TV column for Friday, June 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Dark Matter” and “Wynonna Earp” season-openers, 8 and 10
p.m., Syfy.

The big networks are
mostly waiting to start their summer shows, but basic-cable is moving
now. There were two season-openers Monday on Freeform, with one
Thursday on USA and now these two.

“Dark Matter”
began with six people waking on a space ship with no memories; they
named themselves One through Six and plunged into a perplexing world.
As this third season starts, a battle has left aftershocks. “Earp”
is about Wyatt's great-great-granddaughter who, of course, is a
demon-fighter. As the season begins, she's facing a new level of
villains.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY
II: “Reign,” 9 p.m., CW.

We're a week from
the finale of an ambitious (albeit misguided) effort. The basic
notion was to turn the troubled life of Scotland's Queen Mary into a
youth-oriented soap opera. It has some talented actors (led by Megan
Follows as Catherine) and some who lack the needed subtlety or skill.

Tonight, Mary and
England's Queen Elizabeth continue their power struggle, while facing
personal crises. Mary's pregnancy threatens her life; Elizabeth
learns she has a killer in her inner circle.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Saving Private Ryan” (1998), 7-11 p.m., AMC.

Three days after the
D-Day anniversary, here is Steven Spielberg's masterpiece. Alongside
the jolting battle scenes (including D-Day) is a richly personal
story, beautifully played by Tom Hanks and then-newcomer Matt Damon,
with top people – from Bryan Cranston to Vin Diesel – in support.

And if you're
resisting World War II? Clint Eastwood's subtly superb “American
Sniper” (2014, 8 p.m., TNT) is set mostly in Iraq; “World War Z”
(2013, 8 p.m, FX) involves zombies.

Other choices
include:

“Harry Potter and
the Deathly Hallows” (2010 and 2011), 4:10 and 7:50 p.m., Freeform.
Here's the two-part finale in one gulp. As a warm-up, “Harry Potter
and the Half-Blood Prince” (2009) is at 12:30.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a quick rerun of Tuesday's
auditions.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. In a rerun of Wednesday's auditions, the top-20 is wrapped
up. The amiably eccentric contestants range from a Texas rancher to a
ballet dancer, almost pirouetting in the kitchen.

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. This rerun finds tat Matty's goddaughter and her boyfriend
were killed in a San Francisco park. Soon, Mac starts to suspect this
is the return of the 1970s “Zodiac Killer.”

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. When a boy undergoes hypnosis, he realizes he may have
seen a murder, 10 years ago. Also in this rerun, Danny's sister
(Missy Peregrym) arrives for a conference.

Basketball, 9 p.m.
ET, ABC. It's the fourth game of the best-of-seven series, with the
Cleveland Cavaliers hosting the Golden State Warriors. The pre-game
shows are at 8 and 8:30 p.m. ET.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. A woman tells Danny and Baez about her abusive
ex-boyfriend ... then becomes a suspect when he's killed. Also in
this rerun, Danny's dad, the police commissioner, must deal with a
cop who, when off-duty, failed to intercede during a robbery.

TV column for Thursday, June 8


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Queen of the South” season-opener, 10 p.m. and 1:01 a.m,, USA
Network.

Last year, we saw
the life of Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga) transform. A young beauty,
she had the wrong boyfriend at the wrong party. Soon, he was dead and
she was pursued by Vargas, a drug lord.

She scrambled to the
U.S., where Camila (Vargas' estranged wife) taught her to be a
drug-dealer. Now “Queen” -- stylishly filmed and adapted from a
telenovela -- has her link with an eccentric smuggler. Camila tries
to rebuild her empire, while her husband has a new partner he may not
be able to control.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Nashville” and “CMT Music Awards,” 9 and 10:32 p.m., CMT.

Having remembered
that its name used to include “country music,” CMT makes a decent
effort tonight. Charles Estin stars in the season's second
“Nashville,” then hosts the rerun of Wednesday's award show.

On “Nashville,”
transportation has been perilous for the top two characters; Rayna
died after a car crash, Juliette (Hayden Patettiere) frets about her
first major performance after a plane crash.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Game-show overload, 8 and 9 p.m., Fox and ABC.

