TV column for Wednesday, June 1


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Cougar Town”
and “Happy Endings,” 10 and 10:30 p.m., ABC.

ABC and NBC plan to continue their
three-hour comedy sprees on Wednesday and Thursdays this summer.
These two reruns are a sign of the fun ahead.

First, “Cougar Town” re-unites two
“Friends” stars, with Jennifer Aniston playing Courteney Cox's
quirky therapist. Then “Happy Endings” repeats its pilot film,
with a bride walking out on her wedding; the result – complicating
lives for friends on both sides – launched a dandy series.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Franklin &
Bash” debut, 9 p.m., TNT.

Two young lawyers (Mark-Paul Gosselaar
and Breckin Meyer) are just this side of ambulance-chasers.

Disheveled and disorganized, they
scheme their way through low-ball cases – until an eccentric lawyer
(Malcolm McDowell) hires them for his glossy law firm.

“Bash” is brash – sometimes too
much so. Credibility is strained; the guys wobble toward
unlikability, but survive. In a similar show (CBS' recent “The
Defenders”), older lawyers merely seemed tacky; here, the younger
guys have enough charm and swagger to make it work.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “American
Masters,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings; some stations -- including WKAR in East Lansing -- are substituting pledge-break shows).

James Levine was only 28 when he
conducted “Tosca” at the Metropolitan Opera. He had talent and
confidence. When he was 10, he showed up at an opera performance with
a score filled with his own notations; that same year, he was a piano
soloist with his home-town Cincinnati Symphony.

Levine would became the Met's music
director, credited with building its quality and its repertoire. This
film – marking his 40th anniversary at the Met –
watches him range from students to Placido Domingo.

Other choices include:

– “So You Think You Can Dance,”
8-10 p.m., Fox. Here are the Salt Lake City and New York auditions.
There's one more audition night (New York) on Thursday, then the Las
Vegas callbacks.

-- Hockey, 8 p.m. ET, NBC. The Stanley Cup finals start sooner than expected. That delays NBC's "America's Got Talent" episode and its debut of "Love in the Wild."

– “Ghost Hunters,” 8 p.m., Syfy.
The guys visit a Pearl Harbor museum, with fairly eerie results.

– “Twist of Fate” debut, 9 p.m.,
Weather Channel. During this year of fierce weather, the channel
launches stories of real-life people and their instant decisions
during crises.

– “Men of a Certain Age,” 10
p.m., TNT. One of TV's most understated dramas returns for the final
six episodes of its second season, as three guys – decent, but
flawed – try to navigate middle age. Joe (Ray Romano) still has a
thing for the ex-wife who cheated on him …. Owen (Andre Braugher)
is still trying to really control the car dealership his dad created
…. Terry (Scott Bakula), a former actor, is trying a normal job and
a romance with a teacher. The result is quietly engaging.

– “The
World According to Paris” (Oxygen), 10 p.m. On an overcrowded
night, two reality shows debut. After an armed intruder reachges her home, Paris Hilton moves in with her sister.

– “Hollywood Treasure”
season-opener, 10 and 10:30 p.m., Syfy. In the first episode, a movie
designer may have enough in a back shed to save her house from
foreclosure; the second visits the warehouse of the late Stan
Winston, a master of making props. More interesting, in the first episode, is a visit with
director Bill Malone, who owns Robby the Robot from 20 films and TV
shows, including “Forbidden Planet.”

– “Men of a Certain Age,” 10
p.m., TNT. One of TV's most understated dramas returns for the final
six episodes of its second season, as three guys – decent, but
flawed – try to navigate middle age. Joe (Ray Romano) still has a
thing for the ex-wife who cheated on him …. Owen (Andre Braugher)
is still trying to really control the car dealership his dad created
…. Terry (Scott Bakula), a former actor, is trying a normal job and
a romance with a teacher. The result is quietly engaging.

 

 

TV column for Tuesday, May 31


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “America's Got
Talent” debut and “The Voice,” 8 and 10 p.m., NBC.

This is the combination NBC feels will
dominate summer ratings.

