TV column for Wednesday, April 25


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

On a steamy August afternoon in 2003,
power outages began to cascade. Soon, 55 million people in eight
states and Ontario were affected; some were unable to get home.

This fast-paced hour looks briefly at
what happened and then at the constant effort to maintain the power
grid and prevent outages. It's an action-adventure hour: rappeling
down a wind turbine, fixing power lines via helicopter and visiting
massive places – a coal mine, an oil tanker, a nuclear plant.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “American
Idol,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

The final six contestants sing songs by
Queen, possibly learning from the past.

On a Queen night in 2006, Bucky
Covington sang “Fat Bottomed Girls” and was promptly ousted.
Doing better were Ace Young (“We Will Rock You”), Kellie Pickler
(“Bohemian Rhapsody:) and the eventual top three – Taylor Hicks
(“Crazy Little Thing Called Love”), Katharine McPhee (“Who
Wants to Live Forever”) and Elliott Yamin (“Somebody to Love”).

We can expect those songs and more –
including “We Are the Champions” and “Another One Bites the
Dust” – by individuals or in a group medley with Queen members
Brian May and Roger Taylor.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Locked Up
Abroad” season-opener, 10 p.m., National Geographic.

A tough guy with a hero's face, Erik
Aude was getting small movie and TV roles. Some people knew him as
one of the muscleheads in “Dude, Where's My Car?”

In 2002, Aude, then 21, foolishly
agreed to go to Pakistan and get some leather coats, supposedly to
avoid import taxes. There was opium inside; a three-year prison
ordeal followed. Aude tells the story and plays himself in
re-enactments; it's an hour that is often brutal and sometimes
compelling.

Other choices include:

– “The L.A. Complex,” 8 p.m., CW.
If you missed Tuesday's amiable debut, catch this rerun. It's a
Canadian series about transplants in Los Angeles, grasping for their
show-business dreams.

– “North Country” (2005), 8-10
p.m., AMC. At the core is a real-life sexual-discrimination fight in
Minnesota mining country. That's fictionalized here, boosted by a
strong performance by Charlize Theron and evocative songs by Bob
Dylan, who grew up in northern Minnesota.

– “Modern Family,” 9 p.m. ABC.
This rerun has Greg Kinnear as Phil's new boss. Straining to make a
good impression, Phil doesn't seem to notice that the guy is flirting
with his wife.

– “Don't Trust the B in Apartment
23,” 9:31 p.m., ABC. After a slow start in New York, June now has a
job and a promising internship. Alas, she also has to clean up after
Chloe's latest scheme goes bad.

– “Revenge,” 10 p.m., ABC. Emily
finally learns who killed her father. That creates repercussions for
the people in Victoria's schemes. Meanwhile, Declan's testimony
brings trouble with Charlotte.

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a slain rancher was a ballistics expert,
That brings federal agents, played by Matt Lauria (“Friday Night
Lights”) and Grant Show.

– “Total Blackout” debut, 10 and
10:30 p.m., Syfy. Groping in the dark, people must guess what they
find. Some things really are yucky; at other times, people scream at
a hairbrush or a teddy bear. Contestants range from stoic to absurdly
screechy. The result is moderately entertaining.

TV column for Tuesday, April 24


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

Right now, each episode is important.
There are only three left, prior to a May 15 finale that sees club
sing in the nationals and key characters graduate.

There are plot points to settle every
week; tonight, Will and Emma prepare for their wedding. And there's a
bonus: Tonight has the young singers tackling the music of Whitney
Houston.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “The L.A.
Complex” debut, 9 p.m., CW.

It's a global impulse – go to Los
Angeles to seek stardom. This Canadian series offers its perspective.

Abby Vargas (Cassie Steele) is from
Toronto. She's an actress who has everything go wrong – from losing
her apartment to vomiting in front of a top director.

Others? There's a successful actor, a
spectacular-looking dancer, a picked-on music intern, an oddly inept
comedian. There's a once-successful actress, now passed over for
younger actresses.

