TV column for Monday, June 3


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Mistresses”
debut, 10:01p.m., ABC.

Under that glutzy, soapy title, the
original version of “Mistresses” was surprisingly subtle. A
British show, it had four bright women trapped by mistakes, often
their own.

And the U.S. version? It's glitzier and
soapier; the opening minutes leap between sexy affairs. It's also
prettier, with a slickly gorgeous look. Alyssa Milano and Yunjin Kim
(“Lost”) play a lawyer and a therapist, with big troubles and
troubled friends. Likable people scramble with hectic lives.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “The Fosters”
debut, 9 p.m., ABC Family.

Nudged by circumstance, a cop and a
vice-principal (Teri Polo and Sherri Saum) have five kids, four of
them foster or adopted. This story starts with the arrival of a
troubled teen (Maia Mitchell).

There are some major producers behind
this, including Benny Medina (whose own real-life adoption was the
inspiration for “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”) and Jennifer Lopez.
Tim Busfield, who directed the first two episodes, gives “Fosters”
a strong, sleek look that enfolds a solid story.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The Voice,”
8-10:01 p.m., NBC.

Adam Levine used to boast that he had
coached the first “Voice” winner. Then came the Shelton surge.

Blake Shelton had the second winner and
both third-season finalists. Now he could repeat.

Last week, two of Levine's people
(Judith Hill and Sarah Simmons) were ousted. That leaves Shelton with
half the top six, with one each for Levine, Usher and Shakira; now
viewers pick the final four.

Other choices include:

– “The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01
p.m., ABC. Some of the guys have a tough volleyball game, leading to
an emergency-room visit; others try stunt-man moves, with the winner
getting a date with Desiree.

– “The Secret Life of the American
Teenager” series finale, 8 p.m., ABC Family. Five years ago, this
started with Amy (Shailene Woodley) as a pregnant teen. Now,
belatedly, is the high school graduation.

– “Rules of Engagement,” 8:30,
CBS. A night of CBS reruns includes this one, with Liz – Russell's
crazy neighbor (and, briefly, wife) – wanting him to father her
baby.

– “Mike & Molly,” 9:30, CBS.
In a funny episode, Molly thinks she'll get out of cooking
Thanksgiving dinner, because Mike is sick. Alas, Vince's brother is
coming, with high expectations.

– “Anger Management,” 9:30 p.m.,
Fox. Charlie Sheen's fairly funny show often goes unnoticed on
cable's FX. Now it visits Fox, for an episode in which he tries a
new therapist; Marion Ross guests.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Rumer Willis – the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore –
guests as one of the Victoria's Secret models Danny must protect.

– “Push Girls” season-opener, 10
p.m., Sundance. This excellent reality show – focusing on four
young women in wheelchairs – has its best moments tonight with
Tiphany Adams, a paraplegic since a car accident 13 years ago, when
she was 17. She rides a bull at a cowboy bar and meets a woman she
likes at a lesbian bar; she also learns just how difficult it is to
move into a solo apartmeent.

– “Revolution” season-finale,
10:01 p.m., NBC. Miles and Monroe battle, at the key point in the
world's long-ago power black-out. Miles' leadership skills and
Aaron's techno-skill become crucial.

TV column for Sunday, June 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Concert for
Change,” 9-11 p.m., NBC.

From a London stadium, this concert
will be beamed to 150 countries on six continents.

Beyonce plans to do a 45-minute set,
with others performing briefly. They include Jennifer Lopez, John
Legend, Florence and the Machine, Timbaland, Rita Ora, Laura Pausini,
HAIM and Iggy Azalea.

Alongside the music are messages about
women's empowerment and justice. Presenters include Madonna, Gloria
Steinem and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “The Good Wife”
and “The Mentalist,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS.

As the summer reruns begin, both shows
offer episodes that had repercussions throughout the season.