“The Voice” is wrapping up its
challenge rounds, with teammates competing in dueling duets. Some
will survive into the live episodes, which start next week.

“Talent” won't reach the live part
until July 12. Tonight, the long audition process begins.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Glee,” 8
p.m., Fox.

This terrific – albeit erratic –
show starts over, rerunning its season-opener.

The glee club needs more people and has
two strong prospects. Sam (Chord Overstreet) is a handsome football
player with surfer hair; Sunshine (Charice) is a tiny Filipino with a
huge voice.

“Glee” stumbles with a bizarre
action by Rachel (Lea Michele), but redeems itself with great music.
Tonight, Charice and Overstreet each have a solo and the club does
“Empire State of Mind.” Charice has a duet with Michele, who
solos on a sensational rendition of “What I Did For Love.”

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Lee and
Grant,” 9-11 p.m., History.

Robert E. Lee grew up with little
money, but much gentility. The son of an ex- governor, he led his
class at West Point and soared in the military.

Ulysses S. Grant was, at times, the
opposite. He was in the bottom half of his West Point class; he left
the military with a drinking problem, failed in farming and real
estate, then re-joined for the Civil War.

There, he brought the Union its first
victory. Cautious (despite his reputation), he prevailed over the
bold, high-casualty attacks of Lee. This documentary isn't nearly as
good as History's “Gettysburg” (which reruns Thursday) or PBS'
“American Experience,” but has its moments.

Other choices include:

– “Great Performances,” 8-9:30
p.m., PBS (check local listings). PBS plans to pack the summer with
performances. On Wednesday is an opera (“Nixon in China”) and an
“American Masters” (James Levine); first, tonight has the 120th
anniversary of Carnegie Hall. Audra McDonald sings Gershwin tunes;
Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma and Gil Shaham link on a Beethoven concerto; the
orchestra also does Gershwin's “An American in Paris” and
Dvorak's “Carnivale Overture.”

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Here's a
rerun of the episode that added Sarah Jane Morris (“Brothers &
Sisters”) as EJ Barrett. The case involves a former NCIS assistant
gone bad.

– “Body of Proof,” 9 and 10 p.m.,
ABC. In the first rerun, Megan suspects a murder in her old hospital;
the second has murder in her former high-society world. Also in the
first, Dr. Gross (Geoffrey Arend), a lab guy, falls for a corpse's
twin; she's played by Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”), Arend's
wife.

– “Million Dollar Decorators”
debut, 10 p.m., Bravo. You'll wince at the mega-spending here –
$40,000 for a photograph? – and arrogance, but admire the results.
These people create fresh, vibrant looks.

– “Love Handles” debut, 10 p.m.,
Lifetime. Grating and abrasive, this show has little appeal. Two
couples work on their weight with trainers and their emotions with
therapists. Tonight, some of these people (one of the couples, one of
the therapists) are hugely unlikable; the others are so-so.

 

TV column for Tuesday, May 31


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “America's Got
Talent” debut and “The Voice,” 8 and 10 p.m., NBC.

This is the combination NBC feels will
dominate summer ratings.

“The Voice” is wrapping up its
challenge rounds, with teammates competing in dueling duets. Some
will survive into the live episodes, which start next week.

“Talent” won't reach the live part
until July 12. Tonight, the long audition process begins.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Glee,” 8
p.m., Fox.

This terrific – albeit erratic –
show starts over, rerunning its season-opener.

The glee club needs more people and has
two strong prospects. Sam (Chord Overstreet) is a handsome football
player with surfer hair; Sunshine (Charice) is a tiny Filipino with a
huge voice.

“Glee” stumbles with a bizarre
action by Rachel (Lea Michele), but redeems itself with great music.
Tonight, Charice and Overstreet each have a solo and the club does
“Empire State of Mind.” Charice has a duet with Michele, who
solos on a sensational rendition of “What I Did For Love.”

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Lee and
Grant,” 9-11 p.m., History.

Robert E. Lee grew up with little
money, but much gentility. The son of an ex- governor, he led his
class at West Point and soared in the military.

