TV column for Monday, Aug. 8


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Blazing Saddles”
(1974, AMC) or “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006, FX); 8 p.m., cable.

A comedy classic and a stylish, modern
comedy-drama are both worth catching.

“Saddles” (rerunning at 10 p.m.) is
Mel Brooks at his goofy best; he sends up the cowboy genre, with
Cleavon Little taking over a town that's really not ready for a black
sheriff. “Prada,” beautifully filmed, catches a smart intern
(Anne Hathaway) and her overbearing boss (Merle Streep at her subtle
best).

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “How I Met Your
Mother,” 8 and 8:30 p.m,, CBS.

Here's a double shot of one of TV's
better comedies.

In the first rerun, Ted is best man at
Punchy's wedding and Barney finds benefits to Christmastime giving.
In the second, Robin starts her new job and Marshall and Lily try a
pregnancy specialist.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Bachelor Pad”
season-opener, 8-11 p.m., ABC.

Don't expect any subtlety here. Chris
Harrison quickly tells us the show has invited “the hottest,
sexiest, most outrageous 'Bachelor' and 'Bachelorette' contestants.'”

The emphasis is on outrage. One person
calls Michelle “creepy,” another says Vienna “(will) kill you
in your sleep.” Vienna's former fiance Jake is there; he's said she
sold their break-up story to the tabloids.

Also, Michelle says she's not crazy.
She says it in the tone of someone offering a minority opinion.

Other choices include:

– “Hell's Kitchen” and
“MasterChef,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. The first hour has 11
professional chefs remaining; the second is down to six amateurs.

– “America's Got Talent,” 8 p.m.,
NBC. Here's a rerun of Wednesday's hour, filling the field of 16
people who started with auditions. On Tuesday and Wedneday, four
YouTube entrants will be added..

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Short on money, Alan decides to give Lyndsey a creative birthday
present. Meanshile, Courtney (Jenny McCarthy) is never short of
money.

– “The Closer,” 9 p.m., TNT. The
investigation of a minister's murder gets difficult, because his
family is hiding his secrets.

– “Mike & Molly,” 9:30, CBS.
Talking to a flirty woman, Mike introduces his lover Molly as “my
friend.” This doesn't go well with Molly.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.m., CBS.
McGarrett's sister (Taryn Manning) is kidnapped, providing hints
about their mother's murder.

– “Rizzoli & Isles,” 10 p.m.,
TNT. Rizzoli and her brother – both honest cops – have sometimes
talked about their brother, who's in prison. He gets tonight,
stirring complications.

– “Citizen Kane” (1941), 10 p.m.,
Turner Classic Movies. Orson Welles directed and starred in the film
that's tops many best-movie lists. It's part of an all-Welles day.
He's an actor in Carol Reed's “The Third Man” (1949) at 8 p.m.;
he directed and co-starred in the odd “Touch of Evil” (1958) at
12:15 a.m.

 

TV column for Sunday, Aug. 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Falling Skies”
conclusion, 9 and 10 p.m., TNT; repeats at 10:58 and 11:58.

The summer's best new drama wraps up
hastily, with a two-parter. To catch up, you can see the most recent
hours (episodes 4-8) from 1-6 p.m.; then – after “Transformers”
– comes the two-hour finale.

Formed into a rag-tag military unit,
the Earthlings are ready for a major attack on the aliens. Meanwhile,
new information worries Tom (Noah Wyle), who is staying back to
protect the civilians.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Teen Choice
Awards,” 8-10 p.m. Sunday, Fox.

Kaley Cuoco of “The Big Bang Theory”
hosts, with music by Selena Gomez, Jason Derulo and One Republic,
plus a DJ set by will.i.am.

The presenter list offers steep talent
(Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher, Taylor Swift, Avril Lavigne, Joe
Jonas, Zooey Deschanel) and others (Rebecca Black and three
Kardashians).

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The Glee
Project,” 9 p.m. Sunday, Oxygen; repeats at 10.

Only five contestants remain, competing
for a chance to be on “Glee” for seven episodes. They combine for
a video, “The Only Exception,” that is beautifully filmed and
sung.

Jenna Ushkowitz, who plays Tina on
“Glee,” is the guest, in an episode testing believability.

Other choices include:

– “Ty's Great British Adventure
2011,” 8 p.m., ABC. England has few outdoor pools, Ty Pennington
says, and it almost had one less. The Portishead council said it
would only keep the pool if the people repaired it. Now Pennington
(“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”) has a week to clean and fill
the pool, transform the grounds and the changing rooms and add kiddie
pools.

– “Curiosity” debut, 8 p.m.,
Discovery. Each week, this show will tackle huge questions. That
starts tonight with the big ones – God, nature and the creaton of
the universe – using Stephen Hawking's writings and impressive
videos. It's followed by a roundtable at 9 and “Into the Universe
with Stephen Hawking” at 9:30; the entire, ambitious package
repeats at 11.

