TV column for Tuesday, Nov. 20


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Vegas,” 10
p.m., CBS.

For a few potent moments, two enemies
are on the same side.

Vince Savino (Michael Chiklis) is a
quick-scheming mobster, now the target of a hit man; Ralph Lamb is
the oft-silent sheriff. “Does that mouth of yours ever stop
moving?” Lamb asks.

It takes some wildly unlikely plot
stretches to get them alone and in jeopardy. Still, the result is a
strong episode that includes major shifts in the show's power
structure.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Happy
Endings,” 9:01 p.m., ABC.

Now that he knows he's 1/16 Navajo,
Dave wants a Thanksgiving dinner in the style of “my people.”

Alas, just getting home will be his own
ordeal; meanwhile, the others have a major (and funny) distraction:
Max has a tape of the night they all met, a decade ago. That was
during an unaired edition of “The Real World” … complete with
some outspoken first impressions.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “American
Masters,” 8-10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

David Geffen was sure of two things –
he had to be in show business and he had no talent.

He lied to get a mailroom job, schemed
to become an agent. Then he entered a changing music world.

This was the man behind a whole vibe –
the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Crosby,
Stills and Nash. He went on to movies, musicals and a different music
era with Aerosmith and Guns N'Roses. He talked a lot, dealt a lot,
became a billionaire and co-created Dreamworks.

It's a fascinating story, winding
skillfully through two show-business generations.

Other choices include”

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. This wraps
up a two-parter, with Gibbs tracking a terrorist, with the help of a
Marine captain who has post-traumatic stress disorder. Meanwhile,
others make Thanksgiving plans.

– “Raising Hope,” 8 p.m., Fox.
Jimmy and his parents scheme to have little Hope ride on the town's
holiday parade. That's in the first of Fox's four straight
Thanksgiving episodes tonight.

– “Frontier Earth,” 8 p.m.,
Animal Planet. The world fell in love with the loris – with its
sweet face and big eyes – after a YouTube video went viral. But
cuteness aside, what is it like? This interesting hour follows an
expert to the jungle and to markets where endangered species are
sold.

– “Ben and Kate,” 8:30 p.m., Fox.
A class reunion is set for Thanksgiving eve. Will Kate finally
confront the bully who stuck her with a cruel nickname?

– “New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox. “Big
Schmidt,” Schmidt's cousin, shows up for Thanksgiving. So do Jess'
parents (Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner); she's scheming to get them
back together.

– “The Mindy Project, 9:30 p.m.,
Fox. There are plenty of odd Thankgivings: Jeremy visits Betsy's
eccentric family … Danny is alone at the office ... and Mindy make
dinner at Gwen's house, where her former blind date (Ed Helms) shows
up with a date.

– “Parenthood,” 10:01 p.m., NBC.
During a spontaneous road trip, Amber (Mae Whitman) learns more about
Ryan (Matt Lauria of “Friday Night Lights”), whom her grandfather
met at the veterans' center.

TV column for Monday, Nov. 19


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Mike &
Molly,” 9:30 p.m., CBS.

TV comedies are often at their best
with Thanksgiving episodes. There will be a half-dozen new ones (four
on Fox, two on ABC) Tuesday, but here's a quick warm-up.

Mike is sick and Molly figures that
means she won't have to do all that holiday work. Not so fast: Her
mom's boyfriend has invited his brother, with promises of a
home-cooked meal.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Dancing With
the Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

Last week's double-elimination made
this virtually a battle of champions.

Purged were Kirstie Alley and Gilles
Marini; both had been runners-up previous seasons. Surviving were the
show's first champion, soap star Kelly Monaco, and three other
winners, all athletes – Emmit Smith (third edition), Apolo Anton
Ohno (fourth) and Shawn Johnson (eighth).

The only non-champion left is
reality-show star Melissa Rycroft; in that eighth season, she
finished third to Johnson and Marini. Tonight, they compete for spots
in next week's finale.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The Dust
Bowl” conclusion, 8-10 p.m., PBS (check local listings), repeating
10 p.m. to midnight.

These were known as “the tomorrow
people” – hardy farmers who felt rain would come tomorrow.

But the drought lingered, bringing more
dust, locusts and death. Some moved; in California, this masterful
Ken Burns film says, they were treated as unwelcome immigrants. Most
stayed and endured; their world was revived through government action
and – after a decade – an end to the drought.