Remember when game
shows had vanished from prime time? Tonight, oddly, they collide. Fox
has new ones – Jamie Foxx hosting “Beat Shazam” at 8 p.m. and
the amiable “Love Connection” reboot at 9; now both shows collide
with reruns of Steve Harvey's “Celebrity Family Feuds.”

The first hour has
singers Kellie Pickler and Lance Bass; then actor Ernie Hudson faces
reality-TV figure NeNe Leakes. The second has two boxers, but
separately: Sugar Ray Leonard faces Snoop Dogg; Laila Ali faces
George Hamilton. At 10 is a rerun of Michael Strahan's “$100,000
Pyramid.”

Other choices
include:

“The A-Team”
(2010) and “American Sniper” (2014), 5:30 and 10 p.m., TNT. Here
are the extremes of Bradley Cooper's career – high-octane
silliness, then a richly (and subtly) crafted character drama.

Hockey, 8 p.m. ET,
NBC. It's the fifth game of the best-of-seven finals, with the
Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators.

“Supernatural,”
8 and 9 p.m., CW. The first rerun has Hitler's soul trapped in a
pocket watch; the second has a demon killing hunters. We should
probably mention that this show is fiction.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. This reruns the episode that saw Raj begin
his belated journey into adulthood. After years of parental support,
he has to pay his own bills.

“Superior Donuts,”
8:31, CBS. For now, this fairly good show gets to nestle between TV's
best comedies, “Big Bang” and “Mom.” Tonight, Arthur (Judd
Hirsch) tries a rarity – a day off; Franco (Jermaine Fowler) hopes
to prove he can run the shop.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. In a clever episode, Roscoe is caught smoking pot. His
mother and grandmother – both experts on the subject – fear he
has a drug problem.

“The Devil's
Advocate” (1997), 10 p.m., Pop. Many people think their boss is
Satan, but this young lawyer (Keanu Reeves) is correct. It's a
splashy role for Al Pacino as the boss.

TV column for Wednesday, June 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“CMT Music Awards,” 8-10:30 p.m., CMT (where it reruns at 11:30),
plus Nickelodeon, Spike and TV Land.

This is a night to
erase all the fading lines between country and rock. Darius Rucker (a
former rock star) links with Jason Aldean and Charles Kelley, in a
tribute to the late Southern-rocker Greg Allman; Kelley's group (Lady
Antebellum) will also link with Earth, Wind and Fire, on dance
classics. And country duo Florida Georgia Line links with
electronic/pop duo The Chainsmokers.

On the all-country
side, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban combine. Solo stars include
Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, Kelsea Ballerini, Thomas
Rhett, Brett Eldredge and host Charles Esten.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“MasterChef,” 8 p.m., Fox.

At the start, we
meet a Sicilian ballet dancer who semi-pirouettes around the kitchen.
“People think I'm crazy,” he says. “I don't disagree with
them.” And at the end of the hour, we meet a Texas rancher.

Somewhere between
those extremes are all sorts of home chefs. One person says her
cooking reflects her Colombian roots; another says his reflects 11
years in India. A Hawaiian proclaims that “if it doesn't have meat,
it's not a real meal” -- then is assigned to do a cupcake. It's a
fun hour, filling out the top 20.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Kingdom,” 8 and 11 p.m., DirecTV/AT&T.

In last week's
season-opener, Garo kept injecting himself into fighters' lives. He
convinced Alvey to return to the ring for a “legends” match; he
also tried to sign Ryan, who has retained his championship.

Alvey is happy about
the money .. and about being a “legend.” That means Lisa must
hire a new trainer -- adding another quirky, macho character to this
intriguing show; her bigger concern is keeping Ryan from signing a
deal before the big offers arrive. It's a strong hour, with shaky
personal moments for Alvey and his sons – Nate, trying to remain in
the closet; Jay, groping at life as a non-fighter dad.

Other choices
include:

Basketball previews
at 8 and 8:30 ET and game, 9 p.m., ABC. Yes, Golden State seems
overwhelming so far – a record 14 straight play-off wins, including
the first two games in the finals. But now the best-of-seven series
moves to Cleveland.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 8 p.m., CBS. Nudged to a different night (and earlier
time) this week, the show reruns an episode about a murder at a rowdy
motorcycle rally. The band Blackberry Smoke performs.

