TV column for Friday, Sept. 14

p.m., Fox.

Even when it's No. 1, Fox remembers its
old habits – fantasy, fun and treating Friday like a real day.

This fall, Fridays will have “Touch”
and the final 13 episodes of the terrific “Fringe.” Before that,
Fox throws in what it calls a “bonus” episode of “Touch”

Martin (Kiefer Sutherland) finds that
his car has mysteriously stopped in the town where he got his start
as a reporter. Now he suspects that his old mentor is up to something

season-opener, 8 p.m., ABC.

Lori Greiner, the inventor sometimes
called “queen of QVC,” will join the panel for many of this
season's episodes, including this opener. It includes an update on
the eyeglass holder she invested in.

Other pitches involve a belt buckle
that holds beverages, a ticketless coat check and ideas related to
body massage and to bed bugs. One idea ends up with five panelists
linking to become investors.

p.m., Starz.

As this potent episode starts, Mayor
Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) is in control, rushing things before he
becomes crushed by guilt, hallucinations and a neurological disorder.

He's working with an out-of-state
contractor, even arresting his old cronies. He's backing Sajac, an
empty-suit candidate for governor, while his ex-aide (and Sajac's
ex-lover) backs the opposition.

Then things fall apart, with scenes of
immense impact. One involves the debate, another involves the
contractor … a third, involving a pothole, is Shakespearean in its

Other choices include:

– “Guys With Kids” and “Go On,”
8 and 8:30 p.m., NBC. The network has shifted its plans tonight, but
the idea – reruns of new comedies – remains. “Guys” has its
pilot film, with some big laughs near the end; “Go On” has its
second episode, with the group helping its therapist, who panics
during tests.

– “Close Encounters of the Third
Kind” (1977), 8 p.m., AMC. A truly great movie returns, blending
the passions of an outer-space alien tale with the stunning visual
sense of director Steven Spielberg.

– “Great Performances at the Met,”
9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Richard Wagner's “Ring Cycle”
ends with emotions that are … well, operatic. Siegfried and
Brunnhilde (Hunter Morris and Deborah Voigt) have the ring. Then
greedy humans intervene, setting up the title: “Twilight of the

– “Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. Here's a
rerun of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio's second episode as Nick's mom.
She has two fierce fight scenes – then leaves again.

– “Bones,” 9 p.m., Fox. Already a
suspect in two murders, Christopher Pelant seems linked to the
killing of Brennan's friend. Then this rerun has a twist:The evidence
point to Brennan herself.

--”CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, a successful businessman often returned to the Brooklyn
housing project where he grew up. Now he's apparently been killed

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Danny probes the death of a big-money investor. Also in this rerun,
Danny's brother Jamie had an undercover assignment that went bad.
Their dad (Tom Selleck), the police commissioner, has puts him under
house arrest, to protect him from a Mob hit.

TV column for Thursday, Sept. 13

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Two and a Half
Men,” 8:31 p.m., CBS.

Kathy Bates already has an Academy
Award, but now she's added A niche in awards history: She has two
Emmy nominations this year – one playing a woman (in “Harry's
Law”) and the other a man.

As Alan recovers from a mild heart
attack, his mind starts to toy with him. That includes a visit from
his brother's ghost (Bates), in a wildly funny rerun.

Talent” finale, 8-10 p.m., NBC.

America definitely has some odd talent.
The final six includes a dog act, a speed-painting team, a sand
painter and an earth harpist, plus comedian Tom Cotter and the
kid-dance troupe The Untouchables.

Tonight, one act wins $1 million.
First, there will be lots of performers, including Justin Bieber.

season-opener, 9 p.m., Fox.

Graduation can create some awkward
transitions, especially for a teen TV show.

Now Rachel is in New York, with a
teacher (Kate Hudson) who is cruel, smart, alcoholic and talented.
Kurt is trying community college, Finn is gone, the championship glee
club is wobbling.

So is “Glee,” for half of this
hour. Even a “Call Me Maybe” routine seems bland.

