TV column for Tuesday, July 24

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “White Collar,”
9 p.m., USA.

The two-part season-opener is done now
and life is back to normal – almost.

Neal, the scam artist, is working in
the FBI office again, confined by an ankle bracelet. But Peter –
who defied orders to rescue him – is consigned to dreary duty
handling evidence in storage.

Somehow, they still manage to link on a
case, in a typically bright, clever episode.

p.m., ABC.

Beautifully crafted by ABC News, this
is a reality show that feels real. It stirs emotion without being
maudlin; and occasioally, it just has fun.

We see the emotion tonight with Lyndsey
McLaughlin – 26, bright, likable and dying of cystic fibrosis if
she doesn't get a transplant. We see it when staffers deal with the
death of a familiar patient.

And the fun? Marina Dedivanovic –
usually a dead-serious nurse – has a Miami tryst with her
boyfriend. It turns out that she looks great in party dresses and
even better in a golden bikini.

Gypsies,” 9 p.m., National Geographic.

In late week's opener, we met Bobby
Johns, ignoring some of the rules of the Roma (or Gypsy) culture.
Kids are home-schooled and avoid outside contact, but he let his teen
daughters take acting class.

Tonight, he finds some joy (his son has
his first business and first child) and despair. Bobby and his wife
are separated; the girls thoroughly botch an audition.

Other choices include:

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. A couple
of classic-TV stars link, when colleagues finally meet the girlfriend
of Ducky (David McCallum of “Man From UNCLE”); she's played by
Cheryl Ladd (“Charlie's Angels”). Meanwhile, the case involves a
Navy lieutenant who died of over-hydration.

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC.
After finding a four-leaf clover, Brick manages to have nothing but
bad luck. Meanwhile, both his siblings have prom complications.

– “Last Man Standing,” 8:30 p.m.,
ABC. After a long break, this returns for reruns. Mandy is dating an
animal-rights supporter; her dad, a hunter, is not pleased.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun is the second half of the story that found NCIS agent
Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah) as a murder suspect. A meeting with her
sniper unit turns deadly.

– “Trust Us With Your Life,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., ABC. Improvisational comedians riff on the lives of
Jerry Springer (the politician-turned-talk-host) and then Florence

– “The Godfather Legacy,” 9-11
p.m., History. The impact of a great movie series is discussed by its
director, Francis Ford Coppola, and stars, including Al Pacino and
James Caan.

– “Person of Interest,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. This show will do double duty for a while, with reruns on
Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tonight, the machine identifies Det. Carter
(Taraji Henson) as a potential victim or perpetrator; now Reese and
Finch must help her without being noticed.

– “Love in the Wild” finale, 10
p.m., NBC. With the Olympics starting in three days, NBC is wrapping
things up. Tonight, the winning couple gets a romantic,
around-the-world trip.

TV column for Monday, July 23

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Warehouse 13”
season-opener, 9 p.m., Syfy.

Many shows try a big season finale, but
not like this: The warehouse exploded; the boss disintegrated.

There's more, alas; all hope has been
destroyed. Fortunately, this is a show with time-travel and such; the
team has a global rush to undo the blast. The result is tense and
dramatic, yet surprisingly funny.

debut, 8-10 p.m., ABC.

On “The Bachelorette,” Jillian
Harris rejected Reid Rosenthal and became engaged to Ed Swidorski.
They split a year later; there “was a certain amount of truth” to
rumors of his affairs, he says here.

Now both men compete for love and
money. There are 14 other “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette”
veterans, including Michael Stagliano (last year's “Pad” winner)
and troublemakers Kallon McMahon (freshly ousted as a villain by
Emily Maynard), Lindzi Cox and Blakely Jones.

10 p.m., TNT.

After 20 years, a serial killer is
back; the lone survivor (Sheryl Lee of “Twin Peaks”) is still
trapped in her teen persona. Moretti's ex-cop dad (Dan Laurea) can
help, but this is clearly the turf for Pierce.

He's a professor whose own mind drifts
into fantasies, including frequent conversations with a friend (Kelly
Rowan) who isn't there. The resulting hour is smart, compelling and
beautifully acted.

Other choices include:

– “American Ninja Warrior”
finale, 8-10 p.m., NBC. Chasing a $500,000 prize, finalists tackle a
re-creation of a massive Japanese obstacle course.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Returning from the hospital, Alan finds new challenges.

– “The Closer,” 9 p.m., TNT. The
main story here – murder at a cancer clinic – is so-so, but there
are bonuses: We meet Sgt.Gabriel's girlfriend, a gorgeous lawyer; we
also see Brenda's fragility.

– “Vito,” 9 p.m., HBO. Growing up
in New York and New Jersey, Vito Russo loved movies. He would take a
neighborhood girl to the show, then return and re-tell the whole
story. Russo became a film student and a gay-rights activist, merging
the two with his “Celluloid Closet” book and documentary. Now –
22 years after his death (at 44, of AIDS) – this documentary is
both a warm personal portrait and a compelling history of American

– “Alphas” season-opener, 10
p.m., Syfy. Last season introduced alphas – some of them dangerous
– with assorted superpowers. The government confined them and
denied their existence; Dr. Rosen (brilliantly played by David
Strathairn) worked with them. Now he's also confined and trouble
seethes. It's a strong episode, with a taut tone that's the opposite
of the “Warehouse 13” fun.

