TV column for Thursday, Jan. 30




TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.


In recent weeks, we’ve had four “Big Bang” reruns on CBS and
roughly three kajillion more on cable and individual stations. Now, as the
“sweeps” ratings month begins, we finally get a new one.


Sheldon insists he’s starting his own variation on a comics
convention for fantasy fans. Friends mock him … until he lands a major
celebrity; James Earl Jones is the guest star.


 TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE:
“Parks and Recreation,” 8:30, NBC.


Rashida Jones has been with this show from the start, as Ann.
We met her as a nurse who had a lazy boyfriend on her couch and a gaping pit in
her neighborhood; she became Leslie’s best friend.


Now, after five-plus years, Ann is leaving town. She and
Chris plan to live in Michigan, where they’ll raise their baby; first, Leslie plans
to do – or overdo – one more thing, with a grand farewell party.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Sixties: The British Invasion,”
9 p.m., CNN.


Fifty years ago, the music world transformed. The Beatles
did the “Ed Sullivan Show,” with 73 million people watching; others – Stones,
Kinks, Who, Dave Clark Five – soon followed.


Now TV is noting that. On Feb. 9 (the exact 50th
anniversary of the Sullivan telecast), CBS has a music special. On April 8, PBS
has a Dave Clark film, including Tom Hanks’ passionate hall-of-fame speech.


First is this special, produced by Hanks and a sampling of
the 10-part “The Sixties” in May. Alongside clips aree comments by Graham Nash,
Smokey Robinson, Mickey Dolenz, Questlove and more.


Other choices include:


“American Idol,” 8 p.m., Fox. Here’s the final night of
auditions, in Omaha.


“Blade Runner” (1982), 9 p.m., Sundance. Ridley Scott
stylishly directed this film, weaving genres about the past (hard-boiled
detective) and future (android-hunting). Harrison Ford stars, with great support
from Daryl Hannah, Sean Young, William Sanderson, Rutger Hauer and more.


“The Millers,” 8:31 p.m., CBS. Tired of chauffeuring his
mother, Nathan tells her to learn to drive or get someone else to do it.


 “Rake,” 9 p.m., Fox.
In the jaunty season-opener, we met Keane (Greg Kinnear), a good lawyer with a
bad life of gambling debts and more; he was stopped for drunken driving. Now he
needs a driver and finds an overeducated one (Alexandra Breckenridge) who
shares his passion for sports bets. Meanwhile, his clients are charged with a
hate crime, for cutting off the beard of a fellow Amish man.


“White Collar,” 9 p.m., USA. In the season finale, Neal
searches for a treasure buried in New York.


“The Michael J. Fox Show,” 9:30 p.m., NBC. Eve isn’t really
the edgy type, but now she pretends to be.


“Parenthood,” 10 p.m., NBC. It’s time for new ventures -- Sara
and Hank (Lauren Graham and Ray Romano) with their project, Kristina starts
working as a community counselor.



TV column for Wednesday, Jan. 29



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Suburgatory,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.

Reactions to break-ups vary, in this funny episode.


George is taking his break-up with Dallas badly. He’s in the
drive-through line (without a car) of a hamburger stand at 9 a.m.; even the
dog-walker says he needs a bath and a de-lousing.


Meanwhile, his daughter Tessa claims she’s calm about her
break-up with Ryan. Now Ryan is visiting home; his mom is giddy, his sister
fumes and Tessa starts to crumble.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Top Chef,” 10 p.m., Bravo.


Last week’s episode (rerunning at 9 p.m.) trimmed the field
to three. Now the total nudges back to four, when an Online winner is added.


They head to Hawaii, for a shot at next week’s finale. It
won’t be easy; the creations must include Spam.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond” deut,
10 p.m., BBC America.


Long before he wrote the James Bond novels, we’re told, Ian
Fleming was drifting. His brother was earnest and successful; Fleming was
encased in alcohol and empty romances.


Then World War II brought accidental shots at heroism. It’s
an interesting story that has an OK start tonight, then gets better over the
next three Wednesdays. Dominic Cooper stars, with Lara Pulver as the elegant socialite
he lusted for and Annabelle Wallis as the prototype for the “Bond girl” ideal.


Other choices include:


“Goldfinger” (1964), 7:30-10 p.m., BBC America. The third
Bond film – and the first to have a sleek, glittery feel – gets us in the mood
for the Fleming mini-series that follows.


“American Idol,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. The auditions round wraps
up today and Thursday.


“Revolution,” 8 p.m., NBC. Monroe, Rachel and Conner head
out on a dangerous adventure.


“Nature,” 8 p.m., PBS. On an Indonesian island, the crested
black macaque is ready for stardom. Called “the funkiest monkey,” it has a
great look and warm emotions. But as the human population grows, this well-made
(if over-talky) film says, the macaque population has shrunk 90 percent in 25
years.


