TV column for Monday, Sept. 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Sleepy Hollow”
debut, 9 p.m., Fox.

This has been a really rough day for
Ichabod Crane. It started in the Revolutionary War, when he
decapitated a British soldier, was shot … and regained
consciousness in our era

That's not a good time for him. He
doesn't understand cars or women in trousers or why people are so
skeptical of his time story of a headless horseman.

You may be skeptical too, but give it a
chance. “Sleepy Hollow” has epic-movie visuals and a clever
script partly written by the “Fringe” people.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Under the
Dome” season-finale, 10 p.m., CBS.

After getting huge ratings all summer,
“Dome” plans at least a bit of closure tonight. We'll finally
learn who the Monarch is, where the dome is from and why it was
plunked onto Chester's Mill.

Other stories may linger; tonight,
nasty Big Jim tries to get rid of heroic Dale “Barbie” Barbara.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE: “The Queen
Latifah Show” debut, daytime (check local listings).

Few people are better suited for a
daytime talk show than Latifah. She has a take-charge manner that's
swept her from Newark to Hollywood. She has a sense for music, comedy
and emotion.

Yes, she had a previous show that
failed. But that was 14 years ago; at 43, Latifah seems ready.

She has fame, experience, a gorgeous
set (designed by rocker Lenny Kravitz), A-list producers (Will Smith
and Jada Pinkett Smith) and access to top stars, starting with John
Travolta on opening night. She also has no Oprah competition; for
Latifah's mixture of emotion and fun, that's important.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Dancing With
the Stars” opener, 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

The smallest contestant and the oldest
will share some of the early attention.

One is “Snooki” Polizzi, 25, the
4-foot-8 “Jersey Shore” alumna; the other is Valerie Harper, 74,
whose lung cancer had some people saying she might not survive the
summer.

Instead, she's part of a field that has
a comedian (Bill Engvall), a former football star (Keyshawn Johnson),
a reality-show guy (Jack Osborne), a science guy (Bill Nye) and
actors – Corbin Bleu, Amber Riley, Leah Remini, Elizabeth Berkley
Lauren, Christina Milian and Brent Daugherty.

Other choices include:

“Bones” season-opener, 8 p.m.,,
Fox. In the midst of a tough case – with Freddie Prinze Jr. as a
CIA agent, found clearing out evidence – Booth and Brennan try to
decide if their romance has ended.

“How I Met Your Mother,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. A week before the season-opener, this rerun has Robin and Barney
hoping for pre-wedding relaxation. That's shattered by the world's
most annoying couple.

“2 Broke Girls,” 8:30 and 9 p.m.,
CBS. In the first rerun, Max and Caroline make a discovery that could
revive their cupcake business. In the second, Caroline is supposed to
defend her dad on TV.

“The Big Bang Theory,” 9:30 p.m.,
CBS. In a transplanted rerun, friends compete for a tenure spot.

“Siberia” finale, 10 p.m., NBC.
This scripted drama, pretending to be a reality show, finally has the
two groups find each other. There's little time to celebrate: Another
person is in danger and the expected “rescue party” might not be
what it seems.

TV column for Sunday, Sept. 15



TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: Miss America, 9-11 p.m., ABC.

After years of wandering – to cable, to Las Vegas, to
January – this is back in its traditional spots:


It’s in Atlantic City, for the first time in eight years.
And it’s on a broadcast network in September. Chris Harrison and Lara Spencer
host and “20/20” has a “Road to Miss America” hour at 8 p.m.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE II: “Masterpiece Mystery: Foyle’s War,”
9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).


The war has ended, but Christopher Foyle is back. As played
by Michael Kitchen, he may be the quietest TV cop since Joe Friday; he’s also
painfully honest, a rich contrast with Cold War spy schemes.


Now he reluctantly takes a post-war job at Britain’s MI-5, soon
getting his former World War II driver (Honeysuckle Weeks involved This is the
first of three movies which will be on DVD and Blu-Ray beginning Sept. 24, via
Acorn. They’re slow and quiet, but ultimately rewarding.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Newsroom” season-finale, 10 p.m.,
HBO.


Brilliant to excess (if that’s possible), Aaron Sorkin’s series
hits extremes tonight.


In the aftermath of an erroneous report, the top news people
(Sam Waterston, Jeff Daniels) have handed their resignation to the network
owner (Jane Fonda, who has great moments tonight). Meanwhile, romances waver
and lives change … all amid stunning, Sorkin-style dialog.


Yes, it’s too much at times – confusing, overlapping,
unlikely. Yet it brings surprises, passion and the sort of fierce intelligence
you don’t expect from your TV set.


Other choices include:


“Vertigo” (1958), 5:45 p.m., Turner Classic Movies. This
superb film is followed by two more Alfred Hitchcock gems – “Rear Window”
(1954) at 8 p.m. and “To Catch a Thief” (1955) at 10.


