TV column for Monday, April 29


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

In the “24” style, Fox promises,
this show will wrap up a story each season. Here's the big night.

Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) caught
charismatic serial-killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), but crumbled
so badly that he quit the FBI. He returned as a consultant after
Carroll escaped.

Carroll used his followers to kidnap
his son and lure his ex-wife (Natalie Zea). Now he's taken her to a
special spot, where Hardy races toward the ultimate showdown.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Warehouse 13”
return, 10 p.m., Syfy.

Before taking a seven-month break,
“Warehouse” was in mid-chaos. Consumed by another spirit, Artie
had killed the beloved Leena and broke open an orchid that sent a
deadly disease worldwide.

Now Pete and Claudia are in Europe,
scrambling for a way to un-do the orchid; Myka and Steve are inside
Artie's sub-conscious, which is a busy place.

This entertaining is packed with strong
guest stars – Roger Rees, C.C.H. Pounder and sci-fi veterans –
Lindsay Wagner, Kate Mulgrew, Polly Walker and (as a neatly eccentric
professor) James Marsters.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Rectify,”
10 p.m., Sundance.

Last week's two-hour debut (the latter
half of which reruns at 9 p.m.) introduced Daniel, free after 19
years on death row. Family members (and DNA results) back him; others
disagree and want a re-trial.

Tonight, he adjusts to everyday life,
while his lawyer (who has also become his sister's lover) presses on
with the case. One early scene – with Hal Holbrook, 88, as the
original defense lawyer – shows how good this six-hour mini-series
sometimes is, with fine actors tackling deep material.

Other choices include:

– “All My Children” and “One
Life to Live,: 5 a.m. ET, Online. A new era begins when former ABC
soaps arrive at www.hulu.com,
plus iPads and other devices. Each has a new half-hour each weekday.

– “Dancing With the Stars,”
8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Athletes thrive here, but boxer Victor Ortiz was
often near the bottom, then was the fifth person to depart. That was
last week, with Sean Lowe edging him.

– “Bones” season-finale, 8 p.m.,
Fox. Christopher Pelant, the tech genius, has a new string of
murders. Each seems to involve an FBI agent close to Booth; Brennan
wonders if Booth is the ultimate target.

– “Brain Games,” 8-10 p.m.,
National Geographic. First are last week's episodes – quick, slick
and fun – viewing the brain and its quirks. Then new episodes
ponders motion and fear. The latter, at 9:30, includes Larry
Fessenden, a horror filmmaker who sort of looks like Jack Nicholson's
worst day.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 9 p.m., CBS.
When a TV crew is at the diner, Caroline is offered an acting role.

– “Defiance,” 9 p.m., Syfy.
Things are never easy in this gritty town, groping for peace after
alien wars. In a fairly good hour, tiny creatures attack, bikers
frighten and Irisa has harsh visions.

– “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m..
PBS (check local listings). After clearing the border wall, people
face four days in the emptiness of Arizona's Sonora Desert. Many are
caught, this involving documentary says, but hundreds die annually.
We see a Humane Borders man bringing water and relief, before turning
someone back; we also see survivors, brutalized by 107-degree
weather.

– “Castle,”10:01 p.m., ABC. This
episode was scheduled for last week, then delayed: Beckett is
standing on a land mine. To distract her while others try to help,
Castle debates who fell in love first.

TV column for Sunday, April 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Good Wife”
season-finale, 9 p.m., CBS.

Stuffed with mismatched pieces, “Wife”
often ranges from court room to board room to soap-style bed room. In
this episode, the court portions are just this side of silly.

On the eve of the gubernatorial
election, lawyers end up disputing their own argumets, while a judge
wanders. It's all kind of loopy, but there are great guest roles for
Martha Plimpton as the opposition lawyer and Oscar-winner Estelle
Parsons, 85, as an elections worker.

