TV column for Sunday, March 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Once Upon a
Time,” 8 p.m., ABC.

So far, we've known Cora only as evil
Regina's more-evil mom. She's cold and (literally) heartless.

But now we meet the young Cora,
beautifully played by Rose McGowan. She fumes at the power of the
one-percent … and makes the bizarre claim that she can spin straw
into gold.

That story blends beautifully with the
modern tale of Mr. Gold (who was Rumplestiltskin in fairytale land)
lingering near death. It's another sprawling and emotional story.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Kingdom of
the Oceans” debut, 8-10 p.m., NatGeo Wild.

Over the next two Sundays, “Kingdom”
offers four hours of epic visions.

In this gorgeous opener, we see masters
of disguise, both predators and prey. We see the giants – a newborn
whale is already 1,500 pounds – and the acrobats. Dolphins, we're
told, have casual sex, not just for reproduction; they also have
threesomes.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Escape Fire,”
8 and 11 p.m., CNN.

Americans keep seeking great health
care, this compelling documentary says. We spend $8,000 per person;
the average developed country spends $3,000. Still, we're 50th
in life expectancy.

Our system pushes more of everything –
more medications (a 10-fold increase in the past 50 years) and more
procedures. One young woman had heart-catheter surgery 27 times, with
no talk of prevention.

“Escape Fire” argues for diet,
exercise, attitude … and a front-line emphasis on preserving
health.

Other choices include:

– “Our Wild Hearts,” noon and 2,
8 and 10 p.m., Hallmark Movie Channel. Rick Schroder directed and
co-wrote this film, co-starring as a rancher who never knew he has a
daughter. But the real star is Cambrie Schroder, 15, Rick's daughter,
as a Malibu teen, finally meeting her dad. Two talented and likable
actors turn this into a surprisingly good film.

– “The Amazing Race,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. The nine surviving duos are in Bali, where one of them, CBS
says, makes history. Also, one racer is reduced to tears.

– “The Bible,” 8-10 p.m.,
History. On the second of five Sundays, we meet action heroes. Joshua
seizes Jericho, Samson defends it, David rises from shepherd to the
king who conquers Jerusalem.

– “Revenge,” 9 p.m., ABC. Fans
have had two weeks to absorb the shock: Nate hid away on the
honeymoon boat, creating an explosion that killed Amanda. Now her
friend Emily vows revenge – she's good at that – while Jack
recovers and others worry about a key laptop computer, now in the
deep.

– “The Good Wife,” 9 p.n., CBS.
Working for an accused drug dealer, Alicia meets his meek-looking
attorney (Wallace Shawn). As witnesses start to recant, she wonders
how meek he really is.

– “The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Lorelei – Red John's former accomplice – goes on a killing spree,
forcing Patrick Jane to make a key admission to his boss: He's the
one who helped her break out.

– “Vikings,” 10 p.m., History.
All of TV's previous anti-heroes seem downright pleasant compared to
these guys, whose lone goal when discovering a monastery is to kill,
steal and destroy.

– “Red Widow,”:10:01 p.m., ABC.
In last week's terrific season-opener, Marta's husband was killed
after two of his people stole drugs. Now she has to make good on it.
A self-described “soccer mom” improvises as a drug dealer; she
confronts deceit, blackmail and a future she never wanted.

TV column for Saturday, March 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Saturday Night
Live,” 10 and 11:29 p.m., NBC.

First is a shortened rerun of last
week's episode, with Kevin Hart hosting. It started well – supposed
budget cuts for the “sequester” – then drooped a bit, but had a
dandy “Walking Dead” take-off: An obvious zombie kept insisting
the humans only distrusted him because he's black.

Then comes a new episode, with one of
the show's all-time best visitors. This will be Justin Timberlake's
fifth time as host and his third time doubling as music guest.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Once Upon a
Time,” 8 p.m., ABC.

This rerun of Sunday's episode puts the
focus on Ginnifer Goodwin.

In the fairytale world, she's Snow
White, hoping a spell can save Queen Eva (Rena Sofer), her mother. In
our world, she scrambles to find Rumplestiltskin's dagger, before
Regina and Cora get it.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Our Wild
Hearts,” 8 and 10 p.m., Hallmark Movie Channel; repeats Sunday at
noon and 2, 8 and 10 p.m.

