TV column for Tuesday, Jan. 14



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Justified,” 10 p.m., FX.

Last week’s season-opener saw Boyd Crowder desperate to free
Ava. When a judge rejected his bribe, he beat him and left him for dead.


Now come the aftershocks, including the schemes of the
judge’s Russian wife. There’s more, including the return of someone who complicates
Raylan’s life … and adds fresh human elements to a great show.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox.


When this show started, we saw the bet between Jake (Andy
Samberg) and Amy, over who would have the most felony arrests. Now comes the
pay-off, in a busy and clever episode with two more stories.


Boyle – often mocked by his colleagues – gets a medal of
valor, but must share the spotlight. And Holt accidentally complicates
Jefford’s life; skilled pros (Andre Braugher, Terry Crews) find some silly fun.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “American Experience,” 8-10 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).


At first glance, 1964 seemed like an extension of the ‘50s,
light-hearted and light-headed. “Beverly Hillbillies” led the TV ratings, with
Andy Griffith and “Petticoat Junction” nearby; musicals (“My Fair Lady,” “Mary
Poppins”) were big in theaters and the Beatles sang of holding hands.


Still, this became a pivotal year. It brought the “Freedom
Summer” in Mississippi, with waves of violence that led to the historic
civil-rights act. It brought feminism and the free-speech movement; it also
brought Barry Goldwater, young conservatives and a re-alignment of the parties.


This compelling film mixes historians and people whose own lives
quaked, 50 years ago


Other choices include:


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. The drone attack has left McGee
emotionally shaken. It has also yielded fresh information for tracking and Parsa.


“Pretty Little Liars,” 8 p.m., ABC Family. There might be
some key information, if the codes in A’s diary can be solved. Then again,
there might be things the friends would rather keep secret.


“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. A two-continent search
finds Granger (Miguel Ferrer) and Kensi in Afghanistan, helping with a case
involving Hawala, an ancient system of money transfer.


“Building Wild” debut, 9 p.m., National Geographic. Paul
DiMeo is a city guy who designed for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition;” Paul “Tuffy”
Bakaitis is a country guy who invents and improvises. Together, they build
rural retreats, often while sniping at each other. This one, a mountain-top
cabin, is a delight.


“Ravenswood,” 9 p.m., ABC Family. Caleb’s dad arrives to see
what he’s up to in Ravenswood. Also, the police descend on Luke and Olivia’s
home.


“Chicago Fire,” 10 p.m., NBC. Denial and avoidance are big
here. Casey claims to be fine after his near-death experience; Shay keeps
eluding a lawyer who wants to discuss Daryl’s suicide.


TV column for Monday, Jan. 13



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Intelligence,” 10 p.m., CBS.

After Tuesday’s debut – fairly big in quality, huge in
ratings – this show moves to its regular slot.


Gabriel (Josh Holloway) insists his wife – missing for seven
years – is alive and undercover. Now she may be linked to a suicide-bomb
crisis; Riley (Meghan Ory) must keep Gabe’s emotions from botching the case. It’s
a good hour … especially compared to the awful show (“Hostages”) that had this
time slot.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “The Bachelor,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.


As 18 women move into the mansion, one is quickly noticed.
Lucy, 24, is simply described as a “free spirit” from Santa Barbara, Cal.; she
goes topless in the hot top (not a popular move among the other women) and
volunteers to be nude during a calendar shoot for a charity.


Meanwhile, Juan Pablo Galavis has his first two dates. Kat must
settle for a five-kilometer run; Clare gets a “winter wonderland,” complete
with artificial snow, sledding and a concert by Josh Krajcik.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Bitten” debut, 10 p.m., Syfy.


Left on her own, Elena Michaels could probably have an easy
life.


As played by Laura Vandervoort – who was Supergirl on
“Smallville” and the alien leader’s daughter on “V” -- she’s bright, blonde and
beautiful, a photographer with a city life and a handsome boyfriend.


Alas, she’s also a recovering werewolf, with lots of
complications. As the best tracker among her kin, she’s asked to return to the
family estate and find a rogue who has been chomping people. The result – part of
a no-rerun Syfy night -- is a fairly interesting blend of sci-fi and upscale
soap opera.


Other choices include:


“American Ninja Warrior” special, 8-10 p.m., NBC. This
competition was adapted from an obstacle-course show in Japan. Now five-man
teams from those countries compete, with one-on-one races.


“Lost Girl,” 8 p.m., Syfy. As the season starts, the “lost
girl” (Bo) really is lost. And that’s a good thing; it means Kenzi must take control,
using limited (and temporary) powers. Quirky and clueless (sometimes), Kenzi is
an offbeat hero, facing a new villain – a giant snake with George Takei head
and torso. One gimmick (Takei hisses every “s”) soon wears thin, but the rest
of the hour is interesting.


“Being Human,” 9 p.m., Syfy. At first, this show was simply
a ghost, vampire and werewolf living together; then the complications began.
Now the ghost is in an alternate realm … the werewolf is virtually a full-time
wolf … and the vampire has his own surprise, in a fairly good season-opener.