Alongside that,:Alicia ponders key
decisions on romance and whether to join the new firm.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Masterpiece
Classic: Mr. Selfridge” and “The Bletchley Circle,” 9 and 10
p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Last week, Selfridge – his love
triangle in tatters – drank, drove and crashed. Now Mr. Grove tries
to run the store, facing temperance marchers and more.

And in last week's “Circle” opener,
former World War II code-buster Susan thought she detected a pattern
for London's serial killer; she was wrong and then ignored. Now she
and her former wartime colleagues take big chances: Timid Lucy
becomes bait; shy Susan visits a spooky institution alone.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Vikings,” 8
a.m. to 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., History.

Here's the entire first season in one
day. It's richly crafted, yet tough to watch, centering on people
whose goals are to pillage, plunder and kill.

The first eight hours trace Ragnar's
rise, as he dares to push attacks west, to England. Then the new hour
(10 p.m., rerunning at 11:01), shows a tough time to be in power, as
the plague spreads.

Other choices include

– “Once Upon a Time,” 8 p.m.,
ABC. Regina's latest scheme could bring the end of Storybrooke and
everyone in it. And in fairytale land, the Evil Queen's plan to kill
Snow White is … well, truly evil.

– “Revenge,” 9 p.m., ABC. Aided
by Nolan and Aiden, Emily tries desperately to learn the Falcon's
identity and find Padma. Also, Victoria must rebound from an exposing
interview on “Nightline.”

– “Anthony Bourdain: Parts
Unknown,” 9 p.m., CNN. Some of the parts Bourdain visits are better
known than others. Last week (rerunning at 8 p.m.) he sampled the
food and people of Los Angeles' Koreatown; this week, he's in
Colombia's mountains and along its coast.

– “Nurse Jackie,” 9 p.m,
Showtime, repeats at 9:30. Jackie's divorce remains amicable for
several minutes. Soon, she has time for rage, romance and even some
serous work.

– “Game of Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO.
Last week Daenerys got the army she needed, in exchange for one of
her dragons … which promptly scorched the arms dealer. It was a
spectacular end to a great hour; tonight, Jon faces a key test and
Robb is betrayed.

– “Veep,” 10 p.m., HBO. Often
funny, “Veep” finds a serious conclusion tonight that reminds us
of the impact of any White House decision.

– “The Borgias,” 10 p.m.,
Showtime. After two fierce episodes of assassination attempts and
revenge, this one involves the quieter notion of
politics-via-marriage. The final minutes are memorable.

– “Red Widow,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. A
week before the season finale, Marta learns who kidnapped her
daughter. She also gets closer to learning who killed her husband.

TV column for Saturday, April 27


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Saturday Night
Live,” 10 and 11:29 p.m., NBC.

Some hosts immerse themselves in the
full “SNL” experience. That's true in both these reruns.

First is Anne Hathaway's third time as
host, playing everyone from Carrie on “Homeland” to Katie Holmes
on “Ellen” and the woman in the “American Gothic” painting.
She also joins the cast for a mock “Les Miserable” song; Rihanna
is the music guest, in an OK episode

Then is Justin Timberlake for the fifth
time – which means entrance to the “Fifth-Timer Club” and
quick, funny visits by Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Tom
Hanks and Candice Bergen. It's a great episode; Timberlake is also
music guest and plays Elton John, singing at Hugo Chavez's funeral.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Over the Hedge”
(2006), 9-11 p.m., ABC.

R.J. is kind of a schemer who stole all
the food from Vincent – who menacingly demands its return. His
solution is to trick Vern and the others into pillaging suburbia.

We should probably mention that R.J. is
a raccoon, Vincent is a bear (hence the menace) and Verne is a
turtle. Also, this is a cartoon and a fairly good, low-key one.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Smash,” 8
p.m.,NBC.

After 27 hours spread over two seasons,
fans got what they'd wanted: Last week's episode had “Bombshell”
(the Marilyn Monroe musical) open on Broadway. With one exception (a
mixed review from the New York Times), it drew raves.