This thoroughly entertaining film is
filled with Schroders. Rick directed it and co-stars; he wrote and
produced it with his wife Andrea, as a showcase for their daughter,
with their sons playing villains.

Cambrie Schroder, making her TV debut,
is an attractive 15-year-old with talent and instant likability. She
plays a Malibu teen who learns that her biological father is a
rancher in the Sierra Mountains.

That's Rick, whose ranch will fail
unless he can catch and sell a great stallion. The story gets
contrived, but the people remain grounded. Rick Schroder is an
understated actor who brings deep humanity to all his roles; now we
find that same quality in his film … and in his daughter.

Other choice include:

– “Person of Interest,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun offers a tough case to track. The person identified
by the machine has left virtually no digital footprint and may be
leading a double life.

– “You Again” (2009) and “When
in Rome” (2010), 8 and 10 p.m., ABC Family. Kristen Bell is a fine
actress in lame comedies. The second is, at least, pretty, with Rome,
Bell and Josh Duhamel.

– “The Following,” 9 p.m., Fox.
In a rerun, the kidnappers (Emma and Joey) reach a meeting point and
another of Roderick's men, who has his own secret. Meanwhile, Joe
Carroll's lawyer makes a case against Ryan and the FBI, getting her
client transferred to another prison.

– “Chicago Fire,” 9 p.m., NBC.
.Cruz feels so much torment that he puts other firefighters in
jeopardy. Also in this rerun, Casey and his sister deal with troubles
with their mom and with each other.

– “Ripper Street,” 9 p.m., BBC
America. Amid the agony of a gritty section of Victorian London, a
cop goes from kidnapping case to a probe of forced prostitution. That
takes him to a secret from his past.

– “Joan and Melissa,” 9 p.m., WE.
We really don't expect to see Joan Rivers roughing it in the
hinterlands. Now, however, she takes a tour bus with Melissa and
their families, to see America's past.

– “Chicago” (2002), 10 p.m.,
Showtime. This year's Academy Award show highlighted the comeback of
movie musicals. Here's a vibrant film that helped start this. Stuffed
with great songs by John Kander and Fred Ebb, it won the Oscar for
best picture and for Catherine Zeta-Jones in support.

TV column for Friday, March 8; also, a Bocelli section that fits different areas on different days


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Fashion Star”
season-opener and “Grimm” return, 8 and 9 p.m., NBC.

Many Fridays have been drowning in
reruns, but now NBC has an all-new night.

First, “Fashion Star” begins its
second season with small tweaks. Louise Roe replaces Elle Macpherson
as host; Express joins Macy's and Sak's Fifth Avenue, bidding for the
work of 12 designers

Then “Grimm” returns after a
four-month break, with new trouble for Nick, the cop who secretly
fights monsters: He's just learned that Juliet has linked with Capt.
Renaud … who discovers Nick's trailer.

 

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: “Golden Boy,”
9 p.m., CBS.

A quick success, this show makes one
Friday visit … then does a hasty U-turn back to Tuesdays.

The plan was to give it two Tuesdays
(plus lots of promos and Saturday reruns), then move it to Fridays.
But ratings were so strong that CBS changed its mind; “Golden Boy”
will stay at 10 p.m. Tuesdays; the show that had been there
(“Vegas”), goes to Fridays once basketball allows, on April 5.

That leaves tonight unchanged: Clark
probes a shooting that killed a gang member and wounded a teen.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Erin
Brockovich” (2000), 8-11 p.m., WE.

In one extraordinary year, Steven
Soderbergh directed two of the five best-picture Oscar nominees. Most
impressively, he made them in sharply different styles.

“Traffic” (the winner) looks
gritty; this one is bright and pretty … fitting the style of the
real-life Brockovich. A secretary at a law firm, she used smarts and
sex appeal to take on a corporate giant. Julia Roberts captured that
beautifully, winning the best-actress Oscar.

Other choices include:

– “Last Man Standing,” 8 p.m.,
ABC. Determined to help Eve get a college scholarship, Mike (Tim
Allen) hires a private instructor. Alas, all the women in his house
are soon enamored.