– “Same Name,” 9 p.m., CBS. Mike
Tyson is a nurse in Zeeland, Mich. Then again, there's also the Mike
Tyson who was a boxing champion. The two briefly trade lives.

– “True Blood,” 9 p.m., HBO. Last
week's powerful episode saw Bill reluctantly spare Eric – who has
become the new lover of Bill's ex-love, Sookie. Tonight, Bill makes
an unpopular decision, Eric uses his amnesia to advantage and Jessica
reconsider her romance with Hoyt, a non-vampire.

– “Body of Proof,” 10 p.m., ABC.
In a rerun, a young socialite dies and is quickly embalmed.
Frustrated, Megan distrupts attempts by the victim's mother (Jill
Eikenberry) to have a quiet funeral.

– “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” 10 p.m.
HBO. In a funny episode, Larry builds a lie that keeps growing. Also,
he learns it's really not nice to eat a dying dog's treat.

TV column for Saturday, Aug. 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Harry Potter and
the Goblet of Fire” (2005), 8 p.m., ABC, or cable movies.

Our TV set turns into a movie
multi-plex tonight, with strong choices everywhere.

The cable films – which we'll list
separately – are impressive. Some (led by “Goodfellas” and
“Transformers”) are at 8, others (“Jerry Maguire” and
“Shrek”) are earlier. Or you can continue ABC's weekly run of the
Harry Potter films.

Tonight, Harry is in the Triwizard
Tournament – even though he never entered. He confronts dragons,
water demons, an enchanted maze and Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Who is Simon
Miller?” 8-10 p.m., NBC.

Simon is seemingly a mild-mannered
geologist. When he disappears, however, his wife and kids find fake
passports and more; a frantic search begins.

This is the latest of the
family-friendly films that have jumped between NBC and Fox. Playing
the mom is Robyn Lively, who starred in “Savannah” and had some
great “Chicago Hope” episodes, but may be best-known now as the
half-sister of “Gossip Girls” star Blake Lively.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Friday Night
Dinner,” 11:30 p.m., BBC America.

It's a typical Friday night for the
Goodmans and their two grown sons. Except that the neighbor keeps
stopping in, because his toilet is broken. And someone is coming to
buy the old sofa-bed. And Jackie is equally intent on watching
“MasterChef” and dumping her husband's old magazines.

How does all of that tie together? At
times, quite wonderfully.

Other choices include:

– “Jerry Maguire” (1996), 6-9
p.m., Bravo. The big movie night starts with this terrific Tom Cruise
drama-comedy. It won an Oscar (for Cuba Gooding in support) and was
nominated for best picture.

– “Shrek” (2001), 7-9 p.m.,
Cartoon. Here's a fresh chance to see this amiable, animated film
about a sweet princess and a good-hearted ogre.

 

– “CSI: Miami,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, a sugar refinery explodes and the team discovers a secret
about one of its employees.

– More movies, 8 p.m. “Goodfellas”
(1990, AMC) is Martin Scorsese's Mob classic. “The Pelican Brief”
(1993, Ion) and “Fried Green Tomatoes” (1991, CMT) are smart
adaptations of books – a John Grisham thriller and a Fannie Flagg
tale of gritty Southern women. On the lighter side: “Transformers”
(2007, TNT), “Princess Diaries” (2001, ABC Family) and “Sweet
Home Alabama” (2002, E).

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.
Masi Oka (“Heroes”) is medical examiner Max Bergman in this
rerun. When a honeymooner is killed and his wife is abducted, Dr.
Bergman sees a connection to old cases.

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, a naked teen has been found in a
stranger's bed. His mom (Rita Wilson) is surprisingly defensive.

– “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29
p.m., NBC. Ed Helms of “The Office” hosts this rerun, with Paul
Simon – who hosted the second “SNL,” back in 1975 – as music
guest.

TV column for Friday, Aug. 5


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

By now, viewers know why Olivia Wilde
was gone from the show. She was on a movie spree; she did two films
for this summer (“Cowboys & Aliens,” “The Change-Up”) and
one for last winter (“TRON: Legacy”), with five more on the way.

That leaves the question of why her
character – Dr. Remy Hadley, also known as “13” – was gone.
Dr. House knows she was in prison, but doesn't know why. We learn, in
a superb rerun that ranges from a potato-shooting contest to great
scenes with Hugh Laurie and Olivia Wilde as Drs.. House and Hedley.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Torchwood:
Miracle Day,” 10 p.m., Starz.

Last week's hour was merely good, but
now this 10-week series hits its halfway point powerfully.

In California – home of the evil drug
company – the team learns about the aftershocks of a world that
suddenly lacks death. Gwen rescue her dad; Dr. Juarez pretends to be
a bureaucrat. That leads to strong moments – and then to one that
packs fierce power.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Platinum Hit”
finale, 8 p.m., Bravo.