“Nightcap”
season-opener, 8 and 8:30 p.m., Pop, rerunning at 11 and 11:30. Ali
Wentworth plays a talk-show booker in this comedy. Now a new
co-worker shares her job; he wants her to bump Juliana Margulies and
book a boxer. Then come misunderstood intentions with Alec Baldwin
and his wife.

“The Carmichael
Show,” 9 p.m., NBC. Is it possible to have a funny episode about an
old woman who wants to die? Possibly, but we won't see it now.
Usually quite clever, “Carmichael” stumbles tonight: Jerrod's
paternal grandmother (played by Marla Gibbs, 85) wants to die; the
guys try to talk her out of it. Loretta Devine isn't in this episode,
leaving no one to rescue us from the heavy-handed humor.

“Superstore,”
9:30, NBC. When her child-care choices vanish, Amy has to sneak her
daughter to work. That's against the rules, so Jonah is soon involved
in the cover-up.

“This Is Us,” 10
p.m., NBC. After the splendid pilot film, this second episode did a
good job of putting “Us” on its track. In flashbacks, we see the
young parents struggle to raise three 8-year-olds; nowadays, we see
those three facing wobbly lives – Kevin pondering his choices after
quitting his TV series ... Kate furiously trying to shed weight ...
and Randall adjusting to having his biological dad with him.

“Nashville,”
10:30, CMT. After Esten hosts the awards show, we can see him in this
rerun of the season-opener. Now widowed, he struggles to raise his
daughter (a rising star) and step-daughter.

TV column for Tuesday, June 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“iZombie,” 9 p.m., CW.

Most of the
regular-season shows are gone now, either shelved or wallowing in
reruns. But this odd (and oddly clever) show is a happy exception,
with four new hours left.

Liv is a doctor who
accidentally became a zombie. (Things like that happen at parties.)
Now she works at a morgue, munching the brains of murder victims, to
help catch the killers. This time, however, she and her friend Peyton
are on a wild goose chase. Also, Ravi is startled when he learns what
the “zombie truth hunters” are planning. The episode's title,
alas, is “Return of the Dead Guy.”

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Animal Kingdom,” 9 p.m., TNT, rerunning at 10 p.m. and 1
a.m.

Last week's
powerhouse season-opener (rerunning at midnight) jolted “Smurf.”
Her heist crew – sons, adopted son, grandson – departed to do
jobs on their own. Now we see how divided they are.

Deran needs a quick
score, to buy a bar. Baz wants something bigger and slower – a
church heist, no less; but he's also trying to find his wife ...
unaware that Pope killed her. And Craig is drifting amid drugs, booze
and teenaged Nicky – bringing one of tonight's big moments. There
are several.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The American Epic Sessions,” 8-11 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).

In three superb
episodes, “Epic” traced the folk musicians who were discovered in
the 1920s, when record companies finally had portable studios. Now
modern stars take turns with the old equipment.

Jack White is in
charge, recording with his band, with Nas and with Elton John. Some
parts tonight are slow and dry, but there are great moments with Ana
Gabriel on “Mal Hombre,” Rhiannon Giddens on “One Hour Mama”
and more. And things close with Merle Haggard (who died a year ago,
at 79) and Willie Nelson (now 84); two music masters try a machine
that's was in use before the were born.

Other choices
include:

D-Day programming,
cable. On the anniversary of the 1944 invasion, a few channels will
feature World War II. On History, that's “World War II From Space”
(8-10 a.m.) and the final two hours (2-4 p.m.) of “The World Wars.”
On American Heroes Channel, “Hitler” is 2-8 p.m. ET, with
“Surviving D-Day” from 8-10 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“Downward Dog,”
8 p.m., ABC. Nan has tolerated her sorta-boyfriend, the genial
slacker Jason. But now she meets Eric (Timothy Omundson, who was King
Richard in “Galavant”), sort of a better version of Jason. Alas,
Eric's well-trained dog crushes the confidence of Nan's dour dog
Martin.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. When the team has a new lead on the case, Bishop is determined
to avenge the murder of her boyfriend Qasin. That's a rerun, but a
new “48 Hours” at 10 views a real NCIS case.

“Shakespeare in
Love” (1998), 8 p.m., HBO. On July 10, TNT will launch “Will,”
a series about young Shakespeare. It's promising ... but few things
can match this Oscar-winning gem.

