TV column for Friday, Feb. 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Winter Olympics opening ceremony, 8-11 p.m. ET, NBC,

A day after several
events began, the athletes pause for spectacle and pageantry. That
includes the parade of athletes from 92 nations, six of them there
for the first time.

Katie Couric joins
Mike Tirico, NBC's new main anchor for the Olympics, as commentator.
This is one of the few things that will be on tape, not live; on the
West Coast, it will be shown at 5 and 8 p.m. PT.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” 8 p.m., CW.

Last week's episode
was a bit on the quiet side, musically and emotionally; not this
time. The stakes are big -- complete with Rebecca being blackmailed
into a bad relationship -- and the songs are vibrant.

Rebecca (Rachel
Bloom) decides to be perpetually single; that leads to “A Butt-load
of Cats” ... sung with hilarious backing by cat puppets. Later, she
sings a private-eye tune. There's also a vibrant Josh-Valencia dance
number, plus the show's theme song re-purposed by a villain. It's a
fun hour.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” (1962) and more, 8
p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies.

Yes, the cable
mini-series “Feud” captured the cascading battle between Bette
Davis and Joan Crawford as they made this movie. But “Baby Jane”
was a success, with gifted stars ... and great costumes. Tonight, in
TCM's Oscar month, it leads a night of best-costume winners.

That's followed by
two well-crafted British dramas -- “Room With a View” (1986) at
10:30 p.m. and “Darling” (1965) at 12:45 a.m.; Martin Scorsese's
lush “Age of Innocence” (1993) is at 3 a.m.

Other choices
include:

“Lilo &
Stitch” (2002), 7-9 p.m., Freeform. Throughout the 18-day Olympics,
there w0ill be plenty of animated alternatives. This one is followed
by “Pocahontas” (1995) at 9; also, Nickelodeon has “The
SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” (2004), from 8-10 p.m.

“The Sixth Sense”
(1999), 7:30 p.m., BBC America. Yes, grown-ups also get movies. If
they prefer comedy, at 8 p.m. there's “Spaceballs” (1987) on IFC
and “The Hangover Part II” (2011) on TV.

“Be My Valentine,
Charlie Brown” and “A Charlie Brown Valentine,” 8 and 8:30
p.m., ABC. These amiable reruns both have communication errors. In
the first, from 1975, Linus brings candy for his teacher; Sally
assumes it's for her. In the second, from 2002, Charlie Brown finally
gets up the nerve to ask the little red-haired girl to the Valentine
dance ... but calls Peppermint Patty by mistake.

“Big Brother:
Celebrity Edition,” 8-10 p.m., CBS. For two-weeks-plus, this has
hours at 8 p.m. Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays, plus two-hour
editions Fridays. letting the usual shows rest.

“The American Epic
Sessions,” 9-11 p.m., PBS. Wrapping up the “Epic” series,
producers Jack White and T-Bone Burnett brought in great musicians to
record the old-fashioned way. The result, rerunning here, has
splendid moments from Alabama Shakes, Los Lobos, Elton John, Ashley
Monroe and more.

“Jane the Virgin,”
9 p.m., CW. Jane's a widow, not a virgin ... but she's still never
been intimate with Rafael. (They do have a son, but that was due to a
clinical error; things like that happen in telenovelas.) Will this
change tonight? This is an hour worth sticking with to the end.

“Bull,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. In this transplanted rerun, Bull takes a rare chance: He uses
his own money to launch a class-action suit against a corrupt bank;
if he loses, his business may be in jeopardy.

TV column for Wednesday, Feb. 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Inside Out,” 8-10 p.m., ABC.

From the start,
Pixar has kept its emphasis: Yes, these are cartoons, with young
audiences; still, scripts should be witty by grown-up standards. The
result? So far, seven of 19 Pixar scripts have drawn Oscar
nominations; this one – a nomination for script, a win for best
animated feature – is at the top.

The story has an
introspective Minnesota girl moving West; inside her brain, we meet
five forces – joy, sadness, anger (voiced, of course, by Lewis
Black), fear and disgust. Pete Docter – an introverted Minnesotan
who moved West for college – directed and co-wrote, getting his
fourth script nomination.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The X-Files,” 8 p.m., Fox.

Ever since this
show's second season, Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) has been a prime
force. He's been in less than half the episodes, but he's been strong
and solid. Still, we've known little about him.

