TV column for Sunday, Nov. 9

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox.

As his dating life
flounders, Jake (Andy Samberg) gets sage advice: Don't talk shop;
don't say you're a cop. With a sexy stranger (Eva Longoria), that
works perfectly ... and then falls apart hilariously.

One other plot twist
– Amy running for union steward – is pretty good. Another –
Gina and Charles feuding after their break-up – is quite lame until
a great pay-off in the final minute.

(if you get HBO): “The Newsroom” season-opener, 9 p.m., HBO.

One of the smartest,
sharpest shows in TV history has been semi-ignored. After being off
the air for 14 months, “Newsroom” gets only six episodes for its
third and final season.

They'll be great
ones, apparently. Tonight, the Boston Marathon bombing catches this
cable-news operation at a bad time. The producer is on jury duty, the
anchor (Jeff Daniels) is oddly frazzled ... ande everyone is gun-shy,
after last season's trouble with bad sources. Crackling with
brilliant dialog from Aaron Sorkin (“West Wing”), this seems like
the start of a superb, six-week ending.

ALTERNATIVE: “Masterpiece Contemporary,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).

Last season, we met
an old spy (Bill Nighy) whose dying friend gave him vital papers. The
prime minister (Ralph Fiennes) seethed; now “Turks & Caicos”
finds our spy on a Caribbean island.

Trouble finds him.
He meets an odd American (Christopher Walken), some scheming
businessmen and a fragile beauty (Winona Ryder). Helena Bonham Carter
arrives, leading to another movie next week. Despite some flaws –
everyone seems to talk in the same, opaque way -- it's a dandy,
tropical journey.

Other choices

“Once Upon a
Time,” 8 p.m., ABC. Emma has captured the Snow Queen ... who is way
too crafty. Also, the relationship between Regina and Robin Hood gets
complicated as they try to save his wife.

“A Cookie Cutter
Christmas,” 8-10 p.m., Hallmark. Cable's Christmas season started
on the day after Halloween; this is already Hallmark's third new
holiday film. Tonight's tale of feuding ex-friends has a jaunty
start, a dippy finish and an adequate mid-section, salvaged by Erin
Krakow's likability.

“In the Wings on a
World Stage,” 8-10 p.m., Ovation. This documentary about a theater
tour has drawbacks. At its best, it makes you wish you were seeing
the play, instead; at its worst, people trade cliche compliments.
Still, “Wings” is well-done and the subject is grand -- Kevin
Spacey touring in “Richard III.” The theaters – from
ultra-modern in China to 2,000 years old in Greece – are stunning.

“The Good Wife,”
9 p.m. (or later, with football overrun), CBS. Alicia again faces the
cunning Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox), this time on a college rape
case. Also, she gears up her political campaign.

“CSI: Crime Scene
Investigation,” 10 p.m. (or later), CBS. In an episode scheduled
previously, then delayed, the women expect some sunny fun at a
conference. Then a shooting erupts.

The Comeback,” 10
p.m., HBO. In its only season, “Comeback” had Lisa Kudrow as
Valerie, a fading TV actress, trying to re-start her career with a
reality show; the result drew some praise, three Emmy nominations and
few viewers. Nine years later, the second season begins, with Valerie
hiring a student film crew. There are a few drolly funny moments,
plus many others that just seem repetitious.

“Getting On”
season-opener, 10:40 p.m., HBO. The second season of this so-so
drama-comedy starts by giving the nurses extra layers of humanity.
Alex Bernstein and Niecy Nash are excellent as extended-care people
working with a thick-headed doctor (Laurie Metcalf).

TV column for Saturday, Nov. 8


Animation, 5-11 p.m., ABC Family.

Here's a chance to
tour the history of great animation.

First are two recent
Pixar classics: “WALL-E” (2008) and “Up” (2009), at 5 and 7
p.m., are remarkably constructed; each has a warm, almost
heartbreaking start, before the fun begins. Then is a long-ago gem:
Using traditional animation, “Sleeping Beauty” (1959) has moments
– the fairy godmothers' color war, for instance – that remain
delightful, 55 years later.

II: Football, everywhere.

