TV column for Thursday, Aug. 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Weekend Update: Summer Edition” debut, 9 p.m., NBC.

This has been a boom
year for any show – real or fake – that deals with the news.
“Saturday Night Live” has seen its ratings jump 36 percent, NBC
says, giving it the most viewers in 23 years.

So now the show
spins off some extra “Weekend Update” half-hours on summer
Thursdays, anchored by Colin Jost and Michael Che. We're guessing
that they'll find something to joke about.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Night Shift,” 10 p.m., NBC.

This summer series
tends to offer an adequate mix of medical, military and personal
stories. In a San Antonio hospital, surrounded by military bases,
many of the doctors are active-duty or veterans.

Now that's the focus
of this episode, as vets fill the waiting room. It's an hour written
and directed by veterans; others have guest roles, including infantry
vets Josh Kelly (“UnReal”), who was in Afghanistan, and Dan
Lauria (“Wonder Years”), who was in Vietnam.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “First in Human” debut, 9-11 p.m., Discovery,
rerunning at 11.

Deidra Williams had
run out of options. She was gravely ill from a sickle-cell ailment
and her doctors had no solution. Then she went to “Building 10,”
on the National Institute of Health campus.

There, she recovered
via bone marrow stem-cell transplants from her sister. That story
and others are told in this documentary series about a government
program that sometimes finds medical miracles.

Other choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a hilarious rerun, the guys finally have a
plan for getting Sheldon out of the way: They buy him tickets to an
historic railway.

“Boy Band,” 8
p.m., ABC. The odds are starting to look good for the guys still in
the running. Only nine remain and there may be five spots in the
band. Tonight, they're split into three groups, to perform songs made
famous by women.

“Project Runway”
preview, 8 p.m., Lifetime. The new season will start next Thursday.
First, Tim Gunn introduces the 16 contestants and shows their
audition tapes.

“The Story of
Diana” conclusion, 9-11 p.m., ABC. Here's the second half of the
documentary film that started Wednesday. It bumps “Battle of the
Network Stars” and “The Gong Show.”

“Superstore,”
9:30, NBC. In a rerun, a late shipment forces all the workers to stay
at the store overnight. That creates collisions, humor and, of
course, bonding.

“Zoo,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. First, the team must rescue Isaac, who is the son of Abe and
Dariela. Then Mitch and Jamie head to California, seeking information
on a new hybrid.

“In the Heat of
the Night” (1967), midnight ET, Turner Classic Movies. This superb
film won five Oscars, including best-picture and best actor (Rod
Steiger). It's part of an all-day Sidney Poitier marathon that
includes “To Sir, With Love” (1967) at 8 p.m. ET and “The
Defiant Ones” (1958) at 10.

TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Story of Diana” opener, 9-11 p.m., ABC.

This mismatch seemed
to fascinate people worldwide: A teen-ager -- living with three
flatmates and working as a pre-school assistant – was dating the
heir to the British throne.

Lady Diana Spencer
was tall, well-born and undereducated. Her wedding with Prince
Charles was seen by 750 million people worldwide; her subsequent
highs and lows kept drawing intense interest. Now People magazine and
ABC have linked for this four-hour film (concluding Thursday), which
mixes fresh interviews – including Charles Spencer, Diana's brother
– and old footage.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Carmichael Show” finale, 10 and 10:30 p.m., NBC.

A worthy experiment
concludes. For three seasons – but only 32 episodes, mostly in the
summer – Jerrod Carmichael has offered comedy with substance. Some
episodes were political, some were social. The quality was wildly
uneven, but each week remained interesting.

Now NBC has no plans
for a fourth season and is pushing the final episodes back an hour.
In the first, Jerrod and Maxine celebrate the third anniversary of
their first date and examine problems in meeting each other's
expectations. In the second, a discussion of money brings a
revelation about Maxine.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Mr. Mercedes” debut, 8 and 11 p.m., Audience Network
(DirecTV/AT&T).