Unlike other FBI
guys, he's quickly accepted Mulder's distrust-authority theories.
Why? And why has he been acting strange lately? We find out, in an
hour that has great work from Haley Joel Osment.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Big Brother: Celebrity Edition” debut, 8 p.m., CBS.

Omarosa has already
stirred trouble in two administrations (Clinton and Trump) and on six
reality shows. Now her massive persona is being squeezed into the
house, alongside other eccentrics.

There are other TV
people (Brandi Glanville, Ross Mathews) and athletes (Chuck Liddell,
Metta World Peace), singer Mark McGrath, model Ariadna Gutierrez and
actors James Maslow, Shannon Elizabeth, Marissa Winokur and Keshia
Knight Pulliam. They'll have 13 episodes and 17 hours in 19 days.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Nova,” 9-11 p.m., PBS.

In a flooded cave
system, deep in the Yucatan jungle, researchers found the oldest
human remains in America. This was a female; tests estimate she died
at 15 ... 13,000 years ago.

That leads to the
title: “First Face of America.” By studying her and other ancient
remains, researchers come up with key conclusions: Women had shorter
lives; the male surplus led to everyday violence toward females and
fatal collisions among men. Also, the “land bridge” from Asia may
have involved two different routes, explaining some early diversity.
This is deeply detailed and beautifully filmed.

Other choices
include:

“The Blacklist,”
8 p.m., NBC. When bodies are found in the woods, Red suspects a
vigilante group.

“Schitt's Creek,”
8 p.m., Pop. This show is best when it has subtle Canadian humor.
Tonight, alas, it focuses on its broadest character -- Moira
(Catherine O'Hara), the former TV star, performing at a local
fundraiser. There are a few fun moments and then a great finale
that's cut off way too soon.

“Let's Get
Physical,” 8:30, Fox. Desperate to get money, Joe (Matt Jones)
learns that his late father left a safe-deposit box. That brings some
surprises, in an OK episode.

“9-1-1,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. A week before Valentine's Day, we see the dangers of romance.
There's a conjugal injury; also, a marriage proposal goes dangerously
awry.

“Chicago, P.D.,”
10 p.m., NBC. After an anti-police rally, a basketball star has been
killed.

“Waco,” 10 p.m.,
Paramount (formerly Spike). This episode – the third of six –
starts with the first shoot-out. Two overarmed, over-tense sides
collide, leaving 10 dead and others wounded. In this account, the
feds make an awful botch of it, then wildly mis-tell the story. It's
a jolting hour.

TV column for Tuesday, Feb. 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Experience: The Gilded Age,” 9-11 p.m., PBS.

As the industrial
age grew, so did its giants. America was no longer known for its
farmers, ranchers, craftsmen, storeowners and such; now it was ruled
by moguls, from Vanderbilts to Rockefellers.

In the 1890s, this
fascinating film says, the richest 4,000 families almost matched the
other 11.6 million families. Strife followed, physically (Andrew
Carnegie's forces brutalized strikers) and politically. Populists
took over the Kansas government; they came close to electing a
president and a New York mayor. Reforms arrived that trimmed the
wealth gap ... at least for a century or so.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “This Is Us,” 9 p.m., NBC .

There are only four
episodes left this season, so “This Is Us” is trying to be big.
Just two days after its post-Super Bowl audience, it has a special
episode, tracing the family history through its car.

And then? We wait
until after the Winter Olympics for the rest. “This Is Us” --
last season's best new show – ends its season March 13, leading
into the debut of “Rise,” NBC's best new show this season.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Black Lightning,” 9 p.m., CW.

In the final moments
last week, this oft-somber show took a deeper downturn. During a
march, a crusading pastor was killed and the sniper's bullet hit the
spine of a teen track star.

Now the high school
principal again resists retreating to his Black Lightning identity
... unaware that his older daughter is developing her own powers.
Also, a fierce drug makes inroads. It's good to see an action show
that's so solid in its drama. Still, this is an action show that has
huge stretches of inaction; when there is a big scene, it's over
lightning-fast.

Other choices
include:

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. The team is again working with T.C. Fornell (Joe Spano), Gibbs'
former mentor. The two have many links, including the same late
ex-wife; now Fornell is a private eye who found the body of a missing
Navy Commander.

