TV column for Friday, Nov. 11


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Last Man Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC.

It's time for the
wedding and Mandy is not pleased. She dislikes the Bible readings (“a
little preachy”), the church seating (“a little pew-y”) and the
tennis shows her groom and his best man plan to wear. Others are
growing bitter. “When do we get to throw rice at her?” a sister
asks. “And can it be rocks?”

That leaves it up to
her parents (Tim Allen and Nancy Travis) to smooth things over. The
result may not be original, but it's quick and clever and – at the
right moments – sort of sweet.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Great Performances: Gypsy,” 9 p.m., PBS.

When they read Gypsy
Rose Lee's memoirs, Broadway people saw the perfect combination –
Ethel Merman starring as the overbearing mother, with young Stephen
Sondheim writing the songs.

Merman resisted:
Sondheim should stick to lyrics, with Jule Styne doing the music.
They created the classics “Let Me Entertain You,” “Some People”
and “Everything's Coming Up Roses.” Now – after four revivals,
a movie and a TV film – here's a fairly good production: The story
is weak, the songs are great, the star (Imelda Staunton) is so-so,
others (especially Lara Pulver as Louise) are first-rate.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” 9 p.m., CW.

Sometimes, it's wise
to know when a relationship – or a story – has burned out.
“Crazy” stretched its Josh-or-Greg quandary way too long; now it
wraps it up with an exceptionally good episode.

Two songs are both
very brilliant and very adult. In one, Greg keeps finding rhymes for
“feces storm” (sort of); in the other, he and Josh celebrate all
the places they've had sex with Rebecca, These are odd and clever
moments – and they help push the story in new places. There's a
turning point for Paula and some wonderfully funny moments for Vella
Lovell, as the perpetually dry and downbeat Heather.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: Veterans Day shows, cable.

AMC has “Pearl
Harbor” (2001) – great visuals, lame story – at 6 and 9 p.m.,
while others offer documentaries. History has “Vietnam in HD”
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., then “Warfighters” until 4 a.m. Reelz has
the true stories behind “Unbroken,” “American Sniper” and
“MASH” from 7-10 p.m., rerunning until 1 a.m. The Smithsonian has
“The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima” at 9 p.m.

Then there's the
American Heroes Channel (formerly the Military Channel). It has
“World War II in Color” from 5-10 p.m., followed by the debut of
“The Battle I'll Never Forget.”

Other choices
include:

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. Murdoc – the recurring villain in the original series –
is back and ready to kill MacGyver. Don't worry; our hero has a
corkscrew and some paper-towel rolls.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. Here's a way to link with the show that follows it: Ken's
son has a chance to pitch his product on “Shark Tank.” Meanwhile,
his daughter starts an internship at the clinic.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Danny chaperones his daughter's winter formal.
Naturally, a crisis ensues; gunmen take over, in order to kidnap a
diplomat's son.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. A woman tells Danny and Baez about her abusive
ex-boyfriend ... then becomes the prime suspect, when the guy is
killed.

“The Searchers”
(1956) 10 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. This John Ford/John Wayne
film was chosen by American Film Institute voters as No. 12 among the
best American movies ... and No. 1 for westerns. Another cowboy
classic, Sam Peckinpah's “Ride the High Country” (1962) is at
6:15 p.m. ET, with the James Dean film “Rebel Without a Cause”
(1955) at 8.

“Wolf Creek,” 10
p.m., Pop. A week from the finale, Eve poses as a waitress at a
lingerie bar. There, she waits for Mick Taylor, the man who killed
everyone else in her family.

TV column for Thursday, Nov. 10


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Superstore,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., NBC.

Next week, NBC gets
its turn with the Thursday football games. Going on the shelf,
temporarily, are “The Good Place,” “Blacklist,” “Chicago
Med” and this above-average comedy.

“Good Place” --
which has already had nine episodes – steps aside tonight, so
“Superstore” can air two holiday episodes. First, the store
hires seasonal employees, many of them inept and one of them Amy's
husband. Then it's time for the big post-Thanksgiving rush ... except
that the employees come down with food poisoning. This panics Amy
(America Ferrera), who thinks it's morning sickness.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Pitch,” 9 p.m., Fox.

The real baseball
season has ended (quite spectacularly) on Fox, but the fictional one
remains interesting. Now it visits a tough moment for an older star –
moving to a less-demanding position.