Two master writers
combine. From “L.A. Law” and “Ally McBeal” to “Goliath”
and “Big Little Lies,” David E. Kelley has done some of TV's best
writing; now he adapts a Stephen King novel.

Don't expect King's
usual supernatural touch this time; the 10-week story sticks to great
characters and a fierce crime. Brendan Gleeson stars as a retired
cop, reluctantly returning to the search. Jack Bender – a gifted
force behind “Lost,” “The Last Ship” and more – directed it
beautifully.

Other choices
include:

“Kingsman: The
Secret Service” (2015), 7-10 p.m., FX. The British have always
known how to make super-spy stories fun. Here's a slick one, with a
wide-eyed young guy (newcomer Taran Egerton) working with a pro
(Colin Firth). The result – with a sequel coming next month –
mixes wit and action.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. The judges' cuts have finally ended and
the live round will begin Tuesday. First, here's a recap special,
looking at what's happened so far.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. Last summer's winner was Shaun O'Neale, a gregarious chap,
then 33, working as a Las Vegas DJ. Now he visits the show, using his
cookbook for the mystery-box challenge. Afterward, the elimination
round is coconut-themed.

“Speechless,”
8:30, ABC. In a rerun, Dylan really doesn't want a birthday party,
but his mother plans one anyway. She's like that, you know.

“Salvation,” 9
p.m., CBS. Scrambling for a way to save the Earth, Darius (the tech
mogul) has a dangerous mission for Grace and Harris (goverment
officials, aware of the crisis) and Liam (the grad student who
discovered it on his own). Meanwhile, Jillian confronts Liam about
his secret.

“Snowfall,” 10
p.m., FX. So far, Franklin has ignored the warnings of his uncle
Jerome; now he turns to him for guidance. Meanwhile, Teddy (the CIA
guy) ponders a new future for his family. And Gustavo, the
wrestler-turned-criminal, finds business partners from his past.

“The Lowe Files,”
10 p.m., A&E. Ever since he was a kid in Malibu, Rob Lowe has
been fascinated by the fact that a sort of underwater cave had been
found off the California coast. In his mind, it was an underwater
alien base; now he takes his sons to investigate.

TV column or Tuesday, Aug. 8


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The World of Dance” finale, 10 p.m., NBC.

Racing through its
first season, this show has already found its champions in all three
categories. Now comes one last burst: Each act does two numbers and
one gets the overall, $1-million prize.

At one extreme is
Swing Latino, winner of the large-group division; it's a 16-member
salsa team, high-octane and high-spectacle. At the other is Eva Igo,
winner of the junior division; she's a lone 14-year-old from
Minnesota. Then there's the upper-division winner, a French duo
called Les Twins; last week, it concocted a new routine, complete
with wheelchair, after one twin injured his leg.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “America's Got Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC.

While “Dance”
crammed an entire season into 10 noisy hours, this summertime ratings
giant takes its time. Tonight's show, the 11th this
season, finally wraps up the “judges' cuts” round. There will be
a recap Wednesday, before the live episodes start next week.

Joining the judges
tonight will be Seal, who is the ex-husband of host Heidi Klum.
Unlike most of the world's ex-spouses, he has the power of the Golden
Buzzer.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,”
6-11:03 p.m., A&E.

A week before the
second season begins, here's a trip through a controversial series.
Remini (“King of Queens”) offers scathing views of the
Scientology movement that was once a key part of her life.

The result is a
dichotomy – clumsily crafted, but with a subject that remains
compelling anyway. Overlooking its huge flaws, people have praised it
and given it an Emmy nomination and a Television Critics Association
award. Tonight's episodes include a portrait of group leader David
Miscavige and of the retaliations against those who leave.

