TV column for Tuesday, March 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“New Girl,” 8 p.m., Fox.

Lives are changing
and no one seems happy about it. Cece is moving in with her fiance
Schmidt ... Winston wants to quit having Aly (whom he secretly loves)
as his police partner ... and the usually cheery Jess actually hates
her boss (Elizabeth Berkley) and her job.

This script (by
Nasim Pedrad, who plays Aly) has some funny moments, especially from
Winston's new – and immensely incompetent – partner. And along
the way, there are life-changing moments.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Crowded” debut, 10 and 10:30 p.m., NBC.

These days, most new
comedies (including “New Girl”) are filmed movie-style, with lots
of settings and no studio audience. “Crowded” is an exception:
Slick and jokey, it's taped multi-camera, with an audience ... and
with James Burrows, the multi-camera master, as director and
producer.

Burrows has had
great shows -- “Cheers,” “Frasier,” “Will & Grace”
and more; lately, he's sunk to “The Millers” and “Mike &
Molly.” Alas, “Crowded” -- which will promptly move to Sundays
-- is another so-so one. Patrick Warburton and Carrie Preston play
empty-nesters whose daughters (Mira Serafina and Miranda Cosgrove)
return; humor – sometimes clever, often not -- follows.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” 10 p.m., FX.

As the trial
continues, lives implode in compelling ways. Johnnie Cochran, usually
in control, is blasted by his past. Robert Kardashian starts to
wonder if his friend O.J. could actually be guilty. And the
friendship of defense lawyers Marcia Clark and Chris Darden reaches a
high and then a low.

All of this is is
skillfully written and beautifully played, with great moments for
Courtney Vance (Cochran), David Schwimmer (Kardashian), Sarah Paulson
(Clark) and Sterling Brown (Darden).

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Of Gods and Prophets,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Last week's opener
left us with a bitter after-taste. Blindly following a prophet, King
Saul (beautifully played by Ray Winstone) slaughtered a harmless
tribe. The aftermath cost the life of his would-be son-in-law; it
also blew his chance to unite the 12 tribes of Israel.

This second episode
finds Saul desperate as an enemy army nears. He's unaware that his
concubine is a spy ... and that there are big things ahead for the
shepherd (David) who is his harpist.

Other choices
include:

Basketball, 6:30 and
9 p.m. ET, TruTV. On Thursday, the NCAA tournament sprawls across
four networks. First are games today and Wednesday, setting the final
four spots in the 64-team field.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. For its 300th episode, the show returns to a subject
it has emphasized – wounded veterans. Taye Diggs plays a lone
survivor, key to Gibbs' re-investigation of an ambush in Iraq.

“Pretty Little
Liars” season-finale, 8 p.m., Freeform, rerunning at 10. A stalker
is threatening to kill all the “pretty little liars,” if they
don't reveal who killed Charlotte.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. When a sailor is killed by a party bus in
the French Quarter, Brody (Zoe McLellan) is convinced this is related
to the death of her own sister.

“Brides &
Prejudice” debut, 9-11 p.m., FYI. In its first two years since
replacing the Biography Channel, FYI has been trying distinctive
relationships shows, including “Married at First Sight,”
“BlackLove” and “Kocktails With Khloe.” Now this series
starts with three couples who face biases. One is gay; the others
cross racial and religious lines.

“Limitless,” 10
p.m., CBS. Desperate to break away from Sen. Morra, Brian splits from
the FBI and heads to Russia, looking for the woman who may have an
alternative vaccine.

TV column for Monday, March 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Bachelor” finale, 8 p.m., ABC, with follow-up at 10.

Ben Higgins has
already told Lauren Bushnell and JoJo Fletcher that he loves them.
This would be fine, except for the whole monogamy thing; now he's
supposed to choose one.

Higgins, 26, is a
6-foot-5 software salesman from small-town Indiana. Bushnell, 25, is
a flight attendant; Fletcher, also 25, is a real-estate developer. At
10, we'll see the aftermath.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “BET Honors” (BET) and “The Voice” (NBC), both 8-10 p.m.

Patti LaBelle has
had a spectacular career – two Grammys, two Emmy nominations, two
No. 1 singles. Now, at 71, she's on both shows. BET has tributes
(rerunning at 10 p.m.) to her, director Lee Daniels, music producer
L.A. Reid, former attorney general Eric Holder and businesswoman
Mellody Hobson.