On “Good Wife,” Will and Diane
scramble to keep the firm alive; Alicia has a promising (but risky)
offer to join a start-up firm. On “Mentalist,” Patrick Jane helps
Lorelei escape from prison, hoping he'll to follow her and find Red
John.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The Killing”
debut, 8-10 p.m., AMC.

Few shows have matched this one's early
crescendos of praise, admiration and then disappointment.

Mireille Enos was perfect as a solemn
cop, tracking a teen girl's kidnapper. The moody and moving visuals
and scripts were superb; still, stretching one story over two seasons
was excessive.

Now comes the start of a third-season
and second story, with Linden (Enos) pursuing a serial killer.

Other choices include:

– “The Empire Strikes Back”
(1980) and “Return of the Jedi” (1983), 6:45 and 10 p.m., Spike.
Here's a truly great double-feature, with the second and third pieces
of the “Star Wars” trilogy.

– “Cinderella”(1950), 7:45 p.m.,
ABC Family. This is another movie classic, gorgeously animated.

– “The Bachelorette,” 8-10 p.m.,
ABC. Here's a second chance to see Monday's opener. Viewers will
instantly like Desiree Hartsock, 26, a stylist for a wedding salon.
The guys range from one wearing a suit of armor to another who
displays an impressive torso by not wearing a shirt.

– “The American Baking
Competition,” 8 p.m., CBS. Another reality show repeats its opener.
Jeff Foxworthy hosts 10 amateur bakers, ranging from a student to a
firefighter to a retiree.

– “Princesses of Long Island”
debut, 9 p.m., Bravo. No longer confined to high-maintenance
housewives, Bravo now give us six young singles. Most are in their
20s, all are into glitz and gloss.

– “Game of Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO.
It's time for Edmure, Robb Stark's uncle, to marry.

– “Nurse Jackie,” 9 p.m.,
Showtime. Several key stories peak in this excellent episode. There's
the boss with memory problems … and the doctor who's beautiful, but
incompetent ... and the emergency-room chief who's competent, but
disorganized. Also: trouble for Jackie's romance and for her
daughter.

– “Motive,”10 p.m., ABC. Wrapping
up its all-rerun night, ABC offers a show worth finding. It quickly
identifies the killer and the victim, but not the method, the motive
or how police will prevail.

– “Family Tree,” 10:30 p.m., HBO.
This offbeat half-hour starts and ends with Tom's sister and her
monkey puppet. Their opening job audition is hilarious.

TV column for Saturday, June 1


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Orphan Black”
season-finale, 9 p.m.,BBC America.

Here's a happy surprise – a smart,
sharp show that keeps getting better.

It started with Sarah, a small-time
crook, seeing a lookalike (Beth) commit suicide. She tried to take
over her life … which wasn't easy, because Beth was a cop.

More lookalikes appeared, as Sarah
learned of a global cloning scheme. Now the clones (all brilliantly
played by Tatiana Maslany) consider making peace with their makers;
Sarah confronts her nemesis, only to have Beth's old police partner
intervene.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Motive,” 9
p.m., ABC.

Like “Orphan Black,” this is a
smart show, filled with gifted Canadian actors. Unlike “Black,”
it gives us a separate story each week.

This rerun introduces a bright-eyed
teen, earnest and diligent, and a politician, cunning and
charismatic. It tells us which will be the killer and which will be
the victim; still, we don't know how or why … or how the police
will solve it. Enjoy the ride, then see new episodes on Thursdays.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: Movies, cable.

Tonight,cable reminds us of a happy
fact: Sometimes, a big, broad, popular movie is also well-crafted.

The prime example is “Titanic”
(1997), now set to run from 7-11:30 p.m. (an hour earlier than
originally scheduled) on AMC. Alongside the impressive special
effects, there's a beautifully layered story of a poor-but-ambitious
man (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a rich-but-disheartened woman (Kate
Winslet); the result won 11 Academy Awards and a box-office jackpot.

Other gems are on Spike – “Star
Wars” (1977) at 6 p.m. “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) at
9:15.