Can’t-see:  “Who the
(bleep) is Arthur Fogel?” Bizarrely, Epix yanked this rock-promoter documentary,
just two days before it was scheduled to air. The new airdate is March 19.


 “Modern Family,” 9
p.m., ABC. This rerun catches the first day of high school for Manny and Luke.


“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” 9 p.m., NBC. A teen
is missing and her boyfriend is a suspect.


“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” 10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun,
Ellie and Morgan are kidnapped.


“Workaholics,” 10 p.m., Comedy Central. “Do you know how
idiotic this is?” one woman asks, late in this episode. “Workaholics” has,
again, taken idiocy to an unpleasant extreme. The only reason to watch is to
keep the set warm for the promising “Broad City,” at 10:30.


“The Fashion Fund,” 10 p.m., Ovation. Last week’s opener
introduced a real-life program, choosing 10 designers to work with fashion’s
best. Now they nervously bring final presentations to the committee.


Pacific-time-zone version: Jan. 28 TV column



(Right below this one, you'll find my regular TV column for Tuesday, Jan. 28. That day, however, has substantial differences on the West Coast; as a result, here's a separate one for the Pacific time zone.)



TONIGHT’S SHOULD-SEE: State of the Union, 6 p.m. PT, ABC,
CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and news channels.


After a year ranging from slowdowns to shutdown, this night
lets both sides re-think and re-energize. Barack Obama’s speech and the
Republican response (by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, chair of the
House Republican conference) will get heavy attention.


Coverage goes to 7:30 p.m. on ABC, CBS and Fox, 8 p.m. on
NBC and PBS, forever on news channels.


TONIGHTS MIGHT-SEE: “Cougar Town,” 10 p.m., TBS.


It’s Buccaneer Week in Gulf Haven, bringing complications
for everyone. Laurie boosts her cake shop by baking erotica, Bobby stirs a
“Jaws”-like panic by complaining about jellyfish … and as mayor, Andy makes the
ultimate request: For the first time in 10 years, his acerbic wife Ellie should
be charming.


Like all “Cougar Town” episodes, this is scattered and
inconsistent, but has bursts of sharp humor. Using its sunny setting, this
provides a bright backdrop and (by comedy standards) an epic feel.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: Fantasy shows, 9 p.m., CW and cable.


This is the hour when fantasy fans get extra choices. On
“Supernatural” (CW), Sam and Dean demand to know where Garth has been … then are
stunned by what they learn. On “Ravenswood” (ABC Family), Caleb and Miranda
probe Collins’ secret; Remy and Luke probe Dillon’s.


Then there’s “Face Off” (Syfy), one of the better reality
competitions. This is the first week of individual challenges for the talented
make-up people and it requires them to create dragons. They push hard – “I
might be a little insane,” one says – with impressive results.


Other choices include:


“Agents of SHIELD,” 8 p.m., ABC. Next week, this show
returns to new episodes for the second half of its season. First, this rerun
has Coulson work the system to find secrets that endanger Ward and Fitz.


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Launching a night of CBS reruns, Tony
and McGee are working as civilians, probing a fatal blast at a black-tie
dinner.


“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. A murder victim was the
head of a company making a secret vaccine.


“The Goldbergs,” 9 p.m., ABC. In a transplanted rerun, Brenda
intervenes in the busy romantic life of her dad (George Segal). Meanwhile, her
sons discover a “channel between the channels” on their TV.


 “The Haves and Have
Nots,” 9 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. Jeffery suspects Wyatt was involved in
the hit-and-run. That reruns at 10 p.m. and is preceded by an 8 p.m. rerun.


“Building Wild,” 9 p.m., National Geographic. Each week,
this show has two mismatched guys build clever places in the wilderness, often
with found material. Tonight, they try a cabin that rotates.


“Justified,” 10 p.m., FX. A relative threatens Boyd.
Meanwhile, Raylan searches for a missing informant.


“Person of Interest,” 10:01 p.m., CBS. This rerun goes back
to when Carter was still alive. Tonight, she gets a rookie partner; the new person-of-interest
is an Online entrepreneur.


TV column for Tuesday, Jan. 28



(Please note: In the Pacific and Mountain zones, check local listings because networks and stations make varied adjustments on State of the Union night.)


TONIGHT’S SHOULD-SEE: State of the Union, 9 p.m. ET, ABC,
CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and news channels.

After a year ranging from slowdowns to shutdown, this night
lets both sides re-think and re-energize. Barack Obama’s speech and the
Republican response (by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, chair of the
House Republican conference) will get heavy attention.


Coverage goes to 10:30 p.m. on ABC, CBS and Fox, 11 p.m. on
NBC and PBS, forever on news channels.


TONIGHTS MIGHT-SEE: “Cougar Town.” 10 p.m., TBS.


