TV column for Saturday, Sept. 7


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

Bruno Mars jumped into rare turf –
Justin Timberlake/Mick Jagger land – when he doubled as the host
and the music guest. He threw himself into it with his usual energy,
as we see in this rerun.

Mars sang his uptempo “Locked Out of
Heaven” and ballad “Young Wild Girs” … plus much more, in a
sketch that had him as a temp who must rescue a radio station by
singing every song. He leaped into other sketches, including one as
an angry woman on a Jerry Springer-type show.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Do No Harm”
finale, 10 p.m., NBC.

Doomed from the start, this modern-day
Jekyll-and-Hyde died instantly in the ratings. Still, NBC is
providing closure – letting the 13-episode run conclude on
Saturdays.

Now Jason is ready for drastic brain
surgery that could eliminate his evil alter-ego Ian … unless others
manage to stop the operation. Also, his long-time medication leaves
him immune to normal anesthesia; he's put into a deep dream state
that reveals the childhood origins of Ian.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Argo”
(2012, HBO) and more movies, 8 p.m., cable.

“Argo” does it all – telling a
tense, real-life story, yet peppering it with neat moments of humor
and humanity. It tells – sometimes whimsically – of the effort to
use a fake movie to rescue Americans during the Iranian hostage
crisis. The result won Oscars for its script, its editing and best
picture.

If you don't get HBO, just cruise
cable. “Giant” (1956, Turner Classic Movies) won an Oscar for
director George Stevens and was nominated for nine more, including
best picture and stars James Dean and Rock Hudson. “Michael
Clayton” (2007, Sundance) is a smart drama that won one Oscar (for
Tilda Swinton in support) and was nominated for six more, including
best picture. For sheer fun, Disney has “The Princess and the Frog”
(2009); Syfy has “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).

Other choices include:

Football, 7 p.m. Fox and more. Expect
some wide-open offenses, with Oklahoma (ranked No. 16 in the ESPN
poll) hosting West Virginia. There's more on cable, including Texas
(ranked 15th) at Brigham Young, at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and
Notre Dame (14) at Michigan (17), at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

Earlier movies, cable. Here are two
bright, clever films – “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006) at 7 and
9:30 p.m. on Oxygen and “Love Actually” (2003) at 7:30 p.m. on TV
Guide.

\“American Ninja Warrior,” 8-10
p.m, NBC. This reruns Monday's episode, with finalists facing a
four-phase challenge in Las Vegas.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a
drone has struck a bomb-making spot in Afghanistan. One of the bodies
is a retired U.S. Marine; now the NCIS team must determine if he was
a traitor.

“The White Queen,” 9 p.m., Starz,
rerunning at 10 and 11. The previous episode, rerunning at 8 p.m.,
saw Warwick's attempted overthrow end in storm-tossed (literally)
disaster. Now King Edward IV and Elizabeth are back on top …
briefly. In another terrific episode, crises build quickly.

“Hell on Wheels,” 9 p.m., AMC.
Cullen is still in charge of the Union Pacific as it pushes westward.
But now Durant – disgraced, deposed, jailed – has filed an
injunction against the railway he once ran.

“Salt,” 10 p.m., FX. With slick
action and a powerhouse star (Angelina Jolie), this spy thriller is
great fun for a while … then throws in more twists than it needs.

TV column for Wednesday, Sept. 4


TONIGHT'S
MUST-SEE: “Nature,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Nature's
beauty and man's technology blend beautifully. The six-week
“Earthflight” series captures stunning, birds-eye views, both
soaring high and skimming the Earth.

This
opener sticks to North America, with dazzling views. We cruise past
the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate bridge and more; we see dolphins on
a team-fishing venture. We view the lethal splendor of hawks and
eagles ... and the spectacle of thousands of snow geese in one
hurried exit.

TONIGHT'S
MUST-SEE II: “Luther” and Broadchurch,” 9 and 10 p.m., BBC
America.

Here
is easily the best of the four hours that conclude the superb
“Luther” series.

It
wraps up two murder cases, one modestly and one sensationally. It
also pushs over two elements – a romance and an internal-affairs
investigation – into the lesser hours that air Thursday and Friday.
And it gives that IA tale a great, closing twist.

Then
stick around. The final minutes of tonight's “Broadchurch” are
deeply moving on two levels.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Comedies, 10-11:30 p.m., FXX; rerunning at 11:30 p.m.
and 1 a.m.