“Voice” spends
its first hour wrapping up auditions. The second starts the battle
rounds and adds mentors – LaBelle with Christina Aguilera, Tori
Kelly with Adam Levine, Sean “Diddy” Combs with Pharrell Williams
and – in an odd twist – Gwen Stefani with her mate, Blake
Shelton.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Damien,” 10 p.m., A&E; or “Gotham,” 8 p.m.,
Fox.

How dark can a show
go, before turning monochromatic? Both shows push that to an extreme;
they're brilliantly filmed and acted, yet sometimes sink into
one-note extremes.

For “Damien,”
that's understandable. This is the story of a nice guy learning he's
the antichrist; we expect it to be dark. This hour, its second, is
beautfiully done by Ernest Dickerson, a master director of movies
(“Juice”) and TV (“The Wire,” “Dexter,” “Treme”). And
“Gotham”? Somehow, it has mined all the darkness from the Batman
story – especially in this revenge episode – and ignored the
rest.

Other choices
include:

“Janet King,”
any time, www.acorn.tv. Marta
Dusseldorp became an Australian star as the central figure – a
nurse, returning home after 20 years – in “A Place to Call Home.”
Now she stars in this solid mini-series. Returning from maternity
leave, she's prosecuting a tangled assisted-suicide case.

“Baseball
Legends,” 6-9 p.m., Smithsonian. The first two episodes –
rerunning at 6 (Henry Aaron) and 7 p.m. (Babe Ruth) -- had strong
stories, marred only by verbal detours from a “mythologist.” The
third – Lou Gehrig, at 8 p.m. – alas, has many more detours and
spends less of an interesting story: An overweight mama's boy from
New York, Gehrig transformed into a college kid and multi-sport star.

“Crazy
Ex-Girlfriend,” 8 p.m., CW. Back in 1991, “Seinfeld” had a
great episode about trying to intercept a voice-mail message. In this
rerun, that idea moves into the text-message era, complete with Steve
Jobs' ghost and a musical debate over the word “textastrophe.”
It's a clever hour, complete with Rebecca (Golden Globe-winner Rachel
Bloom) singing a ballad about self-loathing.

“Supergirl,” 8
p.m., CBS. After taking a week off, the show is back with a twist:
Exposed to red kryptonite, Kara suddenly turns on everyone, including
her friends.

“The Halo Effect,”
8:30 p.m., Nickelodeon. At 6, Raymond Mohler returned to the ward
where he'd been hospitalized, to give away half his unwrapped
Christmas presents. He's 17 now and devotes his time to making
hospitals kid-friendly; this episode profiles him.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. The local blood supply has been hacked and may be
unusable. The team scrambles to find the hacker in time for a young
girl to have a heart-transplant.

“Blindspot,” 10
p.m., NBC. The team races to find a mole in its midst ... while
Inspector Fischer (John Hodgman, who played the hapless PC in all
those Mac commercials) eyes them suspiciouly.

TV column for Sunday, March 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.

This third hour
continues the impact of the first two. Alongside ABC's just-emded
“American Crime” and its upcoming “Secrets & Lies,” it
proves that the big networks can deliver cable-quality drama.

Adam disappeared at
age 8 and returned – if this is really him -- a decade later, just
as his mother (Joan Allen) prepared to run for governor. Now we see
how the neighbor (Andrew McCarthy) was framed; we get glimpses of
someone who may be the real kidnapper. We get a few answers and a lot
of questions, amid deep portraits of ordinary humans facing
extraordinary stress.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Carmichael Show,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC.

Jerrod (Jerrod
Carmichael, the show's co-creator) is delighted with tickets to see
his boyhood idol, Bill Cosby. But his girlfriend – appalled by the
charges against Cosby – refuses to go. Soon, she has the rest of
the family entwined in a lively debate about values, justice and
fallen heroes.

A fairly good show
during its summer try-out, “Carmichael” has become much better
now, thanks to sharp writing and the skilled pros (Loretta Devine and
David Alan Grier) playing Jerrod's parents. Tonight's second episode
give Grier some focus, as he plans a funeral for his estranged
father.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Little Big Shots,” 7 and 8 p.m., NBC.