“The Middle,”
8:30 and 10:30 p.m., ABC. “The Middle” is at both ends tonight,
starting and ending a string of five comedy reruns. In the first,
Mike and his brother (Norm MacDonald) seek assisted living for their
dad (John Cullum, 87); in the second, Axl nears graduation, without
sending out job resumes.

“Genius,” 9
p.m., National Geographic. An exhausted Einstein faces serious health
issues. Also, he's the lone scientist to resist Germany's military
build-up, putting him at odds with his friend Fritz Haber.

“The World of
Dance,” 10 p.m., NBC. Here's the second of three qualifying rounds.
It follows the second of many audition episodes for “America's Got
Talent,” from 8-10 p.m.

TV column for Monday, June 5


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Gotham” season-finale, 8-10 p.m., Fox.

If you think you've
got troubles, imagine the poor folks in Gotham City. First, there's a
deadly virus spreading; and now Fish Mooney (who's been superbly
played by Jada Pinkett Smith) is back.

She joins a cascade
of villains. There's the strange Hugo Strange, the mad Mad Hatter and
the chilly Mr. Freeze, plus future versions of Riddler, Penguin,
Poison Ivy and more.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Still Star-Crossed,” 10:01, ABC.

Last week, this odd
experiment – sort of a Shakespeare/”Scandal” mash-up –
started shakily. Romeo and Juliet wed and died; we kind of thought
that would happen. Along the way, the dialog was stiff and
old-fashioned, the visuals were hyper-modern and neither served the
story well.

But now we're to the
part that goes beyond Shakespeare. To keep peace, Prince Escalus
insists on another marriage to link the warring families. Benvolio
Montague, Romeo's hard-partying cousin, must marry Rosaline Capulet,
Juliet's cousin, who's an orphan, working as a maid for her own
family.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Cosby coverage, all day.

On the day Bill
Cosby's sexual-assault trial is scheduled to begin, we can expect
extensive news coverage, plus at least two documentary hours – 9
p.m. on Investigation Discovery and 10 on CNN.

The former has
overheated narration and uneven sources -- a National Enquirer editor
and a screechy psychologist get the same status as a Washington Post
reporter and top lawyer Gloria Allred. Still, it does have specifics
from two accusers and has the key deposition, when Cosby said he had
seven types of Quaaludes in his home, not for his use. That admission
-- made in 2005, unsealed by a judge last year – becomes key to
the charge that he raped former basketball player Andrea Constand.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
“The Heart Guy,” any time, www.acorn.tv.

Something special
happens when a city guy moves to a charmingly eccentric little town.
That's been a great formula for everything from “Northern Exposure”
to two shows -- “Doc Martin” and “800 Words” -- that are
already on this streaming site. Now here's another dandy example.

Hugh is a gifted and
arrogant Sydney surgeon who went too far. The medical tribunal
condemns him to a year in his hometown, a fictional place named
Whyhope. The story – filmed in the appealing town of Mudgee,
three-and-a-half hours northwest of Sydney – mixes humor, heart and
makeshift medicine.

Other choices
include:

Hockey, 8 p.m. ET,
NBC. It's the fourth game of the best-of-seven finals, with the
Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nashville Predators.

“Kevin Can Wait,”
8 p.m., CBS. An all-rerun night on CBS starts with this silly (but
fairly funny) episode: Nudged by friends who say he lets his wife
rule the house, Kevin does some re-arranging.

Movies, 8 p.m.,
cable. The beauty of this night is its variety. “American Sniper”
(2014, TNT) has the understated perfection of Bradley Cooper and
director Clint Eastwood; “Edward Scissorhands” (1990, Syfy) is
deliciously overstated by director Tim Burton. “Roman Holiday
(1953, 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies) has a radiant, Oscar-winning
performance from Audrey Hepburn.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. The Monday line-up gets classier (and funnier) with visits by
two Thursday shows – this one (Adam moves in) and “Life in
Pieces” (Cary Elwes plays Joan's writing teacher).

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. Presidential elections are even wilder in TV fiction than
in real-life. “Scandal” had murder, imprisonment and the
Electoral College taking initiative; now “Scorpion” repeats a
November episode that had someone trying to throw the election into
chaos.

“Better Call
Saul,” 10 p.m., AMC. Jimmy is pushed to try a desperate step. Also,
Nacho adds a new skill and Mike considers an alliance.