– “Push Girls,” 10 p.m.,
Sundance. Dating in Los Angeles can be fun for the young and
beautiful, it seems; it's more complicated if they're in a
wheelchair. Tonight has moments that are rocky (Tiphany Adams
re-meets the guy who loved and left her three years ago), adventurous
(on a first date, Mia Schaikewitz goes kayaking) and just fun:
Separated after a decade of marriage to actor Dustin Nguyen (“21
Jump Street”), Angela Rockwood playfully dates a guy 12 years her

TV column for Sunday, July 22

Bachelorette” finale, 8 p.m, ABC.

Amid the beauty of Curacao, Emily
Maynard, 26, confers with family and makes a choice.

She could go with Arie Luyendyk Jr.,
30, from Scottsdale, Ariz.; he's a race-car driver – as was the
late father of her daughter. Or she could go with Jef Holm, 27, of
Salt Lake City, an entrepreneur.

Tonight, she ponders with her family,
then decides. A live follow-up is at 10:01 p.m.

awards, 8-10 p.m., Fox.

The awards – “web star,” “movie
scene stealer” – are silly, but the rest should be fun.

Carly Rae Jepsen – whose “Call Me
Maybe” has spent five unrelenting weeks at No. 1 – will sing; so
will Justin Bieber, Flo Rida and – for the first time in 18 months
– Gwen Stefani's group, No Doubt.

This is hosted by Fox stars, current
(Kevin McHale of “Glee”) and future (Demi Lovato, who joins “X
Factor” this fall). Presenters have youth appeal, including Taylor
Swift, Selena Gomez and Zac Efron.

Bad,” 10 p.m., AMC.

The first few minutes – set in
Germany, with none of the key characters – are quietly riveting.

Then it's back to the U.S., where Walt
suddenly is at a turning point. He could walk away from it all –
except that now he's broke and addicted to drama and power. Am empire
could be rebuilt quickly.

Other choices include:

– “The Simpsons,” 7 p.m., Fox.
This reruns a “Mad Men” variation, with Homer suddenly getting a
fancy job and a new life.

– “Raising Izzie,” 7, 9 and 11
p.m., GMC (formerly Gospel Music Channel). Two girls, 14 and 10, are
on their own after their mother's death. A couple (Rockmond Dunbar
and Vanessa Williams) could help, in a family-friendly film from
Roger Bobb, who produced Tyler Perry shows.

– “Queen & Country,” 8 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). Elizabeth II was 85 when this was filmed
last year, but she's kept a busy travel schedule. Here, she goes to
Australia, hoping a change in the rules of succession will allow a
first-born female to inherit the crown.

– “Masterpiece Mystery,” 9-10:30
p.m., PBS (check local listings). When a babysitter is killed,
Inspector Lewis – no fan of academics or wealth – spots plenty of
suspects. It could be the rich people who hired her... or the
researchers at her lab … or the woman who took
artful-but-provocative photos of her. It's a well-crafted film,
despite eccentric performances by a couple of the suspects.

– “The Mentalist,” 9 and 10 p.m.,
CBS. The first rerun is the season-opener, with Patrick Jane in
prison for killing someone he thought was Red John. The second is
from the previous season: A prison guard was killed away from his
job, but that might have been engineered by an inmate.

– “The Newsroom,” 10 p.m., HBO.
In February of 2011, the news people hustle to cover two uprisings –
against the dictator of Egypt and the governor of Wisconsin.

– “Episodes,” 10:30 p.m.,
Showtime. This witty satire started with a British comedy being
adapted to center on Matt LeBlanc (playing an obtuse version of
himself). Now ratings have drooped; in a clever episode, the
network's solution is to skip LeBlanc and focus on the kid with the
floppy hair.

TV column for Saturday, July 21

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

Will Ferrell returns to host his old
show, inhabiting most of the sketches.

He's George W. Bush in the fairly funny
opener and a bumbling “psychic” in the extremely funny
almost-closer. He's drunken reporter Randy Feather and a candidate
for mayor of Funkytown.

That's in an excellent rerun that also
has Usher, Liam Neeson, a terrific “Weekend Update” and more –
including Justin Bieber sparking a booming celebration of the 100th
“SNL Digital Video.”

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Castle, 9-11
p.m., ABC.

Deftly switching moods, “Castle”can
be light one week and dead-serious the next.

Last week's rerun was filled with fun
'40s flashbacks. This week has a scramble to prevent a war.

That's in a two-parter that that (in a
late scheduling change) reruns in one night: A ruthless killer is
linked to an international scheme. Now Castle is working anew with
Sophia Turner (Jennifer Beals), a beautiful CIA agent whom he
fictionalized as Clara Strike in his novels.

films, 9 and 11 p.m., cable.

