night of wide-appeal comedies, including Whoopi
Goldberg's zesty “Sister Act” (1992) on CMT, the Jack
Lemmon/Walter Matthau “Grumpy Old Men” (1993) on Pop and Robin
Williams' “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993) at 7:45 p.m. on Freeform. For
film buffs, “Sunset Boulevard” (1950), the acclaimed dark
comedy-drama, is at 8 p.m. ET on Turner Classic Movies.

“Girl Meets
World,” 8:30, Disney. Worried that her new classmates won't like
her, Riley creates an Online alter-ego named Jexica. Also, her
parents fret about her brother's Online use.

“The Walk,” 9
p.m., Showtime. Back in 1974, Philippe Petit pulled off a secret
scheme to rig a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers and
walk between them. That story has been told in a documentary and now
this film, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and directed by Robert
Zemeckis.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. This is no standard car theft: Stolen was the last
remaining Mustang that Steve McQueen drove during the classic
“Bullitt” chase scenes. Its owner – played by Anthony Edwards
of “ER” -- is furious. Also in this rerun, Erin and her dad have
a work conflict.

“Unreal” and
“Devious Maids,” 10 and 11:02 p.m., Lifetime. Here are reruns of
Monday's mismatched season-openers. In “Unreal,” Rachel becomes
the cynical head of a “Bachelor”-type show. “Maids” quickly
lightens up, with a funny scene that has Eva Lognoria (one of its
producers) playing herself.

TV column for Thursday, June 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Modern Family” (ABC) or “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS), both 8
p.m.

Here's a rarity –
two of TV's best (and most-honored) comedies colliding, via reruns.
That was set up by a late ABC switch, pushing its movie to 8:30 and
inserting “Modern”; this episode finds Haley trying to stop Andy
from proposing to Beth and Cam trying to nudge Mitchell back to his
old job.

And “Big Bang”?
Raj – once unable to talk to women, now finds himself trying to
juggle Claire and Emily. Sheldon and Amy celebrate Valentine's Day
with, of course, a “Fun With Flags” podcast.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “ET” (1982), 8 p.m., Showtime; “War of the Worlds”
(2005), 8:30, ABC.

Steven Spielberg
movies seem to range only from very good to truly great. “War of
the Worlds” is the former, a well-made action tale. As aliens
attack, a blue-collar dad (Tom Cruise) struggles to get his kids (one
of them Dakota Fanning) to their moms' house.

It's a good piece of
craftsmanship ... but “E.T.” (1982) is much more. Spielberg
reminds us that alongside soaring action, it's possible to have
warmth, depth, humanity and even a tad of humor.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Amy Schumer, all night, comedy central.

Schumer has become a
fresh force – bringing intelligence to R-rated sexual humor, while
adding some satire and depth. Her stand-up comedy is broadly funny;
her “Inside Amy Schumer” series is inconsistent (most
sketch-comedy shows are), with enough great moments to keep us
watching.

Now people who like
adult-type humor can get the full experience. Her “Mostly Sex
Stuff” stand-up hour reruns at 8:56 and 11 p.m.; a new “Inside
Amy Schumer” is at 10 p.m., rerunning at 1:01 a.m. In between is
Nikki Glaser's show at 10:30 and “Amy Schumer Presents Rachel
Feinstein” at 12:01 a.m.

Other choices
include:

“American Grit”
finale, 8-10 p.m., Fox. This tough show – sometimes closer to
sadism than entertainment -- claims it will offer its roughest
challenges yet. That includes being timed while suspended upside-down
over a waterfall, moving hand-to-hand via a wire.

“Uncle Buck”
(1989), 8 p.m., AMC. On Tuesday, ABC will debut a series version –
the second attempt to turn “Buck” into a situation-comedy. First,
here's the movie, with a ne'er do well suddenly watching his
brother's kids. It's a fairly fun film, boosted by the charm of John
Candy and Macaulay Culkin.

“Life in Pieces,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. Colleen's former boyfriend (Jordan Peele of “Key
and Peele”) is back, in a funny episode. After trying to steal her
dog, he pushes his latest business venture. Also, Heather wants to
abandon her longtime hairdresser (Alex Borstein).

