TV column for Saturday, March 5


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

Jonah Hill is
sometimes a sidekick in movies, but on “SNL” he's a star. This
will be his fourth time hosting the show ... tying him with Melissa
McCarthy, each close to joining the “Five Timers Club” that the
show makes a big deal about. This time, the music guest is Future.

You can spend much
of the night with Hill: At 6:20 p.m. on Comedy Central, he stars in
“Get Him to the Greek” (2010), trying to keep track of a rock
star (Russell Brand).

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Spy” (2015), 8 p.m., HBO.

If you're not
watching Hill, then catch McCarthy – another sidekick turned star.

This story cleverly
sets her up as a desk-bound minion who's suddenly the only one
available to go out in the field. It has plenty of sight gags
(McCarthy's specialty), but that's alongside a fairly smart script.
Jude Law and Jason Statham play your usual spy guys, one suave and
the other tough.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Mythbusters” series finale, 8 p.m., Discovery.

For 14 seasons, 248
episodes and more than 900 explosions, this has explored long-held
beliefs, usually disproving them. Now Discovery says the finale will
be explosive (literally).

Afterward, all five
of the hosts will gather at 9 p.m., for an instant reunion special.
And there's one more: At 8 p.m. Sunday, an unaired duct-tape episode
will show up on the Science Channel.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Black Sails,” 9 p.m., Starz, repeating at 10 and
11.

Last week's fierce
hour (rerunning at 1:15 and 8 p.m.), had a sort of pirates summit. It
also set up a key possibility: Return the treasure to the Spanish (by
way of the English), to avoid an attack on Nassau.

That part is oddly
anti-climactic tonight, but two scenes show the “Sails” strength
as a character drama. In one, we see how commanding – and how
brutal-- the one-legged John Silver is becoming; in another, the
English leader offers surprising depth, going eye-to-eye with Captain
Flint.

Other choices
include:

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, only one employee escaped a
Department of Defense shooting. Sam and Callen head to Mexico to find
the survivor, while others search for a motive.

“Rosewood,” 8
p.m., Fox. This rerun finds a troubled young genius accused of
murder. As Rosewood probes the case, his health troubles worsen and
Villa's people problems complicate things.

Election coverage, 8
p.m. ET, cable news channels. After the huge rush of “super
Tuesday,” here's a milder day. There's the primary election in
Louisiana, plus caucuses in Kansas, Nebraska (Democrats only) and
Kentucky and Maine (Republicans only).

Basketball, 8:30
p.m. ET, ABC. The Chicago Bulls host the Houston Rockets, with
pre-game at 8.

“Lucifer,” 9
p.m., Fox. A star quarterback is, of course, a friend of Lucifer.
When a woman's body is found in his swimming pool in this rerun, he
turns to his pal for help.

“Where Are They
Now?” 10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. This visits Chris Soules, the
Iowa farmer who found TV fame on “Bachelorette,” “The Bachelor”
(later ending his engagement) and “Dancing With the Stars.” It
also meets Laila Ali, who was a boxing champion like her dad
Muhammad; and Kristina Wagner, the “General Hospital” actress and
ex-wife of former “GH” star Jack Wagner.

TV column for Friday, March 4


(Please note: This happens to be the start of the
pledge drives for many PBS stations, so please double-check local
listings. Most will still carry this “American
Masters” on Friday, but some won't; the East Lansing station, for instance, will hold the "Masters" until March 25.)

By Mike Hughers

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Masters,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Loretta Lynn's story
– richly told in the “Coal Miner's Daughter” movie (1980) –
has been a country classic. It's told here with one revision – she
was 15, not 13, when she married – and many updates.

There are lots of
comments from other stars – from Willie Nelson and Bill Anderson to
Miranda Lambert and an enthusiastic Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood.
But the best accounts come from Lynn and her kin; her son Ernest
eagerly describes his parents' fierce fights, then points out the
irony: She kept complaining about her husband, but his misdeeds
fueled decades of great country songwriting.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Amazing Race,” 8 p.m., CBS.

We might have
expected Darius and Cameron Benson to dominate; the brothers are
young, fit and (as Internet parkour and juggling stars) high-flying.
Still, they fumbled a Colombian challenge last week and were the
second duo eliminated; first, out were YouTube stewardess Marty Cobb
and her daughter.

