TV column for Tuesday, June 19


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Bristol Palin:
Life's a Tripp” (Lifetime) and “Teen Mom” (MTV), 10 p.m.

Who knew that teen pregnancy would be a
route to TV stardom?

In the season's first “Teen Mom”
episodes (rerunning at 8 and 9 p.m.), Amber Portwood raged, then went
to rehab. Farrah Abraham prepared to move to Florida for college and
work. Maci Bookout foolishly drove away (and then got back) the one
good guy in her life. Catelynn Tyler and Tyler Baltierra had an
emotional reunion with the daughter they'd given up for adoption.

Tonight, Catelynn and Tyler graduate
from high school. That faces the debut of a show with a famous former
teen mom: Bristol Palin, now 21, visits Los Angeles with her son
Tripp and sister Willow.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: “NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS.

Here's a benefit of “NCIS” and
“CSI” shows, plus “Bones”: At times, they nudge their lab
workers into the spotlight; we get some heroics from the smart, the
nerdy and the quirky.

Tonight, that's Nell (Renee Felice
Smith). When a researcher is killed, she goes undercover as his
replacement. Also, Miguel Ferrer arrives as the assistant NCIS
director, who has doubts about Hetty.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Franklin &
Bash,” 10 p.m., TNT.

Two clever, twisty cases give this
episode some light moments.

One has Cybill Shepherd as the boss'
second and fourth ex-wife, sued over custody of a dog she says she
rescued. Facing lawyers from their rag-tag days, the guys have a
crisis of conscience.

The other has opposites – Pindar and
Karp – working a case of robbery by cheese gun.

ALSO TONIGHT:

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. This rerun
sees things get personal for NCIS director Vance (Rocky Carroll): His
brother-in-law is the chief murder suspect.

– Basketball previews (8 and 8:31
p.m. ET) and game (9 p.m., ET), ABC. Things stay in Miami for the
fourth game of the best-of-seven series, with the Heat hosting the
Oklahoma City Thunder.

– Action movies, 8 p.m., TNT.
“Spartacus” (1960, Turner Classic Movies) is a well-crafted epic,
with Stanley Kubrick directing Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier.
“The Fugitive” (1993, AMC) was beautifully directed by Andrew
Davis, with Harrison Ford and an Oscar-winning Tommy Lee Jones.

– “MasterChef,” 9 p.m., Fox. The
15 remaining chefs must make a meal from unappealing innards.

– “The L.A. Complex,” 9 p.m., CW.
This drama – about young Canadians, struggling in U.S. show
business – is erratic, but makes OK summer viewing. Tonight, thing
hits bottom for both Raquel (Jewel Staite of “Stargate: Atlantis”)
and Abby, but Nick turns a bad date into a comedy breakthrough.

– “The Real Housewives of Orange
County,” 9 p.m., Bravo. A decade ago, Heather Paige Kent was the
likable star of CBS' “That's Life,” playing a bartender who goes
to college. Now she closes her first season with a party (continuing
next week) celebrating taking her husband's name. Soon, she's raging
at the guest who ate the bow on the cake. Also, Jeana Keough, who
left the show three years ago, visits.

– “Love in the Wild,” 10 p.m.,
NBC. After working well the first year, “Love” keeps adding
gimmicks. Now trios are shackled together, before competing in the
jungle. Then six women are sent home.

TV column for Monday, June 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Two and a Half
Men,” 9 and 10:30 p.m., CBS.

The Monday comedy line-up is usually
fun; tonight, it's also 50-percent longer. CBS tosses in extra reruns
– a transplanted “Big Bang Theory” and an extra “Men” –
to add an hour.

The 9 p.m. “Men” has Alan ready to
move out of the beach house, with Berta taking his room. Then Walden
(Ashton Kutcher) needs his help in confronting his ex-wife (Judy
Greer).

The bonus episode has Alan bummed about
the fact that Lyndsey once made a risque movie.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Miss Advised”
debut, 10 p.m., Bravo.

