TV column for Saturday, May 21


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Chase,” 8
p.m., NBC.

Let's credit NBC for letting a show die
with dignity. Instead of just dumping this OK action show, it put the
final five episodes on Saturdays. Now here's the last of those (and
18th overall).

A case makes Annie realize her father's
life is in danger. Now she has to find him – for the first time in
20 years – and tell colleagues about her troubled past.

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

Here's the last of three straight new
episodes, wrapping up the season. There's no way of knowing if it
will be good or bad. The May 7 episode was terrific; the May 14 one
was rather awful.

And tonight? At least, there's
star-power: Justin Timberlake hosts, with Lady Gaga as music guest.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Glee,” 10
a.m. to 10:48 p.m., Oxygen.

This show has its season-finale Tuesday
on Fox, tucked neatly after the final two “American Idol”
contestants have performed. If you need to catch up on “Glee,”
here's the ideal chance.

That starts at 10 a.m. with the
sectionals arriving amid romantic chaos. Some of the stories are
good, some are overwrought, but the music is magnificent. That's led
by Sam and Quinn doing “The Time of My Life,” the competing
Warblers doing “Hey, Soul Sister” … and Rachel and Kurt doing
an exquisite “Don't Cry For Me, Argentina.”

Then come the 11 episodes that have
aired in the second half of the season. That starts (11:01 a.m.) with
the Super Bowl episode, including an unthrilling “Thriller”; it
ends with the prom episode (8:43) and the episode that ran Tuesday,
centering on Sue's sister's funeral.

Other choices include:

– Baseball, 7 p.m. ET, Fox. The
season's first inter-league weekend goes prime-time, with games
varying by region. Two (Mets-Yankees, Cubs-Red Sox) are in American
League parks and use the designated hitter; two (Rangers-Phillies,
A's-Giants) are in National League parks, making pitchers hit.

– Movies, 7 p.m., cable. The fun
starts an hour earlier than usual. Catch the beautifully cast “Fast
Times at Ridgemont High” (1982) on G4, Tom Selleck's understated
cowboy tale “Quigley Down Under” (1990) on CMT and Owen Wilson
and Vince Vaughn in “Wedding Crashers” (2005) on TNT,.

– “Spider-Man 3” (2007), 8-11
p.m., ABC. Infected by a fungus from outer space, Spider-Man turns
evil. Supporting roles include Thomas Haden Church and Topher Grace
as Sandman and Venom.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 8 p.m., CBS.
In a rerun, the daughter of a U.S. ambassador has been killed; the
team rushes to find her abducted sister. Masi Oka (“Heroes”)
plays a medical examiner.

– “NCIS,” 9 p.m., CBS. This rerun
has team members getting their mandatory psych evaluations – while
they're in the midst of a murder probe.

– “Law & Order: Los Angeles,”
9 p.m., NBC. In a rerun that's way too close to real life, a gunman
has burst into a politician's rally, killing her and six others;
Dekker and Rubirosa disagree on how to handle the prosecution.
Meanwhile, TJ continues his independent search for his former
partner's killer.

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. This rerun has two men beaten and branded.
That stirs some memories that change the investigation.

TV column for Friday, May 20


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Supernatural”
season-finale, 8-10 p.m., CW.

So you think you have troubles?
Consider Sam Winchester.

In the first hour, he links with his
brother Dean, to save Ben and Lisa Braeden – who, of course, have
been arrested by a demon. In the second, he suddenly loses the block
that stopped his worst memories.

He has many of those to block. This guy
has been to Hell and back. Literally.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: “Flashpoint,”
8 p.m., CBS.

While other scripted shows are ending
their seasons (or have already done so) a few shows keep going
strong. That includes this solid Canadian drama and NBC's splendid
“Friday Night Lights.”

Tonight, there's been a bus crash in
Toronto and gunmen are keeping rescuers from reaching the site. Spike
(Sergio Di Zio) can't believe his former mentor might be involved.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Friday Night
Lights,” 8 p.m., NBC.

This hour starts with church and joy.
The East Dillon Lions crushed the team it once forfeited to; Luke has
been lured by college recruiter, Coach Taylor has been featured in a
magazine cover story.

Things are about to crash down. In
particular, the coach's daughter – barely into her freshman year of
college – soon admits to her affair with her teaching assistant, a
married man.

This is deep drama, with few words
required. Consider this exchange: “I don't know that girl in
there.” “Yes you do; she needs her parents now.”

Or consider the episode's final scene.
It contains exactly six words and grips powerfully.

Other choices include:

– “Shark Tank,” 8 p.m., ABC. This
rerun sees ideas being pitched that range from seafood to sisters who
are ready to franchise their kids'-dance plans.

– “Lemonade Mouth” (2011), 8
p.m., Disney; “Mama Mia” (2008), 10 p.m., TBS. Make your own
musical double feature here. Neither story is particularly good, but
the music is vibrant.

– “Children of Promise: The Legacy
of Robert F. Kennedy,” 8 p.m., Investigation Discovery. Fresh from
a trip to the Mississippi Delta, Kerry Kennedy recalls, her dad
called the kids together. He had just been somewhere, he said, where
three families would live in a place the size of this room. After his
death, the Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps began showing
that disadvantaged lives can transform. Despite poor craftsmanship,
this documentary offers an involving story.