That's happened to
many veterans, from Ernie Banks (shortstop to first base) to Joe
Mauer (catcher to first). Now a new catcher has been brought up from
the minors and Mike (Mark-Paul Gosselaar, 42) goes to first.
Meanwhile, the general manager (Mark Consuelos) and public-relations
person (Ali Larter) scramble to combat the latest scandal involving
Ginny, the first female major-leaguer.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Better Things,” 10 p.m., FX, rerunning at 11:05.

This first season
has been odd and varied and intermittently brilliant. Now it
concludes with all of that and more. The opening is upsetting, the
closing is quietly moving, the rest is an intriguing jumble.

Pamela Adlon
produces and co-writes (with Louis C.K.) the show and also directs
this episode. She also stars as someone a lot like her – a divorced
actress (voice work, mostly) with three daughters and a widowed
mother. Tonight, her life is a scrambled blur as usual – then takes
a serious turn that is faced silently. We emerge with only a feeling
that people differ and “Better Things” is oddly fascinating.

Other choices
include:

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Here's one of those episodes that'a filled with
flashbacks to pivotal moments” A difficult surgery stirs memories
for Meredith, Richard, Owen and Stephanie.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a terrific episode last week, Sheldon
accepted the fact that Amy had been lying about her apartment, so
they can live together. Now he comes up with another
relationship-changing twist. Also, Raj won't tell what his new
girlfriend does for a living.

“Rio” (2011), 8
p.m., Nickelodeon. This animated delight leads some fun 8 p.m.
movies. Others are “Clueless” (1995) on CMT, “Mean Girls”
(2004) on E and “Crazy, Stupid Love” (2011) on Oxygen.

“The Great
Indoors,” 8:30, CBS. Jack (Joel McHale) is used to the sprawling,
outdoor life. Now, while looking for his own place in the city, he's
crashing in Clark's micro-apartment.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. When she catches her boyfriend puffing pot before sex, Bonnie
(Allison Janney) fears that she's no longer attractive.

“Chicago Med,” 9
p.m., NBC. In its final episode for a while, the patients range from
a convict to two feuding brothers, one of whom desperately needs a
kidney transplant.

“The Blacklist,”
10 p.m., NBC. Wrapping up the first phase of its season, “Blacklist”
concludes the two-part story about a plastic surgeon for crooks.
Also, Liz frets about the desperate Alexander Kirk.

“How to Get Away
With Murder,” 10 p.m., ABC. As tension among her students hits a
peak, Annalise takes a surprising client.

TV column for Wednesday, Nov. 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Empire,” 9 p.m., Fox.

After missing three
weeks (two of them for baseball), “Empire” is back and big. The
opening minutes ripple with energy and danger, focusing on Shine
(played by Xzibit) and his talented sister Nessa.

Shine has linked
with Lucious in the old crime days and the recent music days. But in
the previous episode, Lucious and his son Trai gave him a beating;
now Shine is back with guns and thugs. There's much more, as youngest
son Hakeem battles one brother (Jamal) over music and another (Trai)
over Nessa. That peaks with a live-stream concert that's both wildly
unlikely and thoroughly entertaining.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Military Medicine: Beyond the Battlefield,” 10 p.m., PBS.

Alongside the horror
of recent wars, there have been medical miracles. Among the severely
wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan who reached combat hospitals, this
special says, 96 per cent survived. Within four days, the average one
was back in the U.S., where more innovations awaited.

This interesting
hour is reported by Bob Woodruff, who barely survived a bomb in Iraq.
Now, a decade later, he shows us advances in prosthetics, robotics,
wheelchairs, tourniquets and more.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Jay Leno's Garage” season-opener, 10 p.m. ET, CNBC.

Deep emotions seem
to link people and their vehicles, Leno finds. He takes a sentimental
ride with wrestler Bill Goldberg, goes camping in one of the
Volkswagen buses collected by comedian Gabriel Iglesias and hits the
racetrack with a Ferrari collector.

Leno also sees the
1967 Corvette that Joe Biden loves ... and arranges a race between
Biden and Colin Powell. This reruns at 1 a.m., with previous episodes
rerunning at 8, 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. and midnight.

Other choices
include:

“Survivor,” 8
p.m., CBS. It's time for the first individual-immunity challenge.
Meanwhile, the tribes are starting to even out: “Gen X” had four
of the first five ousters, but “Millenials” have had two straight
– Jessica Figueroa, 23, a bartender, and then Michaela Bradshaw,
25, who does vacation-club sales.

“Nature,” 8
p.m., PBS. When felines went from Asia to the Americas, they found a
world where they can be the top predator. Many – from the jaguar to
the Canadian lynx – rule the wilderness, but some are at our
doorstep; a classic photo showa a mountain lion near the “Hollywood”
sign. Wrapping up a terrific two-parter, this also shows the
development and dominance of the house cat.