Two movies debut, suggesting good
intentions and happy endings; both repeat Sunday.

GMC (formerly Gospel Music Channel) has
“Raising Izzie,” which is also at 7 p.m. A 14-year-old tries to
raise her 10-year-old sister, after their late mother left them money
and encouragement; a childless couple may help. The film re-unites
Rockmond Dunbar and Vanessa Williams (the "Melrose Place" one, not the Miss America one) from the “Soul Food” series
and is produced and directed by Roger Bobb, who did the same for
Tyler Perry's shows.

Hallmark has “How to Fall in Love." Eric Mabius, the guy every woman wanted
in”Ugly Betty,” is convincing as a guy no woman wants. He hires a
dating coach (Brooke D'Orsay) who was the most popular girl in his
class; this has no surprises, but a moderate amount of fun.

Other choices include:

– “30 Most Interesting Olympic
Moments,” 8 p.m., NBC. Bob Costas offers lot of clips and memories,
six days before the new games have their opening ceremony in London.

– “NYC 22,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a new
episode – scheduled earlier, then delayed – “White House”
(Leelee Sobieski) and “Jackpot” find a pregnant woman trapped in
a burning car. “Lazarus” and Tonya guard a PCP lab; Kenny and
Ahmed think they have an enviable assignment, working with a veteran

– “The Help” (2011), 8 p.m.,
Showtime, or “Moneyball” (2011), 9 p.m., Starz. Choose between
two nominees for the best-picture Oscar. Their subjects – racism in
the 1960s, baseball in 2002 – differ sharply, but both films are
well-crafted and entertaining, with surprising bursts of humor.

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 9-11 p.m., NBC. The first rerun plays off headlines to have
a respected coach (Dan Lauria) accused of sexual abuse. The second
added Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) to the team. He found a complex story,
with a 13-year-old's pregnancy linked to a prominent family.

– “Todd Barry: Super Crazy,”
11p.m., Comedy Central. Forget the show's title; Barry brings a
quiet, casual style of stand-up humor. It works well as he discusses
such matters as being a lazy germaphobe.

TV column for Friday, July 20

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “John Oliver's
New York Stand-up Show,” 11 p.m., Comedy Central.

This excellent season-opener starts and
ends with clever “Daily Show” people, Oliver and Wyatt Cernac. In
between are fine bits by Hari Kondabolu, Mark Normand and,
especially, Ben Kronberg.

In the Steven Wright style, Kronberg
dryly drops little gems. He does puns (a step-father should be called
a “faux pa”), observes quirks (“rape is75 per cent rap”) and
announces: “I like my women like I like my coffee – sent back
because they're not hot enough.”

8:30 p.m., NBC.

Here's a rerun of another of the
odd-and-clever episodes that make “Community” stand out.

In the biology lab, someone has smashed
a yam that was a class project. Now the study group takes action;
it's a “Law & Order” take-off, complete with theme music,
introduction, “ching-ching” sound between scenes and more. And in
a biology-class courtroom, Annie turns out to be a fierce prosecutor.
TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Batman Begins” (2005, FX); “The Dark
Knight” (2008, TNT), 8 p.m.

This is the day when “The Dark Knight
Rises” reaches theaters, offering the third Batman tale with
Christopher Nolan directing Christian Bale.

And if you missed the first two? They
run simultaneously tonight on cable.

Each of the three films has a few key
people on Batman's side – Michael Caine as Alfred, Morgan Freeman
as Lucius Fox (head of his Wayne Enterprises) and Gary Oldman as the
honest cop who will be Commissioner Gordon. Other roles are passed
along: Rachel Dawes is played by Katie Holmes in the first film,
Maggie Gyllenhaal in the second … which has superb, Oscar-winning
work by the late Heath Ledger, as the Joker.

Other choices include:

– “House,” 8 p.m., Fox. As this
brilliant series neared its finale, colleagues were increasingly
worried about House's health. This reruns an episode in which Dr.
Adams (Odette Annable) planned an intervention. Also, the medical
case centers on an Army veteran, accused of leaking information.

– “Whitney,” 8 p.m., NBC. With
the Olympics taking over next Friday, this show reruns its
season-finale: Whitney and Chris head to City Hall to get married …
only to find complications, starting with an expired driver's

– :Homecoming,” 9 p.m., PBS (check
local listings). Growing up in a suburb of Kansas City, Mo., Joyce
DiDonato didn't really discover opera until her junior year in
college. She soon was finishing first or second in classical
competitions; this year, she won the Grammy for best classical vocal
solo. DiDonato, 43, still lives near her home town; this concert
catches her concert with the Kansas City Symphony, at its new

– “CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, a murder may be linked to a high-stakes video tournament.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Monica Raymund has already been a “Lie to Me” co-star (as Ria
Torres) and a recurring “Good Wife” character (as Dana Lodge);
now she plays Jamie's new police partner. Also in this rerun, Jamie's
brother Danny finds that an ex-cop was involved in a bank robbery.