TV column for Friday, June 15


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Let it Shine," 8
p.m., Disney.

The good news is that the Disney
Channel continues the surge it started with “High School Musical.”
Here's another vibrant music movie, with a terrific singer (Coco
Jones, 14) and director (Paul Hoen).

And the bad? Once again, cable
stretches a creaky old plot idea. Nickelodeon's “Rags” recently
merged great music with a silly “Cinderella” take-off; now Disney
clumsily borrows “Cyrano de Bergerac.”

Roxy thinks the great rap lyrics are
from cute Kris; they're actually from his good-guy friend Cyrus. That
gets stretched way too long, joined by cliched preacher-vs.-rap
sub-plot. It's enough to make viewers flee – or would be, if the
rest of “Shine” weren't so good.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: “House,” 8
p.m., Fox.

Give the Disney people credit for
continually spotting new stars. That includes Jones (mentioned above)
and Bridgit Mendler, who guests here.

Mendler, 19, stars in the Disney
Channel's “Good Luck Charlie,” a comedy that ha a rerun at 10:30
p.m. today. :And in this “House” rerun, she plays a homeless teen
with a complicated past.

Also in “House” are relationship
woes – Taub with his babies, Foreman with a married woman.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Fairly Legal”
season-finale, 9 p.m., USA.

At first, this seems like a minor case,
one Kate can rush through in mediation: Lesbians were fired for
violating a rule against workplace romance; a settlement nears.

Then that leads to something bigger –
just as Kate prepares to buy a new condo with the guy she almost
divorced. In a well-made hour, we get huge changes in his election
campaign, her life and more.

Other choices include:

– “Megastunts,” 8-11 p.m., ABC.
Most times, ABC has better things to do than show people risking
their lives in stunts. Tonight, alas, the first hour reviews major
stunts in history. Then a 9 p.m. special views Nik Wallenda, 33,
trying to walk a 1,550-foot tightrope, 173 feet above Niagara Falls.

– “Whitney,” 8 p.m., NBC. In a
rerun, Whitney and Alex hear a theory that couples know in their
first 48 hours if they belong together. Soon, they're recalling their
own start together.

– “Community,” 8:30, NBC. Fun
things – foosball, a missing DVD – stir commotions in this rerun.

– “CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, a judge was killed and the probe flashes back to a case in
which Jo was blamed for a suspected rapist going free.

– “Bones,” 9 p.m., Fox. While
probing the murder of a toy-company executive in this rerun, the
pregnant Brennan ponders the foggy concept of toys and play.

– “Great Performances,” 9 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). Harry Connick is on Broadway, backed by a
big band and a 12-piece string section.

– “Comedy Bang Bang,” 9 and 10
p.m., Independent Film Channel. Last week's opener, rerunning at 9
p.m., has great moments from Will Forte (as an unheroic pilot) and
Zach Galifianakis. At 10, a fairly good new episode has Amy Poehler,
plus a Reggie Watts take-off on high-concept movie comedies.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. In
a rerun, a witness says a uniformed cop fled after a diner shooting.

TV column for Thursday, June 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Saving Hope,”
9 p.m., NBC.

The enviable world of two surgeons was
shattered in last week's opener. A car accident, just before their
wedding, left Charlie (Michael Shanks) in a coma; Alex (Erica
Durance) plunged back into work.

Now Charlie, who narrates the show,
roams the hospital, seen only by others who are dead or dying.

The result is a delicate balance
between body and soul. It works because talented Canadian actors
perform with skill and restraint. Tonight, emotions ripple as a young
boy lingers near death.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Burn Notice”
season-opener, 9 p.m.,USA.

As last season ended, Fiona had been
framed by the evil Anson Fullerton. She surrendered, to save Michael;
now, as Michael scrambles to catch Anson, we see this show at its
best and worst.

The best: “Burn Notice” has strong
action, big explosions and passionate characters.

The worst: It creates impossible tasks:
Some fail; others lack believability when they succeed.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “41,” 9-11
p.m., HBO.

Autobiographies (which this mostly is)
are rarely as insightful as biographies. Here, George H.W. Bush
simply brushes subjects aside. Ross Perot? “I don't want to talk
about him,” he says.

And any sort of biography is the
richest when it views a complex life. That's not Bush. His entire
life – from Harvard baseball captain to war hero to politician and
president – was an even trajectory.

Still, “41” succeeds despite all of
that. It captures a quiet decency, something that's been missing from
politics lately; it also catches the beauty of the Maine setting that
helped mold Bush.

Other choices include:

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m.,
CBS.Wolowitz is trying to choose his astronaut nickname in this
rerun, but the others have bigger problems: Sheldon went too far and
Leonard may end their friendship.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 8:30 p.m.,
CBS. In an exceptionally funny rerun, the women must break into
Caroline's old home to retrieve her night guard. That gives Max a
first look at how the rich live.

