TV column for Sunday, July 2


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Grantchester,” 9 p.m., PBS.

For some people,
this is part of a long 4th-of-July weekend, when
viewership droops. Many networks (HBO, Showtime, Hallmark) skip their
Sunday series.

Not PBS, which has
three straight new drama hours. “Grantchester,” the centerpiece,
has James Norton as Sidney, a1950s vicar, forever solving crimes with
his police friend Geordie (Robson Green). Tonight's mystery is a
smart one, with multiple poisioning and multiple suspects. Alongside
that are morose romances: Sidney's true love may be leaving; Geordie
may be having an affair.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: Cartoon movies, cable.

As new cartoon
movies hit the theaters, their predecessors show up on cable.
“Despicable Me 3” opened Friday; now “1” (2010) is at 7:25
p.m. on Freeform and “2” (2013) is 8 and 10 p.m. on FX. And “Cars
3” arrived two weeks earlier; the original “Cars” (2006) shows
up at 5 p.m. today on Disney.

There's more, to
fill the holiday weekend. Nickelodeon has the “SpongeBob” movie
(2015) at noon, 4 and 8 p.m.; FX has”Home” (2013) at 6. And
Freeform surrounds “Despicable” with other winners – the witty
“Wreck-It Ralph” (2012) at 5:20 p.m. and “Finding Nemo”
(2003) at 9:30.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “America in Color” debut, 8 p.m., Smithsonian.

Each week, an entire
decade will skim past us in one hour; just think of all the
history-class and history-book time you're saving. Yes, it's often
light and surface, but adding color brings old film alive.

This starts with the
1920s, when government was hands-off. Even after the mammoth
Mississippi River flooding, the federal government stayed away. It
also left business and the stock market mostly unregulated; the
economy soared ... then crashed, leading to next week's look at the
'30s.

Other choices
include:

“My Mother and
Other Strangers,” 8 p.m., PBS. Kate Phillips, who played Jane
Seymour in PBS' “Wolf Hall,” gets part of the focus here. She's
Nurse Tillie, trying to come to the rescue in time.

“Big Brother,” 8
p.m., CBS. The show settles into its pattern – 8 p.m. Sundays
(joined next week by “Candy Crush”) and Wednesdays and 9 p.m.
Thursdays.

“The Butler,” 8
p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network, rerunning at 11. Here's logical synergy
– Winfrey's network airing a film in which she has a co-starring
role. Based loosely on the life of a man who was the White House
butler for 34 years, it's done with subtle skill by the “Empire”
people – writer Danny Strong and director Lee Daniels. Forest
Whitaker stars, with Winfrey perfect in a small role as his wife.

“Fear the Walking
Dead,” 9 p.m., AMC. As word spreads of an incoming threat, loyalty
wavers.

“First Ladies
Revealed” debut, 9 p.m., Smithsonian. This series starts with a
look at the impact style. It tends to be too fawning, especially with
Jacqueline Kennedy, who dominates this hour. Much better are the
brief sections dealing with Dolly Madison and Nancy Reagan.

Claws,” 9 p.m.,
TNT, rerunning at 10. Desna faces deep pressure, covering up the
murder of her lover. In a so-so episode, the problem expands when her
friend's hapless husband joins the hunt for the killer.

“Tennison,” 10
p.m., PBS. Last week's opener took the “Prime Suspect” figure
back to the start of her police career in 1973. Ignored by men, she
found a key clue in the murder of Julie Ann Collins, a prostitute
with a posh background. Now Julie Ann's father faces intense
questioning and her boyfriend continues with his family's bank-heist
scheme. It's a strong episode, complete with an ethical dilemma.

TV column for Saturday, July 1


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

Kristen Wiig was an
“SNL” regular for seven years and the show's star for several of
them. She kept doing big characters, ranging from hilarious to merely
excessive.

In this rerun –
her second turn as host – she brought back a couple of those
characters. There she was as the “Secret Word” contestant who
keeps blurting out the secret word ... and as someone who's way to
excited about surprise parties. The latter one comes late in the
show, after her bit as a cat-lover. Earlier, Steve Martin visits her
opening and Cecily Strong joins her in a funny home-shopping
auditions sketch.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Doubt” return, 8 p.m., CBS.

Stuffed with
high-profile people and flashy stories, this was launched with strong
expectations last February ... and yanked after two weeks. The
characters were interesting, but the legal stories weren't; now
“Doubt” can end its run on Saturdays, relatively unnoticed.

Sadie (Katherine
Heigl) is both the lawyer and the lover of Billy (Steven Pasquale), a
doctor facing murder charges; she confronts him with new evidence and
is disappointed by his response. Also, Cameron and Tiffany (Laverne
Cox and Dreama Walker) defend a psychic accused of grand larceny.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Doctor Who” season-finale, 8:30-10 p.m. ET, BBC
America.

