TV column for Monday, May 12



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Dancing with the Stars” (NBC) or “The
Voice” (ABC), 8-10:01 pm.

A week from their finales, each show is down to its final
five.


For “Stars,” that includes three Olympians – ice-dancers
Charlie White and Meryl Davis and Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy. They join
actors James Maslow and Candace Cameron Bure, with each doing two dances …
after an opening number that has Derek Hough (Purdy’s dance partner during the
competition) and Jessica Lee Keller (“High School Musical”) backed by 26
dancers.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “The Blacklist” season-finale, 10:01
p.m., NBC.


Last Monday brought shellshocks in the tenuous relationship
between Liz and Red (James Spader).


Last week, she refused to work with him, because of his role
in her father’s death. She also figured out that the cases he’s brought to the
FBI were part of a scheme to stop his nemesis, a super-criminal known as
Berlin. Then he lured her back with a big case … just as a prisoner-transport
plane crashed, with Berlin aboard; tonight, police scramble to re-capture the
prisoners.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “24,” 9 p.m., Fox.


Last week’s opener – both wildly improbable and wildly
entertaining – saw Jack Bauer take an absurdly round-about route to find a
computer hacker. Alas, the guy was soon killed by his phony girlfriend (a
terrorist’s daughter in disguise), who stole his device.


Now Jack chases her through London, while others chase him.
It’s a wild (and involving) ride, in a high-octane story that will be resolved
in 12 episodes, instead of the usual 24.


Other choices include:


“Bones,” 8 p.m., Fox. With Booth preparing for congressional
testimony, Sweets fills in. He’s promptly attracted to an intern, played by
Laura Spencer, who is Raj’s new girlfriend Emily on “Big Bang Theory.”


“The (Dead Mother’s) Club,” 9 p.m., HBO. Sure, Madonna and
Rosie O’Donnell seem like opposites. But the moment they met, O’Donnell blurted
out that her mother had died early, too; they became close friends. Now O’Donnell
has produced this documentary, with warm portraits of three young women whose
moms died; intermixed are briefer memories from Jane Fonda, Molly Shannon and O’Donnell.


“Fish Tank Kings,” 9 p.m., NatGeo Wild. Here are two
gorgeous projects – a big, sweeping home aquarium, plus (for “dog whisperer”
Cesar Milan) an aquatic oasis in the California desert.


“Warehouse 13,” 9 p.m., Syfy. For its second-to-last
episode, “13” has a big (and fairly good) story, trying to rescue the warehouse
itself. In a goofier side plot, Pete tries to duck his affection for Myka.


“Castle,” 10 p.m., ABC. Fresh from starring as Pete in “Warehouse
13,” Eddie McClintock plays a ne’er-do-well from Beckett’s past, interrupting
her planned wedding with Castle.


“Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). A
fascinating film could be made about the 1985 Philadelphia police confrontation
that left six adults and five children dead and 61 homes destroyed. But this
film – no narrator, no interviews, a mish-mash of found footage – tells it
poorly.


“Louie,” 10 and 10:30 p.m., FX. For good or bad, “Louie”
keeps changing tone. Last week’s season-openers were sharply funny; now humor
is downplayed for other stories – a long dialog about being an overweight woman
… a scary parenthood moment … and quirky aftershocks of an elevator ordeal.


 


TV column for Sunday, May 11



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Once Upon a Time” and “Revenge” season
finales, 8 and 10 p.m., ABC.

Clearing the night a week before the season’s final Sunday,
ABC has these stylishly filmed tales.


On the two-hour “Once,” Zelena has pulled Emma and Hook into
her time portal; they struggle to get back without changing events. Then
“Revenge” has Emily and Victoria in total warfare; at least one person will be
killed tonight, ABC says.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Rosemary’s Baby,” 9-11 p.m., NBC;
concludes Thursday.


Back in 1968, Hollywood boldly hired Polish director Roman
Polanski, a critics’ favorite, to direct the “Rosemary’s Baby” movie. Boosted
by a popular new star (Mia Farrow), it soared.


