TV column for Tuesday, July 31

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Olympics, 8 p.m. to
midnight ET, NBC,

Back in 1996 in Atlanta, Kerri Strug
landed on a battered ankle, to cinch a victory. It was the first time
American women had won the team championship at the Olympics.

Since then, they've settled for a
bronze and two silvers. Tonight, it has a shot at another gold; also
tonight are finals in swimming and women's synchronized diving.

p.m., ABC.

Two patients – a 4-year-old girl and
a 28-year-old mom – are warm, likable and near death. This reality
show captures moving moments, as they head into critical surgery.

We also meet two interesting women.
Valerie Simone, a former undocumented immigrant, is a doctor who's
been confused with the cleaning lady; Diana Costine is a nurse who
finds triumph at work and frustration with her romantic life.

Moves,” 9 p.m., Oxygen.

Nick Lazzarini was the first “So You
Think You Can Dance” champion; his friend, Travis Wall, was
runner-up in the second year, then became a brilliant choreographer.

They're immensely talented, but what's
next? This show sees them link with Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson
to create the Shaping Sound dance group. The reality portions are OK;
the dancing is superb.

Other choices include:

– Olympics, daytime. The U.S. men's
basketball team faces Tunisia at 5:15 pm. on the NBC Sport Network.
Other U.S. teams: Men's volleyball (11:45 a.m., Germany, NBC);
women's soccer (Pakistan, 12:15 p.m., NBC Sports Network); women's
field hockey (Argentina, 2 p.m., MSNBC) and men's water polo
(Romania, 2:30 p.m., NBC).

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Ray Cruz
(Enrique Murciano) returns and Ziva re-considers her future. Also in
this rerun, the team ponders the death of a Navy officer and deals
with her overwrought husband.

– Movies, 8 p.m., cable. Here are two
classics, winners of Oscars for best picture – “The Godfather,
Part II” (1974) on AMC and“Forrest Gump” (1994) on Lifetime.
There's also the nimbly offbeat “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006), a
best-picture Oscar nominee, on the Independent Film Channel.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. In a rerun of the season's second episode, Callen is despondent
after learning little about his past. Meanwhile, a computer genius
with a high security clearance has been kidnapped..

– “White Collar,” 9 p..m., USA. A
gorgeous widow will land a huge life-insurance payment – unless the
team can pin her for fraud.

– “Person of Interest,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. Usually, the machine offers one person who will be a victim or
perpetrator; in this one it offers four, stirring confusion.

– “Covert Affairs,” 10 p.m., USA.
After a break-in at a high-tech company, Annie seeks FBI help.

TV column for Monday, July 30

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE “Perception,” 10
p.m., TNT.

Here's a thinking person's show, one in
which the mind is both the problem and the solution. And tonight's
story is a dilly.

Pierce (superbly played by Eric
McCormack) is a professor who chats with people who aren't really
there; they're a way his sub-conscious drops hints. Now two plant
opposite solutions. That's in a complex case with coded messages,
multiple murders and clever twists.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: Olympics, all

NBC and its cable channels settle into
a weekday mode: Bravo has tennis, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; CNBC has boxing,
5-8 p.m. MSNBC (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and the NBC Sports Network (4 a.m.
to 8 p.m.) vary.

And NBC itself? It starts at 10 a.m.
(after “Today”), pauses at 5 p.m., then saves its best stuff for
8 p.m. to midnight. Tonight, that includes the team title for men's
gymnastics, plus more swimming finals and beach volleyball with
gold-medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings.

9 p.m., TNT.

Let's credit TNT (and other cable
networks) for competing with the Olympics. Now “Closer” is down
to its final three weeks, with a pivotal episode tonight.

The case – the murder of a priest –
is one Brenda is supposed to handle diplomatically. She doesn't, of
course, creating clashes. More importantly, her parents have arrived
as her dad's cancer spreads; we're reminded again that Brenda
(superbly played by Kyra Sedgwick) has a fragile core.

Other choices include:

– “The Help” (2011), 7:30 p.m.,
Showtime; or “The Godfather” (1972), 8 p.m., AMC. If you're
skipping the Olympics, you could settle in with a movie. “Help”
is a very good one, an Oscar-nominee; “Godfather” is a great one,
an Oscar-winner.

– “Bachelor Pad,” 8-10:01 p.m.,
ABC. Two three-on-one dates – at a rock concert and (oddly) a soap
box derby – stir some passion. Also, there's a rhythmic gymnastics
competition; the guys are short on grace, but long on attitude.

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. In a rerun, some memories drift back to the time of
Hurricane Katrina. Also, Barney schemes to avoid having to wear the
ducky tie.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. In this rerun, Alan is happy to be asked to help, when Walden's
ex-wife (Judy Greer) and mother (Mimi Rogers) try to take control of
Walden's company.

