TV column for Thursday, June 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Sullivan &
Son” season-opener, 10 p.m., TBS.

On a typical week, this is a
cable-level “Cheers,” with a likable mixture of people inhabiting
a Pittsburgh pub. And on an exceptional week, it uses Steve Byrne's
unique roots.

Byrne is Korean on his mom's side,
Irish on his dad's; work and fun tug at him. Tonight, Ken Jeong
(“Community” and the “Hangover” movies) is a diligent doctor
… until his brother-in-law (Byrne) convinces him to loosen up at
the bar. The result is sometimes hilarious.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Burn Notice,”
9 p.m., USA.

After launching its final season last
week, “Notice” has something special for its 100th
episode.

The CIA is forcing Michael to spy on
his friends, tracing their progress on a case. He finds it wrenchig
to watches ex-lover Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) in her new romance and in
peril.

It's a strong hour, with one flaw:
Michael's mom (Sharon Gless) is inexplicably reduced to a weeper.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: Basketball (ABC)
and/or “72 Hours”(TNT), both 9 p.m.

Take your pick of high-adrenaline
competition. ABC has the fourth game of the best-of-seven NBA finals,
with Miami at San Antonio; TNT counters with its second round of “72
Hours.”

The first (shot in Fiji) was slickly
filmed, but lost its charm when players were simply too hot to
continue. This one has similar problems – one man is immobilized
and fears a heart attack – but has a gorgeous New Zealand backdrop
and a great set of characters.

There's a cop, a fireman and a
heavy-equipment operator; there's a hair-stylist (who has just done
her nails) and a self-described nerd. One would use the winnings for
his mom's medical bills; another would put the money all over herself
and make a music video. They add up to an interesting hour.

Other choices include:

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a change of reruns, CBS inserts the Valentine's Day episode
that has Sheldon scrambling for a gift for Amy, while Raj catches a
“lonely people party” at the comic store. The latter briefly
introduces Lucy, played by the delightful Kate Micucci.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 8:31
p.m., CBS. This rerun is set at Christmas time, with lives askew.
Alan is lonely; Walden is still fooling Kate by pretending to be
poor.

– “The Office,” 9 p.m., NBC.
There's a paper airplane contest which, of course, Dwight and Angela
enter intensely. Also in this rerun, Roseanne Barr plays Andy's agent
for acting jobs.

– “The Hero,” 10 p.m., TNT. As a
companion piece for “72 Hours,” this show is OK but (in last
week's opener, at least, unexceptional. Tonight's challenges,
including rushing water, are in Panama.

– “Hannibal,” 10:01 p.m., NBC.
Will checks Abigail out of the hospital, shortly before she was going
to be arrested. Then his hallucinations build and he loses her.

– “Graceland,” 10:01 p.m., USA.
Last week's solid opener introduced us to contrasting undercover
cops: The wide-eyed Warren (Aaron Tveit) has been secretly assigned
to spy on the jaded Briggs (Daniel Sunjata). Now they work to pit
gang members against each other.

TV column for Wednesday, June 12


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Necessary
Roughness” season-opener, 10:01 p.m., USA.

For Dani, the sports psychologist, big
changes started at the end of last season, when both of her lovers
vanished. Nico left town; Donnally went back to his wife.

Now come bigger changes, with the
arrival of a new football coach who has a packed trophy case and an
empty soul. Soon, Dani and T.K. are both out of work.

Fortunately, there's an alternative, a
guy (John Stamos) with a sports-management firm. Her first case is
OK, with Jonathan Keltz in a fine guest role as a young phenom;
there's fine potential ahead.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: “Modern
Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.

A strong night of four comedies –
half of them new – is led by this rerun.

Cam has a job as a substitute music
teacher, which he tackles with zest. That leaves Mitchell as
stay-at-home dad, with reluctance. Meanwhile, Luke doesn't want to
tell his dad he's lost interest in magic. Also, pregnancy causes
Gloria to snore … and everyone elsee to flee.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: Hockey, 8 p.m.
ET, NBC.

