TV column for Tuesday, July 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Frontline,” 10
p.m., PBS (check local listings).

A profound change has quietly encased
American life. Blue-collar jobs have faded in quantity and quality;
many people find that being hard-working and diligent is no longer
enough.

This project that has put human faces
on that trend: Twenty years ago, Bill Moyers began tracing two
Milwaukeee families – one black, one white – smacked by hard
times in the industrial North. He's returned periodically to those
families; here's his latest look.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS.

On one hand, tonight's line-up nudges
toward the fall. CBS has switched “Big Brother” from Tuesdays to
Thursdays; that lets three shows – “NCIS,” “NCIS: LA” and
“Person of Interest” – air reruns in the same Tuesday spots
where they'll have new episodes in September.

On the other, tonight doesn't reflect
next season at all. This episode – which concludes next Tuesday –
was the pilot for a rejected series. John Corbett, Kim Raver and
Scott Grimes play leaders of a mobile crime team that works out of
giant trucks.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Drunk
History,” 10 p.m., Comedy Central.

Think back to all the times people told
you about history. Chances are, most of the people were sober.

Now events are related by actors
pretending to be drunk. True stories – Watergate, John Wilkes
Booth, Elvis-and-Nixon – get the off-center approach of the tipsy.
The re-enactments include Jack Black as Elvis and Stephen Merchant
(co-creator and co-star of the British “The Office”) as Lincoln.

This lacks the wild humor of the Drunk
Uncle bits on “Saturday Night Live,” but has its own quiet wit.

Other choices include:

– “So You Think You Can Dance,”
8-10 p.m., Fox. Last week, Brittany Cherry and Carlos Garland were
the first people eliminated. Now the other 18 contestants dance; Erin
Andrews – a sports reporter who finished third on “Dancing With
the Stars” – is guest judge.

– “Extreme Weight Loss” 8-10
p.m., ABC. Surrounded by slender people at the ballet school where
she work, Jami felt bad about her 292 pounds. Over a year, Chris
Powell works on her weight loss and also on her emotions, taking her
back to Chile to meet her birth mother.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, a hacker could lead to a cyber-terrorist.

– “Off Their Rockers,” 8 and 8:30
p.m., NBC. The second episode is the season finale, linking “Mary
Tyler Moore Show” greats – Ed Asner, 83, and Betty White, 91. He
has seven Emmys; she has five.

– “America's Got Talent,” 9-11
p.m., NBC. Auditions continue. Add CW's “America's Next Top Model”
and the five broadcast networks have four reality shows. They had
five, until CBS switched.

– “Rizzoli & Isles,” 9 p.m.,
TNT. In Jane Rizzoli's tangled life, even a baptism gets messy. She
finds a body in the church; she also finds that her troubled brother
Tommy faces a tangled custody fight. Now she could be accused of
mis-using her police privileges to help him.

– “”Person of Interest,”10 p.m.
CBS. In a rerun, the key person is an old gambler in Atlantic City.

– “Body of Proof,” 10 p.m., ABC.
This rerun has a man escape from a prison transport van, then beg
Megan to prove his innocence.

TV column for Monday, July 8


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Get Out Alive
With Bear Grylls” debut (9 p.m.) and more, NBC.

Survival usually isn't a game for Bear
Grylls. On “Man vs.Wild,” he gets dumped in scary places.

Now, however, he leads a summer game
show, with ten duos struggling in the New Zealand wild.

That's the mid-section of NBC's
all-action Monday. At 8 p.m., “American Ninja Warrior” has its
Baltimore try-outs; at 10 is “Siberia,” a scripted drama that
pretends to be a reality show.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: “Warehouse
13,”10 p.m., Syfy.

Setting aside its quirky humor, “13”
is dead-serious tonight. It has a solid episode, with high stakes.

Myka faces cancer; Mrs. Frederick seems
to be dying … and both are linked to an eternal force named
Paracelsus, played by Anthony Head (“Buffy”). Now the warehouse's
future lies with its youngest and quirkiest person, Claudia (Allison
Scagliotti). This is the mid-season finale; it doesn't really wrap
anything up, but does set up the final six episodes of a good show
that is ending too soon.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Dangerman”
debut, 10 p.m., BBC America.