Ulysses S. Grant was, at times, the
opposite. He was in the bottom half of his West Point class; he left
the military with a drinking problem, failed in farming and real
estate, then re-joined for the Civil War.

There, he brought the Union its first
victory. Cautious (despite his reputation), he prevailed over the
bold, high-casualty attacks of Lee. This documentary isn't nearly as
good as History's “Gettysburg” (which reruns Thursday) or PBS'
“American Experience,” but has its moments.

Other choices include:

– “Great Performances,” 8-9:30
p.m., PBS (check local listings). PBS plans to pack the summer with
performances. On Wednesday is an opera (“Nixon in China”) and an
“American Masters” (James Levine); first, tonight has the 120th
anniversary of Carnegie Hall. Audra McDonald sings Gershwin tunes;
Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma and Gil Shaham link on a Beethoven concerto; the
orchestra also does Gershwin's “An American in Paris” and
Dvorak's “Carnivale Overture.”

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Here's a
rerun of the episode that added Sarah Jane Morris (“Brothers &
Sisters”) as EJ Barrett. The case involves a former NCIS assistant
gone bad.

– “Body of Proof,” 9 and 10 p.m.,
ABC. In the first rerun, Megan suspects a murder in her old hospital;
the second has murder in her former high-society world. Also in the
first, Dr. Gross (Geoffrey Arend), a lab guy, falls for a corpse's
twin; she's played by Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”), Arend's
wife.

– “Million Dollar Decorators”
debut, 10 p.m., Bravo. You'll wince at the mega-spending here –
$40,000 for a photograph? – and arrogance, but admire the results.
These people create fresh, vibrant looks.

– “Love Handles” debut, 10 p.m.,
Lifetime. Grating and abrasive, this show has little appeal. Two
couples work on their weight with trainers and their emotions with
therapists. Tonight, some of these people (one of the couples, one of
the therapists) are hugely unlikable; the others are so-so.

 

TV column for Monday, May 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Mad Love” and
“Two and a Half Men,” 8:30 and 9 p.m., CBS.

As summer settles in, we'll have to get
used to comedy reruns. Here's a perfect place to start.

“Mad Love” repeats its dandy pilot.
Two likable strangers (Jason Biggs and Sarah Chalke) fall instantly
in love; their friends (Tyler Labine and Judy Greer) fall in dislike.
The humor is quick and crisp.

“Two and a Half Men” has been
wallowing; now it returns to its terrific season-opener, then repeats
shows in order. Tonight, Jake fumes after learning that his dad has
been sleeping with his friend's mom.

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

Many shows dismiss contestants'
songwriting skills. This one, however, is about the writing.

It hedges its bets with 12 contestants
who tend to be good-looking and strong singers. Tonight, each has a
half-hour to come up with a song hook; in teams of three, they turn
the best hooks into songs, with top people – including Jewel and
Kara DioGuardi – judging. It's fun to watch and to hear.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Gettysburg,”
9-11 p.m., History.

April 12 marked the 150th
anniversary of the start of the Civil War. So today, Memorial Day, is
the day to remember one of the most brutal wars ever; it killed
618,000 soldiers, the History Channel says – 14.4 percent of the
Union troops, 20.8 percent of the Confederates.

Some of the most horrific moments came
on July 1-3, 1863, when units collided in Gettysburg, Pa. This film –
produced by movie directors Tony and Ridley Scott – acknowledges
the horrors; some people will want to skip it because of the graphic
re-enactments.

Still, it's beautifully filmed, with
vivid mini-profiles of key people. In three awful days, they would
make some smart moves and major mistakes, the kind that change
history.

Other choices include:

– “The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01
p.m., ABC, Ashley Hebert's first date on the show (with William in
Las Vegas) has spectacular moments, including a soaring water
fountain. Hebert, a dance teacher and dental student, also shows off
some great dance moves, when the guys must concoct routines to do
with Jabbawockeez in Vegas. Then she trims the field from 18 to 15.

– “The Secret Life of the American
Teenager,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC Family. As their wedding nears, Adrian
and Ben both have secret doubts about the quick marriage and the
impending parenthood.