After way too many
weeks of mismatches, three networks have prime-time collisions of
ranked teams.

Fox starts at 7:30
p.m. with Kansas State (ranked No. 7) at Texas Christian (6). At 8,
CBS has Alabama (8) at Louisiana State (16); ABC has Ohio State (14)
at Michigan State (8).

ALTERNATIVE: “Hell on Wheels” return, 9 p.m., AMC; repeats at 10
p.m. and 2 a.m.

After a month-long
break, this sharply crafted series returns for the season's final
three weeks.

First, the entire
season (so far) reruns at 11 a.m.; at 8 p.m., we see frequent enemies
Cullen and Durant combine to protect the endangered city of Cheyenne.
Then, in the new episode, they link to save a criminal; also, Louise
tries to support Ruth after a loss.

Other choices

“The Mysteries of
Laura” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” 8 and 9
p.m., NBC. The network – given to late switches on Saturdays –
has tentatively set these reruns. They have the advantage of being
the only thing (outside football) on a big-four network.

“Inside Fame,” 8
p.m., CMT. It was seven years ago that Lady Antebellum released its
first single; “Love Don't Live Here” reached No. 3 on Billboard's
country chart. The group has gone on to have six No. 1's, two No.
2's, six Grammys and even a No. 2 pop song, “Need You Now.”
Here's a profile.

“The Dirty Dozen”
(1967), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies, or “Dirty Harry”
(1971), 9 p.m., Sundance. Good movies fill a dirty night. Anyone for
“Dirty Dancing” or “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”?

“Doctor Who,” 9
p.m., BBC America. In the season-finale, cybermen invade London.

Remorse,” 9 p.m., Starz; reruns at 9:30, 11 and 11:35. Here's the
season-finale of this drama-comedy about Cam, a basically decent
young basketball millionaire and his extended family. The five
previous episodes start at 6:15 p.m.; then an ex-girlfriend of Cam's
cousin brings trouble.

“The Chair”
finale,10 p.m., Starz. Over 10 episodes, this interesting show has
seen the same script transformed into very different movies –
writer-director Anna Martemucci's “Hollidaysburg” and
actor-director Shane Dawson's “Not Cool.” Now we'll see final
glitches and learn which was voted the best.

“A League of Their
Own,” 10 p.m., VH1. For a brief blip during World War II, women had
their own pro baseball league. Under director Penny Marshall, that
was turned into a skillful blend of drama and comedy, with Geena
Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell and more.

TV column for Thursday, Nov. 6

TV column for
Thursday, Nov. 6)


“White Collar” season-opener, 9 p.m., USA.

For five brainy
seasons, white-collar criminals have been caught by an unlikely pair.
Neil (Matt Bomer) is a scam-master; Peter (Tim DeKay) is the only FBI
agent who was smart enough to catch him.

They're friends, but
Neil still has his schemes – even though he's limited by an ankle

Now the final,
six-episode season starts in chaos. Neil has ditched his tether and
vanished. Peter scrambles to find him and bring down the Pink
Panthers gang.

II: “Mom,” 8:31 p.m., CBS.

Last week's
season-opener reminded us that this is a sharp, funny show, mostly
worthy of its new slot behind “Big Bang Theory.” It also launched
an odd plotline: After missing work because of her dad's illness,
Christy (Anna Faris) tried gambling to get the rent money; she won,
but was promptly robbed.

Now she's in a
low-end motel with her two kids and her mom (Allison Janney) – who
tries to pierce Christy's misguided optimism. Kevin Pollak is back as
the dad, with Jaime Pressly as Jill, leaning on Christy as her
Alcoholics Anonymous sponser.

ALTERNATIVE: “Gracepoint,” 9 p.m.,, Fox, or “Olive Kitteridge,”
7-11 p.m., HBO.

Beautifully crafted,
these miniseries have much in common. Each views small-town life
darkly; each has quiet, naturalistic dialog, delivered with
understated perfection.

The difference is
that you can catch HBO's full story in one chunk; during these four
hours, you'll keep wanting to strangle and/or hug Olive (Frances
McDormand). For “Gracepoint,” this is the sixth of 10 hours.
Tonight, suspicion piles onto Jack (Nick Nolte), a convicted
pedophile. There's superb work by Nolte, Michael Pena (as the father
of the murdered boy) and Anna Gunn (as a cop).