This
youth-oriented network has just started, with 72 million homes, Fox
assets and a few key shows transplanted from the FX network. Tonight,
FXX has “Bad Teacher” (2011) at 8 p.m. – also giving it
primetime double features on Friday and Sunday – and then airs
those transplants.

“It's
Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (10 p.m.) starts well, thanks to
Kaitlin Olson's great work turning Dee into a melancholy comedian;
then comes a twist viewers will consider either clever or an absurd
let-down. “The League” (10:30) follows with a fun merger of
wedding and fantasy-football plans. “At 11, “Totally Biased” –
with the clever W. Kamaa Bell – starts its daily run with Jim
Gaffigan as guest.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: More comedy, 10 p.m., cable.

This
one hour has it all – “Broadchurch” and FXX comedies and two
more huge comedy moments.

One
is “ “Hot in Cleveland,” with Betty White re-uniting with her
former “Mary Tyler Moore Show” mates – Moore, Valerie Harper,
Cloris Leachman and Georgia Engel.

The
other is “Futurama,” the witty cartoon from the “Simpsons”
people. After lots of reruns – from 2:44 p.m. to 7 p.m. and from
8-10 p.m. – the series finale has Fry finally propose to Neela.

Other
choices include:


The
Middle,” 8-9 p.m., ABC. Here's another chance to see the
season-opener, a fun reflection on summers. Axl's in summer school,
Brick grows a tomato and Sue obsesses on time with her dad.


“Modern Family,” 9
and
9:30
p.m.,
ABC.
The
first rerun is a dandy, with forces converging at a roller rink. The
second has Ph
il
and Claire see a family that's terribly similar to their own.


“The National Parks,” 9-11 p.m., PBS
(check
local listings)
.
It was less than a century ago that the National Park Service was
finally created. This chapter, the third of five, views its creation.


The
Flag,” 9 and 10:30 p.m., CNN.
It
was a basic story, rich with emotion: A classic photo showed firemen
raising a flag on Sept. 11. The moment was captured in a statue; the
flag was flown internationally. The problem: The statue depicted the
wrong guys … and the flag is the wrong one. That second part
remains intriguing; it's retold here, alongside other bits of rich
9/11 memories.


“Ghost Mine,” 10 p.m., Syfy. In i
ts
first season, this oddity merged two reality forms – a tough-guy
miner show and a maybe-supernatural one.
That's
recounted in a 9 p.m. special; then the

second season
gets
off to a

strange
start, complete with (really) a robotic paranormal detector.

TV column for Tuesday, Sept. 3


 By
MIKE HUGHES

 

TONIGHT'S
MUST-SEE: “So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

 

The
final four dancers perform tonight. Next Tuesday, two of them will
win $125,000 apiece.

 

On
one side, two jazz/contemporary women – Jasmine Harper, 20, and Amy
Yakima, 19 – compete. On the other are Fik-Shun, 18, a hip-hopper,
and Aaron Turner, 25, a tap-dancer. They'll be paired with past
favorites – Comfort, tWitch, Melinda Sullivan and Robert Roldan;
they'll also hear comments from the judges, including two guests,
Gabrielle Douglas, the Olympic-champion gymnast, and Paula Abdul.

 

TONIGHT'S
MUST-SEE II: “Luther” opener, 10 p.m., BBC America.

 

Big
and brooding, John Luther (Idris Elba) has been one of TV's great
cops. He breaks rules and catches crooks, while showing deep layers
of pain.

 

Now
“Luther” returns, with what's presented as a four-night
mini-series. Actually, it's a pair of two-night movies. The first
(concluding from 9-10 p.m. Wednesday) is brilliant, despite some
brutal excess; the second (10 p.m. Thursday and Friday) flies
off-target.

 

A
couple threads connect the two: Luther meets the sort of gentle woman
who complements his internal chaos. He's also probed by Internal
Affairs; there's a lot of rule-breaking the IA could find.

 

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Cold Justice” debut, 10 p.m., TNT.

 

Viewers
know the sleek efficiency of modern crime-scene investigation. But
that's city stuff; this non-fiction series re-opens cases in small
towns, far from fancy crime labs.

 

The
opener is in Cuero, an East Texas town of 6,400, some 24 miles from
larger Victoria. A 2001 case (originally ruled suicide) is re-opened
by an investigators and a prosecutor with top track records. Slow and
diligent, “Cold Justice” is a refreshing change from the
overwrought tone of many cable shows.