Three young singer-songwriters, all now
living in Los Angeles, go for the first-season championship.

Sonyae Elise grew up in New Jersey,
where her mom was a singer and much of her childhood was spent at
recording studios. Jes Hudak grew up in Saratoga Springs, NY, where
she started early at open-mike nights; by 14, she had made her first
CD.

Scotty Granger, who's from New Orleans,
had a tougher route. There was Hurricane Katrina …. and shunning by
family members when they learned he's gay … and big expectations:
His great aunt was gospel great Mahalia Jackson; his older brother
Danny is a pro basketball all-star who has topped 20 point-per-game
the past three seasons. Now Scotty gets his shot at fame.

Other choices include:

– “Flashpoint,” 8 p.m., CBS. One
team member has a secret that could end Wordy's career and compromise
the current drug bust.

– “Friends With Benefits,” 8 and
8:30 p.m., NBC. It must have been a strange year for NBC's comedy
department. Here's the second show (after “Love Bites”) being
thrown away during the summer; another (“The Paul Reiser Show”)
was yanked after two episodes. “Benefits” focuses on young pals
in New York, including two who sometimes have sex with each other.

– “Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd
Dimension,” 8-10 p.m., Disney. The witty animated series takes an
odd twist in this movie: The guys visit the Evil, Inc. headquarters
of Dr. Doofenschmirtz, where they are propelled to an alternate
world. There, the evil doc rules, eliminating signs of summer joy.

– “CSI: NY.” 9 p.m., CBS. In this
rerun, a husband and wife have been beaten to death in their home. A
woman identifies her son as the killer … but then the case gets
complicated.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.
After evidence is compromised, three dangerous criminals are
released. That instantly endangers the life of one of the Reagans.

– “Haven,” 10 p.m., Syfy. This
troubled town faces a new problem – widespread electrocutions.

TV column for Thursday, Aug. 4


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

Pia Toscano is becoming the busiest
“American Idol” loser since Jennifer Hudson.

Dumped way too early by “Idol,”
she's sung on “Dancing With the Stars,” plus Leno, Ellen, Regis,
Rachael Ray and “Today.” Now she'll sing “This Time.”

That comes during a key night for
“Dance,” which has six people left – Melanie Moore and Marko
Germar (both consistent favorites with the judges and audience), plus
Sasha Mallory, Ricky Jaime, Tadd Gadduang and Caitlynn Lawson. On
Wednesday, they had a chance to dance and viewers voted; tonight,
four will reach next week's finals.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Project
Runway,” 9-10:30 p.m., Lifetime.

Two of TV's best reality competitions
go back-to-back tonight.

If you missed last week's “Runway”
opener, you can catch a rerun at 8 p.m. If not, just wait until “So
You Think You Can Dance” is done, then switch. This week lets the
designers tackle pet projects.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Community”
and “Parks and Recreation,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., NBC.

With strong Thursday choices, these two
shows often get overlooked. Tonight, both have good reruns.

“Community” finds Pierce (Chevy
Chase) in the hospital, giving things away as if these were his final
moments. His choices seem bizarre at first, stirring strong feelings.
Levar Burton guests as himself.

“Parks” has Jerry creating a
painting that is bold, controversial – and maybe banned. That's up
to Chris (Rob Lowe), whose ban on office dating is also causing agony
for Leslie and Ben. There are other great moments when Ben stays with
Andy and April, both of whom refuse to be grown-ups.

Other choices include:

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Sheldon is bedeviled by Howard's magic trick in this rerun.
Leonard faces a much bigger problem: His girlfriend Priya wants him
to quit hanging out with his friend (and ex-lover) Penny.

– “Big Brother,” 9 p.m., CBS.
Last week, the show trimmed to its final 10 by ousting Dominic.
Tonight, it gets to nine.

– “Expedition Impossible,” 9
p.m., ABC. It's one thing to race through a desert or jungle. Now,
however, the teams are rushing through a Moroccan market.

– “The Office,” 9 p.m., NBC. This
rerun has Will Ferrell as Deangelo Vickers, set to replace Michael.

– “30 Rock,” 9:30, NBC. In a
rerun, Jack turns to his old nemesis (Will Arnett) to save a cable
network.

– “Rookie Blue,” 10 p.m., ABC.
With personal problems getting in the way, Andy and Luke face a tough
case that may be linked to a cop-killing three years ago.

– “The Mentalist,” 10 p;m. CBS.
In a rerun, a man had claimed he was abducted by aliens. Now he's
been killed and the body has been stolen.

– “Top 20 Most Shocking,” 10
p.m., Tru TV. Here's the third edition of “Women Out of Control.”
It ranges from one woman who attacks her boyfriend's Xbox with a
hammer to two who are naked while riding the hood through a car wash.