Amid the blur of reality shows, this
stands out. It follows three women who have much in common – smart,
attractive, instantly likable, with jobs involving dating advice –
yet have opposite lives.

Amy Laurent, a New York matchmaker, is
cautious; she says she hasn't had sex in a year. Emily Morse has had
lots of sex; a former political staffer, she has a San Francisco
radio show, “Sex With Emily.”

Julia Allison, a dating columnist, has
had long relationsips and almost married John McCain's son. She keeps
backing out; now she moves to Los Angeles, ready to start over. For
all three, it's a fun journey.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Bunheads,”
9 p.m., ABC Family.

Last week's dandy debut introduced
Michelle (Tony-winner Sutton Foster), a former ballerina dancing in a
Las Vegas chorus. She married a decent chap she barely knew and moved
to his small town.

That crackled with the wit of “Gilmore
Girls” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino – then ended abruptly with
the guy apparently killed in a car crash. Now Michelle adjusts to
this new world of her step-mother (Kelly Bishop of “Gilmore Girls”)
and four of the teens in her dance studio.

Other choices include:

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. The six-comedy-rerun night starts with Robin keeping bad
news a secret. Also, Marshall is hanging Christmas lights at his new,
suburban home.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 8:30, CBS. Max
has never filed a tax return. Caroline is sort of an expert – her
dad is a convicted embezzler – so she decides to help.

– “MasterChef,” 9 p.m., Fox.
Reality competitions keep saying they're sending contestants to “boot
camp.” This one really does; the 16 amateur chefs prepare a meal
for 200 soldiers at Camp Pendleton.

– “One Nation Under Dog,” 9-10:15
p.m., HBO. In suburban New Jersey, several dog-bite complaints were
aimed at one man's dogs – including a case in which a 3-year-old's
ear was bitten off. The man prevailed in court – but had the dog
killed eight months later, when it bit a teen. That case is the
starting point for a documentary that deals with pet cemeteries,
neutering, rescuing, overpopulation and more.

– “Mike & Molly,” 9:31 p.m.,
CBS. Now it's Molly's mom (Swoosie Kurtz) with romance complications.
She agrees to have dinner with her current boyfriend, angering her
current one.

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun was scheduled a couple weeks ago in the Thursday
slot, then pulled. It's the hilarious season-opener that begins with
Penny waking up in bed with Raj.

– “The Glass House” debut, 10:02
p.m., ABC. At last, it appears, the reality world has officially run
out of ideas. This show has 14 people in a house rigged with cameras.
That sounds like “Big Brother” – so much so that CBS has been
pushing a case accusing ABC of copyright infringement.

TV column for Sunday, June 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Falling Skies”
season-opener, 9 and 10 p.m., TNT.

This show has it all – fierce action,
human drama, historical perspective, even family warmth.

With aliens and their robots taking
over, Earthlings have a ragged, guerrilla troop. Tom (Noah Wyle), a
widowed history prof with three sons, surrendered to an alien ship,
to learn more about them.

Now he's back and in danger. Flashbacks
show some of what happened to him, but leave bigger questions.
Meanwhile, the battles rage; the result is a high-IQ
action-adventure.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: Basketball, 8
p.m. ET, ABC.

Until now, few people thought of
Oklahoma City as the center of the basketball universe. Still, that's
where the first two games of the best-of-seven finals were held.

Now things move to the more show-bizzy
world of Miami, where the Heat host the Thunder. (Yes, it does sound
like a weather report.) Jimmy Kimmel is at 7 p.m., with a preview at
7:31.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The Borgias,”
10 p.m.,Showtime.

This is a night packed with cable
season-finales, but others won't match this for epic emotions.

The beautiful Lucrezia Borgia has
suddenly agreed to a politically correct marriage. Her father, Pope
Alexander VI, is joyous, but viewers know that can't last long. He
doesn't yet know that one of his sons has killed another; he also
doesn't know about a plot to poison the pope. The result is powerful.