 

Other
choices include:

 


“Extreme Weight Loss” season-finale, 8-10 p.m., ABC. Bob is a
Wisconsin cop who – at almost 450 pounds – may flunk a new
fitness test. “Extreme” traces an eventful year that includes two
major knee injuries and (in Paris) renewing his wedding vows and
riding the last leg of the Tour de France.

 


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Resisting ordets from Homeland Security in
this rerun, the team continues to hunt Bodnar, the man believed
responsible for killing Ziva's father and Vance's wife.

 

–“NCIS:
Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Deeks gets close to a woman
while working undercover. Kensi, doing surveillance on the case, is
not pleased.

 


“The National Parks,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings). The
second chapter of Ken Burns' gorgeous documentary rerun takes us to
1915, the year before the National Park Service finally began.

 


“My Big Fat Revenge” debut, 9 p.m., Oxygen. By now, we're used to
the feel-good endings of weight-loss shows; not this time: Once the
women lose weight, they use a hidden camera to get revenge on past
tormenters. Think of it as a feel-bad ending, a vengeance that mostly
feels sad and hollow

 


“Body of Proof,” 10 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, a plane crash batters
Philadelphia's power grid. Megan must do autopsies between
black-outs. During one of them, a body disappears..

 


“Brickleberry” season-opener, 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central.
Straining to be outrageous, this animated show lobs lots of jokes
about religion and (for variety) about deformities and sex with an
old woman. Some of the jabs are quite clever, especially in the
second half; more of them merely seem forced.

 

 

TV column for Tuesday, Sept. 3


 By
MIKE HUGHES

 

TONIGHT'S
MUST-SEE: “So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

 

The
final four dancers perform tonight. Next Tuesday, two of them will
win $125,000 apiece.

 

On
one side, two jazz/contemporary women – Jasmine Harper, 20, and Amy
Yakima, 19 – compete. On the other are Fik-Shun, 18, a hip-hopper,
and Aaron Turner, 25, a tap-dancer. They'll be paired with past
favorites – Comfort, tWitch, Melinda Sullivan and Robert Roldan;
they'll also hear comments from the judges, including two guests,
Gabrielle Douglas, the Olympic-champion gymnast, and Paula Abdul.

 

TONIGHT'S
MUST-SEE II: “Luther” opener, 10 p.m., BBC America.

 

Big
and brooding, John Luther (Idris Elba) has been one of TV's great
cops. He breaks rules and catches crooks, while showing deep layers
of pain.

 

Now
“Luther” returns, with what's presented as a four-night
mini-series. Actually, it's a pair of two-night movies. The first
(concluding from 9-10 p.m. Wednesday) is brilliant, despite some
brutal excess; the second (10 p.m. Thursday and Friday) flies
off-target.

 

A
couple threads connect the two: Luther meets the sort of gentle woman
who complements his internal chaos. He's also probed by Internal
Affairs; there's a lot of rule-breaking the IA could find.

 

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Cold Justice” debut, 10 p.m., TNT.

 

Viewers
know the sleek efficiency of modern crime-scene investigation. But
that's city stuff; this non-fiction series re-opens cases in small
towns, far from fancy crime labs.

 

The
opener is in Cuero, an East Texas town of 6,400, some 24 miles from
larger Victoria. A 2001 case (originally ruled suicide) is re-opened
by an investigators and a prosecutor with top track records. Slow and
diligent, “Cold Justice” is a refreshing change from the
overwrought tone of many cable shows.

 

Other
choices include:

 


“Extreme Weight Loss” season-finale, 8-10 p.m., ABC. Bob is a
Wisconsin cop who – at almost 450 pounds – may flunk a new
fitness test. “Extreme” traces an eventful year that includes two
major knee injuries and (in Paris) renewing his wedding vows and
riding the last leg of the Tour de France.

 


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Resisting ordets from Homeland Security in
this rerun, the team continues to hunt Bodnar, the man believed
responsible for killing Ziva's father and Vance's wife.

 

–“NCIS:
Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Deeks gets close to a woman
while working undercover. Kensi, doing surveillance on the case, is
not pleased.

 


“The National Parks,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings). The
second chapter of Ken Burns' gorgeous documentary rerun takes us to
1915, the year before the National Park Service finally began.