“Beauty and the
Beast,” 9 p.m., CW. Last week's season-opener saw Vincent and Cat
rush back from their honeymoon, when a blogger was about to expose
the beasts. Now they're protecting an heiress while searching for a
black-market buyer of beasts; keeping Vincent's identity secret
becomes crucial.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun finds Christy happy (temporarily) that her daughter
wants to spend more time with her. Also, her own mom tries to make
amends with a nemesis (Amy Hill).

“Code Black,” 10
p.m., CBS. Arriving at the emergency room, a woman is unable to say
how she injured herself and others. Also, Christa tries to help an
illegal immigrant whose son is ill

“Ladylike”
debut,11:02 p.m., MTV, rerunning at 11:34. Here's a new hidden-camera
show, with three of the women from “Girl Code.”

TV column for Wednesday, June 8


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Americans” season-finale, 10-11:14 p.m., FX.

With subtlety and
depth, this hour delivers shellshocks of change. Russian spies are
embedded into 1980s America; one (superbly played by Dylan Baker) has
stolen a fierce virus from a U.S. lab and prepares to deliver it. An
FBI agent closes in ... unaware that his own neighbors are also
spies.

That puts fresh
pressure on Phillip and Elizabeth. At what point do they retreat to
their Russian homeland? What would that do to their teen son and
daughter? Huge emotions build quietly.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “CMT Music Awards,” 8-11 p.m., CMT, Nickelodon and TV Land.

Like the Grammys,
this will be strong on new combinations, sometimes crossing genres.
Billy Ray Cyrus links with Cheap Trick, Dierks Bentley with Elle
King, Cam with Fifth Hartmony.

There's more –
Blake Shelton with the Oak Ridge Boys; Keith Urban with his
tourmates, Brett Eldredge and Maren Morris. Also performing: Luke
Bryan, Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line.

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

Here is the exact
opposite of “Americans.” While one show builds emotions
delicately, the other plows them in with a bulldozer. This hour has
absurd conflicts, designed to rush the plot along; it also has three
moments when characters change their personalities instantly, for
plot convenience.

Still, credit “Night
Shift” for merges medical stories with high-octane characters, most
of them ex-military. The show is richly diverse, now adding an
American Indian doctor played by Tanaya Beatty, whose roots are
Canadian First Nations and Himalayan. It's sometimes interesating,
flaws and all.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Macho men, everywhere.

Somehow, Wednesdays
have become adrenaline-overload night. Alpha males (and females)
abound in NBC's “American Ninja Warrior” (8-10 p.m.) and “Night
Shift” and in ABC's basketball finals (9 p.m ET, with previews at 8
and 8:30); there's even one leading a cooking show.

And in the midst of
this, cable has the best-crafted macho portrait in movie history. “A
Streetcar Named Desire” (1951, 8 p.m. ET on Turner Classic Movies)
was brilliantly written by Tennessee Williams and superbly acted by
Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden and more.

Other choices
include:

“Arrow,” 8 p.m.,
CW. Here's a rerun of the seaspn-opener, introducing the nasty Damien
Darkh, played by Neal McDonough.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. Last week's season-opener showed how to add competitive
spark to auditions: Have two people compete in cook-offs for each of
the 20 spots. Now that phase continues.

“Wayward Pines,”
9 p.m., Fox. Why was nasty Jason chosen to be the young leader of
this community? Tonight, we learn via flashbacks; other flashbacks
(bringing back Terrence Howard as the late sheriff) show why Theo was
chosen as the doctor. And Nurse Pam (Melissa Leo) returns, posing a
threat.

Movies, 9 p.m.,
cable. Here are three good comedies to choose from. “Vacation”
(1983, AMC) stars Chevy Chase ... “Mean Girls” (2004, Freeform)
was writtenn by and co-stars Tina Fey ... “The Intern” (2015,
HBO) is inconsistent, but links Oscar-winners Robert De Niro and Anne
Hathaway.

“Kingdom,” 9
p.m., DirecTV/AT&T. Beautiful and troubled, Ava (Lina Esco) has
driven from Miami to California to see Alicia. She knows nothing of
Alicia's violent new world – but is about to get a startling view.
That comes during a strong episode involving recent tragedy –
Alvey's stillborn baby, Ryan's injury; also, Nate learns what those
$10,000-a-month “personal trainer” payments were about.

“Criminal Minds:
Beyond Borders,” 10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a former U.S. serviceman
was killed in an Egyptian gas attack and his friend is missing. The
team heads there to investigate, aided by Penelope Garcia (Kirsten
Vangsness) of the “Criminal Minds” team.