This show politely reminds us not try
these things this at home. No problem there: We won't eat glass, put
a live scorpion in our mouth or cling to a high-rise ledge by our
fingertips. We definitely won't get a rattlesnake bite, then be
buried in a coffin, hoping to fight our way out in time to get
medicine.

Jonathan Goodwin does all of those and
more, with ordinary folks as his witnesses. We also meet his British
parents and California wife; he comes across as a decent chap in a
strange line of work.

Other choices include:

– “The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01
p.m., ABC. It's time for Desiree Hartsock to trim down to the four
guys she'll visit in their home towns. On the African island of
Madeira, she has dates with Chris, Brooks and Michael, plus a
two-on-on date with Drew and Zak.

– “Switched at Birth,” 8 p.m.,
ABC Family, reruns at 10. In a detour, “Switched” has a what-if
episode. Bay is a straight-A student; Daphne had a cochlear implant
and never learned sign language.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 8:30 and 9
p.m., CBS. A two-part rerun finds the women desperate to have Martha
Stewart sample one of their cupcakes.

– “The Fosters,” 9 p.m., ABC
Family. Jesus has already drawn his twin sister's wrath, for dating
her best friend Lexi. Now Lexi's conservative-Catholic parents
disapprove of his lesbian parents.

– “Gasland, Part II” (2013), 9
p.m., HBO. “Gasland” was an Oscar-nominated, 2010 documentary
that took a devastating look at the effects of hydraulic fracturing.
Here's the follow-up.

– “Under the Dome,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. Big Jim (Dean Norris) – the crook, car dealer and city
official – has a municipal crisis; a cop has a breakdown, so he
asks Barbie (Mike Vogel) to take over. And Junior (Jim's nasty son)
has a personal crisis: He tries to dig under the dome that encases
the town.

– “POV,” 10 p.m., PBS (check
local listings). Convicted twice – of armed robbery and savagely
killing a prison guard – Herman Wallace has spent almost 40 years in
a 6-by-9-foot solitary confinement cell in Louisiana. Even the
guard's widow has doubts about the second crime. This documentary
about his friendship with an artist needs tightening, but has some
moving moments.

– “Mistresses,” 10:01 p.m., ABC.
April's romance soars, but Karen and Jos have crises at home, Savi
has one at home: Her husband has been distant, since she said her
baby-to-be might not be his.

TV column for Sunday, July 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Masterpiece
Mystery,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Calmly, sort of stoically, Chief
Inspector Morse solved murders in Oxford for a dozen years. Viewers
knew little about him ... not even his first name.

Now, after a pilot film last year, we
get four movies with Endeavour Morse as a young police detective with
a taste for crosswords and classical music. This one is complex –
further complicated by his sympathy for an attractive and fragile
woman. At times, the plot is impossible to believe and the new boss
is almost a parody of bad TV cops. Still, “Endeavour” is smartly
crafted and richly cinematic.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Under the
Dome,” 9 p.m.. CBS; “Falling Skies,” 10 p.m, TNT.

Suddenly, Sundays are big for
science-fiction fans, with back-to-back Steven Spielberg productions.

For the second straight week, there's a
rerun of Monday's “Dome” episode. Townspeople learn the problems
with being encased in a dome; there's a house fire inside, with all
the trucks outside.

Then “Skies” finds a way to mix
tough action with a taut personal story. Tom (Noah Wyle) has been
kidnapped by his son Hal … or by the force controlling Hal's mind.
It's a compelling hour.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE:”Dexter,” 9
p.m., Showtime.

Wasting no time in its final season,
this show is taking big swings. Tonight, we learn that the British
doctor (Charlotte Rampling) isn't here by accident; she plays a key
part in Dexter's past.

We also see Deb's world continue to
crumble. Last week, Dexter saved his sister by killing the creep she
was investigating (and sleeping with). Now her troubles build, in a
tough, taut hour.