The Stanley Cup finals start early,
because both teams disposed of the previous rounds quickly.

The Boston Bruins swept the conference
title four games to zero; they've won nine of their last 10, The
Chicago Blackhawks took their title 4-1; they've won seven of eight.

Now the Blackhawks host the first two
games of the best-of-seven finals.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE II: “Royal Pains”
season-opener, 9 p.m., USA.

Set in the sunny splendor of the
Hamptons, “Pains” has a gorgeous palette and interesting people.
Each characters, including the concierge doctor (Mark Feuerstein) and
his patients, is attractive and likable.

Still, the show is so busy that it
often tosses stories aside carelessly. It does that tonight, adding
something else: In the final minutes, it introduces three problems so
quickly that they make little sense.

Other choices include:

– “MasterChef,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.
Last week, the chefs fed school kids; now they're in the opposite
direction, with firefighters. The losers face challenges involving
eggs benedict and then burgers.

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. In
this rerun, the oft-fighting siblings manage to band together –
lying by saying the neighbors broke the window. Their skeptical
parents try to break them.

– “Family Tools,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.
Mason's mom is convinced he needs a male role model. Alas, the only
one readily available is his uncle Jack. Meanwhile, the guys give
Ellis a tricked-up wheelchair … which he promptly takes for a spin.

 

– “How to Live With Your Parents
(for the rest of your life),” 9:31 p.m., ABC. Polly (Sarah Chalke),
the smart underachiever, gets a nudge from her stepfather (Brad
Garrett). He wants her to stick to something … and focuses on using
the Groupons she assembled during her divorce despair.

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
10 p.m., CBS. In rerun, a plane has crashed a mile from the Las Vegas
strip, killing five people. Working with her former boyfriend (Josh
Randall), Sara feels the strain of a long-distance relationship with
Grissom.

TV column for Tuesday, June 11


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Voice”
(NBC) and “So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox), 8 p.m.

One reality competition nears its
championship; the other – the summer's best – starts to get
interesting.

“Voice” has five remaining acts –
two with Blake Shelton, one apiece with the other judges. Tonight,
we'll learn which ones the viewers are sending to the finals next
Monday and Tuesday.

And the two-hour “Dance”? After
four weeks of auditions, it finally has its Las Vegas callback phase.
Next week, the show picks its top 20 and lets them dance
judgment-free.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Twisted”
debut, 9 p.m., ABC Family.

Danny Desai was 11 when he killed his
aunt, sending lives in opposite directions. He went to detention; one
friend (Lacey) now hangs with the mean, popular girls, the other (Jo)
became introverted.

He's back five years later, stirring
fear, gossip, curiosity, even lust. This is a little like two recent
miniseries (“Rectify” and “In the Flesh”) about unwelcome
returns, but there's more: Danny admits he did it, but won't say why
… after this hour's compelling finish, we can't claim to understand
him.

Some pros are in support – Sam
Robards as Jo's dad the cop, Denise Richards as Danny's once-popular
mom. The key, however, is Maddie Hasson, 18, as Jo; she's superb,
just as she was in“The Finder.”

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Awkward,” 6-11
p.m., MTV.

Choose your version of teen life
tonight – scary on ABC Family, funny on MTV.

First, we get an eight-rerun marathon.
Then the season-finale, at 10, has Jenna going to a photography
showcase in Collin's house; that creates a situation with her
boyfriend Matty that's, well, awkward.

Afterward, a 10:30 p.m. special looks
back at the season.

Other choices include:

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS.In a rerun,
a teen-ager has been kidnapped. Ziva and Abby work with her friend,
who's a witness.

– “Pretty Little Liars”
season-opener, 8 p.m., ABC Family. It's been tough enough, taking
text-message commands from the mysterous force called “A.” Now
circumstances force the four friends to work with scheming Mona.
She's “Hannibal Lecter smart,” they point out, letting others
draw suspicion.