Other choices include:

– Golf, 4 p.m. ET, NBC. The U.S. Open
is expected to continue until 10:30. It's kind of like basketball,
only without the running, jumping and cheering.

– “The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox. In
a fairly good rerun, Kiefer Sutherland plays a nuclear-plant security
guard, still quaking from his days as a CIA agent.

– “The Killing,” 8 and 9 p.m.,
AMC. Here's the two-parter that wraps up this two-season murder
story. At 8 is a rerun of last week's episode; at 9, Sarah wraps up
the case and the Larsens get closure.

– “The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS.
In a rerun, Alicia's key witness commits suicide. She reluctantly
turns to Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker) for help.

– “True Blood,” 9 p.m.,
HBO.Things really aren't going well for the people closest to Sookie.
Her two lovers have been captured by the Vampire Authority; also, her
best friend just became a vampire and is acting very unpleasantly.
It's a good – albeit crowded – hour.

– “Nurse Jackie” season-finale, 9
p.m., Showtime. O'Hara is in labor and Cruz (Bobby Cannavale) is in a
panic. Then Cruz's son (played by Cannavale's son Jake) is an
emergency room patient.

– “The Big C,” 9:30 p.m.,
Showtime. In a wonderfully odd season-finale, a Puerto Rican vacation
has taken strange twists. Now the talkative and fretful Cathy is
stranded with a fisherman who doesn't speak English; the quirky
finish is fascinating.

– “Girls” season-finale, 10 p.m.,
HBO. Here's more quirkiness It starts with Lena's falling-out with
her longtime friend, ends with her in the sort of odd blur this show
is so good at.

TV column for Saturday, June 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Cars” (2006),
8 p.m., ABC.

Almost 60 years after Walt Disney
introduced the first feature-length cartoon, Pixar changed
everything. Beginning with the 1995 “Toy Story,” it had clever
writers insert grown-up wit.

This is one of the favorites, with a
hot-shot race car (Owen Wilson) in a backwater town. Other voices
include Cheech Marin, Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman, Tony Shalhoub and
Larry the Cable Guy.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “StandUp in
Stilettos,” 10 and 10:30 p.m., TV Guide.

Here's basic entertainment, quick and
slick. Each half-hour has three women doing stand-up comedy.

The opener has smart comics – none
wear stiletto heels, despite the title – doing offering solid
routines. Mary Lynn Rajskub – a stand-up before “24” made her a
star– and British comic Gina Yashere do well; Then Sarah Tiana,
with terrific delivery – has the show's best moments.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: Movies, 8 p.m.,
cable.

On a so-so night for new cable movies,
this is a strong night for big movies that ran in theaters.

“Sherlock Holmes” (2009, TNT) is
overwrought, but has strong work from Robert Downy Jr. and Jude Law.
“The Blind Side” (2009, ABC Family) deftly blends comedy, warmth
and real-life drama.

There's the “Star Trek” reboot
(2009, FX), “Shawshank Redemption” (1994, AMC) and Barbra
Streisand's lushly bittersweet “The Way We Were” (1973, Turner
Classic Movies). Also, “Crazy, Stupid Love” (2011, HBO) is
inconsistent, but has fine moments from Steve Carell and Emma Stone.

Other choices include:

– “Rules of Engagement,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Russell (David Spade) was riding high until his rich mom cut him
off. Still, he kept spending; in this rerun, his utilities are cut
off and his assistant suggests a budget.

– “Blue Lagoon: The Awakening,” 8
and 10 p.m., Lifetime. In two movies and one sequel, “Blue Lagoon”
had shipwrecked kids growing up like siblings, then falling in love.
Now this variation finds mismatched teen stranded during a high
school trip.