She's played by Jewel Staite
(“Stargate: Atlantis”) who's all of 29. Steele is 22 and has
already done 10 years of Canada's “Degrassi” series; she brings
humor and vulnerability, giving “L.A.” a solid start.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Frontline,”
8:59-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Some of the best recent TV reporting
came with this show's look at the 2008 Wall Street failure. It showed
a system near collapse, a country near Depression, with leaders
scrambling.

Now comes the next step: Over four
hours on two Tuesdays, “Frontline” views the uneasy alliance of
government and business, trying to fix the damage. It views success,
failure, missed opportunities.

Other choices include:

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. A night of
CBS reruns starts with the team probing a murder and finding its
colleague E.J. Barrett, played by Sarah Jane Morris of “Brothers &
Sisters.”

– Romance movies, 8 p.m., cable. The
new ones – “Dear John” (2010) on FX, “Water for Elephants”
(2011) on HBO – might seem similar. Each was adapted from a novel;
a handsome guy (Channing Tatum, Robert Pattinson) fall for a pretty
blonde (Amanda Seyfried, Reese Witherspoon). Then there's “The Way
We Were”(1973) on TCM; Robert Redford is the pretty blonde, with
Barbra Streisand.

– “The Voice” (NBC) and “Dancing
With the Stars” (ABC), 9 p.m. “Voice” trims to its final eight,
“Stars” to seven. “Stars” also has a Motown medley and Boyz
II Men. It introduces a dance group that includes a “So You Think
You Can Dance” winner (Nick Lazzarini) and runner-up (Travis Wall).

– “New Girl,” 9 and 9:31 p.m.,
Fox. The first episode has Jeanne Tripplehorn as Jess' boyfriend's
ex-wife. That's followed (in a schedule change) by a rerun, with
Lizzy Caplan as Nick's hesitant girlfriend.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. A dishonorably discharged Marine sergeant may have committed
murder – or may be the victim of an elaborate conspiracy.

– “Unforgettable,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Marilu Henner (“Taxi”) is one of the few people with the skill
this show portrays – remembering every detail of her life. She's a
consultant on the show and tonight plays Carrie's aunt, helping
Carrie re-probe her sister's murder.

TV column for Monday, April 23


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Smash,” 10
p.m., NBC.

Each week, “Smash” has great
characters, smart dialog and – especially – terrific song and
dance numbers. Now comes a bonus – a fantasy number in the style of
a “Bollywood” movie.

That involves Karen (Katharine McPhee),
who has twice lost the lead in a Marilyn Monroe musical – first to
Ivy (Megan Hilty), then to Rebecca (Uma Thurman), a movie star.

Now Karen is becoming Rebecca's new
friend – and has been drifting from her boyfriend Dev (Raz
Jaffrey), a City Hall bureaucrat. It's time for them to do a zesty
Bollywood number.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Eureka,” 9
p.m., Syfy.

Last week's terrific season-opener
(rerunning at 8 p.m.) saw the crew return, finding a shock: Four
years had elapsed and everything in Eureka had changed.

Then came the twist: None of that is
real: It's been planted in their minds, to harvest their idaes.

Tonight's “Eureka” juggles
realities. We're in the imagined world, with four years elapsed ….
and the real one, with four months elapsed as people desperately
seeking the missing ship. It's a great hour.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Dancing With
the Stars” and “20/20,” 8 and 10:01 p.m., ABC.

For seven years and 14 editions, this
has given ABC high ratings and headlines. Now “20/20” has a
report by Lara Spencer and former contestant Cameron Mathison. They
talk to other ex-contestants (Mario Lopez, Ricki Lake, etc.) and
Julianne Hough, who went from dance pro to country singer.

First, a new week of competition
begins. Last week,.Gavin DeGraw was ousted after finishing in the
bottom with Jaleel White. Now eight celebrities remain.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE II: “Hotel
Impossible,” 10 p.m., Travel.

You might expect the familiar steps,
with a host raging at the people in charge. Not tonight.