That leaves nine
duos left in this clash of Internet and social-media stars. Tonight,
CBS says, two of them start a romance; also, there's one of the
show's biggest footraces for first place.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Sleepy Hollow,” 8 p.m., Fox.

Almost three
centuries ago, legends of a “Jersey Devil” emerged. Much later,
the notion would be popular ... and would even be the name of a pro
hockey team.

Now such a creature
wreaks havoc in Sleepy Hollow; Ichabod Crane, the time-traveler, must
recall his 18th century experience with the creature. Meanwhile,
Abbie continues to have trouble with the aftermath of her ordeal; her
sister Jenny faces some stumbling in her new relationship with Joe.

Other choices
include:

“Harry Potter and
the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), 6:45 p.m., Freeform. Two British
fantasy epics collide today. This is the third of the Potter films;
at 8 p.m., TNT has “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (2010).
“Smaug” is the middle of a trilogy, alas, with neither a
beginning nor an end.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Eve has an annoying friend who
wants to move in with the family; Mike, of course, opposes the idea.
Also, there's trouble after Kristin hired her sister Mandy to design
the restaurant's uniforms.

“Erin Brockovich
(2000), 8 p.m., WE. We can sample half of Julia Roberts' four Oscar
nominations tonight. She won an Academy Award for this terrific,
true-life tale; she was nominated for “Pretty Woman” (1990, 8
p.m., Oxygen), which has a lame story, but a brilliant, start-making
perfornamce.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. Feeling distant from his daughter, Ken takes her and her
friends to an Emblem3 concert. Also, his wife takes thier son to the
clinic ... where his fear of needles causes chaos.

“Second Chance,”
9 p.m., Fox. Back when he was a cop, Jimmy covered up a murder by a
drug-lord's girlfriend who was his secret informant. Twenty years
later, she's a big-time drug dealer and he's in a new, young body
(no, it's not a true story), confronting his past.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, the bomb squad is attacked and there's a
threat: Explosions are coming, unless arsonist Jason Sinclair (former
utlimate-fighting champ Randy Couture) is freed.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds a newspaper reporter attacked while
wearing police gear during a ride-along.

TV column for Thursday, March 3


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Family” debut, 9 p.m., ABC.

Here's more proof
that ABC can match anyone – even cable – in great drama. “Family”
-- which promptly moves to Sundays -- ranks alongside its current
“American Crime” and upcoming “Secrets & Lies.” Each uses
a crime story as the start of a deeply layered character drama.

We won't spill the
plot – try to avoid the ads, which say way too much – except for
this: A decade apart, this family gets two huge jolts, the second one
leaving bigger mysteries. There's brilliant work by Joan Allen (as
the matriarch), Alison Pill (her daughter) and Andrew McCarthy (a
convict).

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “American Idol,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

The show has its top
10 now, with more performances tonight – includiong a couple other
stars. Demi Lovato does “Stone Cold” and “Confident”; Harry
Connick does “(I Do) What We Do.”

Also, we learn which
eight have survived ... then vote on who will be back next week. The
line-up includes four men and six women, ages 15 to 24.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Colony,” 10 p.m., USA.

Two weeks from its
season-finale, this show has seemingly tied itself into unbeatable
knots. Aliens (never shown) have taken control, using Earthlings as
collaborators. Desperate to get his younger son back, Will (Josh
Holloway) has joined the government.

What he doesn't
realize is how deeply his wife (Sarah Wayne Callies) is into the
resistance. Tonight, that peaks: He has a lead on catching Broussard,
the resistance leader she's high on. In a house full of secrets and
disclosures, some high-pressure moves aim for opposite goals.

Other choices
include:

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Over 12 seasons, Meredith has transformed from a nervous
resident to an experienced surgeon. Now a patient from her first
surgery is admitted with a new aeurysm, this time as Amelia's
patient. Meanwhile, Arizona ponders whether to resume dating.

“You, Me and the
Apocalypse,” 8 p.m., NBC. In the sixth of 10 episodes, these
farflung stories finally start to merge. The skeptical priest (Rob
Lowe) finds Jamie and tells him about his roots. Rhonda (Jenna
Fischer) finds her son ... the hacker who has (for now) escaped from
Jamie's evil twin Ariel.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. A fairly good rerun catches Sheldon and Amy
post-break-up. He's jolted that she's dating somene, played by
Stephen Merchant, co-creator of the British “Office.