“Brain Games,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., National Geographic.
Something happens, this dandy season-opener says, in the route from eyes to
brains. We see colors that aren’t there; at times, a “color-blind” person sees
better than we do. Those are shown alongside a dazzling stage show that seems
to defy gravity.


“The Blacklist,” 10 p.m., NBC. As Red tries to find the mole
who betrayed him, Liz hunts a serial killer.


“Independent Lens,” 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., PBS (check local
listings). So this is why there are editing machines. Frederick Wiseman is noted
for his documentary style -- no narration no interviews, long takes. But this
film (viewing the University of California, Berkeley) goes too far. Early on,
there are discussions so long-winded – and sometimes pointless – that you’ll
want to hire your own editor.


“Castle,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. James Brolin returns as Castle’s
father, suddenly tied to a murder probe.


TV column for Sunday, Jan. 12



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: Golden Globe awards, 8-11 p.m., NBC.


After some mixed years with Ricky Gervais, producers
breathed a sigh of relief when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted last year. The
duo managed to be sharp and funny, without stirring ill-will.


Now they’re back, at the same time that Poehler’s “Parks and
Recreation” is up for best TV comedy; it faces “Girls,” “Modern Family,”
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Big Bang Theory.” The TV-drama nominees are “Breaking
Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “The Good Wife,” “Masters of Sex” and “House of Cards.”


As usual, the movies are also split into comedies and
dramas; this time, however, the comedy category isn’t weak. It has “Her,”
“American Hustle,” “Nebraska,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Inside Llewyn
Davis”; the dramas are “Captain Phillips,” “Gravity,” “Rush,” “Philomena,” and
“12 Years a Slave.”


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey,” 9
p.m., PBS (check local listings).


The changing world of upper-crust England is tested when an
opera star (played by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa) visits.  Robert accepts the notion that the kitchen
help can be in the audience; he balks at the notion that a mere singer – an
Australian, at that – can dine with the nobility.


Such light moments reflect half the “Downton” personality.
The other half comes with a sudden, fierce event. That event – and the repercussions
in the weeks ahead – stretches logic to the breaking point. As good as it is –
and that’s often VERY good – “Downton” remains an elegantly dressed soap opera.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “True Detective” debut and “Girls”
season-opener, 9-11 p.m., HBO.


On the night when they could repeat as Golden Globe winners,
“Girls” and writer-star Lena Dunham offer two great episodes, at 10 and 10:30.
Each episode catches the characters at turning points; some moments are droll,
others are wildly funny, especially during a road trip to retrieve a friend
from rehab.


That follows the start of “Detective,” with gifted actors bouncing
between a murder case and a police probe years later. Woody Harrelson plays the
normal guy – yes, that’s a stretch – who has some signs of a real life; Matthew
McConaughey plays the other one, unable to sleep or (except for work) function.
The later version of that character, in particular, is masterful.


Other choices include:


Sports overload, three networks. The national championship
for men’s figure-skating is 3 p.m. ET on NBC, facing a doubleheader in the
pro-football playoffs. At 1:05 p.m., Fox has San Francisco at Carolina; at
4:40, CBS has San Diego at Denver.


“60 Minutes,” 8 p.m., CBS. Trying to avoid a football
overrun, CBS nudge the starting time back an hour.


 “The Good Wife,” 9
p.m., CBS. Things get complicated when Alicia and Will each represent half of a
married duo facing drug charges. The lawyers insist on separate juries.


“Shameless” season-opener, 9 p.m., Showtime. Characters are
at an extreme now – Frank in the gutter (almost literally), Fiona with a classy
boyfriend, a good job and – to her astonishment – a 401K plan.


“Betrayal,” 10 p.m., ABC. One week from the finale, Jack and
Sara deal with the aftershocks of their affair, including its effect on the kids.
Meanwhile, he propels his case against Karsten.


“Episodes” season-opener, 10:30, Showtime. Last season ended
in comic chaos: Matt (Matt LeBlanc) was sleeping with the blind wife of the
network chief – who reacted fiercely and publicly, then was fired. Now we see
the next day, in a clever (if inconsistent) episode.


TV column for Saturday, Jan. 11



TODAY’S MUST-SEE: Football and figure-skating, three
networks.

Opposite sports collide tonight. By switching back and
forth, you can see 98-pound nymphs twirl and 300-pound giants blitz.


NBC has the female finals of the U.S. Figure Skating
Championships, drawing extra interest before the Olympics.  And two networks share the second round of the
pro-football playoffs. New Orleans, 12-5, visits Seattle, 13-3, at 4:35 p.m. on
Fox; Indianapolis 12-5, visits New England, 12-4, at 8:15 p.m. on CBS.


TONIGHT’S ­MIGHT-SEE: “When Calls the Heart” debut, 9 p.m.,
Hallmark.


For years, Hallmark kept making amiably adequate films based
on Janette Oke’s books about young women in the frontier. Now comes a weekly
series.