 


“My Big Fat Revenge” debut, 9 p.m., Oxygen. By now, we're used to
the feel-good endings of weight-loss shows; not this time: Once the
women lose weight, they use a hidden camera to get revenge on past
tormenters. Think of it as a feel-bad ending, a vengeance that mostly
feels sad and hollow

 


“Body of Proof,” 10 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, a plane crash batters
Philadelphia's power grid. Megan must do autopsies between
black-outs. During one of them, a body disappears..

 


“Brickleberry” season-opener, 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central.
Straining to be outrageous, this animated show lobs lots of jokes
about religion and (for variety) about deformities and sex with an
old woman. Some of the jabs are quite clever, especially in the
second half; more of them merely seem forced.

 

 

TV column for Monday, Sept. 2


TONIGHT'S
MUST-SEE: “The National Parks,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

At
first, few Americans talked about preserving our wilderness. There
was a lot of it, out of reach for most people. Even the greatest
treasures – Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon – were
imperiled.

Then
John Muir began his long campaign. This Ken Burns mini-series
(rerunning through Friday) starts in 1851, 65 years before the
National Parks Service began; it's beautifully written and filmed.

TONIGHT'S
MUST-SEE II: “Under the Dome,” 10 p.m., CBS.

By
now, viewers know “Barbie” Barbara is a hero; “Big Jim”
Rennie is a crook and a killer.

Tonight,
however, Big Jim convinces townspeople that Barbie is the bad guy and
leads a manhunt. Also, Maxine (Natalie Zea of “The Following” and
“Justified”) confronts Barbie's allie.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Comedy roast, 10 p.m., Comedy Central.

Ever
since he was the way-too-cool co-host of the AcademyAwards, James
Franco has seemed ripe for a roast. Now he gets one, with Seth Rogen
as the emcee.

Taking
shots will be Bill Hader, Sarah Silverman, Jonah Hill, Aziz Ansari,
Nick Kroll, Natasha Leggero and more, including the inevitable Jeff
Ross.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: Movie history, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., Turner Classic
Movies.

Over
the next 15 Mondays, TCM will air Mark Cousins' mega-documentary “The
Story of Film.” That starts at 10 p.m. today, with a look at 1895
to 1918.

This
be surrounded
by
classics
on
Mondays and Tuesdays. Tonight
has
the early films of Thomas Edison's studio (8 p.m.) and the
Lumiere
Brothers (9:30). Later, the 1902 French “A Trip to the Moon” is
11:15 p.m. and silent shorts by Alice Guy-Blache, the first major
female director, are at 11:30.

Other choices include:

– “Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood,”
11 a.m., PBS (check local listings). This “Mr. Rogers” spin-off
turns Labor Day into “neighbor day,” full of good deeds. The
result is almost too lightweight for even a pre-school crowd, but the
characters are so lovable that all is forgiven.

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. Friends are determined to throw Barney a legendary
bachelor party. Frances Conroy returns as his mother in this rerun
and Ralph Macchio plays himself.

– “Raising Hope,” 8 and 8:30
p.m., Fox. Before drawing praise for this show and “My Name is
Earl,” producer Greg Garcia drew shrugs for “My Name is Earl.”
Now that show's stars (Mike O'Malley and Liza Snyder) guest as a
couple that has the family's an incriminating video. In the second
rerun, Luke Perry plays the ghosts of Arbor Day present, past and
future.

– “New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox. On
Cece's wedding day, Schmidt is still scheming ways to break it up.

– “Mistresses,” 9 p.m., ABC. A
week from its finale, this show moves up an hour to escape “Dome.”
It promptly finds crises everywhere. April's daughter is missing;
Karen sees her court case resolved and more trouble loom. Joss learns
it's not easy to juggle affairs with a man and a woman. Savannah
accepts the fact that her marriage is ending, then gets news about
her husband's restaurant.

– “Mike & Molly,” 9:30 p.m.,
CBS. Mike and Molly decide to get serious about having a baby. Also,
Carl is unhappy that Molly still hangs out with his ex-girlfriend
Christina.

– “The Mindy Project,” 9:30 p.m.,
Fox. This rerun has a party for Mindy, before her mission to Haiti.

– “Castle,” 10 p.m., ABC. Finally
returning to its old tme slot, the show has a rerun in which a giant
footprint is near the murder site. Cops ponder the possibility that a
bigfoot monster was involved.