– “Bunheads,” 9 p.m., ABC Family.
There are troubles for some of the girls in Michelle's dance class.
One lied about stealing from her; another is teased about dating the
same guy since 2nd grade.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.m., CBS.
In a rerun, there's almost an international incident. The governor
(Richard T. Jones) says someone will be dumped from the team.

– “Push Girls,” 10 p.m.,
Sundance. Sure, this reality show is about women in wheelchairs;
still, don't expect it to always be nicey-nice. Tonight, Auti Angel's
controlling nature causes trouble with her husband and with her
wheelchair dance team

TV column for Sunday, July 29

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Olympics, 7 p.m. to
midnight ET, NBC.

Women's gymnastics are big with NBC
audiences, especially when the U.S. might win – which it might this
year. Here's the start of the team competition.

There's more, including finals in
swimming and men's synchronized springboard diving.

Mystery,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

An American professor (David Soul)
visits Oxford with his theory of predicting “criminal
dangerousness.” When he's killed, the explanations abound,

Maybe the murder was because such
theories have been misused by racists,. Or because of a shifty deal
he made. Or because of faculty affairs. It's a strong finish to this
year's “Inspector Lewis” films.

Sunday, CBS.

In Thursday's opener, three attractive
women met in Chicago.

Libby Lopez, 24, is a California model.
April Francis, 29, grew up near Detroit and has started three trendy
Chicago businesses. Libby Lopez, 34, is a widowed mom, working as a
pharmaceutical rep.

Now their show moves into its regular
slot, with each woman seeking the ideal guy.

10:30 p.m., Showtime.

It's tough to build the perfect farce,
one with all the right mix-ups. Here's a dandy.

The network boss is cheating on his
blind wife … who is cheating on him with Matt (Matt LeBlanc,
playing a perverse version of himself). Their weekend plans cross
paths neatly.

Other choices include:

– Olympics, daytime. There's tennis
on Bravo (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.),boxing on CNBC (8:30-11:30 a.m. and 3:30
to 6:30 p.m.), variety on the others. U.S. men compete in basketball
(France, 9:30 a.m., NBC Sports Network), volleyball (Serbia, 11:45
a.m., NBC) and water polo (Montenegro, 2:40 p.m., NBC). U.S. women
face Germany in field hockey, at 4:15 p.m. on the NBC Sports Network.

– “Runaway Jury” (2003), 8 p.m.,
Ion. John Grisham's story has a rogue jury as an arms manufacturer
faces a court case. It's a stretch, but it's skillfully handled by a
great cast that includes John Cusack, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman,
Rachel Weisz, Jeremy Piven and Jennifer Beals.

– “Longmire,” 8 p.m. to midnight,
A&E. This show – about a cowboy sheriff in modern times –
reruns four episodes. The excellent pilot is at 8, followed by the
show's fourth, sixth and seventh episodes.

– “Hillbilly Handfishin'”
season-opener, 8 p.m., Animal Planet. Some mismatched people converge
on muddy Oklahoma creeks, to catch giant (30-plus pounds) catfish.
There are two New Jersey preachers, two female hunters … and an
Iowa guy who's there with his mother-in-law. The result is fairly

– “The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS.
This rerun has Linda Park (Lt. Sato on “Star Trek: Enterprise”)
as someone who uses scientific methods to profile criminals. She and
Patrick Jane are soon at odds.

– “Small Town Security,” 11 p.m.,
AMC. After the intense “Breaking Bad” (Walt and Jesse set a new
business plan), this micro-budget show is sort of a palette-cleanser.
Tonight, a “doctor of organization” suggests less profanity and
more housecleaning; that would be a major culture shift.

TV column for Saturday, July 28

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Olympics, all day,

The first full day starts with cycing,
from 5-11 a.m. There's much more in the daytime, including U.S.
women's teams in basketball (11:45 a.m., with Croatia) and volleyball
(3 p.m., with Korea).

The big events, however, will be
bunched from 8 p.m. to midnight. An emphasis will be on swimming
finals, including the start of showdowns between Michael Phelps and
Ryan Lochte.

(1998), 9 p.m., ABC Family.

In a rare detour, the Disney people
crafted a cartoon with the feel of classic Chinese art.

To save her dad, a girl disguises as a
man and heads to war. The result has sweeping adventure, music and
romance. Singing voices include Lea Salonga, Donny Osmond … and
Marni Nixon, the long-ago singing voice of the stars of “My Fair
Lady” and “West Side Story.”

p.m., CBS.

Yes, there are a few scripted shows
tonight. This cop show even has new episodes.

Tonight, “White House” (Leelee
Sobieski) tries to talk a man off the ledge of a building. “Lazarus”
(Adam Goldberg) and Tonya try to find the parents of a kid involved
in a hate crime. Also, Kenny and Ahmad have trouble with the owner of
a missing dog.