Ever since 1963
(with some long breaks), “Doctor Who” has offered fantasy stories
that jump nimbly between goofy and brilliant. This season is the
third for Peter Capaldi as The Doctor.

At 9 a.m., you can
catch a rerun of the season-opener (a good one) that introduced his
new companion, a startled student played by Pearl Mackie. Reruns of
the rest of the season follow; then the finale has the Doctor
confronting Cybermen, in an attempt to save a small band of humans.

Other choices
include:

Animated movies,
cable. For some families, this is the start of a long holiday
weekend; hyper kids need TV time. Freeform has older cartoon movies
from 7 a.m. to 2:35 p.m., then returns with the witty “Wreck-It
Ralph” (2012) at 7:25 p.m., “Despicable Me” (2010) at 9:30 and
“Strange Magic” (2015) at 11:35. At 8 p.m., Disney has “Cars”
(2006) and Nickelodeon has the “SpongeBob” movie (2015).

Sports, 7 p.m. ET,
NBC and Fox. Half the big-four networks are tied up with sports
tonight. It's baseball (varying by region) on Fox and NASCAR (from
Daytona) on NBC.

“Battle of the
Network Stars,” 8 p.m., ABC. Here's a quick rerun of Thursday's
hour, launching a series based on some long-ago specials. This opener
had a “TV Kids” team, with Lisa Whelchel and Kim Fields of “Facts
of Life,” Nolan Gould of “Modern Family,” Corbin Bleu of the
“High School Musical” and Joey Lawrence of “Blossom” and
beyond. They face a “TV Sitcoms” team that has Bronson Pinchot,
Tom Arnold, Dave Coulier, AJ Michalka and Tracy Gold.

“In An Instant,”
9-11 p.m., ABC. Tentatively scheduled is a true story – using
witnesses and re-enactments – called “Match Made in Hell.”

“The Incredible
Dr. Pol” season-opener, 9 p.m. ET (6 and 9 p.m. PT), NatGeo Wild.
Dr. Jan Pol, 74, a veterinarian in small-town Michigan, makes a
long-overdue trip to his Dutch homeland. That's surrounded by reruns
from noon to midnight ET (9 a.m. to midnight PT), including the
show's 100th episode, filled with memories, at 8 and 11
p.m. ET (5 and 8 p.m. PT).

“Turn,” 9 p.m.,
AMC, rerunning at 10. Last week, the fake-hostage scheme turned
disastrous. Caleb was rescued, but Abe's dad – a judge, respected
by the Redcoats, but now helping Washington's spies – was killed.
Now the spies must regroup; also, Washington's unpaid soldiers rebel.

“Orphan Black,”
10 p.m., BBC America. Sarah and her foster mother are on the road,
after hearing about a defector. Meanwhile, Cosima's research leads to
a jolting discovery.

TV column for Friday, June 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Killjoys” season-opener, 8 p.m., Syfy.

The Syfy people are
in another makeover, talking of new approaches and new shows; still,
this one – a Canadian transplant, starting its third season – is
a prime example of what to do. It has action, humor and sci-fi
spectacle, but also pauses for emotion. It's plot gets tangled, but
is worth the trouble.

There are two
stories now, each adding a character for contrast. Dutch and D'avin
search for a weapon that can lure the Hullen; they meet a
boyish-looking black-marketer who shares none of their noble traits.
And as Johnny (D'avin's brother) steps into danger, he meets a tough,
homeless young woman.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Masters of Illusion” season-opener, 8 and 8:30 p.m., CW.

Most shows throw in
a contest, an award, some kind of challenge. Not this one; it simply
packs together quick magic acts. In two half-hours, Dean Cain
introduces 13 of them.

Best-known is Nathan
Burton, who had two runs at “America's Got Talent,” then started
his own Las Vegas show. Others include Jibrizy, Joshua Jay, Billy
Kidd, Jason Bird, Sos Petrosyan and many more.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “ Landmarks Live in Concert,” 10 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).

This is sort of what
we expect from PBS – lush music in elegant places.

Back in 1299,
Florence began building its Palazzo Vecchio. Flowing with grand
paintings and statues, it's been frequented by Michelangelo, da Vinci
and now Andrea Bocelli. With Zubin Mehta conducting, he sings with
Carly Paoli, Maria Aleida and more. Also, host Chad Smith (the Red
Hot Chili Peppers drummer) frolics in Florence and at the Tuscany
estate where Bocelli has lived since boyhood.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
Streaming series, any time, Netflix and Amazon.

Three shows arrive
today, covering most viewers. Netflix has “Gypsy,” with Naomi
Watts as a therapist who goes way too far: She assmes an alter-ego to
get involved with people her patients mention.