– Basketball, 9 p.m. ET, ABC. Here's
the second game of the best-of-seven championship, with Miami at
Oklahoma City. That's preceded by Jimmy Kimmel at 8 and a pre-game
show at 8:30.

– “The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Craig Bierko plays a former pro quarterback in this rerun. When his
car blows up, he's presumed dead.

– “Rock Center,” 10 p.m.,
NBC.There still is one boom real-estate market in the U.S., Natalie
Morales says here; that's South Florida, with rich Brazilians
elevating prices. Also, Harry Smith interviews Candice Bergen on
everything from Charlie McCarthy to Murphy Brown to dealing with a
mild stroke. And Dr. Nancy Snyderman considers shortages in
bone-marrow transplants.

– “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). We meet some of the people who survived
the years when AIDS deaths were at an epidemic level. The resulting
film packs understated power.

– “Suits,” 10 p.m., USA. Mike's
secret – that he never even went to law school – is becoming
known to a disturbing number of people at the law firm. In an OK
season-opener, Harvey scrambles to suppress trouble while Mike
tackles the lone obstacle in a big-deal merger.

.

TV column for Wednesday, June 13


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Duets,”
9:31-11 p.m., ABC.

With basketball complicating things,
this show slides to Wednesdays for a couple weeks, getting a helpful
“Modern Family” lead-in.

Tonight, singers do party songs with
their mentors. Then the field is trimmed from seven to six.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Dallas,” 9 and
10:15 p.m., TNT; reruns at 11:13 p.m. and 12:28 a.m.

We expect everything these days to be
bigger, bolder, brasher. Even “Dallas.”

The original rarely filmed in Texas;
this one starts with high-octane scenes there, then keeps pushing the
plot harder. There are enough schemes and twists in the first two
hours to fill two seasons.

That's sometimes overwrought. (Why
would an intimate meeting be on the 50-yard-line of Texas Stadium?)
Still, a strong cast makes the human level work.

Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman are
perfect as the good and bad Ewing brothers; Jesse Metcalfe and Josh
Henderson star as their sons, equally pure and evil. Jordana Brewster
is the housekeeper's daughter, a gorgeous scientist who has loved
them both.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Thorne:
Scaredy Cat,” 9-11 p.m., Encore; “White Heat” finale, 10 p.m.,
BBC America.

The approaches vary sharply, but
British drama keeps showing smart writing and great acting.

Here, we get the second of two “Thorne”
movies, with David Morrissey as a shattered cop. It's another nasty
tale of targeted women, but an early scene (Thorne at a victim's
closet) is beautifully done.

We also get the last of six “Heat”
episodes. Strangers had shared a flat in 1965; now we see flashbacks
to a 1990 reunion, with a key revelation. In modern times, we learn
which one is dead.

Other choices include:

– “So You Think You Can Dance,”
8-10 p.m., Fox. The auditions move to Salt Lake City, which has
provided many of this show's best dancers.

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. Ed
Asner – who won five Emmys as newsman Lou Grant – plays a local
news guy in this rerun. Brick is a paper boy at his newspaper.

– “Suburgatory,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.
A rerun has Tessa meeting her dad's radiant new girlfriend (Alicia
Silverstone). There are some good moments, marred by Tessa being way
out-of-character at her job.

– “Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.
This rerun has Barry Corbin as Cam's father, annoying Mitchell.

– “Royal Pains,” 9 p.m., USA.
Divya remains tangled in a family dispute, but the brothers have
partly patched their rift: Hank tries to help Jill's nephew; Evan
targets a lonely heiress as a potential client.

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
10 p.m., CBS. This rerun seems to have a strange killer at work: The
victim was dressed in vintage-style clothes, with 1970s-style hair.

– “Necessary Roughness,” 10 p.m.,
USA. In last week's opener, T.K. remained emotionally frayed from the
shooting. Now he has to prove he can run; also, Dani works with a
roller-derby star.

TV column for Tuesday, June 12


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “MasterChef,”
9 p.m., Fox.

The auditions are done now and this
likable show – not to be confused with the foul “Hell's Kitchen”
at8 p.m. – has its 18 amateur-chef finalists. Now the “mystery
box” can start.

The first challenge has them using duck
and bananas. The second has more odd ingredients.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: “Teen Moms”
season-opener, 10 p.m., MTV.

When MTV started its “16 and
Pregnant” stories, the impact was huge. Now the final season begins
for this spin-off, viewing four moms with 2-year-olds.

At one extreme is Amber Portwood; her
relationship with the baby's dad (who has custody) ranges from
fondness to startling rage. At the other is Catelynn Lowell; she and
her fiance prepare for high school graduation and (alone) celebrate
the birthday of the baby they gave up to adoption.

Then there's Farrah Abraham, deciding
whether to leave her daughter with her parents. And Maci Bookout,
with a good-guy boyfriend. Everyday teens deal, way too soon, with
life's complications.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Thorne:
Sleepyhead,” 9 p.m., Encore.