– “CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. A
sniper is loose and Mac thinks this is linked to a brutal abduction
case in the past. This rerun is the first of three with John
Larroquette as deputy chief of Manhattan detectives.

– “Edge of the Garden,” 9 p.m.,
Hallmark. You'll need to suspend all disbelief, to enjoy this movie,
which debuted last Saturday. If you do, you'll be rewarded with a
warm emotional experience.

– “20/20,” 10 p.m., ABC.
Infomercials used to be confined to a few odd hours; now they show up
in all sorts of cable and TV times. This special (barring a late
change) talks to an infomercial mogul and several spokespeople. It
also sees products tested by Consumer Reports.

– “Camelot,” 10 p.m., Starz.
Morgan has an evil advantage, what with her magic and all. Now she's
able to go unnoticed inside Camelot, while trying to create dissent
among Arthur's men. Meanwhile, Igraine (Claire Forlani) is trapped in
Castle Pendragon, trying to find a way out.

TV column for Thursday, May 19


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Office,”
8-10 p.m., NBC.

Instead of moping about losing its star
(Steve Carell as Michael), “The Office” has turned the transition
into an event. Tonight, that includes two reruns and an hourlong
season finale.

Earlier, Will Ferrell played the guy
who was supposed to get Michael's job – until people learned what
he's really like. He's back in the finale, which has Jim leading the
committee to find a new boss.

Ricky Gervais (the “Office”
creator) shows up as David Brent, whom he played in the British
original. Other guests are Jim Carrey, Ray Romano, James Spader, Will
Arnett and Britsh actress Catherine Tate.

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

With the season officially ending
Wednesday, tonight is stuffed with season finales.

For “Grey's,” that means a big
crisis – a plane with 200 passengers has crashed in the water –
and a big decision, on the new chief resident. It also means personal
crises for Cristina and Teddy.

And people are learning of Meredith's
tampering with the clinic trial. That's a step so extreme that it
endangers the trial, the hospital, her marriage to Derek … and the
show's credibility.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Parks and
Recreation,” 10-11 p.m., NBC.

Remember when “Parks” was too quiet
and casual? These episodes are big, broad and (often) funny.

Both have Chris (Rob Lowe), the city
manager, in his usual overdrive. In the first episode, he enforces
some wildly unworkable changes; in the second, he sees tendinitis as
a step toward decline and death.

And both view the aftershock of his
rule against supervisor/employee romance. Leslie and Ben –
hilariously inept liars – try to hide their affair from her mom and
others. There's much more, including the second episode's
mega-funeral for Li'l Sebastian, the tiny horse.

Other choices include:

– “Smallville,” 8-10 p.m., CW.
Here's a rerun of Friday's episode, wrapping up the 10-year series.

– “American Idol,” 8 p.m., Fox.
Tonight, we learn who the two finalists will be next week (when the
show borrows its old Tuesday-Wednesday slot). Also, this may feel a
bit like a Simon Cowell tribute. Il Volo (the group Cowell
discovered) will sing “O Sole Mio”; Nicole Scherzinger (who will
co-host Cowell's “The X Factor”) sings “Right There” with 50
Cent.

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Bernadette gets her doctorate – making Howard, her fiance,
again feel like the uneducated one. Also, roommates are re-arranged:
After hearing too much bedroom talk between his sister and Leonard,
Raj moves in with Sheldon.

– “Rules of Engagement,” 8:30,
CBS. Russell (David Spade) books a cruise with what he expects to be
“red hot” women. He's way off on this one.

– “The Mentalist,” 9-11 p.m.,
CBS. Patrick Jane finally learns who has been helping Red John. Then
he confronts the serial killer who murdered Jane's wife and has been
his nemesis.

– “Private Practice,” 10:01 p.m.,
ABC. There are big problems everywhere – Violet's license is
suspended, the practice could be punished next, Charlotte treats
someone who was brutally raped. On the flip side, Kate meets a
handsome guy (Benjamin Bratt).

TV column for Wednesday, May 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC.

Alex – valedictorian of her
middle-school class – plans a commencement speech that will blast
all of the popular kids. What could go wrong?

For starters, her grandfather has had a
Botox accident, making people cringe; he had an electronic-gate
accident, trapping people in his driveway. Also, her sister – one
of those popular kids – says this is no time for a thoughtful
speech: “It's a graduation, a celebration of being done with
thinking.”

The result is a rich brew; it starts
fairly well and builds wonderfully.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Amercan
Idol,” 8-9:30 p.m., Fox.

Earlier this season, “Idol” had its
most distinctive contestants ever, filled with specialties.

And now? It's kind of like previous
seasons – two cute Southern teens and a belter.

Last week, the show's epic-rock guy
(James Durbin) was ousted. Before that, the show lost its gospel guy,
its jazz guy, its just-really-odd guy, its powerhouse female. It now
has people cozily near the mainstream – Scotty McCreery, Lauren
Alaina and Haley Reinhart. Tonight, they visit their home towns; then
each sings three songs, two chosen (by judges and by mentor Jimmy
Iovene) for them.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Happy
Endings,” 10 and 10:30 p.m., ABC.