– Basketball, 9 p.m. ET, ABC. For its
third game, the NBA's championship series moves west; Miami visits
San Antonio. That's preceded by Jimmy Kimmel at 8 p.m. and a game
preview at 8:30.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. In this rerun, a Marine's widow feels the account of his final
battle sounds suspicious. She asks the team to investigate.

– “Total Blackout,” 9 p.m. Syfy.
The season's second episode has two people who are used to scares (an
aerialist and a former Army guy) and two people (waitresses) who
might not be. In total dark, they grab stuff with their mouths and
hands, often while screaming. Reruns are at 8, 8:30 and 9:30.

– “America's Got Talent,” 9:01-11
p.m., NBC. Here's the second week of auditions.

– “Who Gets the Last Laugh?” 10
p.m., TBS. This so-so series wraps up its season with comedians
trying to top each other with practical jokes. Paul Rodriguez,
Russell Peters and Opie Hughes compete.

TV column for Monday, June 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: King & Maxwell”
debut, 10-11:05 p.m., TNT.

Sean King (Jon Tenney) and Michelle
Maxwell (Rebecca Romijn), former secret-service agents, are
detectives. She's strong, stoic and lethal; he's a lawyer, a
recovering alcoholic and troubled.

They offer an appealing mix. One
moment, there's comedy, even silliness; the next, there 's serious
drama, with bursts of action.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Switched at
Birth” return, 8 pm., ABC Family.

Summer brings opposite times for the
two generations.

For the teens? Bay and Daphne find
transition – jobs, guys, more; Toby prepares for his wedding.

And the adults? Regina is back from
alcohol rehab and spreading her dark mood.

Those Regina scenes are clumsy, but the
rest works well. Vanessa Marano and Katie Leclerc give the girls zest
and contrast; a closing scene with Melody (Marlee Matlin) and her son
is a delight.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Mistresses,”
10:01 p.m., ABC.

“Whoa, whoa, you're over-reacting,”
one guy tells Karen. And overacting, too.

Karen's outburst – wildly out-of-sync
with everything preceding it – is one of many surprises tonight.
The pilot film's optimism has vanished, leaving an hour of regret.
Alyssa Milano has faded into a look drab enough to be elected head
librarian. It's a odd shift, but still leaves potential for a good
series.

Other choices include:

– “Major Crimes,” 11 a.m. to 10
p.m., TNT. The entire first season reruns, with “Crimes” smoothly
spinning off from “The Closer.” Raydor (Mary McDonnell) takes
over the unit, while also becoming the guardian for Rusty, a key
witness. Then the second season starts at 9 p.m. (rerunning at
11:05). The team is in top form on a murder case, while Raydor and
Rusty face new challenges.

– “The Voice,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC.
We're down to the final five now, with Blake Shelton's grip loosened.
He has two acts, after Holly Tucker's ouster last week; the other
judges have one apiece.

– “The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01
p.m., ABC. When did this romance show become an action-adventure?
Tonight, a dodgeball game puts one guy in the emergency room; also,
guys learn cowboy skills from a stunt man and a date that includes
enduring a wind storm. Meanwhile, someone is accused of cheating.
Eventually, Desiree Hartsock – in a gown she designed herslf –
trims the field from 16 to 13.

– “The Fosters,” 9 p.m., ABC
Family. In last week's opener, Callie – direct from juvenile
detention – reached this foster home; then Brandon skipped his
music audition, to help rescue her brother. Tonight, Brandon's
divorced parents argue over his punishment; also, Callie is suspected
of stealing pills.

– “Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer,”
9-10:30 p.m., HBO. The protests were audacious – young Russian
women in colorful clothes and ski masks, singing punk-rock songs. But
then they broke into a church service and faced the possibility of
years in prison. This passionate film catches a rich controversy.