People should be happy; they're not, of
course.

Juliette is bitter because Tom
considered putting their writing partnership on hold while he
directed; now they're near the breaking point. Karen has mixed
feelings about leaving the show to do Jimmy's rock-musical “Hip
List.” Things worsened when he got in a fight with his brother in
the after-show party; tonight, he seems to be falling apart as “Hip
List” wobbles.

Other choices include:

– “Yogi Bear” (2010) and “The
Lion King” (1994), 7:25 and 9 p.m., ABC Family. Here's a
family-film double-feature of total opposites. “Lion King” is
earnest and exquisitely crafted; “Yogi” is oddly charming,
despite its silly plot, as real actors (led by Tom Cavanagh and Anna
Faris) confront special-effects bears (voiced by Aykroyd and
Timberlake).

– “Mayweather,” 8 p.m., CBS. Next
Saturday, Showtime (CBS' sister network) will have the pay-per-view
fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Robert Guerrero. First, CBS
Sport helps nudge things along with this profile of Mayweather, the
undefeated welterweight champion.

– “Criminal Minds,” 9 p.m., CBS.
In a rerun, the team heads to Miami, were prostitutes are being
killed in a style similar to the way some animals were slain.

– “The Voice,” 9 p.m., NBC. Last
week, NBC made a belated decision to move “Smash” to 8 p.m. and
“Voice” to 9. Now that seems to be the new pattern; tonight
reruns Tuesday's “battle round.”

– “Iron Man” (2008), 10 p.m. to 1
a.m., FX. Six days before “Iron Man 3” debuts, here's the
original. The plot is absurd – even by fantasy-film standards –
but Jon Favreau directed it sharply, with actors – Robert Downey
Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard – who are much better than
the story.

TV column for Friday, April 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Happy Endings,”
8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC.

This erratic-but-funny show wraps up
its season with a double dose of family complications.

In the opener, Megan Mullaney and
Michael McKean are back as Penny's mom and Dave's dad. They're still
dating and now they want to adopt a baby.

Then there's a jolt for Jane. She's
worked at achieving personal perfection, including a fine husband;
now she must plan the wedding of her dominant sister (Stephanie
March), who has a perfect fiance.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Live From
Lincoln Center,” 9-11:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein
pushed Broadway boundaries with their 1945 “Carousel.”

They had a wordless opening and two
12-minute segments – a ballet by a trouble teen and (earlier) “If
Loved You,” song-and-dialog duet by her parents.. Other songs
ranged from the bubbly “June is Busting Out All Over” to the
demanding “Soliloquy” and the powerhouse “You'll Never Walk
Alone.”

Now Kelli O'Hara, a four-time Tony
nominee, stars with opera baritone Nathan Gunn. Audra Macdonald, who
won the first of her five Tonys in a previous “Carousel”
production, hosts.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Da Vinci's
Demons,” 9 p.m., Starz; reruns at 10.

As madness ripples through women in a
convent, two cities have opposite responses.

Rome sticks with religion; it sends an
exorcist who will expel Satan, possibly while killing his victims.
Florence sticks with science; Leonardo da Vinci scrambles to save a
loved one.

There's more in this terrific episode,
as Lorenzo Medici tightens his search for a spy. Viewers know it's
his mistress Lucrezia; she's clever, stretching for a way to
manipulate the search.

Other choices include:

– “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007),
8 p.m., TNT. Ever since the 2002 “Bourne Identity” – which
reruns at 10:30 p.m. – audiences have been fascinated by a man
(Matt Damon) scrambling to learn who he is and why people want to
kill him. Sharply directed by Paul Greengrass, this brings action and
answers.

– Newsmagazines 9-11 p.m., NBC.
Tentative plans call for giving “Grimm” a Tuesday shot. That
expands the room for “Dateline” and “Rock Center.”

– “Touch,” 9 p.m., Fox. Martin
(Kiefer Sutherlad) has been reluctant to tell his story – an
extreme one – to authorities. Now, in desperation, he tells it to a
police detective (Mykelti Wiliamson).