Other choices
include:

“American Sniper”
(2014), 6 p.m., TNT. There are plenty of military movies and series
coming to TV now, but none match this true-story blend of intensity
and warmth, perfectly molded by director Clinr Eastwood and star
Bradley Cooper. Two other excellent movie dramas: Francis Coppola's
“The Outsiders” (1983), 7 p.m. on Sundance; Lasse Hallstrom's
“Safe Haven” (2013), 8 p.m. on E.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. It's Thanksgiving – yes, it's a rerun – and Bishop's
brothers visit, obsessed with learning whom she's dating. Also, a
case leaves her questioning her work at Guantanamo Bay.

“The Fosters,” 8
p.m., Freeform. These Foster teens keep finding new ways to get in
trouble. Tonight, they visit a warehouse party; then the police show
up.

“Black-ish,” 9
and 9:31 p.m., ABC. The first rerun is a January episode; it has
Dre's office in chaos, after the presidential election. The second
has his daughter question her belief in God.

“Animal Kingdom, 9
p.m., TNT, rerunning at 9:59. As “Smurf” (Ellen Barkin) tries to
figure out who robbed her, the guys keep taking bigger chances in the
heists they try without her. Now Craig leads the guys and Nicky in a
scheme to pirate a yacht.

“The Bold Type,”
9:01 p.m., Freeform. The magazine's breast-health program creates
huge demands. Jane writes a controversial piece and Kat, unleashing
her competitive nature, tries a big message.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, a Marine with a spotless
record suddenly assaults six people in a bar and then disappears. The
team tries to find him ... and to figure out what happened.

TV column for Monday, Aug. 7


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Bachelorette” finale, 8-11 p.m., ABC.

It's been an
historic season: For the first time in 34 editions of “Bachelor”
or “Bachelorette,” a black person – Rachel Lindsay, 31, a
Dallas lawyer – does the choosing.

The result? Her
final three guys are neatly diverse – one black, one white, one
Latino. Lindsay rejected most of the professionals, choosing two
personal trainers – Peter Kraus, 31, and Eric Bigger, 29 – plus
Bryan Abasolo, 37, a chiropractor. To avoid leaks, ABC says her
choice will be made live.

TONIGHT''S MUST-SEE:
“So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

So far, this “Dance”
season has been confined to an hour a week; a big, vibrant show has
been crammed into a tiny box. Now that phase is done and the fun
begins.

The show announces
its top 10 and each performs with a past star. These are gifted pros
– Fik-Shun, Gaby Diaz, Comfort Fedoke and more – linking with the
newcomers. Then viewers vote; next Monday, we'll learn who is the
first person to be sent home.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Hooten & the Lady,” 9 p.m., CW.

Flaws and all, this
is a fairly entertaining bit of summer fluff. After being thoroughly
unnoticed on Thursdays, it moves to an easier night with a breezier
lead-in (“Supergirl”).

Fulfilling all the
stereotypes, this links opposites: Alex, a museum curator, is British
and thereby refined; Hooten, an explorer, is American and thereby
rough, tough and kinda crude. Tonight, a friend is kidnapped in
Ethiopia; our heroes must escape from bandits and solve an epic
mystery.

Other choices
include:

“Vera,” any
time, www.acorn.tv. These movies
tend to be well-acted (Brenda Blethyn, a two-time Oscar-nominee,
stars), with stories that range from pretty good to excellent. Now
the seventh season brings four new films, starting with a superb one.
A wildlife ranger has been killed on a remote island. In a place
where people are close and emotions are taut, there's a shifting
batch of suspects.

“Supergirl,” 8
p.m., CW. This is why we're wary of shapeshifters: One of them has
entered the headquarters, using someone else's form. Now he may have
shifted anew; no one can be trusted.

“Despicable Me 2”
(2013), 8 and 10 p.m., FX. On a night filled with vampires and such,
here's fun animation. Also at 8: Pop has the bright romantic comedy
of “You've Got Mail” (1998).

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. In a fairly funny rerun, Bonnie learns that Adam smokes pot
before they have sex. She fears that this proves she's undesirable.

“Preacher,” 9
p.m., AMC. Earlier, we learned why Cassidy befriended a wrinkled old
man: The codger is his son. (Did we mention that Cassidy, a vampire,
never ages?) Now we learn more about them.