Then it all clicks. “Glee” bounces
beautifully between Rachel's audition in New York and a gifted
newcomer(Melissa Benoist) back in Ohio. It catches Kurt in two
brilliant scenes – with his dad (Mike O'Malley) and on the phone
with Rachel. It shows that it really might survive this awkward

Other choices include:

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Already a terrific show, “Big Bang” got even better when
Howard met Bernadette. Now they'll dominate the final two reruns,
before the new season. Tonight brings the bachelor party; as usually
happens on TV, it soon puts the marriage in jeopardy.

– “Grey's Anatomy,” 9 p.m., ABC.
In this rerun, the doctors face questions that seem vital: Many are
choosing their residencies, Mark is choosing between Lexie and Julia,
Ben is planning a surprise for a distracted Bailey. By next week's
season-finale, many will face a bigger, life-and-death crisis.

– “The Real Housewives of Miami”
season-opener, 9 p.m., Bravo. Only three of the show's previous women
– Lea Black, Adriana de Moura and Marysol Patton – return.
They're joined by a dentist, a “supermodel,” a lawyer-chef …
and by Lisa Hochstein, 29. She's been in Playboy three times and in
2009 married the plastic surgeon who's been called “the boob God of

– “Person of Interest,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun puts some extra focus on Finch. He's familiar with
the dark government plot that encases the current person-of-interest;
also, Reese learns more about him.

– “Extreme Chef” finale, 10 p.m.,
Food. In the jungles of Thailand, the final three chefs compete for
the $50,000 prize. They may have to catch their breath first:
They'll climb hundreds of steps, before preparing food in front of a
Buddhist temple.

– “Scandal,” 10:02 p.m., ABC. As
a reporter probes the past of a former presidential aide, flashbacks
begin. We see the angry primary campaign between the people who are
now president (Tony Goldwyn) and vice-president (Kate Burton). We see
how Olivia met him and how each of her staffers arrived.

TV column for Wednesday, Sept. 12

season-opener, 8-10 p.m., Fox.

This show's first season was merely a
big ratings hit … as opposed to the gigantic hit Simon Cowell had
promised. He promptly replaced judges Paula Abdul and Nicole

That sets up a contrast in tonight's
auditions: Cowell, 52, and Cincinnati's LA Reid, 56, are each older
than the newcomers combined. Britney Spears is 31; Demi Lovato turned
20 during auditions.

and “America's Got Talent,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC.

Here's the last chance for the final
six “Talent” acts. They perform and viewers vote.

NBC has planned to put a “Talent”
rerun at 8 p.m., then changed its mind and inserted the third
straight night of “Voice” auditions. That could blunt the
competition; “X Factor” producer Simon Cowell called the move
“mean-spirited,” in a classic case of the pot calling the kettle

Kids” debut, 10 p.m., NBC.

These guys have lots of kids, actually.
Gary (Anthony Anderson) has four that he watches while his wife
(Tempestt Bledsoe of “The Cosby Show:) works. Nick has two and a
restless wife (Jamie-Lynn Sigler of “The Sopranos”); Chris has
one and a divorce.

They're modern guys, still scrambling
to savor sports and video games and such. This opener is
inconsistent, but has some big laughs … especially involving the
dating life of Chris' ex-wife.

Other choices include:

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m. ABC. An
ethical dilemma – kids tattling on each other – shows up doubly.
Brick has been his mom's secret snitch; Sue has something she can
hold over Axl.

– “Gifted Hands” (2009), 8-10
p.m.. Lifetime Movie Network. After growing up in Detroit with no
money and a single mom, Ben Carson became head of neurosurgery at
Johns Hopkins. A great story is beautifully told by Oscar-winner Cuba
Gooding and triple-Emmy-winning director Thomas Carter.

– “Suburgatory,” 8:30 and 9:31
p.m., ABC. Both reruns focus on Eden (Alicia Silverstone), a radiant
newcomer. George, a carnivore, meets her when she's picking through
the vegetables at the farmers market. In the second episode, he
cautiously introduces her to his daughter Tessa.