– “Operation Cupcake,” 8 and 10
p.m., Hallmark. On furlough, an Army colonel decides to help his wife
with her cupcake store and with their kids. That idea is OK and the
stars (Dean Cain, Kristy Swanson) are likable; still, this guy is so
foolish we can't see him commanding a paintball team,

– “How To Be a Gentleman,” 8:30
p.m., CBS. Andrew has been learning how to be stronger and more
assertive. That wobbles with the return of the fiancee who dumped
him.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.
This reruns the season-opener, with everything changed. The governor
has been killed and McGarrett is in jail, accused of killing her. His
former SEAL commander (Richard T. Jones) ia governor; also, Kono
(Grace Park) has been suspended.

– “Piranhaconda,” 9-11 p.m.,
Syfy. Roger Corman, 86, has produced almost 400 movies, some of them
good and most of them cheap. This one has a solid idea: The crew of a
cheapie movie is terrorized by a mega-snake. Still, the story is
so-so and the creature is so dominant that the chases lack interest.

– “The Firm,” 10 p.m. (barring a
golf overrun), NBC. Mitch gets a promising offer: If he defends Joey
Morolto's friend in a murder case, Morolto will end his family's
vendetta.

TV column for Friday, June 15


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Let it Shine," 8
p.m., Disney.

The good news is that the Disney
Channel continues the surge it started with “High School Musical.”
Here's another vibrant music movie, with a terrific singer (Coco
Jones, 14) and director (Paul Hoen).

And the bad? Once again, cable
stretches a creaky old plot idea. Nickelodeon's “Rags” recently
merged great music with a silly “Cinderella” take-off; now Disney
clumsily borrows “Cyrano de Bergerac.”

Roxy thinks the great rap lyrics are
from cute Kris; they're actually from his good-guy friend Cyrus. That
gets stretched way too long, joined by cliched preacher-vs.-rap
sub-plot. It's enough to make viewers flee – or would be, if the
rest of “Shine” weren't so good.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: “House,” 8
p.m., Fox.

Give the Disney people credit for
continually spotting new stars. That includes Jones (mentioned above)
and Bridgit Mendler, who guests here.

Mendler, 19, stars in the Disney
Channel's “Good Luck Charlie,” a comedy that ha a rerun at 10:30
p.m. today. :And in this “House” rerun, she plays a homeless teen
with a complicated past.

Also in “House” are relationship
woes – Taub with his babies, Foreman with a married woman.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Fairly Legal”
season-finale, 9 p.m., USA.

At first, this seems like a minor case,
one Kate can rush through in mediation: Lesbians were fired for
violating a rule against workplace romance; a settlement nears.

Then that leads to something bigger –
just as Kate prepares to buy a new condo with the guy she almost
divorced. In a well-made hour, we get huge changes in his election
campaign, her life and more.

Other choices include:

– “Megastunts,” 8-11 p.m., ABC.
Most times, ABC has better things to do than show people risking
their lives in stunts. Tonight, alas, the first hour reviews major
stunts in history. Then a 9 p.m. special views Nik Wallenda, 33,
trying to walk a 1,550-foot tightrope, 173 feet above Niagara Falls.

– “Whitney,” 8 p.m., NBC. In a
rerun, Whitney and Alex hear a theory that couples know in their
first 48 hours if they belong together. Soon, they're recalling their
own start together.

– “Community,” 8:30, NBC. Fun
things – foosball, a missing DVD – stir commotions in this rerun.

– “CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, a judge was killed and the probe flashes back to a case in
which Jo was blamed for a suspected rapist going free.

– “Bones,” 9 p.m., Fox. While
probing the murder of a toy-company executive in this rerun, the
pregnant Brennan ponders the foggy concept of toys and play.

– “Great Performances,” 9 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). Harry Connick is on Broadway, backed by a
big band and a 12-piece string section.

– “Comedy Bang Bang,” 9 and 10
p.m., Independent Film Channel. Last week's opener, rerunning at 9
p.m., has great moments from Will Forte (as an unheroic pilot) and
Zach Galifianakis. At 10, a fairly good new episode has Amy Poehler,
plus a Reggie Watts take-off on high-concept movie comedies.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. In
a rerun, a witness says a uniformed cop fled after a diner shooting.