Amid a mountain of cancellations –
“Brothers & Sisters,” “V,” “Better With You,” more –
ABC had one bit of leniency, renewing this crisply funny show. Now we
can catch two new episodes.

The first finds Dave fuming about the
guy who roller-bladed into his wedding and convinced the bride (Alex)
to run away with him. The second finds Dave and Alex trying to prove
they can be civil together; they join the others at a concert of
their favorite band during their college years.

Other choices include:

– “America's Next Top Model,” 8
and 9 p.m., Last week's hour (rerunning at 8 p.m.) gave “Model”
its final two contestants; both are students – Brittani Kline, 19,
of Beech Creek, Pa.; and Molly O'Connell, 22, of Charleston, S.C.
Tonight, they have a commercial and a runway; then one will be the
winner.

– “The Middle,” 8 and 8:30 p.m.,
ABC. In a new episode, swimming season is no day at the beach; Axl
competes for a lifeguard job, Sue hates herself in swim suits. Both
make life difficult for Frankie – who has enough trouble with
Brick's fear of bridges. Then is a rerun, with spring cleaning
bringing woe.

– Movies, 8 p.m., cable. Some people
will want the Emmy-nominated “Coco Chanel” (2009, Lifetime Movie
Network), with its lush look and solid casting; Barbora Bobulova and
Shirley Maclaine share the title role. Others will like the clever
thriller “The Sixth Sense” (1999, FX) or one of the sequels –
the vibrant “High School Musical 2” (2007) on Disney, “The
Matrix Revolutions” (2003) on AMC.

– “The Real Housewives of New
Jersey,” 8:30-10 p.m., Bravo. If you missed this rowdy
season-opener Monday, here's a rerun. It may be your only chance to
see a real-life baptism brawl.

– “Cougar Town,” 9:31 p.m., ABC.
Heart-broken by an ended romance, Travis is ready to quit college.
Meanwhile, his dad – already a drop-out – may make mony from a
game he created.

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit” season-finale, 10 p.m., NBC. A woman has been killed, shortly
before she was to testify in a controversial rape case.

TV column for Tuesday, May 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Dancing With the
Stars” (ABC) or “The Biggest Loser” (NBC), 8-10 p.m.

Two shows – each down to the final
four – trim for next week's finales.

“Stars” has football player Hines
Ward and actors Kirstie Alley, Ralph Macchio and Chelsea Kane. One of
them departs in the second hour, after a special at 8.

“Loser” will choose two of its
finalists and place the other two in limbo, with the viewers choosing
one for the finale. Before tonight's weigh-in, the four people cook
turkey burgers. They also race through a golf course, shedding
weights that represent how much they've lost so far.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “The Good
Wife,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Ducking next Tuesday's reality
overload, CBS has three straight season finales, concluding here.

Things have been tense since Alicia
learned that her husband slept with her trusted detective, Kalinda.
Now that must be set aside while the women work on a murder trial.

Kelli Giddish (“Chase”) returns as
Sophia Russo, from Kalinda's past. Also, Alicia must sort out her
feelings for Will … who is doing the same with Tammy.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Secrets of
the Dead,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

When the U.S. exploded its first
hydrogen bomb in 1954 at Bikini Atoll, the blast (15 megatons) was
triple the expectation. Three coral islands were vaporized, fishermen
were killed and injured 82 miles away; soldiers improvised bed sheets
– like kids' Halloween costumes – to try to escape radiation.

Seven years later, Soviets had a
50-megaton blast. Its creator soon became an anti-nuclear activist.

The nations would sign a 1963 treaty
banning above-ground testing. This well-crafted documentary visits
some of the key people; it also follows a man's visit to Bikini Atoll
– once his people's home, but now uninhabited for 57 years.

Other choices include:

– “Glee,” 8 p.m., Fox.
Glee-clubbers are obsessing on their set list for the nationals, with
some outside help from Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff). The a death
changes things.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Lives are
in danger when the team finally confronts the “port-to-port”
killer.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Hettty (Linda Hunt) has suddenly resigned and disappeared.

– “Raising Hope,” 9:01 p.m., Fox.
We flash back five years, to a time when Jimmy was 18 and Goth –
and when his grandmother (Cloris Leachman) was sharp in mind and
body.

– “Traffic Light,” 9:31 p.m.,
Fox. This clever show won't be back next season, so we might as well
enjoy it now. Tonight focuses on clothes, or lack thereof: Mike and
Lisa have a skimpily clad teen babysitter; Callie has a naked dance
party, interrupted by a delivery man.

– “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). Japan's fascination with bugs is captured
in many ways here. Beautifully filmed, “Beetle Queen Conquers
Tokyo” ranges from city streets to nature preserves, art museums
and Zen temples.

– “Body of Proof,” 10:01 p.m.,
ABC. As the funeral nears for a philanthropist and socialite, Megan
intervenes. She suspects foul play … but has trouble proving it
after the body has been embalmed.