A movie last year introduced us to Elizabeth Thatcher, a
wealthy woman determined to be a teacher. She was sent to a distant town, aided
by a handsome Mountie and a sturdy widow. Now the series opens with a mining
accident.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Place Beyond the Pines” (2012), 8
p.m., HBO.


Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling could take the easy way out,
making big money in simple action films and romantic comedies. Instead, both
played raw, desperate men in this low-budget film.


Derek Cianfrance directed and co-wrote the story of a
motorcycle stunt rider whose scheme entwines with a young cop in a corrupt
department. Characters are captured with understated precision.


Other choices include:


“Waiting to Exhale” (1995) and “The Color Purple” (1985), 7
and 10 p.m., BET. Men behave badly here, present and past. And somehow, gifted
directors and music people make tough subjects seem entertaining. “Exhale” is beautifully
directed by Forest Whitaker, with a great song score supervised by Ken “Babyface”
Edmonds. “Purple” is from Steven Spielberg, backed by Quincy Jones’ soaring  score.


“The Bachelor,” 8-10 p.m., ABC. In a rerun of Monday’s
opener, Juan Pablo Galavis meets 27 women. One brings her dog; another has her
stethoscope and a composer rides her “piano bike.”


“The Lincoln Lawyer” (2011), 8 and 10:30 p.m., TNT. Matthew
McConaughey is capable of amazing acting … as HBO viewers will see Sunday, when
“True Detective” debuts. Before that, catch him as a shifty lawyer whose office
is his Lincoln. As a movie, it felt like a TV show … which should be fine here.


“Atlantis,” 9 p.m., BBC America. During a desert trek with
an important cargo, things get spooky – especially when the guys spend the
night in a temple dedicated to the Furies.


“Killer Women,” 10 p.m., ABC. This rerun of Tuesday’s opener
starts with an assistant district attorney killed in a church on her wedding
day.


“Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Here’s a rerun of a
strong episode, with Jimmy Fallon hosting and Justin Timberlake as the music
guest.


 


TV column for Friday, Jan. 10


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Enlisted” debut, 9:30 p.m., Fox.


A military comedy … on a Friday … on Fox? Our expectations
are low; the pay-off is high. “Enlisted” surprises with a neat mixture of sight
gags, clever dialog and well-drawn characters.


Pete (Geoff Stults) is a great soldier whose one mistake
(slugging a colonel) was frowned upon by his superiors. Now he’s been banished to
a Florida post with awful soldiers, two of them his brothers. Keith David offers
counterpoint as the wary sergeant major; the result has big laughs and bits of
warmth.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Helix” debut, 10-11:30 p.m., Syfy.


In the frigid frontier, Arctic Biosystems has a research
facility – sleek, high-tech, mysterious. Now something has gone wrong and the
Centers for Disease Control investigates. But what really happened?  And what, really, was this company doing?


“Helix” offers the scares of a horror film, plus the entwined
characters TV expects. There’s a former couple whose marriage ended with a
brief affair with his brother … who’s the principal victim now. Billy Campbell
stars, with Hiroyuki Sanada as the Biosystems leader and Catherine Lemieux in a
great role as the team’s cynic. This might be better short-term than over 13
hours, but holds our attention for now.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Banshee” season-opener, 10 p.m.,
Cinemax.


Zeljko Ivanek has been delivering great characters – usually
intense, often wobbly – for decades. He’s had recurring roles in 14 series,
winning an Emmy on “Damages”; still, nothing matches this.


He bursts in as Jim Racine, an FBI agent who has been chasing
Rabbit, the Ukrainian mobster, for decades. Instantly spitting out orders and
retribution, he provides some of TV’s best scenes this season.


“Banshee” wants us to believe an escaped convict has tracked
his ex-lover (Rabbit’s daughter), who changed her identity and married a district
attorney. Sheriff Lucas Hood was hired, sight-unseen; when he died, the con
stole his identity. If you buy that, it’s a good series that now adds bits of
greatness.


Other choices include:


“Intelligence,” 8 p.m., CBS. Here’s a second chance to see
the well-made pilot film, before the show takes its regular spot at 10 p.m.
Mondays. Josh Holloway (“Lost”) plays a tough guy who was implanted with
computer-like skills. He’s the perfect soldier … or would be, if he didn’t lead
with his emotions.


“Bones,” 8 p.m., Fox. The team re-opens a murder case from
18 years ago, with the victim’s boyfriend as a prime suspect. Now Brennan has
dreams about evil Pelant – and about a new and creepier villain.


“Raising Hope,” 9 p.m., Fox. After accidentally summoning
Virginia’s sister (Amy Sedaris), Maw Maw tires of their fighting. She threatens
to give her inheritance to the one who’s most civil.


“Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. 
Zuri (Sharon Leal), Hank’s physical therapist, is tied into a
gang-related murder.


“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. McGarrett helps Grover (Chi
McBride) search for a friend who vanished after apparently committing murder.
Also, Kono continues her hunt for Adam.


“Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. A deadly new drug is on the
streets and Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is rushing to catch its distributor.