TV column for Monday, April 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “House,” 9
p.m., Fox.

For eight seasons, this great show has
put complex medical stories alongside acerbic humor. Last week,

it brought a sudden detour: Wilson has
cancer.

The good-hearted oncologist has helped
endless cancer patients while soothing House's fragile soul. Now –
with the series concluding in four weeks – he's the victim; that
comes while the staff deals with a doctor who has a specialty in
dealing with her 6-year-old daughter's condition.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: Eureka, 7-10
p.m., Syfy.

This show's final season is starting
with a brilliant trilogy. If you missed the first two episodes, catch
them now, followed by a new one at 9.

Things start with the crew members
learning they've returned four years into the future, to a sharply
changed Eureka. Then complications build, with alternate perceptions
and time frames, more. It's all terribly confusing, but it's
alternately funny, moving and simply exciting.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Hawaii
Five-0,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Here's a rarity – a “Five-0”
without McGarrett. Alex O'Loughlin went to rehab – reportedly for a
pain-pill problem that followed a shoulder injury. He appeared only
briefly in the April 9 episode, which was surrounded by four reruns;
but will be back for the season's final two episodes.

Fortunately, CBS has two stars to step
in – Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J. It's a crossover episode with
“NCIS: Los Angeles,” involving a virus threat. Tonight, the NCIS
guys go to Hawaii; on Tuesday, two “Five-0” guys – Scott Caan
and Daniel Dae Kim – follow the case to Los Angeles.

Other choices include:

– “The Voice,” 8-10 p.m., NBC.
Wrapping up quickly, this is down to its final eight singers. On
Tuesday,we'll learn who will be the final four in next week's finale.

– “Dancing With the Stars, 8-10:01
p.m., ABC. This one will take longer. There are still seven
celebrities left, after Gladys Knight was dumped last week – on
Motown week, no less.

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. Lily's baby shower panics Marshall, who starts to realize
their baby will be here soon.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 8:30, CBS. Max
needs her part-time job watching the twin babies of the self-centered
Peach. That's in jeopardy when she's hired to provide cupcakes for
their first birthday.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. For the first time since his off-camera death, the Charlie
character is back. He's a ghost now – played by Kathy Bates, not
Charlie Sheen.

– “Smash,” 10 p.m., NBC. The
musical heads to Boston try-outs, with crises swarming. The star (Uma
Thurman) battles and flirts with the director. An understudy
(Katharine McPhee) must choose between the show and her boyfriend.
And Michael – whose affair fractured Julia's marriage – may be
back.

– “Castle,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. A
typically weird case (the killer seems to be a zombie) is against the
backdrop of Castle losing key people – Beckett (working his last
case with him) and his daughter.

TV column for Sunday, April 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Desperate
Housewives,” 9 p.m. ABC.

After eight years, this splendid series
has just three Sundays and four hours left. As usual, it mixes a tad
of humor and romance with a central crime story.

Now that focuses on Bree's murder
trial. She's fond of her lawyer (Scott Bakula), who is her opposite;
Renee frets about her fiance's ties to the investigation.

Meanwhile, Lynette tries to sabotage
Tom's romance. Gabrielle and Carlos compete for the attention of a
rich widow (Doris Roberts); the newly widowed Susan tries to help
build a soapbox-derby car.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “The Amazing
Race,” 8 p.m., CBS.

A week before the finale, only five
duos remain. There are two sets of best-friend guys, plus three
couples – one married, one engaged, one dating.

Now they're in India. Soon, we'll have
the final four for next week's two-hour finale.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The Good
Wife” season-finale, 9:01 p.m., CBS.

This is sort of like those comic books,
where the arch-villains link.

One is Louis Canning, played with
Emmy-nominated zest by Michael J. Fox; the other is Patti Nyholm,
played by Martha Plimpton of “Raising Hope.” Tonight, they
combine to try to bankrupt the firm.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE II: “The Hunt
For Bin Laden,” 8-10 p.m., Smithsonian; reruns at 11.