Demate, 9-11 p.m. ET, Fox News Channel. The Republicans debate in Detroit. All five survivors are expected, including Donald Trump, who skipped a previous Fox debate after grumbling about Megyn Kelly.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. A health scare sends Bonnie into a panic. Christy tries to
be supportive ... which isn't easy when you have a high-maintenance,
high-panic mom.

“How to Get Away
with Murder,” 10 p.m., ABC. As Annalise begins a dangerous plan to
protect her team from Philip, Wes pushes for information about his
mother's death.

“Baskets,” 10
p.m., FX. This semi-comedy slogs down when focusing on dismal Chip
Baskets (Zach Galifianakis). It's better when veering to two people
played with deadpan precision by non-actors – Eddie the rodeo owner
(Ernest Adams) and Martha (Martha Kelly), Chips' only friend. So
tonight's episode – an odd road trip with Chip, Eddie and Martha
–is one of its best in an uneven series.

“Adam Devine's
House Party” season-opener, 12:30 a.m., Comedy Central. The show
moves to Hawaii, where each half-hour continues to have three
comedians and a slight situation-comedy overlay. That part tonight is
OK, but two of the comedians are superb: Jacob Williams is droll and
witty; Chris Garcia has a brilliant bit playing his own father, a
hard-working immigrant with a silly son.

TV column for Wednesday, March 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Real O'Neals” debut, 8:30 and 9:31 p.m., ABC.

Eileen O'Neal
(Martha Plimpton) wants to have the most envied family in the parish,
always doing things just right. Then a cascade of secrets pour out in
one loud (and funny) scene.

That pilot --
overwrought, but fun – is one of two episodes airing today, before
“O'Neals” moves to Tuesdays. In the second, Eileen tries to “fix”
her gay son Kenny ... who's still figuring out how to break up with
his girlfriend. Also, Kenny – prone to imaginary conversations –
turns to Jimmy Kimmel.

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

After slumping in
the fall, the show returns big-time – new hours on Wednesdays,
reruns on Saturdays – with a busy plot. A serial killer seems to be
targeting Dr. Rosewood (Morris Chestnut) ... whose romance get
complicated ... while his poiice colleague lusts with his brother
(Taye Diggs).

With its Miami
settings and telegenic cast, “Rosewood” is a great-looking show.
Alas, the case falls into place way too easily and parts of the show
– expecially involving the police captain – are pure TV-hokum. In
particular, a country-club confrontation by Rosewood's mother seems
way too contrived.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Survivor,” 8 p.m., CBS; and “Hell's Kitchen,” 9
p.m., Fox.

Now that “American
Idol” has trimmed to one night a week, these shows have reality
fans to themselves. For “Survivor,” this is the second
“brains-brawn-beauty” edition; “brawn” dominated the first
one, but this time it has lost the first two people, Darnell Hamilton
and Jennifer Lanzetti.

Meanwhile, “Hell's
Kitchen” has its top 10 (as does “Idol,” on Thursdays).
Tonight, they hear guitarist Steve Vai, have two competitions and
(winners only) have a paintball battle.

Other choices
include:

“A Year in Space,”
8 p.m., PBS (check local listings). One day after astronaut Scott
Kelly was set to conclude his record 334-day mission, some PBS
stations will have an all-space evening. This hour will be followed
by reruns of “Nova” (profiling Neil Armstrong) and Tuesday's
“American Experience,” with an interesting look at pre-NASA
pioneers in the Air Force.

“The Goldbergs,”
8 p.m., ABC. Each season, this has an homage to a 1980s movie; it's
done “Goonies” and “Ferris Bueller,” so now comes “Dirty
Dancing.” Erica plans to make that the theme to the school dance.
Her mom helps, then realizes there's a backlash. Worse, Erica's dad
tries to dance.

“Baby Daddy,”
8:30 p.m., Freeform. It's time for some farce-style mix-ups. Everyone
seems to guess wrong about who wants to date whom, or (in one case),
what the sexual preference is.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. What do you do when life gets way too busy? Claire
secretly hires a personal assistant; Jay and Gloria cut corners while
parenting, without telling each other.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 9 p.m., NBC. Probing the exploitation of
Catholic schoolgirls, the team finds a web of corruption involving
cops, judges, proscecutors and legislators.