And Amazon? For
sports fans, “All or Nothing” traces the first season of the
Rams' return to Los Angeles. For kids, “Danger & Eggs” is an
animated show – always fun, sometimes too hyper – about
mismatched friends: D.D. Danger (voiced by Aidy Bryant of “Saturday
Night Live”) takes big chances. Her friend doesn't, which is
understandable; he's an egg and Humpty Dumpty tales never end well.

Other choices
include:

Fantasy films, all
night. Fantasy fills up cable tonight, with three Syfy series and
lots of movies. Freeform has “Twilight” (2008) and its sequel
(2009) at 4:45 and 7:50 p.m.; FX has the hit “Guardians of the
Galaxy” (2014) and IFC has James Cameron's brilliant “Aliens”
(1986). Also, there are animated films at 8 p.m. on Nickelodeon
(“SpongeBob,” 2015) and TNT (“Shrek,” 2001, with its sequel
at 10).

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. Aly Michalka (“Hellcats,” “iZombie”) guests in
this rerun. She plays Mac's former college friend who faked her death
when someone tried to kill her and suppress her research.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Lou Diamond Phillips plays a tough federal marshal, in a
rerun involving a suspect seeking sanctuary on the land of the Nation
of Hawaii independence group.

“Dark Matter”
and “Wynonna Earp,” 9 and 10 p.m., Syfy. The “Killjoys”
opener starts a night of fresh fantasy. At 9, the crew hopes to
rescue a princess and retrieve a file that could stop the war. At 10,
Wynonna – battling demons, in the style of her gunslinger ancestor
– fights for her sister's soul.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds Jamie and his police partner becoming
overly involved in a complicated adoption case; they turn to his
sister, a lawyer, for help.

“Playing House,”
11 and 11:30 p.m., USA. Emma and Mark are finally back together, long
after they almost married as teens. What could ruin this? Possibly
her mother, joining the basketball team he coaches. It's a fairly
funny episode, followed by one in which Maggie acts in a nursing
video.

TV column for Thursday, June 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Zoo” season-opener (CBS) and/or “The Mist” (Spike), both 10
p.m.

Two tales from
superauthors will now collide each Thursday. James Patterson's “Zoo”
starts its third season, while Stephen King's “Mist” -- which
reruns at midnight – has its second episode.

“Zoo” now jumps
ahead a decade: The creatures have been cured, but new “hybrids”
loom and Jackson (James Wolk) tries to lead kids to safety; also,
Mitch (Billy Burke) is still alive (sort of), but frozen. “The
Mist” had a terrific debut that left interesting characters in
three spots – a shopping mall, a police station and a church – as
a deep fog encased the town, bringing with it some sort of killer
creatures.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Battle of the Network Stars” opener, 9 p.m., ABC.

Lisa Whelchel and
Kim Fields return to their youths. When they were “Facts of Life”
stars, ages 20 and 15, they were on “Battle,” then an
empty-headed series of specials; now, at 54 and 48. they're back.

This has been turned
into a summer series, with different teams each week. Tonight's hour
– which also airs Saturday – has Whelchel and Fields on a “TV
Kids” team, along with Nolan Gould of “Modern Family,” Corbin
Bleu of “High School Musical” and Joey Lawrence. They face a “TV
Sitcoms” team of Bronson Pinchot, Tom Arnold, Dave Coulier, AJ
Michalka and Tracy Gold.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Forrest Gump” (1994), 6:30-10 p.m., Spike; and/or
“Philadelphia” (1993), 8:41-10:50 p.m., Starz.

Tom Hanks' Academy
Awards came back-to-back; now those films overlap. One is a goofy
fable, the other a dead-serious drama loosely based on two real-life
AIDS fights, but both are prime Hanks.

They lead a great
movie night. At 5 p.m., FXX has the superb “Gone Girl” (2014) and
AMC has Steven Spielberg's “Jurassic Park” (1993), with its
sequel (1997) at 8. At 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies has
blistering work from Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1966
“Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Also, Freeform has the Harry
Potter finale at 4:45 and the “Twilight” beginning at 7:55.

Other choices
include:

“Hollywood Game
Night,” 8 p.m., NBC. Chris Hardwick is a guest on this show and
then host of “The Wall” at 9 ... plus hosting “@Midnight” (at
midnight, Comedy Central) and doing any AMC talk shows and ... well,
anything else that Steve Harvey isn't doing.

“Boy Band,” 8
p.m., ABC. Last week's opener trimmed the field (30 guys, ages 14-24)
to 18, split into three groups. It also saw one of the groups perform
dynamically. Now we see the second one prepare and perform; the
judges – Nick Carter, Emma Bunton, Timbaland – trim it from six
guys to five.