– “Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.
In this rerun, Alex needs the family to come together for a school
project. Alas, Manny is mad at Luke, Jay is arguing with Gloria and
Phil has just fired Mitchell.

– “Hawaii Air Rescue” debut, 9
p.m., Weather Channel. This was scheduled for last week, then delayed
by storm coverage. In the opener we meet some likable paramedics on
two heartbreaking missions.

– “Revenge,” 10 p.m., ABC.
“Revenge” re-visits its old night, before moving to its new one
with a four-rerun marathon on Sunday. This rerun finds Charlotte
devastated and Jack in jeopardy.

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
10 p.m., CBS. A rerun has three bodies found near a campaign dinner.
The hour offers lots of classic TV people: Peri Gilpin (“Frasier”)
plays the wife of D.B. Russell (Ted Danson); Jaclyn Smith (one of
the original “Charlie's Angels”) plays Hodges' mom.

TV column for Tuesday, Sept. 11

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Parenthood”
season-opener, 10 p.m., NBC.

This should be festive: Haddie is going
to college; people gather for a party and a family photo.

Then, of course, the complications
begin. Her brother causes a fuss, her cousin sleeps with the wrong
guy, her aunt tries to break a family tradition by getting a fiance
into the photo.

As usual, the result blends well-acted
drama and occasional laughs. Many of the laughs come when Sarah
(Lauren Graham) talks her way into a job with a skeptical
photographer (Ray Romano).

You Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

Most years, jazz and contemporary
dancers dominate. Not this time.

The final four has one jazz dancer
(Tiffany Maher), alongside a “robotics/animation” dancer (Cyrus
Spencer) and two people who do ballet – Eliana Girard and Chehon

They'll dance and viewers will vote.
Next week, we'll have a male and female winner.

Anarchy” season-opener, 10 p.m., FX.

Here is everything that's good (and a
little that's bad) about “Sons.” This packed hour – beautifully
directed by Paris Barclay – has action, violence (some of it
extreme), warmth and more.

Things start quickly (with a hijacking
attempt on a semi-tractor truck) and end brutally. In between are the
quietly dramatic moments as Clay flounders. He's been shot; he's been
booted out of his marriage to Gemma and out of the presidency. She's
tumbling into alcohol, drugs and sex with a pimp (Jimmy Smits).
Meanwhile, an imposing new villain (Harold Perrineau) arrives, with
instant vengeance.

Other choices include:

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, a high-tech bug has been found in the tooth of a probationary
agent. Now the team must determine what secrets have been

--”NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS.
In the first half of a crossover, Callen and Sam went to Hawaii,
chasing a virus attack. Now “Hawaii Five-0”guys (Scott Caan, LL
Cool J”) head to Los Angeles.


– “Great Performances at the Met, 9
p.m, PBS (check local listings). Some stations will devote the next
four nights to Richard Wagner's imposing “Ring Cycle” operas,
starting with “The Rhine Gold.”

– “Go On,” 9 p.m., NBC. In the
enjoyable opener, a troubled widower (Matthew Perry) reluctantly
joined a therapy group. Now he's being pulled into everyone's life. His boss needs a “wing man” as he starts dating; the group
leader, who panics during tests, needs help with her grad-school

– “White Collar,” 9 p.m., USA.
Here's the first half of a story that fractures the friendship that
slowly formed between Peter, the FBI agent, and Neal, the
semi-reformed con artist.

– “The New Normal” debut, 9:30
p.m., NBC. Goldie has a smart daughter, a bigoted mother (Ellen
Barkin) and no plans; then she meets a couple that need a surrogate
mother; a family unit is formed. Produced by Ryan Murphy (“Glee”),
this has a likable star (Georgia King) and some good moments.

– “Private Practice,” 10 p.m.,
ABC. Two weeks before the show settles into this new time slot, ABC
reruns its season-finale, with Amelia (Caterina Scorsoe) going into

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
10 p.m., CBS. In a transplanted rerun, a bomb has killed an off-road
driver during a race.