Now another acclaimed Pole, Agnieszka Holland, has directed
this new version; she does it beautifully, with Zoe Saldana (“Avatar”)
stunningly good as a prof’s wife who finds strangers obsessed with her
pregnancy. Still, this is a fairly straight-ahead tale, with a final twist;
stretching it out benefits no one.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Penny Dreadful,” 10 p.m., Showtime.


Ethan is a sort of low-rent Buffalo Bill, touring 1891
London with a wild-West show that involves some skill and much hokum. Suddenly,
he meets real people (Eva Green, Timothy Dalton) with real trouble.


Soon, he’s descended into a swirl of killers, both from our
world and beyond. Some of the scenes are way too gory and grisly for most
tastes; still, “Penny” is beautifully filmed and has great dialog emerging from
gifted actors. Green is perfect; Dalton has aged into a Patrick Stewart-style
talent.


Other choices include:


Mother’s Day films, cable. Two feel-good channels have holiday
films. Hallmark’s “Mom’s Day Away” (which debuted Saturday) is noon and 9 p.m.;
UP’s “My Mother’s Future Husband” is 7 and 11 p.m. The latter has arbitrary
twists to extend the story, but glides on the immense likability of Lea
Thompson and, especially, Matreya Fedor as a teen who obsesses on her mom’s
romance, ignoring her own.


“The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox. Marge and Lisa both swear off
trying new friendships.


“The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS. A client’s insensitive remarks
may scuttle a billion-dollar deal.


“Game of Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO. Tyrion confronts his
imposing father; Daenerys expands her power.


“Nurse Jackie,” 9 p.m., Showtime. Last week, Jackie’s
boyfriend spotted her pill-popping. Now she’s rushing to hide her far-flung
stash, in an episode with an odd (and interesting) non-ending.


“Californication,” 9:30 p.m., Showtime. When Hank decides to
get Levon a prostitute – hey, what’s a father for? – everyone gets involved.
What follows is a terrific scene, both comic and chaotic.


“The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS. While deciding whether to
move away with Agent Pike, Lisbon scrambles with Patrick Jane to stop a
kidnapping ring before the victims are sent overseas.


“Silicon Valley,” 10 p.m., HBO. This oft-quiet comedy comes
up with a big, brilliant gag, when one of the guys gets a ride in a driverless
car.


“Mad Men,” 10 p.m., AMC. Don has a visitor from his past;
also, Harry has a new ally at the agency.


TV column for Saturday, May 10



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Orphan Black,” 9 p.m., BBC America; “In
the Flesh” season-opener, 10 p.m.

This terrific-yet-obscure channel may get noticed with a
night of clones, zombies and sheer talent.


“Orphan” continues Tatiana Maslany’s brilliant work as
Sarah, a drifter and scam artist, and the varied clones she’s still learning
about. As tonight starts, she’s been kidnapped away from her daughter; one
clone is a cult captive, another is in rehab. It’s a fierce and compelling hour.


Then “Flesh” starts its six-week mini-season. The first
season (only three episodes) began four years after the dead inexplicably rose.
They’ve finally been released after years of incarceration; in a little English
village, the mood ranges from understanding to an anti-zombie patrol.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: Sports overload, ABC, Fox and cable.


As seasons collide – summer events meet winter-sports
playoffs – sports take half the big-four networks. Fox has NASCAR (7 p.m. ET at
the Kansas Speedway); ABC has basketball, as the Heat-Nets series move to Brooklyn
for the third of a best-of-seven; it’s 8:15 p.m. ET, with pre-game at 7.


Then go to ESPN for more basketball (San Antonio at
Portland) at 10:30 p.m. ET. There’s more on cable, including hockey play-offs
(Montreal-Boston at 7 p.m. ET, Anaheim-Los Angeles at 9:30) on NBC Sports.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” 9
p.m., CNN.


Imagine spending a pleasant day with Shakespeare, Mantle or
da Vinci. That’s how Bourdain felt when he finally met Chef Paul Bocuse, the
88-year-old master of modern French cuisine. Soon, he was sampling Bocuse’s
best dishes … and even duck-hunting, with Bocuse as the driver.