“We'll Meet
Again,” 8 p.m., PBS. The true story sounds a bit like “Lord of
the Flies”: A shipload of Vietnamese orphans, rejected elsewhere,
landed at a remote tropical island. The kids slept on the beach, then
made their own huts. Eventually, they met an aid worker – they
called him “the crazy American cowboy” -- who offered
inspiration. Now, 38 years later, one of the guys (who eventually
reached the U.S.) tries to find him. It's a great story, paired with
a so-so one that's also from the Vietnam era.

“Black-ish,” 9
p.m., ABC. The family's morning routine has changed, with Bow taking
time off work and Junior driving his siblings to school. He even has
a chance to bond with his sister.

“Modern Family,”
9:30 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Claire wants her own version of a “man
cave.” Alas, he homeowners association won;t let her build a “she
shed” in the back yard.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. A petty officer has been killed while
trying to help a refugee family being recruited by terrorists. Also,
Dr. Wade works on the special election campaign.

“Baskets,” 10
p.m., FX, rerunning at 11. Last week's episode (rerunning at 10:30)
was a good one. This week, alas, “Baskets” comes perilously close
to being a laugh-free comedy, with lots of so-so moments,

“Another Period,”
10:30 p.m., Comedy Central. Hey, it's not easy having fun in a story
that includes incest, a young Adolf Hitler and a clueless Helen
Keller. This episode tries, with little success; instead, it gets
some solid laughs from something else – women daring to compete in
archery.

TV column for Monday, Feb. 5


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Gymnasts' stories, 6 p.m. to 4:02 a.m., Lifetime.

Mostly, this
marathon has tales of triumph. Gabrielle Douglas and Simone Biles won
Olympic gold, bringing diversity to the white world of gymnastics.
“The Gabby Douglas Story” (2014) is 6 p.m.; “The Simone Biles
Story” (2017) is 8 p.m. and 12:01 a.m., with a Biles biography at
11:02 and 3:03.

But there's also the
dark side: Hundreds of women (including Douglas and Biles) have
accused gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sex abuse; many said they
told authorities and were ignored. In the aftermath of Nassar's
conviction, Elizabeth Vargas has a 10 p.m. interview with 19 of his
victims.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“9JKL” season-finale, 9:30 p.m., CBS.

In its first season,
this has fit the standard for most of CBS' Monday comedies – a bit
too broad, a bit too shallow, but quick and slick and somewhat fun.

Josh (Mark
Feuerstein) is an an actor whose show and marriage ended; he
retreated to an apartment, alongside his parents (Elliott Gould and
Linda Lavin) and brother. Now his ex-wife has written a tell-all
book; his parents are appalled ... especially after they learn he's
considering reconciling with her.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006), 8 p.m. ET, Turner
Classic Movies.

For people who love
great filmmaking, this is the best channel and the best month. Each
night, leading to the Academy Awards, TCM has Oscar-winners in a
different category.

Tonight, it's
documentaries, starting with Al Gore's climate-change film. At 9:45
p.m. ET is the gay-rights film, “The Times of Harvey Milk.” From
11:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. is the mammoth director's cut of “Woodstock”
(1970); once considered just a concert film, it's now an eloquent
time capsule.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Independent Lens: Winnie” 10 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).

Winnie Mandela was
summed up by her daughter: “Some people are in and out of history,
but (she) is constant.” A former village kid, she became a social
worker, married Nelson Mandela and was a fiery anti-apartheid
activist. During his 27 years in prison, she spoke passionately and
was punished often.

When he emerged, she
says, “I was mortified that I had lost my identity.” They
divorced and she was accused of having her enemies kidnapped,
tortured, even killed. Those issues get only a surface view here, in
what's otherwise a fascinating portrait of an 81-year-old perpetual
force in history.

Other choices
include:

“The Heart Guy,”
any time, www.acorn.tv. In the
first season, a hot-shot surgeon in Sydney was put on probation and
banished to his hometown. Now he has two hopes for escape – the
artificial heart he invented or his home-town replacement. But are
either of them any good? And what about his brother's marriage, which
he sabotaged? The result is a dandy blend of humor, drama and general
Aussie charm.

“The Bachelor,”
8-10 p.m., ABC. The 10 women are in Paris now, where there are plenty
of romantic possibilities. That includes a kiss at the top of the
Eiffel Tower, some dancing at the Moulin Rouge and a speedboat ride
down the Seine. Then three are sent home; the others will go to
Tuscany.

