TV column for Tuesday, May 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“NCIS” season-finale, 8 p.m., CBS.

Michael Weatherly
has been playing Tony DiNozzo almost forever. He started in two “JAG”
episodes that spawned “NCIS”; he did one episode apiece on the
Los Angeles and New Orleans spin-offs. And now he's leaving after 13
seasons and 305 “NCIS” episodes.

This is a big story,
wrapping up a multi-week search for an escaped British spy who
targets agents. Joining the hunt are two actors (Sarah Clarke and
Duane Henry) who may be regulars next year. Also involved is Tony's
dad, played by Robert Wagner ... whom Weatherly once portrayed in a
TV movie.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Coupled” debut, 9 p.m., Fox.

Desperate for a
post-“Idol” reality hit, Fox links with “Survivor” producer
Mark Burnett to re-imagine dating shows. Several new touches work
splendidly – a gorgeous Caribbean setting, a breezy host (Terence
J), a multi-racial feel, an emphasis on one-on-one conversations.
Also, there's an acknowledgement that these people might have sex.
“Adults do that, you know,” one woman explains.

More iffy is the
show's promise to have “accomplished, sophisticated” women. Its
has a “Bachelor”-type mix -- a lawyer and a CEO, but mostly
starter-job folks. It also has some unsophisticated shrieks.

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

How did this happen?
After other forces – Saddam, bin Laden, Al-Qaeda – were crushed,
how did ISIS become a quick powerhouse? This richly researched hour
points at two administrations. Neither Barack Obama nor Dick Cheney
agrees to be interviewed, but other key players did.

Trying to claim a
Saddam/bin Laden connection, the film said, Cheney brought attention
to a minor figure, Abu Musab al-Zargawi. When the U.S. disbanded the
Iraqi army, Zargai recruited for ISIS. He was killed and ISIS faded
... until the 2011 Iraq troop withdrawal made a revival easy.

Other choices
include:

“The Voice,” 8
p.m., NBC. A week before the season-finale, the field will be trimmed
in half. On Monday, eight people sang and viewers voted. Tonight, the
top three will be spared and the bottom two will be sent home. That
leaves the middle three to perform, with judges saving one of them.
Also performing will be Alicia Keys and OneRepublic.

“Megyn Kelly
Presents,” 8 p.m., Fox. When Kelly and Donald Trump clashed in an
August debate, both seemed to benefit. Now she has a special,
interviewing Trump, plus actors Laverne Cox (“Orange is the New
Black” and Michael Douglas and LegalZoom.com founder Robert
Shapiro. It's reportedly Shapiro's first TV interview since a
mini-series mocked his role on the O.J. Simpson defense team.

“Agents of
SHIELD,” 9 and 10 p.m., ABC. These are the hours the show has
pointed to all season. The evil scheme of Hive is now clear; there's
a confrontation, with not everyone surviving.

“Secrets of the
Dead,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Most experts feel
Cleopatra was buried in an ancient city that sank into the sea.
Disagreeing is a criminal lawyer (and self-taught archaeologist) from
the Dominican Republic. This interesting film watches as she
continues her 20-year search.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. With 900 pounds of explosives missing, New
Orleans is in danger. The search includes agents from Homeland
Security (Ivan Sergei) and the Coast Guard (Toni Trucks).

“Person of
Interest,” 10 p.m., CBS. Reese protects a police analyst who is
probing a computer glitch.

“The Night
Manager,” 10 p.m., AMC. Now we start to realize the immensity of
the illegal-arms operation that Roper (Hugh Laurie) has built. In a
compelling hour (the fifth of six), one man (Tom Hiddleston) works
undercover to stop him, with shrinking support from British spies.

TV column for Monday, May 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Mike & Molly” series finale, 8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS.

If “Mike &
Molly” had always been this good, it wouldn't be cancelled. Over
six seasons, it's veered between good moments and loud goofiness;
these final two episodes, however, are all good.

Waiting for word
about an adoption, Mike and Molly obsess. They try church and a
psychic. They panic; they break down a door. There are big sight
gags, witty moments, bits of warmth and the balancing skepticism of
Mike's mom. And then an OK series has a great ending.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Person of Interest,” 10 p.m., CBS.