“Nova,” 9 p.m.,
PBS. This hour focuses on metals – and the chance to touch history.
One person examines the wrought-iron strength of a discarded piece of
the Eiffel Tower. Another was bumped slightly while examining a
Chinese sword; he became the first person cut by it in 2,400 years.
Backed by strong visuals, this hour takes us from gold to
laboratory-made creations with special strengths.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. Jay has always savored his refuge ... but now his
son-in-law Phil may become a member. Meanhile, Cam isn't giving
Mitchell the full scope of what his play is about.

“Code Black,” 10
p.m., CBS. A college student regains consciousness, unwaware that
she's been raped. Also, Richard Lewis plays a comedian who collapsed
onstage; Annabeth Gish plays the mother of a terminally ill teen-ager
who wants to die on her own terms.

“Rectify,” 10
p.m., Sundance. Trying to adjust after 19 years in prison, Daniel
finds life more difficult with his new roommate. Also, his sister
(Abigail Spencer of “Timeless”) meets a former classmate.

More cable drama, 10
p.m. This has become cable's strongest hour, including “America
Horror Story” on FX and “Sugar” on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
“Horror” reruns at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.; “Sugar” reruns at 1
a.m. ... with previous episodes from 7-10 p.m., plus 11 p.m. and
midnight.

TV column for Tuesday, Nov. 8


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Election coverage, 7 p.m. ET, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS; 8 p.m., Fox;
earlier on cable.

After all that
commotion, it's finally time to count the votes and declare some
winners. Cable channels start early – 4 p.m. ET for CNN, 5 p.m. for
MSNBC, 6 p.m. for Fox News – and end late.

Broadcast networks
will wait until 7 p.m. ET, then keep going. PBS plans to stop at
midnight; others plan to go to 2 a.m. ET, with local stations getting
brief cut-ins and then (at 11 p.m.) a full newscast. Fox will start
at 8 – which, after all, is when polls start to close – and stop
at 10; many of its stations will have a local hour, then rejoin the
network coverage.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Political humor, cable.

This has been a
great year for satire, so there's no reaaon to stop now. With CBS
busy, Stephen Colbert slides over to Showtime; his live hour is 11
p.m. ET, 8 and 11 p.m. PT.

Also, Comedy Central
has a marathon of election-themed segments, with.“South Park”
reruns at 8 p.m. and compilations of “Tosh.0” and “Drunk
History” at 10 and 10:30. A live “Daily Show” hour is at 11
p.m., simulcast on MTV, VH1. TVLand and Spike; Comedy Central reruns
it at 12:41 a.m., after a live “@Midnight” at 12:06 a.m. ET, with
Whitney Cummings, Ron Fuches and Paul Tompkins.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Flash,” 8 p.m., CW.

This is the only big
(well, not-tiny) broadcast network that is skipping the election.
Here, it offers the “Flash” season-opener, which is both
interesting and a tad frustrating.

Barry has managed to
create an alternate universe. His mother was never killed, his dad
was never convicted, his life is happy. But his memories and his
powers are fading; he has to try to re-launch his romance. And then
there's Kid Flash (who's good) and Reverse Flash (who's not) to worry
about.

Other choices
include:

Pretty pictures, 3
p.m. to midnight ET, Weather Channel. There's no election-turmoil
here. For nine hours, the channel promises to have “the most
beautiful, awe-inspiring and calming weather video and scenery every
captured on tape.”

“Madagasacar 3”
(2012), 6 p.m., FX. Families can escape the election, via animated
fun. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (2014) follows at 8 and 10 p.m.

“Election Night
Viewing Party,” 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., TVOne. Roland Martin and guests
talk about the presidential race and about others (California,
Delaware, etc.) with black candidates.

More movies, 8 p.m.,
cable. The election-night films include a clever comedy about an
imposter president (“Dave,” 1993, Pop), plus a Jim Carrey comedy
(“Yes Man, 2008, AMC), a cowboy film (“Tombstone,” 1993, CMT)
and the pleasant-enough “Cookie-Cutter Christmas” (2014,
Hallmark).

“No Tomorrow,” 9
p.m., CW. Here's a chance to try this well-made (and undernoticed)
show about a woman who plans too much and a man who plans nothing ...
because he feels a meteor will destroy the Earth. Tonight, Evie (Tori
Anderson) starts to wonder if Xavier (Joshua Sasse) is merely crazy.