– “Malibu Country,” 8:30 p.m.,
ABC. This episode introduces the husband of the outgoing Kim. He's
played by Enrico Colantoni as a friendly guy – maybe too friendly,
when he kisses Reba. Also, Reba's kids adjust to the clothes in
Malibu's schools; her mom adjusts to the lack of clothes at a beach.

– “Spartacus,” 9 p.m., Starz;
repeats at 10. Last week's episode ended with Julius Caesar (working
undercover) thwarting the rebels. As this strong hour begins, his men
are about to capture the city. Can Spartacus and the others get out
in time? What happens to the Roman beauty who briefly helped them?

– “True Justice,” 9 p.m., Reelz.
Kane's team has managed to strip the villain (known as Ghost) of much
of his support. Still, it comes under attack when trying to remove
the suitcase nuclear device.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. A
pair of Bonnie-and-Clyde style bank robbers have shot a bystander and
disarmed an off-duty cop. Meanwhile, Frank, the police commissioner,
considers a romance with his opposite – a woman from the American
Civil Liberties Union.

– “Merlin,” 10 p.m., Syfy. The
series began with young Merlin having to hide his magic, which was
banned by King Uther. As this pivotal episode starts, King Arthur
(Uther's son and Merlin's friend) shares the feeling that all magic
is evil. It certainly seems to be, now that Queen Guinevere has been
bewitched and is plotting with Morgana. Merlin and Arthur link for a
way to bring her back.

ALSO: At varying times in their March
pledge drives, PBS stations will air an Andrea Bocelli special. Some
will air it Friday (PBS' regular day for performances), but many will
not. Here's a review:

TONIGHT'S
MUST-SEE: “
Great
Performances,” PBS.

Amid
the seaside beauty of Portofino, Italy, Andrea Bocelli's concert
offers a gorgeous concert.

He
sings Italian love songs, backed by a lush orchestra and violinist
Caroline Campbell. One duet is with his fiancee, Veronica Berti;
another (his first in Portuguese) is with Brazilian singer Sandy.

A
duet with a recoring of the late French singer Edith Piaf is so-so,
but another international number works beautifully. Bocelli links
with Helene Fischer, who is German, to sing “When I Fall in Love”
in English, backed by Canadian pianist David Foster and American
trumpeter Chris Botti.

TV column for Thursday, March 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “American Idol,”
8 p.m., and “Glee,” 9:30-10:30 p.m., Fox.

The biggest week for Fox peaks here,
pushing the network's prime time a half-hour longer than usual.

That starts with “Idol” naming it
finalists, after its first two nights of live shows. Then “Glee”
has a key episode that includes its 500th musical number.

In the aftermath of the wedding of Will
and Emma, glee-clubbers are assigned to do their favorite songs from
movies. And in New York, Santana settles in quickly – too quickly,
Rachel and Kurt feel.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: .”The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.

After pausing for reruns last week,
TV's best comedy is back to a new episode. Leonard, Sheldon and
Howard speak to junior-high girls, talking about careers in science.

Also, viewers can root for Raj. In real
life, Kunal Nayyar (who plays him) is married to a former Miss India;
on “Big Bang,” Raj is a shy chap who has started dating the
eccentric Lucy (Kate Micucci).

 

TONIGHT'S BLACK HOLE: 8 p.m., ABC.

This was supposed to be when ABC had a
promising episode of “Zero Hour.” The network showed critics an
epic hour that leaped between two continents, two generations and
three stories … while finally telling what's in the box being
sought an/or protected.

The episode was large, confusing,
ambitious … and then pulled, without notice. Current plans, barring
another change, call for a “Shark Tank” rerun.

Other choices include:

– “Community,” 8 p.m., NBC. The
show's return from a long hiatus leaves us re-checking calendars.
During Valentine week, “Community” ran its Halloween episode.Now
it's Thanksgiving; Jeff visits his estranged father (James Brolin)
and the others go to Shirley's house.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 8:31
p.m., CBS. After claiming he wants Alan to move out, Walden gets his
wish: They have a fight and Alan moves in with Herb, the guy who
married his ex-wife.

– “Grey's Anatomy,” 9 p.m., ABC.
In a rerun, the survivors of the plane crash get news about their law
suit. Also, Richard ducks romantic advances from Catherine.