Anthony Melchiorri is fond of the
sweet-natured owners of a motel, 20 minutes from Miami's South Beach.
They're good people with bad luck; he reshapes and re-names a gem,
the Hotel New Yorker.

Other choices include:

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS.A night of CBS reruns starts with a disturbing realization:
Each person's loved one is similar to one of his or her parents.

– “William & Kate” (2011),
8-10 p.m., Lifetime. Prince William and Kate Middleton are likable
young people, finding romance in college and beyond.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 8:30 p.m.,
CBS. Sophie (Jennifer Coolidge) dresses up for Valentine's Day,
possibly looking too hot. Earl (played by Garrett Morris, 75)
promptly has a heart attack.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. To help Sophie relax, Walden tries Berta's special brownies.

– “House,” 9 p.m., Fox. Dreams
are key factors here: A boy wakes up from one and can't take in air;
also, Park has intimate dreams about her fellow doctors.

– “Mike & Molly,” 9:30 p.m.,
CBS. Mike hates Halloween and resists going to a party with Molly.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.m., CBS.
A crashed plane has a dead customs officer inside. Two former
“Heroes” co-stars are here – Masi Oka as a medical examiner,
Greg Grunberg as a customs supervisor.

TV column for Sunday, April 22


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Fox memories, 7-10
p.m., Fox.

In April of 1987, the Fox network
stepped gingerly into prime time. Some of its shows seemed ordinary
and disappeared; many didn't.

“Married With Children” – billed
as “the anti-'Cosby'” – was darkly perverse; “The Tracey
Ullman Show” had sketches, wit and cartoon Simpsons. Fox was best
when being different.

Tonight, it has key reruns – the
first “Married With Children” episode (a funny one) at 7 p.m.,
the 500th “Simpsons” (an OK one) at 7:30. Then “Fox's
25th Anniversary Special” focuses on “Married,”
“X-Files,” “In Living Color,” “Beverly Hills, 90210,”
“That '70s Show” and, of course, “American Idol.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Firelight,”
9:01-11 p.m., ABC.

We meet Caroline in mid-crisis –
fleeing from cops, trying to keep up with a bad boyfriend.

Soon, she's in a youth correctional
facility, surrounded by much anger and two decent people – a
counselor (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and an older inmate. “Firelight”
tends to be predictable, but is in the “Hallmark Hall of Fame”
tradition: Skillfully written, directed and acted, it has a good
heart.

WEEKEND'S,MUST-SEE: “Veep” debut,
10 p.m., HBO.

As vice-president, Selena (Julia
Louis-Dreyfus) has a tattered life. The president ignores her, others
scheme and an aide (Tony Hale) keeps whispering in her ear.

This is the first half of a smart
comedy duo. At 10:30 p.m., “Girls” has its second episode, one
that's sexually explicit and terribly witty.

Other choices include:

– “Heaven's Rain,” 7 p.m., GMC;
repeats at 9 and 11 p.m., plus 9 p.m. Monday. Brooks Douglass was 16
when robbers killed his parents and left him and his sister for dead.
He would go on to be an Oklahoma state senator and now to co-write
and co-star in this film, which was well-made on a tight,
independent-film budget. Mike Vogel (“Pan Am,” “The Help”) is
likable as Douglass – who does a solid job portraying his own
father. The real gem is Taryn Manning's superb work as his sister.

– “Once Upon a Time,” 8 p.m.,
ABC. David wants to apologize and reconcile with Mary Margaret.
Viewers will root for them, because in th other world they are Prince
Charming and Snow White.

– “Space Shuttle: The Final
Countdown,” 8-10 p.m., Smithsonian. The plan seemed impossible –
build a four-million-pound behemoth that was re-usable. “I thought,
'There's no way anything that big would ever get off the planet,”
one man recalls. It did, often. Rich in first-person accounts, this
documentary traces 30 years of the shuttles, including mistakes,
tragedies and triumphs.