For 15 years, the search for Osama Bin
Laden sometimes floundered, sometimes came close.

This report talks to people at the top
– Donald Rumsfeld, Leon Panetta, Richard Clarke – and to people
working (sometimes angrily) in the field. It finds errors and
omissions in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, some caused
by a then-required wall between the CIA and the FBI.

Even-handed and richly detailed, this
airs two days before the anniversary of Bin Laden's death.

Other choices include:

– “Duke,” noon and 2, 8 and 10
p.m. ET, Hallmark Movie Channel. Battered physically and emotionally,
an ex-Marine (Steven Weber) can't bear to visit his family – or to
see his dog being put to sleep. Then this film – based on a true
story – adds fresh twists. The result is perfectly done and deeply
emotional.

– “Once Upon a Time,” 8 p.m.,
ABC. In the fairy-tale world, the queen is ready to unleash her
curse. And in our world? Her equivalent (Regina) tries to seduce
Prince Charming's equivalent (David).

– “Finding Your Roots,” 8 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). Here are three people with key roles in
civil rights – Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state;
Ruth Simmons, the Brown University president; and actor Samuel L.
Jackson, who was an activist after being a student pallbearer for
Martin Luther King. There are searches – with varied success – to
find the unknown white man in each one's family tree.

– “Masterpiece Classic,” 9-10:30
p.m., PBS (check local listings). Some British traits – calm,
quiet, unflinching – are great in war, not so good in romance. Now
the “Birdsong” conclusion visits both. Stephen fell for a married
Frenchwoman, then left for World War I;the rest is beautifully
filmed, but maddeningly slow and stoic.

– “Game of Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO.
A quick and fierce moment early in this hour has a sharp impact. And
soon, Tyrion (Emmy-winner Peter Dinklage) discovers a crucial weapon
possibility.

– “Nurse Jackie,” 10 p.m.,
Showtime. Yet another of Jackie's secrets – the fact that she went
to rehab – spills out. Also, Rosie Perez plays a charming patient
with a bigger secret.

– “NYC 22,” 10:02 p.m., CBS. Last
week's so-so episode ended with “Lazarus” (Adam Goldberg)
spotting a killer off-duty and failing to react. Now he gets a second
chance, in some sharp and well-crafted scenes. A second story –
Richard Kind as an eccentric maybe-victim – is shakier.

– “Girls,” 10:30 p.m., HBO. When
Lena finds she has a sexually transmitted disease, she contacts her
college boyfriend. Their conversation is an example of this show's
deceptive brilliance.