Other choices include:

– Sports, 7 p.m. ET Fox, 8 p.m. NBC.
Half the big-four networks are consumed with sports now. Fox has
baseball, varying by region; NBC has hockey, to see which teams reach
the Stanley Cup finals.

– “Bet on Your Baby”
season-finale, 8 p.m., ABC. Some tykes try traditional games –
playing catch, kicking soccer goals; one has the bigger task of
removing all the toilet paper from a roll. Their parents hope to win
money for college – when these kids may or may not have better
things to do.

– “Elementary,” 8 p.m., CBS. This
rerun of the third episode shows why “Elementary” became a quick
ratings hit. It's brightened by bursts of humor between Sherlock
Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Watson (Lucy Liu), a doctor hired to
supervise him after his rehab for drug addiction. At the core,
however, is a dead-serious story of children being kidnapped; big
twists and surprises follow.

– “Fish Tank Kings”
season-opener, 9 p.m., NatGeo Wild. Here's a truly clever idea: An
auto-dealer wants to turn an old Volkswagen minibus into an
aquarium. There are personal stories along the way: An annoying
storyteller is re-assigned; a fish-gathering assistant is hired.
Fortunately for the show, the new assistant who looks splendid in a
bikini; still, the VW fish tank is even more gorgeous.

– “Castle,” 10 p.m., ABC.
Switching style – something it does often and well – “Castle”
reruns a pretend documentary. A camera crew was filming a rock band,
when the lead guitarist was killed. Now it switches to following
Beckett and Castle as they investigate.

TV column for Friday, May 31


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Following,”
9 p.m., Fox.

In a troubled year for
networks,”Following” was a rare success. It scored in the
ratings; its approach – a short-run series, wrapping up one case
per season – is being copied by others for next year.

Now it gets a summer rerun, starting
with the superbly crafted (albeit too gory) opener. Serial-killer Joe
Carroll (James Purefoy) escapes from prison; Ryan Hardy (Kevin
Bacon), the former FBI agent who caught him, is called back to
service.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Da Vinci's
Demons,” 9 p.m., Starz; repeats at 10:05.

A week from its season-finale, this
terrific series has all sides scheming.

Leonardo da Vinci hopes to penetrate
the Vatican and steal its most precious secrets. Lorenzo Medici hopes
to use his brother's marriage to bury a feud and forge an alliance.
Both start to realize that Lucrezia Donati, their lover, has been
spying for Rome. Tonight brings fierce and fatal collisions.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Space
Warriors,” 8-10 p.m., Hallmark.

For years, a coalition – Procter &
Gamble, Walden Media, Wal-Mart – has made family-friendly TV films
to show on NBC and Fox. Now the project has moved to some Fridays on
Hallmark.

That's mostly good news, even if this
film is flawed. The story – camp kids attempt to rescue real
astronauts – was filmed at Space Camp, with skilled pros (Danny
Glover, Mira Sorvino, etc.) in support. It's an OK tale, with absurd
plot twists – a mom refusing to let kid go to camp, some cliched
bad-jock teens as villains – to fill out the story. It adds up to
semi-adequate family storytelling.

Other choices include:

– “Bones,” 8 p.m., Fox. A
mutilated body has been found in a garbage can. Also in this rerun,
Dr. Sweets (John Francis Daly) moves in with Booth and Brennan, while
looking for an apartment.

– “Mark Twain Prize,” 9-10:30
p.m.. PBS (check local listings). Here's a rerun of Ellen DeGeneres
winning the top comedy prize. The presenters include Jimmy Kimmel,
Steve Harvey and Lily Tomlin.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.
This show has double-duty this summer, with reruns on Mondays (its
night until now) and Fridays (its night this fall). Tonight, Vanessa
Marcil plays a seductive therapist.