– “Masterpiece Classic,” 9-10:30
p.m., PBS (check local listings); concludes next week. Beautiful and
maddening, “Birdsong” gives us two attractive and stoic people.
One is an upper-class Englishman, the other is a married French
woman; both are attractive, neither emotes. Their relationship is
against the fierce backdrop of his World War I duty. “Birdsong”
is lyrical, lovely and extremely remote.

– “The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS. A
week before the season finale, Alicia defends a judge who faces
charges from his prosecutor days. Also, Cary makes a career decision
and Kalinda faces repercussions from the investigation by Agent
Delaney.

– “NYC 22,” 10 p.m., CBS. After a
fairly good opener, this Robert De Niro production slips. A couple of
stories are OK, but the third has a rap star (played by rapper Sticky
Fingaz) shadowing the cops; it's the sort of stretch a show does in
it fifth year, not its second episode.

– “The Real Housewives of New
Jersey” season-opener, 10 p.m., Bravo. There's already lots of
“Jersey Shore” today (with reruns on MTV from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.),
but now these people also trek to the Jersey shore to eat, drink and
(often) argue. Buried in financial problems, Teresa Giudice wrote a
cookbook that included some mild digs about her friends and family;
now there are noisy confrontations.

TV column for Saturday, April 21


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Steven Spielberg
films, cable.

Here are two early triumphs of a
Hollywood master, each with Richard Dreyfuss. “Jaws” (1975) is
7:50 p.m. on Cinemax; “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977)
is 8 p.m. on Turner Classic Movies.

Each shows the Spielberg knack for
making every scene richly cinematic. There's also “Indiana Jones
and the Temple of Doom” (1984) at 8 p.m. on Bravo. It's
disappointing by Indiana Jones and Spielberg standards – but way
better than almost anything anyone else does.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “America's Most
Wanted,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

On the eve of its 25th-anniversary
special, Fox re-visits a show that helped start it.

When “AMW” began on April 10,
1988), Fox had only been in prime time for a year. It needed a boost
– and got it from this scrappy little show, which searched for
crime suspects.

That continued for 23 seasons. Last
spring, Fox canceled “AMW” – which now airs Fridays on Lifetime
– but agreed to quarterly specials. Here's this season's final one,
viewing global suspects.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “20/20,”
9-11 p.m., ABC.

Los Angles' Sunset Boulevard offers
soaring triumphs, from rock stars to movie stars. It also offers
crashing failures – runaways, addicts, prostitutes and more.

This special talks to people who have
seen extremes in the past. It also meets current dreamers – teens
at Hollywood High …. Lauren Little, the powerhouse rocker for Queen
Caveat … and a young man who grew up in foster homes, fought in the
military and now uses the GI Bill to study drama.

Other choices include:

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
8 p.m., CBS. This rerun has three seemingly unrelated murders.

– “Undercover Bridesmaid,” 8-10
p.m., Hallmark. A bride's father (Gregory Harrison) hires a bodyguard
(Brooke Burns) as a fake bridesmaid. Yes, it's sort of “Miss
Congeniality” at a wedding.

– “Legends of the Fall” (1994),
8-11 p.m., AMC. A so-so story gets splendid treatment. That includes
Oscar-winning cinematography and a great cast. Anthony Hopkins plays
a Montana rancher with feuding sons, played by Brad Pitt, Aidan
Quinn and Henry Thomas; Julia Ormond also stars.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.
The head of a surf company has been killed. Since Kono (Grace Park)
used to be a pro surfer, she investigates her old world.

– “Alien Tornado,” 9-11p.m.,
Syfy. All that weird weather we've seen lately? Instead of blaming it
on global warming or coincidence, here's a more logical answer:
Outer-space aliens are doing it. A farmer's daughter and a famous
weather blogger team up to fight them. You'll need to suspend
disbelief, mostly about a weather blogger being famous.

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. In a quick rerun, a rape casts doubt about a
man Benson helped convict long ago. It's a strong hour, impacting her
relationship with her police partner (Danny Pino) and her lover
(Harry Connick Jr.).