Other choices

“Bones,” 8 p.m.,
Fox. The subject turns to immigrants, as the team probes human
trafficking and as Arastoo and Cam talk of marriage. Ironically,
Phyllis Logan – who played O'Brien, a scheming staffer, on “Downton
Abbey” -- plays a harsh employer, suspected of killing her former

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Amy and Bernadette decide to re-create a prom
night on an apartment rooftop. Naturally, this confuses Sheldon.

“Scandal,” 9
p.m., ABC. Convinced that Jake isn't really guilty, Olivia looks for
more information.”

“Two and a Half
Men,” 9:01 p.m., CBS. Last week, “Men” launched its final
season, pushing it in a bizarre direction. Fearing it will take
forever to be approved for adoption as a single dad, Walden wants
Alan to join in a fake marriage. That could happen tonight, complete
with Michael Bolton singing.

“The McCarthys,”
9:30 p.m., CBS. In last week's dandy opener, Ronny reluctantly agreed
to be his dad's assistant coach. Now comes a bigger challenge –
having family members express their feelings.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. Sherlock finally gets a fresh chance to team with Watson
(Lucy Liu). His apprentice Ophelia, jealous of their rapport, soon
complicates things.

“Covert Affairs”
return, 10 p.m., USA. With six episodes left this season, Annie
(Piper Perabo) is in crisis. Belenko has shot Ryan (Nic Bishop), her
lover; next, he may go after Arthur (Peter Gallagher), her mentor,
who is running Ryan's security firm. She rushes to Istanbul.

TV column for Wednesday, Nov. 5

Country Music Association awards, 8-11 p.m., ABC.

In a three-hour
swirl, we'll hear most of country's stars. Carrie Underwood and Brad
Paisley, the hosts, will perform; so will at all five best-album
nominees – Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church
and Dierks Bentley. Bryan, Lambert and Urban are also up for
entertainer of the year.

The other two
entertainer nominees (Blake Shelton and George Strait) aren't
scheduled, but plenty

of others are. They
include Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Kacey Musgrave and
several groups – Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, the Band Perry
and Florida Georgia Line.

II: “How We Got to Now,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Some Americans have
too much heat, some have too much cold. Why not take the ice and ship
it South? One man did ... and it melted. He kept trying, until he
fashioned shipping and ice houses that worked. Real ice became a
semi-treasure in the 19th century ... until artificial
refrigeration replaced it.

This terrific hour
visits an all-ice hotel in Quebec and (really) an indoor ski resort
in torrid Dubai. It views hot cities that tripled their populations
in one air-conditioned decade.

ALTERNATIVE: “From Russia With Love” (1963), 7:30 p.m., and “The
Game” debut, 10 p.m., BBC America.

First is the sort of
British spy thriller that Americans prefer – tough,
straight-forward, with a clear-cut hero and a smattering of sex and
glitz. Then is the sort of six-week, tangled tale the British may

Joe, a young spy who
may or may not have betrayed his country a year ago. Now a Russian is
ready to defect and to reveal bits of an ominous plan. Can we trust
him? Or Joe? Or his boss, who's simply called Daddy? There's no way
to tell, in an opener that's both fascinating and frustrating.

Other choices

-- “The Mysteries
of Laura,” 8 p.m., NBC. When a woman is found dead on a party bus,
Laura finds herself probing a beauty empire.

-- “Nature,” 8
p.m., PBS (check local listings). Maybe we've musjudged sloths.
Scientiests said they sleep 16 hours a day, but that's in captivitiy;
in the outdoors, a researcher found them sleeping nine hours and
rarely being, well, slothful. This delightful hour starts with a
rescued homebody named Velcro, then traces the lives of his
counterparts in the wild.

-- “The Red Band
Society,” 9 p.m., Fox. After a two-week baseball break, this show
injects some more young-and-pretty faces. Daren Kagasoff (“The
Secret Life of an Amercain Teenager”) plays the ward's newest teen
patient; actress-singer Mandy Moore plays a doctor who is Dr.
McAndrew's ex.

