TV column for Friday, March 10


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Vampire Diaries” finale, 9 p.m., CW, with preview at 8.

For eight seasons,
this sweet-looking Virginia town has seen beautiful people and ugly
deeds. Now it's time for Stefan (Paul Wesley) and his brother Damon
(Ian Somerhalder) to face their greatest enemy.

This final episode
was written by Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson, who combined to
develop “Diaries” from a series of books. She also directed the
episode and created or developed “The Originals,” “The Tomorrow
People” and “Containment”; he's created “Dawson's Creek,”
the “Scream” movies and more. They'll talk about the show at 8
p.m., along with their actors, past and present.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “MacGyver,” 8 p.m., CBS.

In Mac's
globetrotting life, crossover episodes are easy. So tonight, he meets
“Hawaii Five-0” people.

That's in the
aftermath of a massive earthquake. Mac and the team rush to Hawaii,
where they meet Chin (Daniel Dae Kin) and Kono (Grace Park). All of
them are trying to help scientists who are trapped underground with
top-secret weaponry. Naturally, bad guys are trying to get to the
weapons first.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Streaming shows, Netflix and Amazon.

Fridays are a so-so
night for broadcast and cable, but a good one if you have one of
these streaming services. Netflix has a movie (“Burning Sands,”
about fraternity hazing at a traditionally black college) and the
second season with Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust in “Love,” a Judd
Apatow comedy.

And Amazon has the
second season of “Hand of God,” with Ron Perlman as a stern judge
who went berserk after he felt he was hearing the voice of God. Now
he's charged with killing a cop; his wife (Dana Delany) has fled,
their son is dead and the voice is silent. It's a tough, well-made
show.

Other choices
include:

“Madagascar 3”
(2012), 6 p.m., and “The Penguins of Madagascar” (2014), 8 and 10
p.m., FX. It's always good to catch these penguins and their friends,
in the clever TV series or in these movies.

“Grimm,” 8 p.m.,
NBC. We don't usually turn to nursing homes as the starting point of
a murder spree. That happens tonight, after a string of brutal
deaths. Also, Eve needs help from Adalind; Renard confronts Nick
about the symbols and wants to strike a deal.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. After losing her teaching job, Vanessa
started tutoring. Now Mike wants her to expand the business ... and
gets too involved. Also, Kyle wants to be an entrepreneur.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. Jonathan Banks keeps playing grim, tough-as-nails sorts.
Here, he plays Ken's imposing medical-school professor. He's Ken's
patient ... and is as imposing as ever.

“Sleepy Hollow,”
9 p.m., Fox. A horrific monster targets one of Diana's mentors; now
she wants the team to focus on stopping Dreyfuss – who's having a
breakthrough (with Jobe) on a secret project.

“Hawaiia Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Fresh from helping the “MacGyver” people an hour
earlier, Kono and Chin are back to their usual duties. She and
McGarrett suspect that a young, abused girl is a victim of sex
trafficking. Also, Chin and Grover probe a murder at a sober living
facility.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Jamie and his police partner suspect foul play when a
woman has an allergic reaction to her medication and her husband (an
EMT) doesn't respond to the call. Also, Jamie's sister fears she
convicted an innocent man; and their dad faces yet another
public-relations crisis.

 

TV column for Thursday, March 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Kicking & Screaming” debut, 9 p.m., Fox.

We've had shows with
skilled survivalists and ones with people who don't have a clue. But
now they're thrown together in a fun way – 10 experts, each teamed
with a ... well, non-expert.

There's a
cheerleader, a chess champ, a model, an etiquette consultant, a
self-described “Malibu Barbie.” And there's Maxwell, who says
he's looking for “very little work and a lot of reward.” Spending
a month in the Fiji jungle, they try challenges. Some of the rules --
“prize or power,” for instance – are flops, but the people make
this a fun show to watch from our cozy, non-jungle homes.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Riverdale,” 9 p.m., CW.

Thursday nights have
delivered some major surprises, many of them from “Scandal.”
Still, nothing matches this: Jughead Jones and Betty Cooper are now a
couple.