Other choices include:

– More Olympics, cable. Some networks
specialize; Bravo has tennis from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., CBC has boxing
from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 3:30-6:30 p.m. Others leap between events.
That includes MSNBC from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the NBC Sports Network
from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m., including the U.S. women's soccer team facing
Colombia at noon.

– “Doctor Who,” 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.,
BBC America. Steven Moffat – creator of the British “Coupling”
and the PBS “Sherlock” – is a brilliant writer who worked
wonders with this series. Here's an entire season. It starts with the
arrival of the latest Doctor (Matt Smith) before a wide-eyed girl.

– “Fred 3: Camp Fred,” 8-9:30
p.m., Nickelodeon. Here's the latest movie with the character – a
hyperactive kid – Lucas Cruikshank created Online. Now he's sent to
a rundown summer camp; in the Hollywood tradition, the kids battle a
ritzy neighboring camp.

– More movies, 8 p.m., cable. There
are strong choices, including favorites of women (“Sex and the
City,” 2008, E) and of fans of fantasy (“Matrix, 1999, AMC) or
loose comedy (“Superbad, 2007, FX). Also, Lifetime has the
splendid, Oscar-winning “Forrest Gump” (1994).

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.
It was back in 1963 that Patty Duke won her Academy Award for “The
Miracle Worker.” She's gone on to get two Emmys and more. Now Duke,
65, plays an Alzheimer's disease victim whose son – a successful
deep-sea treasure-hunter – has been killed.

– “Castle,” 10 p.m., ABC. In this
rerun, one person, dressed as Red Riding Hood, is found clawed in the
woods. Another, dressed as Snow White, is found clutching a poison
apple. There's a trend here.

TV column for Friday, July 27

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Olympics, 7:30
p.m., NBC.

The tough part – the running,
leaping, lifting and splashing – starts Saturday. First, viewers
get sheer spectacle, reportedly involving 10,000 performers, 70
sheep, 12 horses, nine geese and one Beatle.

That's Paul McCartney, who closes the
show. Younger acts – Tiny Tempeh, Dizzee Rascal – will perform
and the sound track will range from the Sex Pistols to the “Chariots
of Fire” theme.

Director Danny Boyle – whose
working-class roots were reflected in “Trainspotting” and
“Slumdog Millionaire” – will depict a gritty London making a
comeback. He'll use British fiction, from James Bond to Harry Potter,
from Shakespeare's “Tempest” to “Mary Poppins” and “Alice
in Wonderland.”

Havana,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Living in Paris, Miami and South
America, Raul Paz has added extra flavors – from rock to hip-hop –
to the Cuban music he grew up on.

Now he returns to his native Havana,
linking for the first time with Descerner Bueno, Kelvis Ochoa and
David Torrens. That airs here as part of PBS' ambitious “Arts
Summer Festival.”

(1990), 8 p.m., Turner Classic Movies.

For 81 years, Dick Tracy has been
solving crimes in comic strips. He also was the center of 10
low-budget movies or serials, a TV series, some TV cartoons – and
one very large movie.

That's the one here, a sleek and smart
film. Warren Beatty directed and starred, with a great supporting
cast led by Madonna, Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman.

Afterward, Beatty and Leonard Maltin
are in a Tracy special at 9:55. That's followed by low-budget films
from 1945 (10:30 p.m.), 1946 (11:45) and 1947 (1 a.m.).

Other choices include:

– “Beneath the Blue” (2010), 8-10
p.m., CW. Resting its regular series, CW has a movie. Paul Wesley and
Caitlin Wachs play dolphin experts, trying to stop a Navy project in
the Bahamas.

– “House,” 8 p.m., Fox.
“Thirteen” (Olivia Wilde) is back, giving advice to Wilson. Also
in this rerun, a college student mixes physical and psychological

– “Bones,” 9 p.m., Fox. In this
rerun, Booth's son – returning from England – is about to meet
his baby sister. Meanwhile, the team goes to a karate class to probe
a murder.

– “CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. Justin
Bruening, from “All My Children” and the “Knight Rider”
remake, guests in this rerun. He plays a parolee, the brother of a
hot basketball prospect, suspected of murder.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. As
an assistant district attorney, Erin re-opens a rape case that was
investigated by her dad – now the police commissioner – 18 years
ago. Also in this rerun, her brother Danny probes the inexplicable
killing of three teens in a park.

– “John Oliver's New York Stand-Up
Show,” 11 p.m., Comedy Central. This show starts beautifully, with
the intense humor of Oliver and then the casual, down-home style of
Jared Logan. The others – Adam Newman, Emily Heller and Hannibal
Buress – provide fairly good moments.