For the first three
episodes of this final season, Shaw (Sarah Shahi) has been missing,
captured by the evil Greer. Now she's back, in a sensational
performance by Shahi.

Now Shaw is fragile,
brutal, lustful and more. This is an extremely adult episode,
involving sex, gore and violence. By the end of the hour, you'll see
key characters shot to death. But stick around to the end; this is
fantasy-fiction as strong as Shahi's performance.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Castle” season-finale, 10:01 p.m., ABC.

At its core, this
has had two mismatched people solving crimes and semi-solving life.
Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) is a cop, smart and practical; Rick Castle
(Nathan Fillion) is a crime novelist, given to bizarre theories
before settling on the real villain.

But now this is
Katic's final episode, written in a way that could also serve as a
series finale. Along the way, the team settles the “LokSat”
mystery that has lingered through the season.

Other choices
include:

“19-2”
season-opener, anytime, www.acorn.tv.
This well-crafted Canadian show borrows a familiar American notion –
mismatched police partners. One is a city guy, suspected of
corruption; the other is a self-described “country hick.” In the
season-opener, they chase a young gunman in a high school; the result
offers a solid emotional backdrop to a tough, tense story.

“The Voice,”
8-10:01 p.m., NBC. In two busy nights, the field will be cut in half.
Tonight, the eight singers perform; on Tuesday, we'll learn who's in
the final four, competing next week for the title.

“Dancing With the
Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. For Jodie Sweetin, it was classic good
news/bad news: She had a perfect score from judges ... then learned
she'd been ousted via last week's viewer votes. Now the five
survivors – Antonio Brown, Nyle DiMarco, Wayne Morris, Paige
VanZant and Ginger Zee – compete for spots in next week's finals.

“Gotham,” 8
p.m., Fox. As a stand-alone episode, this is a disappointment,
leaving everything in limbo. As a preview of next week's
season-finale, it's powerful; forces converge in Hugo Strange's
asylum.

“Houdini &
Doyle,” 9 p.m., Fox. With his wife in a coma, Conan Doyle wants
desperately to believe in a faith healer; his friend Harry Houdini is
a non-believer. That sets up a moderately interesting story,

“Jane the Virgin”
season-finale, 9 p.m., CW. Two seasons ago, Jane (the waitress) and
Michael (the cop) were looking forward to their wedding.
Complications intervened, but now it's time for their wedding ...
maybe. She's still completing her college thesis and more troubles
may arise. Thet often do.

“Blindspot,”
10:01 p.m., NBC. The team finds a newborn baby with a tattoo similar
to one of Jane's.

TV column for Sunday, May 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Quantico” season-finale, 10 p.m., ABC.

This has been a
rarity – a quick ratings success. Viewers forgave the show's
excesses and savored its terrific star (Priyanka Chopra) and its
two-part plots, leaping between FBI training and future cases.

Now – on a night
stuffed with ABC finales – i's graduation day at Quantico; next
season will be rooted elsewhere. And flashing forward, the agents
scramble to get the people behind New York attacks; Alex (Chopra) has
a face-to-face confrontation with a terrorist.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY
II: “Once Upon a Time” season-finale, 7-9 p.m., ABC.

Here's where ABC's
finale-flurry starts – with an ambitious two-parter that poses a
sobering thought: Maybe this world would be better off without magic.

That's what young
Henry thinks, with good reason: Robin Hood is dead, Regina is
grieving, Gold has stolen the Hades crystal and life looks dark; the
kid starts a rogue mission to destroy all magic. Also, the good guys
scramble to open a portal and return Merida and others to
Storybrooke.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Masterpiece,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

From its beginning
(nine years and 10 movies ago), “Wallander” has matched the
Swedish landscape – slow, stark, solemn and oddly beautiful.
Kenneth Branagh has brilliantly played a smart cop who pushes ahead
diligently, through any personal troubles.

But now, at just 55,
he's showing dangerous signs of forgetfulness, just as he tackles a
tough case: A woman's body has been found, a teen-ager is missing and
a young biker is suspected. Some parts don't make much sense now, but
they become clear next week, in the final film of a great series.

Other choices
include:

“The Simpsons,”
7:30 and 8 p.m., Fox. First is a rerun, with Lisa pondering a one-way
trip to Mars. Then the season-finale has a quirk: The final three
minutes (on both coasts) will be live, with some version of the Homer
character answering viewers' questions.