Yes, Juggy – goofy
name, goofy hat, oft-dismissed. In this version, Archie is sot of Tom
Sawyer and Jug is Huck Finn – homeless, with no mom and a drunken
dad. He's a deep, pensive guy who narrates the show and has been
helping Betty find the sister who fled from a home for unwed mothers.
That last part is the show's weakness – two sets of totally absurd
parents. The rest, however, is fairly good.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Catch” season-opener, 10 p.m., ABC.

This is sleek and
slick, with pretty people and elaborate scams. It does everything ...
except give us someone to root for.

As last season
ended, Ben (Peter Krause) went to prison to protect Alice (Mireille
Enos). Now there are government schemes plus a sharp nemesis and a
naked beauty with a gun. Therte's also Alice's brother, played by
T.R. Knight, formerly of “Grey's Anatomy”; eager and inept, he's
the one who's easy to like.

TONIGHT'S
COMPLICATION: “The History of Comedy,” 10 p.m. ET, CNN, rerunning
at 1 a.m.

The good news is
that CNN has put together some excellent primetime shows. The bad: It
frequently pulls them at the last minute, with little or no notice of
the change.

The episode aimed
for tonight (a good one, on topical comedy) has now been delayed to
next week. Instead, we'll have the one originally set for last week
(a fairly good one, dealing with troubled minds that make great
comedy) ... unless there's another change.

Other choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Life has been complicated since Raj told his
parents he doesn't need their money. Now he needs a place to live;
Leonard and Penny offer Sheldon's old room.

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Hospital politics make a grueling case tougher for the
doctors.

“Scandal,” 9
p.m., ABC. There's a revelation – yes, another one – about the
conspiracy surrounding Vargas' assassination. Also, the messy
relationship between Jake and Vanessa threatens the campaign.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. What's the worst thing about your daughter and your lover being
in a car crash? Bonnie learns she's not the emergency contact for
either one.

“Planet Earth II,”
9 p.m. and midnight ET, BBC America. Here are wondrous views of the
world's jungles. This rerun ranges from river dolphins (yes, in the
jungle) to geckos that master camouflage. We see birds of paradise do
dazzling dances ... and a lizard using a wing-like structure to soar
100 feet.

“Training Day,”
10 p.m., CBS. Kyle is being pressured to come up with information on
Frank (Bill Paxton), That leads Frank to tell him some surprising
information.

TV column for Wednesday, March 8


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” season-opener, 10 p.m., CBS.

This show really
didn't expect to be here right now, in a comfortable time slot. But
“Doubt” was a ratings disaster and was dumped after two episodes.
Now, after a one-week gap, “Borders” steps in.

The series has Gary
Sinise lead a high-tech team, rescuing Americans overseas. Sometimes,
it just saves one or two people; tonight, an entire, 23-person church
group has vanished in Tanzania.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Survivor” opener, 8-10 p.m., CBS.

So far, Sandra
Diaz-Twine has been unbeatable. She was the Season 7 champion, then
returned for Season 20 (on the “Villains” team for “Heroes vs.
Villains”) and won again. Now she's 42 -- a law secretary, married,
with two kids -- and back, in what the show calls a confluence of
“game changers.”

She faces two other
champions: Tony Vlachos, now 43, won Season 28; a Jersey City
bodybuilder and cop, he was on the “Brawn” team. J.T. Thomas,
32, won Season 18, then was on the “Heroes” team in Season 20,
finishing 10th. Others range from two runners-up to four
who finished 14th or worse.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Underground” season-opener, 10 p.m. ET, WGN
America, rerunning at 11:01 p.m. and 12:03 and 1:04 a.m.

At noon ET, the
entire first season reruns, setting up tonight's tense situation.
Yes, seven slaves escaped, but now many have been killed or captured.
Noah is charged with murder, while his lover Rosalee is on the run
with Harriet Tubman (Aisha Tyler, who arrived at the end of the first
year).

The white folks
range from abolitionist lawyer John Hawkes, grasping for a courtroom
way to save Noah, to slave-catcher Patty Cannon. At the plantation,
Ernestine is back in the fields, her mind wobbling. This is
unrelenting stuff; tonight's hour is beautifully crafted, but filled
with brutal jolts.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Designated Survivor” return, 10 p.m., ABC.

This show took a
three-month break, after a high-stakes episode. It was inauguration
day for the president (Kiefer Sutherland), once a lowly cabinet
official and now the lone survivor of a Capitol bombing. Now a sniper
aimed at him; Hannah (Maggie Q) intervened, but someone was shot.