Other choices include:

– “The Walking Dead,” 1-9 p.m.,
AMC. Here are the last eight episodes of the third season

– “Celebrity Wife Swap,” 8 p.m.,
ABC. Opposite lives are switched by two singer-actresses. Nia Peeples
lives in a mobile home in Malibu (sort of like James Garner idid n
“Rockford Files”) with her son, 23, daughter, 14, and husband, a
self-professed “surfer dude.” Tiffany lives near Nashville with
her husband and son, 20, keeping busy with her music and boutique.
Now they temporarily trade lives.

– “Big Brother,” 8 p.m., CBS.
This is one of the three weekly spots for the show. In a late switch,
the others are at 8 p.m. Wednesdays and (with the eviction) 9 p.m.
Thursdays.

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 9 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, Benson finds that a university has
a widespread culture of ignoring rape charges.

– “The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS.
In this rerun, Lisbon feels probing the death of a geologist is key
to convicting a nasty multi-millionaire, played by Henry Ian Cusick
of “Lost.”

– “Castle,” 10 p.m., ABC. This
rerun has a powerful divorce lawyer killed, leaving plenty of
suspects.

– “Ray Donovan,” 10 p.m.,
Showtime. Teetering between saint and sinner, this Hollywood “fixer”
is compelling. Tonight, he faces crises at work and at home, where
his ex-con dad (Jon Voight) intrudes.

– “Family Tree,” 10 p.m., HBO.
The season ends drolly, with Tom looking for cowboy roots in
California. It's a quiet hour, with three hilarious bits –
searching for a monkey dummy, spouting conspiracy jargon and catching
the audition tape of a cowboy actor with a Yiddish accent.

TV column for Saturday, July 6


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

Kevin Hart – the downsized,
quick-witted comedian – is wrapping up a big week. He hosted the
BET Awards, his stand-up comedy movie opened and now “SNL” reruns
his hosting gig.

That includes Hart in two hilarious
segments – a “Really!?!” chiding the Supreme Court for
questioning the Voting Rights Act and a “Walking Dead” spoof,
with people accepting an obvious vampire, for fear of seeming racist.
Also, there's music from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: Movies, 8 p.m.,
cable.

A huge night is led by two all-time
classics from master directors. Steven Spielberg's “Schindler's
List” (1993) is on Sundance; John Huston's “Key Largo” (1948)
is on Turner Classic Movies.

There's also flat-out fun, with
adventures – “The Bourne Identity” (2002) on A&E, “Return
of the Jedi” (1984) on Spike, Pierce Brosnan's James Bond debut in
“Goldeneye” (1995) on BBC America – and comedy:”Sleepless in
Seattle” (1993) is on Style and the animated “Bee Movie” (2007)
is on Bravo.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Do No Harm,”
10 p.m., NBC.

Imagine that you had an alternate
personality who takes over your body at night, doing evil things.
Would you EVER ask the guy to attend an elegant dinner for you,
hoping he'll be nice?

That's what Jason does here; things go
badly. We mention this mainly because the episode has two gifted
guest stars: Phylicia Rashad, the Tony-winner and Emmy-nominee, plays
the dinner's honoree; Jurnee Smolett (“Friday Night Lights”)
plays her endangered daughter.

Other choices include:

– “National Treasure” (2004) and
“National Treasure: Book of Secrets” (2007), 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.,
Bravo. Nicolas Cage heads two far-flung adventures.

– “American Ninja Warrior,” 8
p.m., NBC and G4. A rerun of the Venice Beach qualifying round
sprawls two hours on NBC and three hours on G4. NBC's next hour (the
qualifying round from Baltimore) is Monday.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, a chameleon-like killer (Christopher Lambert) has
eluded people – including Callen – in several countries. Now the
team tries to track him, while Granger (Miguel Ferrer) follows every
move warily.