Each year, NBC tries
a temporary Sunday makeover ... then waits impatiently for football
to return. Often, it stubbornly tries (and fails) with dramas; this
time it's going light. There are comedies at 9 and “Hollywood Game
Night” at 10 – preceded by this amiable trifle.

At 7 p.m. is a
rerun of Tuesday's “Shots: debut, starting with a delightful,
4-year-old making basketball trick shots. At 8, Steve Harvey
introduces a dazzling 4-year-old pianist, a 6-year-old choir
conductor and (really) a 5-year-old who seems to put a rooster and a
lizard to sleep. It's great fun.

Other choices
include:

“Naked and
Afraid,” 9 a.m., Discovery. Here's a rerun marathon, leading to two
new hours – an “Uncensored” at 9 p.m. and the season-opener –
in the cold of Canada – at 10.

“The Simpsons,”
8 p.m., Fox. When Lisa volunteers for a one-way trip to Mars, her mom
is displeased.

“Cooper Barrett's
Guide to Surviving Life,” 8:30, Fox. A fun friend from college
shows up ... and soon wears out his welcome.

“Scorpion, 8:30-10
p.m., CBS. With “Good Wife” resting for the second straight week,
CBS offers this transplanted rerun. A computer virus turns the “smart
house” into a blazing death trap.

“Alaska Aircraft
Investigations” debut, 9 p.m., Smithsonian. During summers, we're
told, Alaska averages a plane crash per day, sometimes with no way to
retrieve the wreckage. This series – quiet, steady, maybe a bit
drab – follows probes, starting with one in which the pilot went
wildly off-course.

“Last Man on
Earth,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. Even when there seemed to be only seven
people on Earth, two were named Phil Miller. Now one has died and the
other – going by his middle name of Tandy – feels separation
pains. Meanwhile, the six known survivors – Tandy doesn't know his
brother is alive – go through romantic tangles, in a fairly funny
episode

“Quantico,” 10
p.m., ABC. After being trained in the use of informants, the recruits
learn how difficult that is in real life. And in the flashforward,
Alex may have to spill confidential information.

“Race for the
White House,” 10 p.m., CNN. If you thought campaigns are nasty now,
look at the one with Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. This
follows an 8 p.m. town hall on CNN and TV One: Democratic candidates
field questions in Columbus, Ohio; Jake Tapper and Roland Martin
anchor.

 

TV column for Saturday, March 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

For Ariana Grande,
this is a big night. She doubles as the “SNL” host and music
guest; and earlier (see next item), she'll learn if she won a Kids
Choice award; she's up for favorite female singer, facing Adele,
Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Meghan Trainor and Selena Gomez.

Grande has only done
“SNL” once (as music guest in last season's opener), but she's
done tons of TV. She played the same character on three seasons of
Nickelodeon's “Victorious” and one of “Sam & Cat.” She's
also had two albums reach No. 1 on the billboard charts, with five
singles in the top 10.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Kids Choice Awards,” 8 p.m., Nickelodeon and TV Land, rerunning
at 10 p.m. on Nickelodeon.

Blake Shelton takes
over as host of the award show. Among other things, that makes the
6-foot-5 country guy one of the largest targets Kids Choice has ever
had for a possible sliming.

Charlie Puth sings
“One Call Away” and (with Wiz Khalifa) “See You Again.” Also,
there are lots of awards – for TV, movies, music and beyond – and
general silliness.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Lady Day at Emerson Bar & Grill,” 8 p.m., HBO.

Two immense talents
sort of merge, when Audra McDonald films her Tony-winning work as
Billie Holliday. This was classified as a play (not a musical), which
evens McDonald's record: She's now won three Tonys for plays and
three more for musicals.

But be assured that
there's lots of music. On Broadway, this had 13 songs, including “God
Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” “What a Little Moonlight
Can Do” and “Ain't Nobody's Business if I Do.”

Other choices
include:

“Jerry Maguire”
(1996), 5:30 and 8:30 p.m., Pop. This launches a strong movie night.
There's “Jaws” (1975) at 5:45 and 8:30 p.m. on IFC, plus “Forrest
Gump” (1994) at 6:30 p.m. on Freeform, “Despicable Me” (2010)
at 7:40 p.m. on Disney and “Batman Begins” (2005) at 8 p.m. on
TNT.