“The View Live
Election Special, 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., ET, Lifetime; also, 6 and 9 p.m.
PT. In Times Square, the hosts talk to D.L. Hughley, Kathy Najimy,
Mario Cantone and Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe whom
Donald Trump referred to as Miss Piggy, There are also video messages
from Kathy Griffin, Lena Dunham, Will Forte, Tom Bergeron and more.

“Saving Hope,”
11 p.m. and midnight, Ion. It takes a while to get past the central
gimmick -- Dr. Charles Harris' spirit roams the hospital where his
body lies in a coma. Beyond that, this show (like most Canadian
dramas) is solidly made. Tonight, Dr, Alex Reid, Harris' fiancee,
treats bombing victims and feels remorse. Erica Durrance (Lois Lane
in “Smallville”) and Michael Shanks (“Stargate”) star.

TV column for Monday, Nov. 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Odd Couple,” 9:30 p.m., CBS.

At times, Garry
Marshall dominated the TV-comedy world. One year, he produced three
of the four top-rated shows -- “Happy Days,” “Laverne &
Shirley” and “Mork & Mindy.”

He also produced all
three TV versions of “Odd Couple” ... and had a guest role last
spring, as Oscar's estranged dad. After Marshall's death this summer
(at 81), the show planned this episode. Oscar must meet his late
dad's friends -- played by former stars of Marshall's shows. They
include Ron Howard, Penny Marshall (Garry's sister), Cindy Williams,
Pam Dawber, Marion Ross and Anson Williams.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: Election previews, 10 p.m. and beyond.

The bad news is that
tonight will be riddled with political ads. The good news is that you
can find lots of election-eve shows, both serious – PBS repeats its
“Frontline” profiles at 10 p.m. -- and funny.

Well, mostly funny,
starting with“The SNL Election Special,” at 10 p.m. on NBC.
“Saturday Night Live” -- in a good year for quality and a great
one for ratings – has excerpts from its political sketches. Then
there's “Full Frontal” at 10:30 p.m. on TBS, “The Daily Show”
at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central and all the talk shows at 11:35 p.m.
and 12:37 a.m.; if nothing else, it's been a great race for comedy.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Voice,” 8-10 p.m., NBC.

Don't save all your
mental energy for Tuesday's election; there's also some important
voting tonight.

All 20 singers will
perform and viewers will decide instantly, via Twitter or the “Voice”
app. The top two vote-getters from each of the four teams will be
propelled to next week's round. That leaves three people on each
team; coaches can save one and send two home, giving the show its top
12.

Other choices
include:

“Deep Water,”
any time, www.acorn.tv. This
four-week mini-series is Australian, but the plot points –
gay-bashing, secrets and a frightened, undocumented immigrant –
could also fit the U.S. Yael Stone (Lorna Morello in “Orange is the
New Black”) plays a cop whose murder case could span decades.

“Dancing With the
Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. All season, this show's four athletes
had seemed invulnerable. That ended last week, when swimmer Ryan
Lochte was ousted. Surviving are gymnast Laurie Hernandez, driver
James Hinchcliffe and former football star Calvin Johnson, plus
singer Jana Kramer and actresses Marilu Henner and Terra Jole.

“Kevin Can Wait,”
8 p.m., CBS. Adam Sandler guests toight, CBS says. (It says it like
this is a good thing.) The episode has Kevin's old police partner
being way too happy with his fit new partner.

“Julie &
Julia” (2009), 8-11 p.m., Freeform. The true story of a food
blogger is juggled with flashbacks to Julia Childs' early years. It's
a delight, beautifully played by Amy Adams and Meryl Streep.

“2 Broke Girls,”
9 p.m., CBS. Earl (Garrett Morris, 79) fears that he can't keep up
with his new girlfriend (Telma Hopkins, 68). Meawhile, Max and Randy
may go beyond their texting relationship.

“USO – For the
Troops,” 9 p.m., PBS. Stuffed with big names and good intentions,
this portrait of the USO at 75 is only so-so. The best moments are
historical, ranging from 1940s segregation to 1960s dissent, plus the
buoyant Bob Hope ... whose 57th and final tour was at 87.
Newer scenes (a Craig Morgan tour) and interviews (from Jon Stewart
to George W. Bush) are surprisingly bland.

“Conviction,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. After her controversial TV interview, Hayes tries to
soothe the impact on the Senate campaign of her mother, a former
First Lady. Meawhile, she's re-opened the case of a low-income guy,
convicted of killing the rich woman whose family took him in.