“Little Big
Shots,” 8 p.m., NBC. The nine-episode season was such a success
that it sticks around for reruns. This one ranges from a pool prodigy
to an 11-year-old dancer on Janet Jackson's tour.

“The Queen at 90,”
8-10 p.m., Smithsonian. On April 21, Elizabeth II had her 90th
birthday. This ambitious documentary includes comments from many of
her family members.

“The Family”
season-finale, 9 p.m., ABC. By now, viewers know this was all a
compelling scam. Adam died in captivity; his sister trained Ben (a
fellow captive) to pretend to be him, advancing the political career
of her mother, Claire. Now Claire visits the place where the boys
were held. Police close in on the villain (Doug), while an FBI agent
nears death. And Ben gets shattering news.

“The Carmichael
Show,” 9:01 p.m., NBC. Maxine (Amber Stevens West) is visited by
her rich father. Ironically, West does have a rich-and-famous father
(Shadoe Stevens, a radio star and actor). Here, the dad is played by
Adam Arkin ... whose own rich-and-famous dad is AlanArkin.

“Last Man on
Earth” season-finale, 9:30 p.m., Fox. Last week offered a terrific
send-off for Mike (Jason Sudeikis), the astronaut who recently
returned to Earth: He wrote a note and quietly left, so his brother
wouldn't see him die. Alas, now the brother goes after him; it's a
lame ending to a good season.

“NCIS,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, Gibbs' surgeon (Jon Cryer) is thrilled to be
involved in a case.

TV column for Saturday, May 14


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

This has been a busy
year for “SNL,” ranging from politics to Prince and from satire
to silliness. Now it's ending with a stretch of three straight new
epiosodes.

Last week was
Oscar-winner Brie Larson; next week, Fred Armisen returns to host the
show he was a regular in for a decade. And tonight, Drake doubles as
host and music guest. He does both easily: Before becoming a rap
star, he spent eight years as an actor (under the name Aubrey Graham)
on the Canadian teen drama “DeGrassi: The Next Generation.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Blind Side” (2009), 8-11 p.m., ABC.

On a break from its
busy basketball-playoff coverage, ABC detours slightly to show one of
the best sports movies lately. It tells of the relationship between a
wealthy family and Michael Oher, who went from a troubled teen to a
pro football player, now a key blocker for Cam Newton's Carolina
Panthers.

“Blind Side”
stretched the truth, apparently, but did it with a skillful blend of
humor and warmth. Sandra Bullock won a well-deserved Academy Award
and the film was nominated for best picture.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Tulips in Spring,” 9-11 p.m., Hallmark.

Rose grew up on a
tulip farm, which is sorft of logical. (Is there a Tulip who grew up
on a rose farm?) In the tradition of such stories, she moved to the
city, where she has a fancy job (interior design) and an overbearing
boss, played byt Kelly Rowan, the movie's only well-known star.

Also in that
tradition, she must suddenly return home, providing a chance to
re-evaluate her life. This will rerun at 3 p.m. Sunday, giving us
plenty of chances for springtime tulips and Rose.

Other choices
include:

“The Jungle Book”
(1967), 10 a.m., Freeform. Here's another of those dandy marathons of
Disney's animated classics. The first two -- “One Hundred and One
Dalmations” (1961) is at noon -- later had non-cartoon versions.
They're followed by “Tarzan” (1999) at 2 p.m., “Ratatouille”
(2007) at 4:30, “Wreck-It Ralph” (2012) at 7, “Monsters
University” (2013) at 9:15 and “Aladdin” (1992) at 11:45.

More movies, cable.
A strong night starts with “Beverly Hills Cop” (1984), a splendid
Eddie Murphy romp, at 7:15 p.m. on AMC. At 8, there's one
disappointment -- “Pan” (2015) on HBO – and lots of fine
alternatives: “Batman Begins” (2005) on IFC, “The Hangover”
(2009) on TNT and another chance to see Prince's “Purple Rain”
(1984) – slim story, great visuals and music – on VH1.