This rerun – beautifully written, as usual – is also at
midnight. Other reruns visit Mexico City (10 p.m. and 1 a.m.) and Las Vegas (8
and 11 p.m.). The next new hour is 9 p.m. Sunday, visiting Russia.


Other choices include:


“Titanic” (1997), 6:45-10:55 p.m., Oxygen; or “Raiders of
the Lost Ark” (1981), 9-11:30 p.m., Syfy. Here are rare and splendid moment,
when master filmmakers had stories that are broadly popular.


“Mike & Molly,” 8 p.m., CBS. Suspicious of her
neighbors, Molly gets her mom involved with spying. Also in this rerun, the
guys discuss their dreams and aspirations during a poker game.


“Mom’s Day Away,” 8 p.m. and midnight, Hallmark. Ignored by
her husband and kids as Mother’s Day approaches, a woman (Bonnie Somerville) samples
a friend’s high-flying life.


“The Millers,” 8:30 p.m., CBS.  With their parents separated, Nathan and his
sister (Will Arnett and Jayma Mays) each think the other has the easier parent
to house. In this rerun, they switch.


“Da Vinci’s Demons,” 9 p.m., Starz. These journeys have
turned out to be dangerous and ill-advised. In South America, Leonardo faces
execution and his friends face servitude; back in Italy, Lorenzo and his
ex-lover Lucrezia separately face peril. Tonight’s final 15 minutes offer a
spectacular blend of this show’s key elements – action, sex, inventiveness and gifted
actors given splendid dialog.


“Saturday Night Live,” 10 p.m. and 11:29 p.m., NBC. First is
a shortened rerun of the Seth Rogen episode, a good one. Then Charlize Theron
hosts, with the Black Keys as music guests; one assumes it will be better than
last week’s ordeal with Andrew Garfield.


TV column for Friday, May 9



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Hawaii Five-0” season-finale, 9 p.m.,
CBS.


Nick Jonas seems like such a pleasant chap when he’s with
the pop-idol Jonas Brothers; now he returns as Ian Wright, evil genius. The
daughter of Grover (Chi McBride) has been kidnapped; to get him back, Wright
says, Grover must help steal $100 million.


And there’s another villain on the way, to wrap up this fourth
season. Wo Fat has escaped.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “24,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.


If you missed the opener, here’s a second chance before the
next episode Monday. With one exception – the show runs only 12 hours – this edition
is pure “24”: A world-changing story takes place in one day; it’s wildly improbable,
yet immensely riveting.


Jack Bauer has been on the run for four years. Suddenly,
violently, he surfaces in London, just as the president (William Devane)
arrives with his daughter (Kim Raver), Jack’s ex-lover. A suspicious CIA agent
(Yvonne Strahavski of “Chuck”) may be Jack’s equal.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” 8 p.m.,
CMT; “Key & Peele,” 9-10:30 p.m., Comedy Central.


Over the past two years, Keenan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele
have injected TV with fresh wit. Their humor – sometimes racial and often very
clever – works wonderfully in sketches and beyond.


In a new “Line” tonight, Key has his second guest stop. Then
(after a “Line” rerun at 8:30), switch to cable for three reruns of the duo.
And at 11:30, catch a “Playing House” rerun; Key is a regular as Mark.


Other choices include:


“Traffic” (2000), 5:45 p.m., Sundance; or “Training Day”
(2001), 8 p.m., TNT. It’s an Oscar-winners night. In “Day,” Denzel Washington –
usually the good guy – won for playing a corrupt cop; “Traffic” won for director
Steven Soderbergh and supporting actor Benicio Del Toro, plus its editing and
adapted script.


“Unforgettable,” 8 p.m., CBS. Why do fictional versions of
high school reunions so often include murder? Aren’t most real reunions
murder-free? Anyway, that happens again, this time when Carrie goes back home.
Since she remembers every detail of her life, she has lots to ponder in
figuring what happened.


Movies, 8 p.m., cable. You can choose just about any genre –
action (Paul Walker’s 2001 “Fast and the Furious” on Bravo), animation (“Tangled,”
2010, on Disney), broad comedy (“Anchorman,” 2004, on TBS or “Bad Teacher,”
2011, on FX) or just cute (“Puppy Love,” 2012, on Hallmark).


“Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. A double-murder case leads to more: A
father-and-son duo has arrived, with an important artifact to deliver to “the
Portland Grimm.”


“Blue Bloods” season-finale, 10 p.m., CBS. After probing a
case he was supposed to ignore, Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is confined to modified
duty. Suspecting a cover-up, he goes to his dad (Tom Selleck), the police commissioner;
they may be onto something big.


“Hannibal,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. Jack and his team learn the
truth about Freddie Lounds’ disappearance. Also, Alana worries about Will’s
mental health; Mason Verger worries that his sister will usurp him.


TV column for Thursday, May 8



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Two and a Half Men” season-finale, 9:01
p.m., CBS.


Last week’s funny episode ended with Alan realizing that
Gretchen (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) is his ideal – someone who admires how he’s
freeloaded for 11 years. She’ll marry him … if admits to Larry (her brother and
Lyndsey’s boyfriend) that he’s not Jeff Strongman; instead, he’s Lyndsey’s
ex-boyfriend.


Now Larry starts to absorb this. Wedding plans wobble
forward … and Gretchen’s ex-husband arrives, played by real-life husband Brad
Paisley, the country star. There’s potential here.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: American Comedy Awards, 9-11 p.m., NBC.


George Schlatter, the “Laugh-in” producer, figured this out
28 years ago: Award showas are best when funny people win; if you create awards
strictly for comedy, the laughs won’t end.


The show spent 15 years on ABC, Fox and cable, then
vanished. Now NBC (which is also bringing back “Last Comic Standing” this
summer) has the rights, added a Johnny Carson Award for Bill Cosby. It’s a
great idea … tarnished because CBS shows are staying away. For this first year,
the TV nominees are so-so, the movies are lame, but the stand-up comedy categories
are first-rate. Expect some laughs.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Jerry Maguire” (1996), 8-11 p.m.,
AMC; “A Thousand Clowns” (1965), 10 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies.


Comedies really should have clever scripts, you know. These
two had dandy, Oscar-nominated ones.


For “Clowns,” Herb Gardner adapted his own play about a free
spirit who might have to compromise for his nephew and a lovable woman; Jason
Robards, Barry Gordon and Barbara Harris are perfect. For “Maguire,” Cameron
Crowe beautifully directed his own script and gave Tom Cruise a great supporting
cast, including Renee Zellweger, young Jonathan Lipnicki and Oscar-winner Cuba
Gooding Jr.


Other choices include:


“Grey’s Anatomy,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC. In last week’s episode
(rerunning at 8 p.m.), Derek tackled a difficult surgery with his sister Amelia
(Caterina Scorsone). Now he’s out of town and she tells Meredith what she
things of this Seattle experience. Also, Callie gets bad news and Bailey faces
consequences.


“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Before watching the comedy-award
show, catch TV’s best comedy. Tonight, Penny has a role in an awful film,
causing her to re-evaluate her life.


Pro-football draft, 8 p.m., ESPN. Here’s the first round of
the NFL draft. Barring a late move, Houston starts by choosing defensive dynamo
Jadeveon Clowney or quarterback “Johnny Football” Manziel. Then it’s St. Louis
(which also drafts 13
th), Jacksonville and Cleveland (also going 26th).


“The Millers,” 8:31 p.m., CBS. One night after playing a
dead-serious lawyer on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” the talented
Jeffrey Tambor returns as Nathan’s boss, now attracted to Nathan’s mom.


“American Idol,” 9 p.m., Fox. The show’s tradition has tonight’s
three survivors getting home-town visits. The loser joins a stellar list of
fourth-finishers, with Chris Daughtry, Tamyra Gray and LaToya London.


“Surviving Jack,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. Frankie tries alcohol,
Rachel wants birth-control and their parents fume.


“Elementary,” 10:01 p.m., CBS. An ordinary-seeming murder
case is suddenly tied into international intrigue and British intelligence.
Also, a shaken Watson ponders her links to Sherlock and his brother.