“Midnight, Texas,”
10 p.m., NBC. This little Texas town was suppose to be a refuge from
civilization. Now, however, some deadly vampires arrive and want to
re-unite with Lem; Manfred and Olivia try to uncover the real story.
Others create back-up plans or simply prepare for the worst.

“Loaded,” 10
p.m., AMC. Watto's mom suddenly returns and claims she didn't know
that his son had made millions by selling his videogame company; Ewan
is suspicious.

TV column for Sunday, Aug. 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Sharknado 5: Global Swarming,” 8 p.m., Syfy, rerunning at 10:01.

Maybe, by some odd
twist in life, you've never seen the previous “Sharknado” movies.
That's no problem – you can catch all of them from noon to 8 p.m.
... or just take our word for it: These films have goofy concepts,
quirky scripts and some truly bizarre casting.

A shark-storm hit
Los Angeles in the first film, New York in the second, then more. Now
the entire planet is in danger. Fin and his bionic wife (Ian Ziering
and Tara Reid) search for their son, who is aswirl; they come across
the pope and the queen of England, played, of course, by Fabio and
Charo.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“American Grit” finale, 8-10 p.m., Fox.

This action reality
show started with a basic concept: City folks head into the
wilderness, with tough-guy coaches ... and tougher-guy host Jon Cena,
the wrestler-turned-actor.

Tonight, a
double-elimination cuts things down to the final four; then one
person must pick someone to eliminate. That leaves three people, in
the final push for a $250,000 prize.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Chesapeake Shores” season-opener, 9 p.m. Sunday,
Hallmark.

Everything is
gorgeous here, including the setting and the people. Still, problems
persist.

Abby and Trace
(Meghan Ory and Jesse Metcalfe) fell in love as teen-agers, then
split. She succeeded in business, he scored briefly in country music;
now both are back home and happy – almost. In the first minutes, we
hear of his two crises. Meanwhile, Abby has to rush to work, her dad
has a big business deal, her sister is overwhelmed by her new project
and their mom is back. Life gets tanged.

Other choices
include:

“Knocked Up”
(2007) and “Wedding Crashers” (2005), 4:40 and 7:30 p.m., Comedy
Central. Here's an entertaining double-feature for grown-ups, with
clever scripts and bright actors. For family fun, the vibrant
“Descendants 2” musical is 9 p.m. on Disney.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., A BC. One round has the families of Lea Thompson and
Sandra Lee. The other has women from “The Bachelor” (Jubilee
Sharpe, Amanda Stanton, Lace Morris, Olivia Caridi, Caila Quinn) face
men from “Bachelorette” (Luke Pell, Wells Adams, Daniel Maguire,
Robert Graham and Chase McNary).

More games. “The
Wall,” which is a clear ratings success, has a rerun at 8 p.m.;
“Candy Crush,” which clearly is not, has a new episode at 9

Cable collision, 9
p.m., everywhere. Now that HBO's “Game of Thrones” is back, this
is TV's toughest hour. Tonight, two cable shows start their seasons
(“Chesapeake Shores” and Showtime's “Ray Anthony”) and two
continue -- “Power” on Starz and “Claws” on TNT, both
rerunning at 10.

“The Nineties,”
9 p.m. ET, CNN ( barring local news). The decade brought bursts of
violence, only one case (the first World Trade Center bombing) linked
to the Middle East. Others included the Unabomber, Oklahoma City,
Waco, Ruby Ridge and anti-abortion activist Eric Rudolph.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a Homeland Security agent is
poisoned and the team discovers counterfeit goods and stolen
government money..

“100,000 Pyramid,”
10 p.m., ABC. Bobby Moynihan has been busy, jumping from NBC's
“Saturday Night Live” to a promising CBS comedy this fall. Now he
visits a third network, facing Debi Mazar. The other round has Wendie
Malick against Jesse Palmer, who went from pro football to “The
Bachelor” and “Good Morning America.”