– “House,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. The
first rerun involves a man re-enacting the crucifixion; the second
involves a hero who saved a stranger on the subway tracks. Both view
Taub's troubled marriage and other personal crises; in the second
hour, House tries to avoid Cuddy's mom (Candice Bergen).

– “Taking Chance” (2009), 9 p.m.,
HBO. Here's the perfect Memorial Day film, based on a real-life
account of escorting the body of a teen soldier to his Wyoming home
town. Filled with human warmth and dignity, “Chance” drew 10 Emmy
nominations, including best actor (Kevin Bacon) and movie.

– “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss
Edition” debut, 10:01 p.m., ABC. Rachel is an overachiever who was
valedictorian and homecoming queen. But at 21, she weighs 369 pounds
– a bad image for a gym teacher. For each of the next eight weeks,
we'll see Chris Powell guide one person through a weight-loss year.
Tonight's opener (with Rachel) feels familiar, but has ups and downs
along the way.

TV column for Monday, May 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Mad Love” and
“Two and a Half Men,” 8:30 and 9 p.m., CBS.

As summer settles in, we'll have to get
used to comedy reruns. Here's a perfect place to start.

“Mad Love” repeats its dandy pilot.
Two likable strangers (Jason Biggs and Sarah Chalke) fall instantly
in love; their friends (Tyler Labine and Judy Greer) fall in dislike.
The humor is quick and crisp.

“Two and a Half Men” has been
wallowing; now it returns to its terrific season-opener, then repeats
shows in order. Tonight, Jake fumes after learning that his dad has
been sleeping with his friend's mom.

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

Many shows dismiss contestants'
songwriting skills. This one, however, is about the writing.

It hedges its bets with 12 contestants
who tend to be good-looking and strong singers. Tonight, each has a
half-hour to come up with a song hook; in teams of three, they turn
the best hooks into songs, with top people – including Jewel and
Kara DioGuardi – judging. It's fun to watch and to hear.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Gettysburg,”
9-11 p.m., History.

April 12 marked the 150th
anniversary of the start of the Civil War. So today, Memorial Day, is
the day to remember one of the most brutal wars ever; it killed
618,000 soldiers, the History Channel says – 14.4 percent of the
Union troops, 20.8 percent of the Confederates.

Some of the most horrific moments came
on July 1-3, 1863, when units collided in Gettysburg, Pa. This film –
produced by movie directors Tony and Ridley Scott – acknowledges
the horrors; some people will want to skip it because of the graphic
re-enactments.

Still, it's beautifully filmed, with
vivid mini-profiles of key people. In three awful days, they would
make some smart moves and major mistakes, the kind that change
history.

Other choices include:

– “The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01
p.m., ABC, Ashley Hebert's first date on the show (with William in
Las Vegas) has spectacular moments, including a soaring water
fountain. Hebert, a dance teacher and dental student, also shows off
some great dance moves, when the guys must concoct routines to do
with Jabbawockeez in Vegas. Then she trims the field from 18 to 15.

– “The Secret Life of the American
Teenager,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC Family. As their wedding nears, Adrian
and Ben both have secret doubts about the quick marriage and the
impending parenthood.

– “House,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. The
first rerun involves a man re-enacting the crucifixion; the second
involves a hero who saved a stranger on the subway tracks. Both view
Taub's troubled marriage and other personal crises; in the second
hour, House tries to avoid Cuddy's mom (Candice Bergen).

– “Taking Chance” (2009), 9 p.m.,
HBO. Here's the perfect Memorial Day film, based on a real-life
account of escorting the body of a teen soldier to his Wyoming home
town. Filled with human warmth and dignity, “Chance” drew 10 Emmy
nominations, including best actor (Kevin Bacon) and movie.

– “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss
Edition” debut, 10:01 p.m., ABC. Rachel is an overachiever who was
valedictorian and homecoming queen. But at 21, she weighs 369 pounds
– a bad image for a gym teacher. For each of the next eight weeks,
we'll see Chris Powell guide one person through a weight-loss year.
Tonight's opener (with Rachel) feels familiar, but has ups and downs
along the way.