Americans know David Morrissey from
upper-class roles in “South Riding,” the original “State of
Play” and the most recent “Sense and Sensibility.” Now comes an
opposite role.

Inspector Tom Thorne is a tough,
blue-collar guy. Already shattered physically and emotionally, he
tackles brutal cases today and Wednesday. These are smart and
well-acted, but tonight's story – young women being paralyzed –
is a tough one for viewers and for Thorne.

Other choices include:

– Basketball previews and game, 8 and
9 p.m. ET, ABC. Now that the best-of-seven finals have started, ABC
takes over. It has Jimmy Kimmel at 8, a preview at 8:31 and tip-off
just after 9.

– “America's Got Talent,” 8 and 9
p.m., NBC. After yet another rerun (of Austin auditions) at 8 p.m.,
we get a new hour (Tampa) at 9.

--”NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun,
Jamie Lee Curtis is back as a PsyOps officer probing a leak.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9
p.m.,CBS. In a rerun, a classified device – which could destroy Los
Angeles –has vanished from a college research facility. The Navy
would really like to find it.

– “Rizzoli & Isles,” 9 p.m.,
TNT. Last week's season-opener (a good one, rerunning at 8 p.m.) saw
frayed relations between the friends. That continues now, as they
probe a student's death. Also, Rizzoli's dad (Chazz Palminteri) is
back with news.

– “Love in the Wild,” 10 p.m.,
NBC. The expanded opener of this well-made show left us with seven
semi-instant couples in the Dominican wilderness. Tonight, they face more
challenges – including leaping from a 40-foot cliff. The winners
have the first chance to switch partners, before two people are
ousted.

– “The Glee Project,” 10 p.m.,
Oxygen. Last week, we met 14 people hoping for spots on “Glee.”
This hour tests their dance skills, with the song “Party Rock
Anthem.”

TV column for Monday, June 11


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Two and a Half
Men,” 9 p.m., CBS.

So there is Alan in Malibu,
semi-mourning his brother Charlie. Then an odd and wet guy wanders
in.

Walden had tried to drown himself in
the ocean, but found the water was too cold. He's bitter about his
divorce, but has plenty to be happy about, what with being a handsome
Internet billionaire.

This is the episode – barring another
late change by CBS – that introduced Ashton Kutcher as the new
star. Some subsequent episodes were mixed, but the first few were a
delight.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Bunheads,”
9 p.m., ABC Family, repeats at 10.

Two terrific talents link: Amy
Sherman-Palladino, the “Gilmore Girls” creator, writes quick,
smart lines. Sutton Foster delivers comedy sharply; she's also a
Broadway singer-dancer with two Tonys.

Foster, 37, plays a dancer, once
prestigious and now in a Las Vegas chorus. On a chaotic day, she
makes a snap decision to marry a decent chap she barely knows, moving
to his little home town.

In Sherman-Palladino style, “Bunheads”
wavers wildly. Scenes with four local teens are so-so; a
clothing-store sceene is hilarious. Then comes a startling,
last-minute detour; it's a compelling start.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Castle,” 10
p.m., ABC.

Rick Castle, we suspect, has always
wanted to wake up in bed alongside Kate Beckett.

Not like this, though. They're
handcuffed together, in a locked room; neither knows how they got
there.

In this rerun, Ryan, Esposito and Gates
scramble to find them. Meanwhile, Castle and Beckett try to figure
out how to escape – without becoming enemies of each other.

Other choices include:

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. It's decision time, in this rerun. Robin tries to convince
Marshall and Lily not to move to the suburbs. Ted and Barney consider
a key decision together.

– “Tia & Tamera”
season-opener, 8 p.m., Style. Tia and Tamera Mowry were bright and
bubbly child stars – twins who could (and did) finish each other's
sentences. We catch them here at 33, in a new phase – two husbands,
one baby (so far), separate cities. They are likable, in a
friend-next-door way; they're only moderately interesting in a
reality-show way.

– “MasterChef,” 9 p.m., Fox. The
judges choose the final 18 contestants.s

– “Hollywood Heights” debut, 9
p.m., Nickelodeon. Loren is an A student, sensible in every way but
one: She obsesses on a pop star; she writes music and sings … but
won't let anyone hear it. Based on a Mexican telenovela, this has
likable characters and slick production … but dialog that feels
forced.

– “Hurricane Hunters” debut, 9
p.m., Weather Channel. Lt. Col. Sean Pierce has flown combat missions
in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this is different. He's a new member of
the Air Force's Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, in Biloxi, Miss.,
assigned with getting first-hand information. This fairly interesting
opener sees him flying into the eye of Hurricane Irene.

– “Chicagolicious”debut, 9 p.m.,
Style. This reality show catches a Chicago salon, long on pretty
people, big hair and bigger attitude. It's kind of fun.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.m.,CBS.
In a rerun, a school bus, filled with children, has been hijacked.