“The Resident,”
9 p.m., Fox. While older doctors misbehave, the young and talented
Dr. Mina Okafor is punished. Also, Nicolette (Emily VanCamp)
continues to look for Dr. Hunter's missing records.

“Superior Donuts,”
9 p.m., CBS. On Mondays, this is the one CBS comedy to sometimes go
for depth. Tonight, Franco brings in a former Negro League player,
played by Bill Cobbs, 83.

Winter Olympics
preview, 10 p.m., NBC. Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir profile key
Americans -- skiers Lindsay Vonn and Mikaela Shifrin, skater Nathan Chen and snowboarders
Shaun White and Chloe Kim.

“The Good Doctor,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. A young cancer patient is biologically a male, but
identifies as a female. This confuses Shaun, especially with family
members having varied approaches.

TV column for Sunday, Feb. 4


TODAY'S MUST-SEE:
Super Bowl, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBC.

Here's a battle of
opposites. The New England Patriots have won five previous Super
Bowls, all with their current quarterback, Tom Brady. The
Philadelphia Eagles have never won one and only been there twice.
Quarterback Nick Foles has only started four regular-season games in
the past two years.

But don't count the
Eagles out. Foles has been spectacular this post-season; Brady,
recovering from a hand injury, barely advanced. And during the
regular season, the Eagles were No. 1 in rushing yards and No. 3 in
rushing defense; the Patriots were No. 10 and 20, respectively.

TODAY'S MUST-SEE II:
Super night music and more, NBC.

Before the game,
Pink will sing the National Anthem and Leslie Odom Jr. will sing
“America the Beautiful.” At halftime, Justin Timberlake will have
13-minutes of pop-music zest.

After the game –
NBC estimates 10:15 p.m. ET, but that's optimistic – there's more:
“This Is Us” has Randall host a Super Bowl party, plus flashbacks
of the fire that may have led to his adoptive dad's death. Later (NBC
says 11:50), Jimmy Fallon has the cast, plus Timberlake and The Rock.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
“Snow White” (1937), all day, Freeform.

There are plenty of
Super alternatives and we'll list more. But let's start with the
best.

Walt Disney was
doing fine with cartoon shorts, but he wanted to try something
unprecedented – a full-length cartoon movie. Financing it was
difficult – afterward, Disney films often had negative views of
bankers – but Roy Disney (Walt's older brother) persisted; “Snow
White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937) became a classic. It runs at
11:30 a.m. and 1:34, 3:38, 5:42, 7:48 and 9:54 p.m.

Other choices
include:

“Puppy Bowl,” 6
a.m. today to noon Monday, Animal Planet. Here's a cuteness marathon.

“Kitten Bowl,”
noon to 3 p.m., Hallmark; rerunning at 3. Here's more cuteness, this
time feline.

Super Bowl previews,
noon ET, NBC. Things start with “Road to the Super Bowl,” the
annual documentary that captures the season in a high-tech whirl of
sights and sounds. Then a pre-game marathon starts at 1 p.m.; five
hours later, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth finally take over.

More animation, 4
p.m. to midnight, FX and Fox. Two related movies alternate on FX --
“Minions” (2015) at 4 and 8 p.m., “Despicable Me 2” (2013) at
6 and 10. Also, Fox has reruns of “Bob's Burgers” at 7:30, “The
Simpsons” (Lisa's graphic novel goes Broadway) at 8 and “Family
Guy” at 9.

NCIS series reruns,
8, 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. In “NCIS,” Gibbs reopens a decade-old
case. In the New Orleans spin-off, a drug ring is linked to City
Hall. And in the Los Angeles one, Sam is in mourning.

“Gifted,” 8
p.m., HBO. A blue-collar guy vows to keep his late sister's wish,
giving her genius daughter a normal childhood. That may sound cliche,
but i'ts not. There's quiet depth to the script by newcomer Tom
Flynn, the direction by Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”) and the
performance by Chris Evans.

"Scandalous," 8 p.m., Fox News. In its third chapter, this series sees the Bill Clinton probe widen; Monica Lewinsky talks to Linda Tripp, unaware she's being taped. Tripp is featured in the hour, along with counsel Ken Starr and his assistant, Stephen Binhak.

Royalty, 9 and 10
p.m., PBS. In the splendid “Victoria” (9 p.m.), the queen learns
about Ireland's brutal potato famine. In the clumsy “Queen
Elizabeth's Secret Agents” (10), opposition to the queen grows.