– “Covert Affairs,” 10 p.m., USA.
Hovering between life and death in the hospital, Annie begins to
drift in her mind. Viewers now she was shot by Lena (Sarah Clarke),
one off her bosses; no one else knows, however, in a tough and
well-crafted hour.

– “Criminal Defense” debut, 10
and 10:30p.m., National Geographic. Adam Heyman was in corporate law;
Aida Leisenring was a fashion editor at Elle. Now both are overworked
Legal Aid lawyers in Brooklyn. Smart and telegenic, they offer a good
focal point for this fairly interesting reality show.

TV column for Monday, Sept. 10

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Perception,”
10 p.m., TNT.

A brilliant college professor, Daniel
Pierce is aware of his crumbling psyche. His sub-conscious imagines
conversations with people who aren't there. One – a wise beauty
namd Natalie – appears often; others (John Kennedy tonight) pop in
by circumstance.

Now this goes too far. Pierce agrees to
be institutionalized, in the start of a superb two-parter.

finale, 9 p.m., Fox.

People usually peg Joshua Marks as a
basketball player, not a chef. He stands 6-foot-11 and three-quarters
and played (very sparingly) for Tougaloo College ball in Mississippi.
At 21, he said, he discovered he's a good cook; now, just three years
later, he's a finalist for the $250,000 prize.

The other finalist also surprises
people. Christine Ha, 32, is a blind graduate student from Houston.
She insists Gordon Ramsay hasn't played favorites. “He's cursed at
me, too.”

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE: Talk shows debuts,

A year after Oprah Winfrey left,
there's a fresh flood of talk shows.

Katie Couric brings the authority of
being a former CBS anchor, but also the amiability of someone who
chatted cheerily on “Today.” Now she's back with her former
“Today” producer, Jeff Zucker.

She faces Jeff Probst, who showed his
intelligence as “Survivor” host. Ricki Lake also returns to the
talk world and Trisha Goddard, sometimes a therapist on Maury
Povich's show, gets her own.

Other choices include:

– “Bachelor Pad” finale, 8-10
p.m., ABC. This quick summer show is down to its final four people –
Rachel Trueheart, Nick Peterson, Sarah Newton and Chris Bukowski.

– “Hell's Kitchen” finale, 8
p.m., Fox. Here's another Gordon Ramsay cooking show, this time
strictly for pros. Justin Antonio and Christina Wilson choose teams
and prepares a full dinner; the winner gets the No. 2 spot at
Ramsay's Las Vegas restaurant.

– “The Voice” season-opener, 8
p.m., NBC. On the same night that three summer reality shows end, a
fall one starts. This is the part in which judges make decisions
without seeing.the singers..

– “CBS Fall Preview,”8:30 p.m.,
CBS. Others are in a hurry, but CBS will wait two more weeks to
debut its four nw shows. For now, it offers a peek hosted by the “2
Broke Girls” stars.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 9 p.m., CBS.
Piecing together an income, Max has held a second job as a nanny for
Peach's babies. In this rerun, she risks her job by catering a party
for Peach's friend.

– “No Reservations,” 9 p.m.,
Travel Chanel. Last week's season-opener (rerunning at 8 p.m.) had
Anthony Bourdain visit the youthful exuberance of Austin, Texas. Now
that mood continues in Sydney, Australia. He savors the barbecue
culture – he prefers “grill,” not “barbie” – and the
power of rugby.

– “Mike & Molly,” 9:31 p.m.,
CBS. TV always seems to be at its best with wedding episodes. This
rerun has great bursts of humor and warmth.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.., CBS.
Here's the start of a two-part crossover rerun that ends Tuesday.
Tonight, the “NCIS: Los Angeles” stars go to Hawaii, to trace a
virus threat.

– “Castle,”10:01 p.m., ABC. In a
rerun of the season-finale, Beckett seeks the man who.shot her.