“CSI Cyber,” 10
p.m., CBS. Transplanted from its usual Sunday spot, this show has
Python kidnap Avery's surrogate daughter. To find her, the team must
decipher elaborate puzzles.

“American Crime,”
10 p.m., ABC. Next week is the season-finale of what has been a
brilliant mini-series, clearly one of TV's best. Last week, with a
bullied teen in jail for shooting someone who grabbed him on the
schoolgrounds, the coach (Tim Hutton) blamed the school
administration. Then his daughter told him she's the one who sold
drugs to the shooter. Now the aftershocks build.

 

TV column for Tuesday, March 1


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Election coverage, everywhere.

This is “Super
Tuesday,” a day that will do much to decide the presidential
nominees. Ten states have Republican and Democratic primaries; two
states and American Samoa have variations. In one busy day, almost
one-quarter of convention delegates will be chosen.

Cable news channels
will obsess on this, with coverage from 6 p.m. ET to at least 1 a.m.
Broadcast networkwill have updates during the night (and digitally);
and at 10 p.m. ET, there will be hourlong reports on CBS, NBC, ABC; PBS (check local listings) follows at 11 p.m. ET.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Muppets” season-finale, 8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC.

A pretty good show
with pretty bad ratings, “Muppets” is halting its season after
only 16 episodes. It starts this hour with an episode that is (as
usual) erratic, but fun.

After Miss Piggy
breaks her ankle, Kermit decides to do part of the show from her
hospital room. Alas, she mistakes the morphine drip for a call button
and gets pretty silly. There are some moments – including music by
Willie Nelson – and then a closing nudge to her faded romance with
Kermit. That's addressed in the second half-hour, with Jack White as
guest.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” 10 p.m., FX.

Two opposite forces
collide. On the defense is Johnnie Cochran, a master of language and
pizzazz; on the prosecution side is Christopher Darden -- quiet,
earnest, upset by Cochran's racial allegations.

As played by
Courtney Vance and Sterling Brown, they are compelling. The
understaffed prosecutors battle Cochran's grand gestures, including
an outrageous one: Before the jury (mostly black) visited Simpson's
home, he stripped away photos of white friends, replacing then with
blacks and African art. There's much more in a great hour, including
an eerie final moment with police witness Mark Fuhrman.

Other choices
include:

“Finding Your
Roots,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Here are three people
whose families fled from prejudice. Julianna Margulies' kin were
among the Jews fleeing Romania ... Asar Nafisii was 48 when she moved
from Iran (which had imprisoned her father for years) to the U.S.;
she then wrote a best-selling memoir. And Lidia Bastianich, the chef?
Her homeland (Istris) went from Italy to Yugoslavia to Croatia. As
biases against Italians grew, she fled with her family at age 12.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Just as a case seems to be open-and-shut, each staffer finds
something worng with the statement of a witness.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. When a Navy captain is killed during a radio
show, the team must find the shooter and protect the radio
personality.

“Agent Carter”
season-finale, 9 p.m., ABC. Next Tuesday, “Agents of SHIELD”
reclaims its time slot. First, this show wraps up its 10-hour interim
run, with high stakes: Peggy heads on a mission she may not return
from; her only hope is for Howard Stark to eliminate the ominous
“zero matter.”

“American
Experience,” 9 p.m. (check local listings). Once NASA got started,
Americans obsessed on its astronauts. But before that, this
interesting hour says, the Air Force had a separate program testing
man's limits. At the time, people felt a 12-G (12 times the pull of
gravity) impact would be lethal; one test pilot survived (barely) at
46.2-G.

“The Grinder.”
9:30 p.m., Fox. For once, Stewart (Fred Savage) really needs the
skills his brother Dean (Rob Lowe) showed on his TV show. Alas, Dean
has abandoned that and gone to law school.

“Tour Group”
debut, 10 p.m., Bravo. This reality show sees 11 people tackle exotic
vacations. It includes two small-town brothers who had never left the
U.S., estranged twin sisters, a soul-searching divorcee and a woman
who is engaged (for the 13th time) and deciding whether to
marry.