– “Battleground: Rhino Wars”
debut, 9 p.m., Animal Planet. These days, every cable network wishes
its non-fiction shows could be action adventures. This takes it to an
extreme: Four former Special Forces soldiers head to South Africa, to
train people who battle rhinosaurus poachers.

– “Freakshow” debut, 9:30 p.m.,
AMC. This reality show visits sideshow-type people in Venice Beach,
Cal. It gets a logical spot after a “Walking Dead” rerun (8 p.m.)
and “Comic Book Men” (9).

– “The Ben Show,” 10 p.m., Comedy
Central. The reality-type bits – Ben Hoffman assembles strangers
into a rock band – are OK; the short mini-sketches vary immensely.
Some are loud and sophomoric; others – including a football
coach's rambling, racist talk – are extremely funny.

– “Scandal,” 10:02 p.m., ABC.
This reruns the episode in which David learned the truth of the
Cytron scandal, putting pressure on the conspirators – including
the First Lady, the chief of staff and Olivia.

TV column for Wednesday, March 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “CSI: Crime Scene
Investigation,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Here's a rerun of the season-opener,
which quickly made things personal for D.B. Russell (Ted Danson): His
granddaughter had been kidnapped.

That brings back Peri Gilpin
(“Frasier”) as his wife. Enrique Murciano plays a detective.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Psych,” 10
p.m., USA.

Online dating, it seems, can be
perilous and humorous.

Tonight, Gus seems to find a perfect
woman (Parminder Nagra) and Juliet finds lots of guys. This promptly
upsets her boyfriend Shawn.

Then again, lots of things upset Shawn,
now that he's living with both his estranged parents (Corbin Bernsen
and Cybill Shepherd). The result is fairly fun, in a loose, loopy way

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: Kim Novak
evening, Turner Classic Movies.

Fame came by accident, Novak tells
Robert Osborne here. She was a model who visited a movie studio and
was suddenly given a screen test and (soon) starring roles. She could
have been overwhelmed, but her childhood – bi-polar father,
perplexed mother – somehow prepared her for it.

The interview with Novak, 80, airs at 8
and 11 p.m., sandwiching her comedy “Bell, Book and Candle”
(1958) at 9. Then come three of her dramas – “Picnic” (1955) at
midnight, “The Man With the Golden Arm” at 2 a.m. and “Of Human
Bondage” (1964) at 4:15 a.m.

Other choices include:

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a
rerun, Sue tries to get her brothers involved with their parents'
20th anniversary party. That won't be easy; Brick is
fuming, because Axl cruelly revealed a book's ending.

– “The Neighbors,” 8:30 p.m.,
ABC. Amber won't let her dad teach her to drive – then gets a
bizarre teacher (Sandra Bernhard). The neighbors feel driving must be
easy; after all, they piloted a space ship.

– “Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.
In a rerun, Jay plans a New Year's Eve vacation in Palm Springs for
the grown-ups. His enthusiasm sags when it turns out to be an awful
hotel, then revives when he meets Billy Dee Williams. Back home,
Haley and Alex have a tough time watching the kids.

– “Robin Hood” (2010), 9 p.m. to
midnight, Ion. After triumphing with“Gladiator,” director Ridley
Scott and Russell Crowe keep re-teaming. Here's their fifth film;
Cate Blanchett plays Maid Marion.

– “Haunted Collector”
season-opener, 9 p.m., Syfy. John Zaff, who has a paranormal museum,
investigates reports of a haunted horse farm in Montgomery, NY, and a
haunted club in Niagara Falls. His approach is calm, but “Collector:
still requires us to take people's word for everything.

– “Prospectors” debut, 9 p.m.,
Weather Channel. This reality show follows people searching for
quartz and other minerals. The prospectors – including a young
widow with seven kids – are fairly interesting.

--”Suburgatory,” 9:31 p.m., ABC.
Here's an episode focusing on Rex Lee, the former “Entourage”
co-star. He's Mr. Wolfe, the guidance counselor, despondent since his
break-up with Chef Alan.

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. This reruns the October episode that
introduced Raul Esparza as the Manhattan district attorney. Anna
Chlumsky, the former child star of the “My Girl” movies, plays
the author of a sado-masochistic novel; after a show, she's attacked
by the TV host.