It’s Buccaneer Week in Gulf Haven, bringing complications
for everyone. Laurie boosts her cake shop by baking erotica, Bobby stirs a
“Jaws”-like panic by complaining about jellyfish … and as mayor, Andy makes the
ultimate request: For the first time in 10 years, his acerbic wife Ellie should
be charming.


Like all “Cougar Town” episodes, this is scattered and
inconsistent, but has bursts of sharp humor. Using its sunny setting, this
provides a bright backdrop and (by comedy standards) an epic feel.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: Fantasy shows, 9 p.m., CW and cable.


There are plenty of “State of the Union” alternatives at 9
p.m., including ones (see below) on National Geographic and the Oprah Winfrey
Network. Mostly, though, this is an hour for fantasy fans.


On “Supernatural” (CW), Sam and Dean demand to know where
Garth has been … then are stunned by what they learn. On “Ravenswood” (ABC
Family), Caleb and Miranda probe Collins’ secret; Remy and Luke probe Dillon’s.
And on Syfy, “Face Off” is one of the better reality competitions.


This is the first week of individual challenges for the talented
make-up people and it requires them to create dragons. They push hard – “I
might be a little insane,” one says – with impressive results.


Other choices include:


“Agents of SHIELD,” 8 p.m., ABC. Next week, this show
returns to new episodes for the second half of its season. First, this rerun
has Coulson work the system to find secrets that endanger Ward and Fitz.


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun of the season-opener, Tony
and McGee are working as civilians, probing a fatal blast at a black-tie
dinner.


“The Haves and Have Nots,” 9 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network.
Jeffery suspects Wyatt was involved in the hit-and-run. That reruns at 10 p.m.
and is preceded by an 8 p.m. rerun.


“Building Wild,” 9 p.m., National Geographic. Each week,
this show has two mismatched guys build clever places in the wilderness, often
with found material. Tonight, they try a cabin that rotates.


“Justified,” 10 p.m., FX. A relative threatens Boyd.
Meanwhile, Raylan searches for a missing informant.


“The Goldbergs,” 10:30 p.m., ABC. In a transplanted rerun, Brenda
intervenes in the busy romantic life of her dad (George Segal). Meanwhile, her
sons discover a “channel between the channels” on their TV.


“Two and a Half Men,” 10:30, CBS. In a funny rerun, Alan
befriends Lyndsey’s boyfriend, to learn what this guy has that he doesn’t.


TV column for Monday, Jan. 27



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

The first season’s finale saw a lighthouse burn with serial-killer
Joe Carroll inside. But the season-opener – which ran eight days ago and reruns
at 8 p.m. today – delivered some jolts.


Followers, wearing Carroll masks, committed subway murders.
One man told Ryan (Kevin Bacon) that the killer is still alive. And in a
closing scene, viewers saw a bearded Carroll.


So far, Ryan hasn’t told the FBI. Tonight, phone calls nudge
him toward a confrontation.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “How I Met Your Mother,” 8 p.m., CBS.


For eight seasons, “Mother” has been careful not to show us
Ted’s wife-to-be. But now – in the final season, in the 200
th
episode overall – she’s played by Cristin Milioti and gets the focus.


This episode takes her viewpoint. It shows how she met Ted
and what she’s been up to for eight years.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).


In July of 2010, a new Arizona law allowed police to demand
the papers of anyone who seems to be an illegal immigrant. Passions boiled.
There were protests and court challenges; the key state senator was recalled,
the most-visible sheriff was re-elected.


This documentary tries to tackle everything, recording people
on both sides. The result is thorough and fair, but chaotic; like the issue
itself, this film triggers a whirl of angry voices.


Other choices include:


“The Bachelor,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. The international portion
begins tonight. Logically, it finds Sharleen (an opera singer from Germany) on
a solo date with Juan Pablo Galavis, a former soccer player from Venezuela.
That’s in South Korea; the other women split into two groups of six – one for
pop music and dancing, the other for an offbeat night, ranging from karaoke to
a fish pedicure.


“2 Broke Girls,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. Deke invited everyone to
his home at the dumpster. Soon, Caroline learns something key about his
background.


“Mike & Molly,” 9 p.m., CBS. After a fight (about money)
with Molly’s mom, Mike and Molly move in with his acerbic mother.


“Mom,” 9:30, CBS. Christy’s dad (Kevin Pollak) has been
absent throughout her life. Now, however, she tries to get to know him – a project
that upsets her mom.


“The Blacklist,” 10 p.m., NBC. As Liz probes an adoption
agency, Red has a new mole suspect.


“Archer,” 10 p.m. FX. Things keep getting worse for our
hero, who traded real drugs for counterfeit money. Now he frets about both
sides – police and drug kingpins – in a sometimes-funny episode.


“Castle,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. Here’s a cops-and-robbers
variation on “The Devil Wears Prada”: The assistant to a tyrannical magazine
editor has been killed.