Tonight we learn who
that is. Hannah, whose evidence has been stolen, ponders revealing
MacLeish's role in the Capitol bombing. And Emily frets that her new
boyfriend Aaron may be the Capitol mole.

Other choices
include:

“Greenleaf,” 7
p.m. to 2 a.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. A week before the start of the
second season, here's a chance to catch up. The first season's final
four shows rerun, with the final three re-rerunning form 11 p.m. to 2
a.m. Also, the final eight will rerun from 3-11 p.m. Sunday.

“Lethal Weapon,”
8 p.m., Fox. Hilarie Burton is back as a DEA agent, helping the guys
get key information on the cartel's next move. Riggs is clearly
attracted to her ... and is getting more impulsive.

“Star,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. An arrest has been made in the murder of Otis, Simone's abusive
foster father. Meanwhile, Star advances her relationship with Hunter;
Carlotta tells why she kept a secret for years.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. Jane Krakowski is back as Dr. Donna Duncan, Gloria's
nemesis, challenging Gloria to do more at school. Also, Phil faces
pressure at the charity basketball game.

“Black-ish,”
9:31 p.m., ABC. When Diane gets a white doll for her birthday, her
mom tries to exchange it for a black one. That launches a look at
biases in the media and in Dre's own outlook.

“Man Seeking
Woman” season-finale, 10:31 p.m., FXX, rerunning at 11:31 p.m. and
1:31 a.m. This is the hour that didn't seem possible: Josh (Jay
Baruchel) is getting married. After two seasons of failure (some of
it hilarious), he met Lucy (Katie Findlay); it's time for the
wedding.

TV column for Tuesday, March 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“This Is Us,” 9 p.m., NBC.

For the last couple
weeks, viewers have been left to wonder about Kevin's romantic
detour. Last week, the show was bumped by a presidential talk; the
week before, it focused solely on Randall.

So now we're back to
Kevin, on the premietre night of his play. He's already had romances
with his co-star and with the playwright; then he startled viewers by
calling on Sophie, his ex-wife from long ago. Tonight, their
relationship deepens; also, Randall,whose biologic father died, hosts
an unusual party.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Americans” season-opener, 10 p.m., FX.

By now, the world
seems to realize this is one of TV's best shows. Each year, it's made
the American Film Institute's top-10 list; each year, it's been
nominated by the Television Critics Association for best drama,
winning twice ... this past year, the Emmys also nominated it for
best drama and more.

Perfectly played by
Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, these are Russian spies, deep
undercover. Their American-born kids didn't know; now their daughter
– who's been dating the son of their FBI neighbor – does. And now
comes a tense mission involving U.S. grain exports to the Soviet
Union.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “People Icons,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Over the next few
weeks, this will take new looks at people in pop culture and beyond.
Coming up are hours on survivors, on celebrities who died young and
on those named “Sexiest Man Alive.”

First is a look at
famous couples, present (Kate and William, Beyonce and Jay-Z,
Michelle and Barack) and past. In the 1960s, Elizabeth Taylor and
Richard Burton dominated attention. They married and divorced twice;
their “Cleopatra” behavior almost bankrupt a big movie company.

TONIGHT'S
MIGHT-RECORD: “The Night of the Iguana” (1964), 8 p.m. ET, Turner
Classic Movies.

Yes, ABC shows us
Burton's chaotic romance. But TCM also fills the week with reminders
that he was a serious and gifted actor. This black-and-white film is
flawed, but has the touch of masters – John Huston directing
Burton, Deborah Kerr, Ava Gardner and more, in an adapted Tennessee
Williams play.

That's followed by
“Anne of the Thousand Days” (1969) and “Look Back in Anger”
(1959) at 10:15 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET. “Cleopatra” and “Virginia
Woolf” will be Wednesday and Thursday

Other choices
include:

“Amy Schumer: The
Leather Special,” any time, Netflix. Don't expect any
administration-bashing here; Schumer taped this stand-up special
before the election. She's always been terrific discussing
relationships and sex; now she adds a new subject – suddenly being
famous.

“Titanic”
(1997), 5 and 9:30 p.m., AMC. In recent years, the Academy Awards
have gone to films that few people saw. Now we can flash back to a
time when voters and filmgoers agreed: Great at both the epic visuals
and the intimate drama, “Titanic” swept the Oscars while setting
a box-office record.