– “Anger management,” 9:30 p.m.,
Fox. A new episode of the show – usually Thursdays on FX – has
Brian Austin Green joining Charlie Sheen's therapy group.

--”The Winner Is,” 10:01 p.m., NBC.
This music competition, hosted by Nick Lachey, will settle into its
Thursday spot on July 11. It has advance episodes, however, on the
next two Mondays.

– “Last Call Food Brawl,” 10
p.m., Destination America. Each week, this high-energy, high-decibel
show goes to a different city, where late-night chefs compete. That
starts in New Orleans.

TV column for Sunday, June 9


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Tony awards, 8-11
p.m., CBS.

Expect a music-stuffed evening. There
will be production numbers from four of the best-musical nominees –
“Kinky Boots” (13 nominations), “Matilda” (12); “Christmas
Story” (3) and “Bring It On” (2) – plus most of the
musical-revival nominees, “Pippin,” “Cinderella” and “Annie.”

There's more. “Motown” – not a
best-musical nominee – will have a production number. Also featured
will be the casts of nine ongoing musicals, old (“Lion King”) and
almost-new (“Once”). Even “Spider-Man,” which boycotted last
year's show, will be included.

Neil Patrick Harris, a terrific host,
will be back for the fourth time in five years. It should be fun.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Game of
Thrones” (HBO) or “Falling Skies” (TNT), 9 p.m.

Some of cable's biggest shows intersect
tonight – one coming, the other going.

“Thrones” is concluding its third
season, with the return of Jaime Lannister, a mighty warrior until
his right hand was severed. Meanwhile, “Falling Skies” starts its
third, with a rag-tag human militia still battling the invading
aliens. In the two-hour opener, a nuclear expert has an idea.

Next week, “Skies” will be free of
“Thrones” … and will crash into the “True Blood”
season-opener.

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

This epic series is now a week from its
finale … even if it wasn't planned that way.

Filming had been completed, long before
the announcement Wednesday that there won't be a fourth season.
Still, there are huge stories, most centering on Cesare Borgia. He
feuds with his dad the pope (Jeremy Irons) ... prepares to attack
Caterina Sforza's castle … and fumes about the marriage of
Lucrezia, the gorgeous sister he's always loved in a sibling way and
once loved in a carnal way.

Other choices include:

– “Family Addition,” 2 p.m., UP
(formerly GMC) and “The Blind Side” (2009), 8 p.m., ABC Family.
At night, catch Sandra Bullock's Oscar-winning work in a terrific
movie. And in the afternoon, see the real-life person she portrays.
Leigh Anne Tuohy heads a feel-good show about adoption and more.

– Basketball, 8 p.m ET., ABC. Here's
the second game of the best-of-seven championship series, with San
Antonio at Miami. A preview is at 7:31 p.m., with “Jimmy Kimmel
Live” at 7.

– “The Candidate” (1972) and “All
the President's Men” (1976), 8 and 10 p.m., Sundance. Robert
Redford stars in two brilliant political films, one fictional and one
not. Launching a great night, the channel also has “Network”
(1976) at 6 p.m.

– “America's Got Talent,” 9-11
p.m., NBC. Tuesday's season-opening auditions rerun.

– “Nurse Jackie,” 9 p.m.,
Showtime. Last week ended harshly, with teen Grace taking cocaine
with her boyfriend. It's a serious episode, with a tad of humor and
some odd-but-interesting closing twists.

– “Veep,” 10:10 p.m., HBO. This
wonderfully witty episode takes place in a couple rooms of the
vice-president's home, with two sides fretting. The VP (Julius
Louis-Dreyfus) wants a puffy interview; a reporter (Allison Janney)
wants to dig in. There's scheming, shouting and humorous chaos.

– “Family Tree,” 10:40 p.m., HBO.
Tom visits his rural relatives, in a droll (and semi-funny) episode.