– “Marriage Boot Camp” debut, 9
p.m., WE. The “Bridezilla” women are so nasty we start to wonder
if their marriages can last. Maybe not; tonight, we meet five of them
with marriages in shambles. An upscale “boot camp” tries to show
what's wrong; the result is often loud, often ugly, occasionally fun.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Answering a 9-1-1 call, police are injured by the security team at a
relgious center. That creates a tricky political situation for the
police commissioner (Tom Selleck).

– “Merlin” series finale, 10
p.m., Syfy. :Last week, Arthur led his outnumbered army against
Morgana, while Merlin raced to restore his muted magic. Until now,
that magic has been a secret from Arthur; now comes a final face-off
and a journey to the healing lake of Avalon, with Morgana in pursuit.

– “Pregnant & Dating” debut,
10 p.m., WE. Here are five women with much in common: All seem
prosperous, with fun jobs. Most are attractive and likable. All are
pregnant and have split from the baby's father. Nothing much happens
here, but the production quality is exceptionally good.

TV column for Thursday, May 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Rookie Blue,”
10:01 p.m., ABC.

Last week, this above-average cop show
started its season by getting Andy (Missy Peregrym) out of her
undercover work. Now she's back on the beat and life is good …
almost.

There are funny scenes with her former
love Ben and with his new girlfriend – who is, alas, a nice person
and a good cop. And there's a strong scene, as Andy confronts a
perilous bank robbery.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Hannibal,”
10:01 p.m., NBC.

This intense series hits its usual
extremes. It is, again, far too gory; also, it drags badly during its
mid-section (pondering the fragile mental state of FBI profiler Will
Graham), then makes odd plot leaps.

Still, Hugh Dancy is brilliant as Will;
John Benjamin Hickey (a Tony-winner and a “Big C” co-star) guests
as his neurologist. And the closing minutes are sensational.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Save Me,” 8
and 8:30 p.m., NBC; and “Gracie's Choice” (2004), 9-11 p.m.,
Lifetime Movie Network.

Bouncing between networks, you can
catch two sides of Anne Heche tonight.

She's funny on “Save Me,” as a
suburbanite who transformed after a near-death experience. In the
first episode, she befriends a crabby neighbor; in the second, she
visits her husband's comatose mistress.

Then Heche is serious, in the true
story of a teen who saved her younger siblings during the decline of
their drug-addicted mom. Kristen Bell and Heche are superb as
daughter and mother.

Other choices include:

– “Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows, Part 1,” 7:30-11 p.m., ABC Family. This is the first of
two films that wrapped up the Harry Potter saga.

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a funny rerun, Sheldon loses some of his excessive confidence
when he works with Kripke. Also, Raj and Howard buy action figures of
themselves.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 8:31
p.m., CBS. This rerun starts a sharp, five-episode stretch that has
Brooke D'Orsay as Kate, struggling as a waitress while dreaming of
being a fashion designer. Walden (Ashton Kutcher) meets her while
using an alias, hoping for someone who doesn't just want his money.

– “Motive,” 9 p.m., ABC. Police
search for a customs officer who killed a limousine driver. They also
try to find his motive … leading them to a seductive waitress.

– “The Office,” 9 p.m., NBC. In a
rerun, the documentary's first promos appear. Also, Jim has a big
meeting with baseball star Ryan Howard; Angela is jealous when Dwight
dates a brussel sprout farmer.

– “Showville” and “Small Town
Security,” 9 and 10 p.m., AMC. Known for top-drawer dramas (“Mad
Men,” “Walking Dead”), AMC detours here. “Showville” has
small-town talent shows, tonight in South Kingston, R.I.; “Security”
is an improvised comedy.

– “Person of Interest,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. Usually, the machine offers one person who will be either
a victim or a killer. In this rerun, it complicates things by
delivering both husband and wife.

– ”Elementary,” 10 p.m., CBS.
This rerun finds Sherlock Holmes suspended … but, working on his
own, probing the death of a conspiracy theorist. Meanwhile, Watson
brokers the impasse with his boss.