“Houdini &
Doyle,” 8 p.m., Fox. In a rerun of Monday's episode, a 12-year-old
takes revenge too far: He says he shot a suffragette to avenge a
murder in his past life.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. This show has already finished its season
(and loaned its Monday slot to “Person of Interest”), so we have
to catch reruns elsewhere. Tonight, a woman has gone missing, four
years after Sam led her to political asylum; the team searches.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. Someone misunderstands the notion of a
care-free Mardi Gras. In this rerun, Pride (Scott Bakula) and the
mayor (Steven Weber) are taken hostage during a party.

“Outlander,” 9
p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10 and 11. Formerly a nurse in 1940s
England, Claire uses her medical skills in the 18th century.
That's part of her scheme to block a deal that would finance the war.

Late laughs, 11 p.m.
to midnight, Fox. First is the sketch show “Party Over Here.”
Then, at 11:30, is a rerun of the fairly good pilot film to “Cooper
Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life.” Coop – his own life in
disarray – deals with the mistakes of a well-meaning roommate.

TV column for Friday, May 13


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Amazing Race” finale, 8 p.m., CBS.

This started with a
fresh twist – 11 duos, each with at least one social-media star.
Now eight are gone and the final three rush from Shenzin, China, to
Santa Barbara, Cal., for a million-dollar prize.

There's Cole
LaBrant, a teen who does six-second comedy videos on Vine; he's
racing with his mom, Sheri. And Tyler Oakley, who talks to
eight-million subscribers on YouTube; he's with Korey Kohl, his
friend since childhood. And Matt Steffani and Dana Bariello, YouTube
dancers who are engaged.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Hawaii Five-0” season-finale, 9 and 10 p.m., CBS.

The “Five-0”
people have been chasing Gabriel Waincroft, the crime figure whose
late sister (Dr. Maila Waindroft) was married to Lt. Chin Ho Kelly.
Now they have him ... and must protect him. He's been shot and
they're under attack by a rival gang, in an olf warehouse in Oahu's
Chinatown.

That's in the first
hour; in the second, Danny and McGarrett are working undercover to
crack a meth ring. Danny may have to blow his cover, however, in
order to save McGarrett's life.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Jumping the Broom” (2011), 8-10 p.m., Fox.

The bride and groom
(Paula Patton and Laz Alonso) are a fine combination, but their
families – meeting for the first time, during the wedding weekend –
offer a mismatch.

Her mother (Angela
Bassett) is upscale, from Martha's Vineyard; his mother (Loretta
Devine) is blunt and Brooklyn. Mike Epps, Meagan Good, Brian Stokes
Mitchell, Pooch Hall and more are in support.

Other choices
include:

“Friday the 13th,
Part III” (1982), 9 a.m., Spike. Today is a Friday-the-13th,
so someone has to show us these horror films. Spike aired the first
two overnight Thursday, then shows the rest of them today. That
includes “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter” (1984)
at 11:30 a.m.; ignoring all truth-in-titles standards, there were
more movies, showing at 1:30, 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

“Despicable Me”
(2010), 6 p.m., Freeform; and “Despicable Me 2” (2013), 8 p.m.,
FX. It's almost a double-feature, overrun by minions. The first
movie, however, overlaps with a half-hour of the second.

“The Vampire
Diaries” season-finale, 8 p.m., CW. Hey, it's tough out there for a
vampire. Damon, Enzo and Caroline ponder drastic steps, to save
Bonnie. They may have to go into the Armory, with help from the twin
daughters of Caroline and Alaric. Enzo tries to keep Bonnie
pre-occupied; when that fails, Damon may have to make the ultimate
sacrifice.

“The Originals,”
9 p.m., CW. A week before the season-finale, Vincent and Kol travel
to the ancestral world, hoping to put an end to the witches and
reclaim their city. Also, Freya faces a dire prophecy.

“Jazz,” 9-11
p.m., PBS (check local listings). This chapter – the eighth of 10 –
views the decade after World War II, when jazz began to splinter. It
saw cool vs. hot, East vs. West, traditional vs. Modern.

“Grimm,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. A week before the season finale, the mayoral election is near.
Renard keeps his supernatural fury hidden from viewers, as
politicians tend to do.

“Freddy Vs. Jason”
(2003), 10 p.m., Spike. Our day has a messy (but appropriate) ending,
when Freddy Kruger (“Nightmare on Elm Street”) resurrects Jason
Voorhees (“Friday the 13th”). Just be glad there are only one or
two Friday-the-13ths in a year.