– “Vegas,” 9 p.m., CBS. Last week
this show was bumped by news coverage and moved to Saturday oblivion.
That episode saw a romance develop between Yvonne and Dixon; now
there are complications, just as his dad probes the death of a casino
dealer.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Danny finds a man who is covered with his girlfriend's blood and
can't remember why. And Jamie helps cover up the intoxication of an
off-duty cop who caught a robber.

– “Al Madrigal: Why is the Rabbit
Crying?” 11 p.m., Comedy Central. Best known for dandy “Daily
Show” bits, Madrigal offers a gentle survey of his life. He ranges
from a gorgeous park that's a gang favorite (“take an Ansel Adams
photo and put a Cypress Hill video inside it”) to being wakened by
his daughter: “That's not an alarm clock you can hit; there's no
snooze button on a 3-year-old.”

TV column for Thursday, April 25


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Community,” 8
p.m., NBC.

Inspired by the movie “Freaky
Friday,” Troy and Abed announce that they've switched bodies. Soon,
the spindly Dean Pelton claims he's switched with the macho Jeff.

Is this true? Are they putting us on?
And why does the custodian keep checking the light switch? The
answers unfold, sometimes hilariously, while Annie and Shirley
compete to be valedictorian.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Project
Runway” finale, 9-11:01 p.m.., Lifetime.

In last week's episode (rerunning at
8), Daniel Esquivel was eliminated. That leave three people showing
their collections, with a shot at being the show's 11th
champion.

Michelle Lesniak Franklin, 34, is from
Portland, Ore., where she was once an assistant winemaker. Stanley
Hudson, 44, is from West Hollywood, where he also does costumes. And
Patricia Michaels, 46, is from Taos Pueblo, N.M., which her people
created centuries before Columbus.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Hannibal,”
10:01 p.m., NBC.

The show's strength and weakness are
accented in another extraordinary episode.

The weakness is in the
case-of-the-week. This wraps up suddenly, like an afterthought.

And the strength is in the richly
layered characters. Hugh Dancy is again superb as Will Graham, the
troubled crime-profiler. And for the first time we get some real
depth to his boss (Laurence Fishburne), whose wife (Gina Torres of
“Firefly” and “Suits”) is introduced, with her own troubles.

Other choices include:

– “American Idol,” 8 p.m., Fox.
Now things get tough. The only people left are Candice Glover, Kree
Harrison, Angie Miller and Amber Holcomb. Barring another
rules-changes, a great singer will depart.

– “Vampire Diaries,” 8 p.m., CW.
Will CW double its vampires next season? That depends on the success
of this series, which doubles as a pilot for a possible spin-off
series: Klaus heads to his family's home town of New Orleans, where
schemes swirl.

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Here's a constant frustration for science-fiction fans: A show
sets up a great premise … then is canceled without resolving it.
Tonight, that happens to Sheldon's favorite show and he turns gloomy;
also Raj learns a secret about his new girlfriend (Kate Micucci).

– “Two and a Half Men,” 8:31
p.m., CBS. Having been dumped (again) by Lyndsey, Alan is despondent.
Walden tries (again) to cheer him up.

– “Glee,” 9 p.m., Fox. When the
power goes out, Will and Finn ask glee-clubbers to do acoustic
numbers. And in New York, Isabelle (Sarah Jessica Parker) asks Kurt
to help at a charity event.

– “Mary and Martha,” 9 p.m., HBO.
If you missed this movie Saturday, catch it now. Hilary Swank and
Brenda Blethyn are superb as opposites, united by pain and hope in
Africa.

– “Elementary,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Refusing to celebrate his first year of sobriety, Sherlock Holmes
tackles a tough task – finding the accomplice of someone who
blackmailed the family of rape victims.

– “Scandal,” 10:02 p.m., ABC. The
First Lady makes a decision that could doom the president.