TV column for Saturday, April 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Blind Side”
(2009), 8-11 p.m., ABC.
This is a big night for movies based on
true stories – a great one (“Duke”) and this very good one.
Michael Oher went from homeless kid to
All-American football star and first-round draft choice, now a
starter for the Baltimore Ravens. His story is told with wit and
warmth, landing a best-picture Oscar nomination. Sandra Bullock won
for best actress, as the rich woman who encouraged him.
TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “”Duke,” 8
and 10 p.m., Hallmark Movie Channel.
Subtly and skillfully crafted, this is
a miracle of a movie. It's the best TV or cable film since HBO's
“Temple Grandin,” 27 months ago. And it's based on a true story,
we're told, about a man and his dog.
Battered physically and emotionally, an
ex-Marine (Steven Weber) lives in an old recreational vehicle. He
hasn't had the heart to see his family – or to see his beloved dog
being put to sleep.
Then come the twists, each one deeply
moving. Weber is perfect, but so is his semi-known supporting cast.
Credit director Mark Jean for knowing just where to find rich emotion
without hitting excess.
TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Indiana Jones
and the Last Crusade” (1989), 8 p.m., Bravo; or “Alice in
Wonderland” (2010), 9 p.m., ABC Family.
If you feel you need epic-sized
entertainment, either choice works.
“Last Crusade” benefits greatly by
adding Sean Connery as Indy's dad and River Phoenix, in the zesty
prologue, as young Indy. “Alice” has one flaw – the odd choice
of centering the plot on a battle scene – and many blessings: Tim
Burton's direction, Danny Elfman's music and Johnny Depp in support.
Other choices include:
– Racing, 7 p.m. ET, Fox. There's no
“Cops” again tonight; this is NASCAR from Richmond, Va.
– “Alien Tornado,” 7 p.m., Syfy.
Here's a rerun of last week's rather goofy tale of nasty weather
stirred up from outer space. If that;s not enough, “Space Twister”
follows at 9.
– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. A Navy
officer has been killed and her distraught husband is distraction.
Also, CIA agent Ray Cruz (Enrique Murciano) is back , with Ziva
thinking about their future.
– “Dear John,” 8 and 10 p.m., FX.
Before watching Channing Tatum host “Saturday Night Live,” you
can see him in this romance. He plays a soldier, sending letters to a
college student (Amanda Seyfried).
– More movies, 8 p.m., cable. “Larry
Crowne” (2011, HBO) is a low-key, moderate-fun tale with Tom Hanks
and Julia Roberts. “Flightplan” (2005, AMC) is a sharp and
perplexing Jodie Foster drama.
– “The Mentalist,” 9 p.m., CBS.
Stumped by a triple homicide, Patrick Jane reluctantly works with an
astrologer, played by John Billingsley, who was Dr. Phlox on “Star
Trek: Enterprise.”
– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. On a video chat, a businessman suddenly sees
an intruder rape and kidnap his wife. It's a so-so story, boosted by
great work from Chloe Sevigny.
– “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29
p.m., NBC. Channing Tatum hosts this rerun, with music by Bon Iver.

TV column for Friday, April 27


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS.

The “sweeps” ratings period started
Thursday, which is good – but temporary – news. Only four weeks
remain in the season; competition shows wrap up, scripted ones dump
reruns (except Saturdays).

Earlier this week, CBS had 10 straight
scripted reruns. Not any more; tonight, Danny protects a witness
against the Russian mob, while his sister Erin faces a career choice:
She's offered a job in the mayor's office – which would have her
keeping an eye on their dad (Tom Selleck), the police commissioner.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “In Plain
Sight,” 10 p.m., USA.

There are only eight episodes in the
fifth and final season of this solid show, so it all ends next week.

Mary finally found the dad who deserted
her (played by Stephen Lang, who's played taut leaders in “Avatar”
and “Terra Nova”), but troubles build. Now he's on the lam and
seeking vengeance.

The FBI tries to protect Mary and catch
him. She wants to slip the protectors and find him herself.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Magic City,”
7-11 p.m., Starz.

Here's a fresh chance to catch the
first three episodes, before a new one airs at 10. You'll meet Ike,
owner of a hotel in 1959 Miami, and his brutal, silent partner Ben
Diamond.

In that first hour, Ike asked Ben to
stop a strike. Now the labor leader (Ike's boyhood friend) is dead,
one witness has committed suicide and another is a target.

The new hour, at 10, brings more
murder, plus a sex scene – very explicit, very memorable – that
shows how depraved Ben is. It also has a final scene that hints at
bigger trouble ahead.

Other choices include:

– Football draft, 7 p.m., ESPN. Here
are the second and third rounds.

– “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”
(2008), 7:30-10 p.m., FX. Jason Segel wrote and starred in this
clever comedy, with good moments for others, especially Russell
Brand. Other key movies are “Speed” (1994), 8 p.m. on AMC, and
the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace” (2008) at 9 on Bravo.

– “Who Do You Think You Are?” 8
p.m., NBC. Rob Lowe grew up comfortably in Dayton, Ohio (where his
dad was a successful lawyer) and Malibu. How far back does success
go? Tonight, he traces his roots to the Revolutionary War and George
Washington. He also learns of a rush to leave Germany.

– “Supernatural,” 9 p.m., CW. A
hacker seeks information on Sam and Dean; they race to stop her.

– “CSI: NY, 9 p.m.”, CBS. A
dismembered body was placed at an intersection, to frighten
neighbors.