“The Big Bang
Theory” and “Life in Pieces,” 8 and 8:31 p.m., CBS. On a night
overflowing with new episodes, these are the lone reruns. “Big
Bang” has everyone adjusting to Raj living with Leonard and Penny;
“Pieces” has Greg pushing to be best man at his brother's
wedding.

“Big Brother,” 9
p.m., CBS. After Wednesday's opener, the show settles into its
routine – 8 p.m. Sundays and Wednesdays, 9 p.m. Thursdays.

“Nashville,” 9
p.m., CMT. Two strong forces – Juliette and Avery – are arguing
about Hallie's sound. Also, Maddie finds out who's responsible fo the
bullying on social media.

“Night Shift,”
10 p.m., NBC. An amusement-park disaster floods the hospital with
victims. Elsewhere, TC's survival depends on keeping his wounded
captor alive.

“The Gong Show,”
10 p.m., ABC. Musicians really should avoid oral multi-tasking. In
last week's opener, someone played the harmonica with a tarantula in
her mouth; tonight, an opera singer performs while eating cake. Tommy
Maitland (actually, Mike Myers in character) also introduces
ballet-dancing zombies and dinosaurs re-enacting the first Olympics.

TV column for Wednesday, June 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Little Big Shots: Forever Young,” 8 p.m., NBC.

At 14, Thomas Kelly
became the leader of a gospel quartet; he's still doing that now ...
89 years later. The Masters of Harmony are high-quality Detroit
singers who made one adjustment to his age – shortening their
concerts. “The breath isn't what it was years ago,” said Kelly,
now 103.

He's been retired
from Chrysler for 41 years and has other interests, including his
great-great-grandchildren. But he remains the leader and lead singer,
avoiding accompaniment. “I'll be a cappella until I leave this
world,” he said. You can catch Kelly and others, including a
gymnast who's only 91.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Big Brother” opener, 8-10 p.m., CBS.

Seventeen summers
ago, this combined with “Survivor” to propel a new era.
Approximately 4.7 zillion reality shows have died since then, but
“Big Brother” remains ... albeit in a flashier format.

There are fresh
twists; this year, contestants will be tempted with money, power or
safety ... but will face consequences for each. And there's an
emphasis on frisky contestants. One guy is 55, but the rest are 21 to
37; a few have sober careers (an engineer, a microbiologist) but the
field also includes four salespeople, two fitness people, a
dog-walker, a dance teacher, a concierge and a radio personality.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Jay Leno's Garage” season-opener, 9 and 10 p.m.,
CNBC.

The opener
celebrates cars that are American-made, using only American parts.
Leno ranges from George W. Bush's Ford pickup truck to challenging
Wanda Sykes to a minivan race.

The second hour asks
whether big is really better. Leno ranges from a hot-dog shaped car
to a Marine mega-vehicle. He consults with the 6-foot-2 J.B. Smoove
(who drives an enormous Lincoln) and the 6-8 Brad Garrett. These
rerun at 11 p.m. and midnight; previous episodes are at 7 and 8 p.m.
and 1 a.m.

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. First, the home chefs cook with shellfish. Then they
tackle a specialty of Gordon Ramsay, one of the show's judges.

“Kingdom,” 8 and
11 p.m., DirecTV and AT&T. Nate has lost chances in the ring,
ever since rumors circulated that he's gay (which he is). Now Lisa
gets him a fight on short notice.

“The Carmichael
Show,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC. This issue-oriented comedy varies
wildly, with NBC leaving some uncertainty about which episodes will
air. One episode expected tonight – a good one -- has Jerrod
witnessing a shooting. The other could be a new one about porn
addiction or a rerun with Maxine (the gorgeous Amber Stevens West)
debating the world's obsession with beauty.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. The parents get involved when Manny and Luke run against
each other for senior-class president. Also, Martin Short plays a
marketing guru who offers advice to Haley.

“To Tell the
Truth,” 10 p.m., ABC. Tonight's panelists have great dance moves,
anyway. Cheryl Burke took both Drew Lachey and Emmitt Smith to
“Dancing With the Stars” championships; Wanya Morris (of Boyz II
Men) finished fourth on the show. They join Rachel Dratch and Natasha
Leggero.

“This Is Us,” 10
p.m., NBC. In some excellent flashback scenes, we see Jack and
Rebecca argue about starting a family. We also learn about their
passion for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“Younger”
season-opener, 10 p.m., TV Land. This all started with Liza (Sutton
Foster) landing a job by lying about her age. As last season ended,
she finally told the truth to her friend Kelsey. Also, she kissed her
boss, leading to a break-up with her true love Josh. Now the
aftershocks begin.