“NCIS,: 8 p.m.,
CBS. McGee's apartment has been torn apart, apparently for a good
reason: It was previously owned by a criminal who hid something
valuable.

“Fresh Off the
Boat,” 9 p.m., ABC. This show, set in the '90s, finds the boys
mourning the death of rapper The Notorious B.I.G. And during couples
game night, their mom's competitive nature flashes.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. A JAG lawyer who works on highly classified
cases has disappeared. Another lawyer (Chelsea Field) asks her friend
Pride to look into it.

“Chicago Justice,”
10 p.m., NBC. This has a tough Sunday slot, so NBC is introducing it
on other nights. Here, one Muslim student has been killed by another,
who says he was preventing terrorism.

TV column for Monday, March 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.

For the second
straight Monday, a transplanted rerun of TV's best show is propping
up some so-so comedies. We'd complain about it , except ... well,
this is a really good rerun.

At the core is some
secrecy: Penny has been slipping Leonard's cellectibles into storage;
Amy hasn't told anyone her apartment repairs are done and she no
longer needs to share a spot (in Penny's old apartment) with Sheldon.
Also, Sheldon and Amy have an “on location” edition of “Fun
With Flags.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Bachelor,” all night, ABC.

This is the week
some viewers savor, when the guy invites the final three women to
separately spend a night in the “fantasy suite.” It's supposed to
be a will-they-or-won't-they thing ... except they almost always
will; that's sort of what the show is about.

Taking away some of
tonight's impact is the fact that one of the three (Raven Gates)
already had her night with Nick Viall. That leaves Rachel Lindsay
(already named the next bachelorette) and Vanessa Grimaldi. After
the fantasies are fulfilled (or not), a “Women Tell All” special
is from 9:01 to 11 p.m.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Origins” debut, 9 p.m. ET, National Geographic,
rerunning at 11.

The most important
discovery in human history? Using smart narration (from Jason Silva)
and potent visuals, this opener convincingly argues that it was fire.
Some 14,000 years ago, people were using that for protection, warmth
and cuisine; it offered a strong impetus for communities.

Much later, new uses
emerged. In 1232 AD, the Jin Dynasty used fire (via gunpower) to
repel the Mongol hordes. In 1666, fire destroyed 13,000 London homes
... and led to the creation of a modern city. In 1926, the rocket was
created, eventually leading to space travel and to worries of
annihilation.

Other choices
include:

“Midsomer
Murders,” any time, www.acorn.tv.
England really does have “ghost villages,” seized by the military
in World War II and never returned. Tyneham evacuated 225 people,
Imber (a D-Day launch site) evacuated 152. Each has a classic church,
houses, but no residents. Now the first of these four movie-length
tales imagines that the military has handed back one village, with a
single owner choosing its fate. Its a great concept ... burdened with
plot twists that strain believability to the extreme.

“Supergirl,” 8
p.m., CW. Dean Cain (who was ABC's Superman) continues his guest role
as Jeremiah. While his daughter Alex searches for him, his adoptive
daughter Kara investigates alien kidnappings.

“24: Legacy,” 8
p.m., Fox. The good news is that Carter and the CTU are getting
closer to finding the terrorists' location. The bad: Amira's terror
plot is nearly ready, as she reaches a crossroads.

“APB,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. As he continues to be investigated, Gideon works on using a new
technology to probe a case of a man going to extremes to get justice
for his daughter.

“Superior Donuts,”
9 p.m., CBS. Reluctantly, Arthur (Judd Hirsch) actually has a day
away from work. His friends (Katey Sagal and Maz Jobrani) try to
prove this can be fun; Franco (Jermaine Fowler) tries to prove that
he can run the doughnut shop.

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. Nothing's ever easy for these guys. They have a simple job
at a museum ... until people try to rob a rare gem, in order to
enrich uranium.

“Bates Motel,”
10 p.m., A&E. By now, Norman is in full “Psycho” mode –
imagining arguments with his dead mother Norma ... and killing people
while dressed as her. Caleb was starting to figure this out – and
Norma/Norman smashed him. Sweet Madeleine doesn't know any of this
... and doesn't know her husband Sam is a cheater. Tonight, she
apologizes for setting Norman up on a bad date.