“Rosewood,” 8
p.m., Fox. A brilliant doctor is suspected of two murders in this
rerun, but there isn't much evidence.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, the murder charges against a petty officer have been
dismissed because of mishandled evidence. Determined to clear his
name, he volunteers to face a court martial.

“Criminal Minds,”
9 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, a small Florida town is filled with sex
offenders. Now a murder case leaves the team with a town full of
suspects.

“Lucifer,” 9
p.m., Fox. While working a missing-girl case with Chloe in this
rerun, Lucifer has a definite distraction: He's so infatuated with
Chloe that he feels the only solution is to seduce her.

“Black Sails,” 9
p.m., Starz, rerunning at 9:55 and 10:50. Last week, the British
reneged on their deal. They retrieved the treasure, but failed to
return Rackham. Now both the treasure and the man are heading to
Havana ... unless the pirates can intercept them before they reach
the beach. Amid fierce action and sharp dialog, the future – of
Nassau and of the seas – is precarious.

“Party Over Here”
debut, 11 p.m., Fox. Here's sketch comedy from a three-woman team
that tapes before an audience at a Los Angeles hotel. It's from
Lonely Planet, which did many of Andy Samberg's “Saturday Night
Live” videos. At 11:30 is a funny rerun of “Cooper Barrett's
Guide to Surviving Life.”:

TV column for Friday, March 11


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC.

For its 100th
episode, “Grimm” goes big with three stories, one of them
offering a real sense of magic. That has Nick and Monroe in Germany's
Black Forest – home of the Grimm fairy tales – searching ancient
catacombs. There's a big pay-off, pointing toward Episode 101 and
beyond.

A second story,
involving the shooting of the front-runner in the mayoral race, is an
oddity; it has wildly tangled schemes, mixed with odd bits of
short-sightedness. The third has Adalind helping Rosalind ... whose
unwelcome visitor triggers more changes on the way.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Dr. Ken,” 8:31 p.m., ABC.

To really get into
this, you have to accept the notion that a stand-up comedian (George
Wyner) needs a doctor's note before he can perform.

If you buy that –
it's a stretch – you can enjoy a moderately good blend of jokes and
and emotions. Other stories, focusing on Ken's wife and son, range
from kind of funny to quite awful.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Bosch” new season, any time, Amazon.

Springing from
Michael Connelly novels, Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) is a tough Los
Angeles cop who tends to go rogue. As this second season begins, he's
back from a suspension and facing a big case.

Tbat starts with a
body in a trunk, then propels Harry to Las Vegas. He bumps across his
ex-wife (Sarah Clarke), their daughter and a gorgeous ex-showgirl
(Jeri Ryan), in a story that is tough and muscular.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Animal Storm Squad” debut, 10 p.m., NatGeo Wild.

As a wildfire
scorches 200,000 acres of Washington State, the focus is on saving
humans. But four people converge from around the country (and
Canada), searching for stranded animals.

They follow tips
about wandering horses and bear cubs.They befriend stray dogs. And a
sweet-spirited “cat whisperer” tries to lure a mom and her
kittens out of hiding. The result is a feel-good hour.

Other choices
include:

Funeral, 2 p.m. ET,
cable news channels. Services for Nancy Reagan will be covered by Fox
News (with Shepard Smith anchoring) and others.

“The Amazing
Race,” 8 p.m., CBS. Last week's episode bumped Jessica VerSteeg and
Brittany Oldehoff, two models and former beauty-pageant contestants
who are big on social media. That leaves eight duos; tonight, they
climb the 15,000-foot French Alps.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. Figuring that his wife is taking up too
much space with her work, Mike (Tim Allen) builds her a “she shed”
outside.

“Second Chance,”
9 p.m., Fox. Pritchard – the older cop transformed into a young
man's body – finally gets to work with his son, the FBI agents.
They link in search of a serial killer.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. A Russian spy has stolen a flash drive nthat could
endanger the life of one of the team members. Meanwhile, McGarrett
finally learns why Catherine left him; also, Abby (Julie Benz)
continues to keep her actual mission a secret.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Here's a rare dispute between the brothers – Danny
(Donnie Wahlberg), a veteran detective and Jamie (Will Estes), a
street cop. At issue is what to do about a reckless rookie cop who is
the son of Danny's friend.