– “Zero Hour,” 8 p.m., ABC.
Things are coming together now: Hank (Anthony Edwards) is back with
his wife (Jacinda Barrett), on the run in Europe. They re-meet his
young assistants Aaron and Rachel and learn who is the mole inside
the FBI.

– “666 Park Avenue,” 9 p.m., ABC.
Jane (Rachael Taylor) links with a group fighting supernatural evil.
Alas, Gavin (Terry O'Quinn) stays ahead of her. Meanwhile, her
husband looks for her estranged father.

– “Sinbad,” 9 p.m., Syfy. There's
new trouble for Sinbad, when Taryn creates a creature to get him.
Syfy usually precedes this with a “Sinbad” rerun; tonight,
however, it reruns NBC's odd “Siberia” at 8.

– “Primevel: New World,” 10 p.m.,
Syfy. When an ancient, wolf-like creature arrives on a college
campus, the team must protect students.

TV column for Friday, July 5


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

This solid show usually focuses on the
men, especially Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), the police detective whose
dad (Tom Selleck) is police commissioner. Tonight's reruns, however,
follow the women.

In the first one, Jackie (Jennifer
Esposito), Danny's police partner, goes undercover; Erin (Bridget
Moynihan), his sisteer and an assistant district attorney, meets a
guy who shares her interests. In the second, she blames herself for
an informant's death and wants Danny's help finding the killer.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Bones,” 8
p.m., Fox.

TV's new goal, it seems, is to put
smart women undercover in the physical world of roller derby.

Last Friday, it was Catherine (Michelle
Borth) in “Hawaii Five-0”; tonight, it's Angela (Michael Conlin).
She's there after the discovery of a skater's dismembered remains.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The Perfect
Boyfriend,” 8 p.m., Lifetime Movie Network (and more).

April (Ashley Scott of “Jericho”)
is newly divorced when she meets a guy who has looks, charm and
money. He's perfect … or so the title says.

This new film is surrounded by reruns,
each with “perfect” in the titles and imperfection at the core.
Dean Cain is convincingly creepy in “The Perfect Husband: The Laci
Peterson Story” (2004) at 10 a.m.. Then come the “perfect”
bride (1991) at noon, spouse (2003) at 2 p.m., marriage (2006) at 4
and wife at 6. “Boyfried” is at 8, with “The Perfect Roommate”
at 10. By then, we'll be wary of perfection.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE II: “Magic
City,” 9 p.m., to midnight, Starz.

The season's first three episodes of
this well-crafted series rerun, with new ones resuming next week.

In late-1950s Miami, Ike has worked his
way up from cabana boy to hotel co-owner. But his silent partner is
the brutal Ben Diamond, who has already had Ike's friend killed. Ben
wants to sweep Ike out and make a fortune if gambling is legalized;
he would kill Ike, if his boss (James Caan) let him.

And Ike? He's in jail on a murder
charge now, but his goal is to get control of casinos in Castro's
Cuba. It's a jolting ride, as you'll see in these three hours.

Other choices include:

– “The Walking Dead,” 1 p.m. to
2:48 a.m. AMC. The entire, 13-episode second season reruns in one
burst. Then the third season will be split over Saturday and Sunday,
wrapping up the zombie weekend.

– “Siberia,” 8 p.m., NBC. Her's a
rerun of Monday's debut. It's a fictional tale of 16 strangers who
start a reality show. Scary things start to happen at the site of a
1908 meteor landing in Siberia.

– “The Following,” 9 p.m., Fox.
In a rerun, Ryan (Kevin Bacon) learns more about Joe Carroll's plans
and decides the best hope might involve stirring distrust among the
three kidnappers.

– “Cleveland Orchestra in
Performance,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings). This was
taped in 2010, marking the 100th anniversary of Gustav
Mahler's death. It opens with the adagio from Mahler's 10th
symphony, then has mezzo soprano Magdalena Kozena and baritone
Christian Gerhaher.

– “Continuum,” 10 p.m., Syfy.
This whole thing – traveling back in time, trying to prevent
disasters – is starting to tear at Kiera. She breaks down
emotionally, triggering an automatic psychiatric program.