-- “The 100,” 9
p.m., CW. Rippling with almost non-stop action, this episode also has
two key distinctions: It completes some neat character flips,
switching who are the hard-liner; it also has some of the most
impressive aventure-hero women in TV history.

-- “Law &
Order: Special Victims Unit,” 9 p.m., NBC. After hearing scary
stories from their babysitter, three girls head into the woods. Soon,
one is injured and the others are missing.

-- “Chicago PD,”
10 p.m., NBC. When a 10-year-old girl is killed, the only way to get
information is to have Ruzek and Atwater go undercover as inmates.

-- “American
Horror Story,” 10 p.m., FX. Troubles everywhere: Desiree (Angela
Bassett) has a health scare. Also, Stanley and Maggie want to kill
all the circus freaks.

TV column for Tuesday, Nov. 4

“New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox.

Some of TV's
funniest moments come during the brief blips when someone clumsily
tries to lie. Now that's extended for an entire, hilarious episode.

Before Winston
graduates from the police academy, he must pass a home visit from a
no-nonsense cop (Cleo King). Jess chooses that moment to tell her
loftmates she accidentally has a giant bag of meth. The lies cascade,
just as Schmidt is fuming about his ex-lover Cece's date. The humor
keeps building, right up to the great finish, when Winston's
quasi-brother (Marques Ray) arrives.

II: “Selfie,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC.

This show's superb
pilot film (a take-off on “Pygmalion” and “My Fair Lady”) was
all about Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan), whose only social skills were
in social media.

But we soon learned
that her mentor Henry (John Cho) also needs a social makeover. In
tonight's first episode, he fidgets during a weekend retreat; in the
second, he's clueless in romance. Both episodes have moments when the
humor is too broad and blunt, but then manage to redeem themselves.

ALTERNATIVE: “Makers,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings); then
election results.

With control of the
Senate at stake, the results are crucial. You can catch them all
night on the news channels and at 10 p.m. on ABC, CBS and NBC. First,
PBS has some compelling political history.

In 1973, F. Edward
Hebert refused to put a woman and a black man on his House Armed
Services Committee. Overruled, he only gave them one chair to share.
In 1997, the Senate only had two women; now it has 20, enough to
override the government shutdown. “It was the women of the Sentate
who said, 'We're going to reach out” across party lines, Elizabeth
Warren (D-Massachusetts) says here.

Other choices

Junior,” 8 p.m., Fox. The world always seems better with kids
around. Gordon Ramsay quits shouting, Joe Bastianich almost smiles;
cooking is fun again. That's what happens tonight, with 16 chefs,
ages 8 to 13. Some can't lift the equipment, some need stools, two
cry. Mostly, however, we get laughter, optimism and dishes that look
good and (the judges insist) taste right.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Delilah (Margo Harshman), McGee's girlfriend, is back. Now
working for Defense, she finds a break in a controversial case and
needs NCIS help.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. Here's a rerun of the season's second
episode, with Tony (Michael Weatherly) of “NCIS” helping. A
sailor has bubonic plague and his shipmates must be found.

“Marvel: 75 Years
From Pulp to Pop,” 9 p.m., ABC. This traces the journey from the
1939 Timely Comics to Marvel, which is now a powerhouse in comics, TV
and (especially) movies.

“Life Below Zero”
return, 9 p.m., National Geographic. Even when you live above the
Arctic Circle, spring can be a mess; the quick meltdown endangers Sue
Aikens' equipment. South of the Circle (slightly), Andy Bassich
builds a cabin, Glenn Villeneuve makes a bridge and Agnes Hailstone
teaches her five daughters how to shoot caribou.

“The Mindy
Project,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. This is that rare show that didn't slump
when its key characters became a couple; Mindy and Danny still have
plenty to fight about. She's chronically late, he's obsessively
punctual. It's a dandy episode filled with key guest stars –
Allison Tolman (“Fargo”) as a romance author, Rhea Perlman as
Danny's mom, Niecy Nash as a Dr. Fishman and even Yeardley Smith (the
voice of Lisa Simpson) as a mammogram doctor.