– “Art in the 21st
Century,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). This hour starts with
an interesting portrait of artist Glenn Ligon and ends with a bizarre
one on Marina Abramovic; we hear her comments, as a camera simply
moves toward and away from her unflinching face. In between is
filmmaker Mary Reid Kelley.

– “Ghost Adventures”
season-finale, 9 p.m., Travel. There have been rumors of spirits
inhabiting the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. Now a party is held in
Frank Sinatra's old suite; it includes Bruce Westcott (Sinatra's
pianist), plus Vince Neil of Motley Crue and poker champion Jamie
Gold.

– “Catch Me If You Can” (2002),
10 p.m., TBS. A good movie night continues. Steven Spielberg directed
Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks in the true story of a master of
false identities.

TV column for Thursday, April 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Community,” 8
p.m., NBC.

On a typical week, “Community: is
inconsistent, but clever. Then there are the special weeks like this.

A yam has been smashed in the biology
lab. What follows is a “Law & Order” take-off, complete with
theme music, introduction, “ching-ching” sound between scenes and
more. It all ends in the courtroom (well, biology-class court), where
Annie is a fierce prosecutor. This one is worth catching or taping.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Grey's
Anatomy,” 9 p.m., ABC.

This show began in 2005, with young
doctors starting their surgical residency in Seattle. Now comes a key
turning point: They head to San Francisco to take their oral exams.

Others also have crises. Owen and Teddy
have a heated argument. Richard – whose wife is in love with
another Alzheimer's resident – meets Catherine (Debbie Allen), the
ace surgeon who's interested in him.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The Costco
Craze,” 9 p.m., CNBC; repeats at 10.

Costco stores hsbr concrete floors,
towering stacks and few signs. “It costs a lot of money to make
this look cheap,” joked co-founder Jim Sinegal.

That works. He has 600 stores and
averages $88 billion in annual sales, from $400 million in toilet
paper to $4.5 billion in meat. His plan has lots of categories –
from caskets to imported wine – with limited choices in each. In
the CNBS style, this is low-key, non-judgmental hour, with rich
details.

Other choices include:

– “American Idol,” 8 p.m., Fox.
We learn who's being ousted during Queen week; The Queen Extravaganza
(the official tribute show) performs “Somebody to Love.” Also,
Katy Perry sings “Part of Me” and Stefano Langone sings “I'm On
a Roll.” That's a good sign for Colton Dixon, ousted last week; he
finished No. 7 this year – just as Langone did last year and
Jennifer Hudson did in 2004.

– Football draft, 8 p.m., ESPN and
NFL Network. Here's the first round, starting with the Colts.

– “The Office,” 9 p.m., NBC. Now
unemployed, Andy crashes a fund-raiser, getting bigger problems.

– “Don't BeTardy For the Wedding”
debut, 9 and 9:30 p.m., Bravo. “Real Housewives of Atlanta”
viewers saw Kim Zolciak's romance with Kroy Biermann, who has spent
four years as an Atlanta Falcon defensive end, sometimes starting.
Here, Kim and Kroy, now 33 and 26, plan a wedding. It's a difficult
show to like, as she pushes a million-dollar affair, clashing with
his Montana values.

– “Parks and Recreation,” 9:31
p.m., NBC. As the city council election nears, Leslie has her debate.
There are some fairly funny moments there; better ones come as April
and Andy host a viewing party.

– “The Mentalist,”10 p.m., CBS. A
body is found outside a cabaret that had female impersonators.

– “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m.,
PBS(check local listings). For a time, people assumed the buffalo was
doomed; historians scrambled to bag the last ones, for their museums.
Lately, however, a comeback has begun. Yellowstone Park nurtures its
herd, worrying about disease and neighbors. Ranchers proclaim the
leanness of buffalo meat; tribes combine to have more than 15,000
buffalo. It's an interesting tale.

– “Scandal,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. The
president's affair with an intern has left a new crisis. Also, Quinn
is warned to quit dating a reporter. And she's startled to find Latin
American soldiers waiting at the office.