“The Simpsons,” 7:30 and 8 p.m., Fox. Fresh opportunities
arrive in both reruns. First, Moe’s whiskey might be financed by venture
capitalists. Then Homer is a deacon for a trendy new pastor.


“Last Tango in Halifax,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings).
In last week’s charming opener, two retirees re-united after decades and promptly
decided to marry. Now come problems with their mismatched kin. Her daughter, a
widowed professor, has a son who assaults her young lover at the engagement
party.


Big Brother, 8:30 p.m., CBS. Here’s the final show before a
$500,000 winner is named Wednesday.


“Breaking Bad,” 9 p.m., AMC. Last week’s episode (rerunning
at 7:57 p.m.) ended with Walt being arrested by his brother-in-law. Then a gunfight
began; that’s where we begin tonight.


“Boardwalk Empire,” 9 p.m., HBO. One face of Atlantic City
is tonight’s bright-eyed Miss America pageant; another is this seething (and fascinating)
tale from Prohibition days. Tonight’s hour is ignited by  fierce forces elsewhere – Al Capone in Chicago
and J. Edgar Hoover in Washington, D.C.


The Good Wife, 9:30 p.m., CBS. This rerun of the
season-finale finds everything happening on election night. Alicia races to
late-night court sessions, after her son saw what looks like voter fraud. At
the same time, she faces major decisions in business and in romance.


The Mentalist, 10:30 p.m., CBS. In another season-finale
rerun, Red John targets someone from Patrick Jane’s past.


TV column for Saturday, Sept. 14



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.


Two weeks from the new-season premiere, “SNL” reruns one of
its best episodes. Justin Timberlake is music-guest – complete with an elegant
“Suit & Tie,” backed by big band – and host.


It’s his fifth time hosting, bringing the traditional “Five
Timer Club.” The big stars are there – Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Candice Bergen,
even non-member Chevy Chase. There’s much more, including a quiz-show appearance
by the “(Bleep) in a Box” guys.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Mike & Molly” and “Two and a Half
Men,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS.


A slow night is boosted by reruns of these above-average
comedies.


First, the guys take Carl on a fishing trip, to forget his
break-up. Molly uses the time for a yard sale.


Then, in a fairly good episode, Walden heads to New York to
tell his girlfriend the truth: He’s been lying about being impoverished; her
fashion line is sponsored by him, not Alan.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Orphan Black” opener, 10 p.m., BBC
America.


One of the season’s great performances begins its reruns
tonight. And if you’ve never heard of Tatiana Maslany, don’t fret; neither,
apparently, have the Emmy voters.


They didn’t even nominate her, but the Television Critics Association
properly gave her its top award for drama. In tonight’s opener, Maslany plays a
young drifter and con artist, suddenly wrapped up in international intrigue.
It’s a great role – roles, it turns out – that Maslany handles beautifully.


Other choices include:


Football, 7 p.m. Fox and 8 p.m., ABC. Fox has Ohio State (ranked
No. 4 in the ESPN poll) at California; ABC has Notre Dame (No. 21) at Purdue.


“The Million Second Quiz,” 8 p.m., NBC. An interesting
experiment wraps up its first week … the TV portion of it, anyway. The game
continues online and – after a football break Sunday – returns to NBC on Monday
through Thursday. People keep tackling quick-paced trivia questions.


“American Ninja Warrior,” 9-11 p.m., NBC. This rerun
continues the Las Vegas finals.


“Under the Dome,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a late change, CBS is inserting a rerun of this week's episode, to get us excited about the season-finale, at 10 p.m. Monday. Tonight, the evil "Big Jim" has convinced people that Dale "Barbie" Barbara is the real villain; Barbie is on the run, while trying to protect Julia.


“The White Queen,” 9 p.m., Starz. Last week’s hour
(rerunning at 8 p.m.) left England in wobbly shape. Warwick had put an old fool
back on the throne; rumors said the deposed King Edward is dead. Tonight’s
episode is a huge one, bringing violent deaths on the battlefield and in the
bedroom.


 “Torchwood: Miracle
Day,” 9 p.m., BBC America. Epic in scope and look, this series drew two
responses. Some people scoffed at it; we considered it large and compelling … a
fanciful tale that begins with the realization that no one on Earth is dying.


“Jersey Strong,” 10:30 p.m., Pivot TV. “Brick City,” an intriguing
Newark documentary series, introduced Jayda -- tough and smart and a former
Blood. Now this series traces Jayda; her fiancé Creep (a comedian and former
Crip); Brooke Barnett (an intense defense lawyer); and Mag Voelkel (her
Polish-born partner in life and work). They are people worth spending time
with.   


 


TV column for Friday, Sept. 13



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Haven” season-opener, 10 p.m., Syfy.


When Audrey (Emily Rose) stepped into that barn last season,
she knew the likely impact. This would spare the town from its troubles; it
would also wipe her memories and spit her somewhere else.


Alas, only half of that worked. Her memories are gone – she’s
a gorgeous and carefree (for now) bartender somewhere else – but the town’s
troubles remain.


To its credit, “Haven” recognizes the humor in this. It adds
a perplexed outsider, zestfully played by Emma Lahana; it also adds Colin
Ferguson, who helped give “Eureka” its droll touch.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.


As the season started, McGarrett met the mother (Emmy-winner
Christine Lahti) he thought was dead.


Now, two weeks from the next season-opener, we get a key
rerun, as he helps her in a daring mission. Also, Kono (Grace Park) finds her
life in danger as she gets closer to Adam’s secret.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10
p.m., Fox.


 
Here's a quick rerun of Tuesday’s
terrific finale.


It re-does the season’s best routines – ranging from sheer whimsy
to raw emotion – and even adds a number with the show’s judges, Nigel Lythgoe
and Mary Murphy. Then we see young talents – Jasmine Harper or Amy Yakima,
Fik-Shun or Aaron Turner – named the favorite male and female dancers.


Other choices include:


“Last Man Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. Given a choice of two
colleges, Mandy chooses the party school.


Movies, 8 p.m., cable. “A Good Year” (2006, Sundance) offers
an amiable change of pace for Russell Crowe, who plays a high-pressure
businessman inheriting a French vineyard. “Talladega Nights” (2006, TBS) is
mostly fun, with Will Ferrell as a race driver. And “Soylent Green” (1973,
Turner Classic Movies) was an early eco-classic, with Charlton Heston in an
overpopulated world.


“The Neighbors,” 8:30 p.m., ABC. Dick has two surprises in
this rerun: One is that he can see through the cards in Las Vegas; the other is
that he and his neighbors may finally be called back to their planet.


“Great Performances,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).
This excellent rerun sees Paul McCartney in the Capitol Records studio, doing
songs from his album of pop-standards. It also meets his collaborators – Eric Clapton,
Stevie Wonder, Diana Krall and Joe Walsh. And many PBS stations will follow
with a rerun of Hugh Laurie’s superb special of New Orleans blues.


 “Blue Bloods,” 10
p.m., CBS. Two tragedies hit the family in this rerun. One is the result of a
gang shooting; in the other, Danny is wracked with guilt after the suicide of a
woman he promised to protect.


“Strike Back,” 10 p.m., Cinemax. This show’s strongest
elements, sex and violence, merge in a powerful early scene involving two
women. Then it’s back to a story that continues next week – a fierce linking of
rebels from Ireland and the Middle East, stirring past memories for Robson
Green’s character.


 


TV column for Thursday, Sept. 12



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


For seven seasons, “Burn Notice” has blended clever plots,
pretty settings and loud explosions.


that started when the CIA yanked its backing from agent
Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan). He was in Miami with no money and rag-tag
colleagues, led by Bruce Campbell and Sharon Gless.


Now it all wraps up. Michael tries to regain the friendship
of the people he (often) deceived and endangered. Meanwhile, James is trying to
kill him.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Rookie Blue” season-finale, 10 p.m.,
ABC.


In Canadian style, this show has been smart, solid and under-noticed.
Now it ends its season in crisis.


A sniper has been targeting cops from this division. Oliver
Shaw is missing; the others examine his old cases, trying to figure out who’s
pursuing them.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Big Bang Theory” and “CBS Season
Preview,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS.


To get us in the mood, we get a rerun of TV’s best comedy.
The women join Dungeons & Dragons, causing a change in the relationship
between Sheldon and Amy; also, Raj and Lucy have a clumsy date.


Then CBS samples the five shows – comedies, mostly – that
start soon. Two will follow “Big Bang,” one worthy (“The Crazy Ones”) and one
not (“The Millers”); two will be on Mondays, one worthy (“Mom”) and one not
(“We Are Men”). CBS is also taking a rare venture into serialized drama with
“Hostages.”


Other choices include:


“The Presidents’ Gate Keepers,” 7-11 p.m., Discovery
Channel. If you missed the opener, catch the rerun at 7, leading into the
conclusion at 9. In all, you'll hear from 20 White House chiefs of staff.


The X Factor, 8 p.m., Fox. After an hour Wednesday, the show
settles in for two hours of auditions.


Games, all night, NBC. “Million Second Quiz” continues at 8
p.m., followed by “Hollywood Game Night” reruns. At 9 p.m., “Saturday Night
Live” people – Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen, Jason Sudeikis, Maya Rudolph – join Dax
Shepard and Sean Hayes. At 10, “Friends” stars Matthew Perry and Lisa Kudrow
join Kristen Bell, Alyson Hannigan, Martin Short and Daniel Dae Kim.


Big Brother, 9 p.m., CBS. It’s time for another elimination,
leading to next week’s finale.


Project Runway and Supermarket Superstar, 9 and 10:30 p.m.,
Lifetime. Stacy Keibler is a guest judge on one (with designers going for
Southern-belle styles), then hosts the season-finale of the other.


Elementary, 10 p.m., CBS. Last week’s rerun ended with a
stunned Sherlock seeing Irene Adler, who he thought was dead. Now that leads to
a two-part rerun, battling Moriarty.