Other choices include:

– “Dora the Explorer,” 9:30 a.m.,
Nickeodeon. Dora is really excited about being in the Thanksgiving
parade. Then alas, the pirate piggies steal her boat float. This
reruns at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and 7:30 a.m.
Thursday.

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. Brad Morris, Marshall's old law-school friend, is back.
Tonight, Marshall recommends him for a job at the firm … then must
scramble to do damage control.

The Secret Life of the American
Teenager, 8 p.m., ABC Family. At a Christmas party, little John is
surprised by Santa; everyone is surprised when Kathy goes into labor.

– “Partners,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. Not
a skilled socializer, Joe realizes he doesn't fit in with the friends
of his fiancee or of Louis, his pal and business partner.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 9 p.m., CBS.
Opposite goals interlock neatly: Two young Amish guys want to see the
party life; Caroline wants someone to build a barn for her horse.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Two talented actresses – Taryn Manning and Emmy-winner Christine
Lahti – return as McGarrett's sister and mother. Tonight, he tries
for an overdue reunion; meanwhile, the team probes the death of a
computer hacker.

– “Revolution,” 10:01 p.m., NBC.
Miles is closer to a dangerous confrontation with Gen. Monroe. Also,
Danny wonders if Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) be trusted.

– “Castle,” 10:01 p.m., ABC.
Things get messy, when Castle and Beckett try to protect a witness
who's sought by the Mob. Soon, they're on the lam, with no gun, phone
or badge.

TV column for Sunday, Nov. 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Dust Bowl,”
8 p.m., PBS (check local listings); reruns at 10, concludes at same
times Monday.

As wheat prices soared in the 1920s,
the government was clear – plow more, grow more, sell more. Then a
drought hit, winds roared and the “dust bowl” was devastated.

Now that's shown in the Ken Burns
style. “Dust Bowl” is rich in human detail and in historical
sweep. It shows us a tragedy far deeper than new generations can
imagine.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “American
Music Awards,” 8-11 p.m., ABC.

The first “AMA” since the death of
its creator, Dick Clark, is stuffed with talent. That includes
reality stars past (Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson), present
(Christina Aguilera) and future (Nicki Minaj.)

Taylor Swift will be there; so will
Justin Bieber, who used to open for her. Also: Carly Rae Jepsen,
Usher, Ke$ha, Pink, Pitbull, Psy and more, including Chris Brown with
Ludacris.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “How the
Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Wizard of Oz” (1939), 7:30 and
8 p.m. ET, TBS.

“Grinch” started with a great Dr.
Seuss story, then added superb animation from Chuck Jones (the
Roadrunner genius). It added narration by Boris Karlott's and a
booming song by Thurl Ravenscroft.

And “Oz” has magic, music and Judy
Garland. This is a night of great family entertainment.

Other choices include:

– “America's Funniest Home Videos,”
7 p.m., ABC. Here's the season's first $100,000 prize.

– “Nova” (PBS, check local
listings) and “Superstorm 2012” (National Geographic), both 7
p.m. This is the second airing for the Geographic special, which
tells the story of Hurricane Sandy, through videotape and experts'
comments. It's the first for this “Nova,” which also has experts
discuss the storm; some PBS stations will skip it tonight, but it
will air again at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

– “It's Christmas, Carol,” 8-10
p.m., Hallmark. Charles Dickens' tale is revamped. Emmanuelle Vaugier
has trouble bringing humanity to the lead role, but Carrie Fisher has
some clever moments as a ghost.

– Football, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC.
Injuries could be crucial now. The visiting Ravens lost their
defensive star, Ray Lewis, for the season. The Steelers may not have
their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.

– “I Forgive You” series-opener,
9 p.m., GMC (formerly Gospel Music Channel); repeats at 10 and 11.
Once a star student, Mary Johnson's son became involved at 16 with a
rough crowd in Minneapolis. She felt only hatred for his killer …
until her Christian belief in forgiveness took hold. Now, 19 years
after the murder, he's out of prison and is her neighbor. It's a
stirring finish to a reality hour that ranges from just painful to
deeply moving.

– “The Good Wife,” about 9:30
p.m., CBS. Will and Alicia take the risky step of demanding a hearing
to get a judge replaced. Judd Hirsch and Amanda Peet are guest stars.

– “Treme,” 10 p.m., HBO. New
Orleans dreams – the jazz opera, the bar, the efforts to clean
corruption – seem to be crumbling. Still, there are moments of
hope; and Janette's restaurant, alas, oversucceeds.

– “The Mentalist,” about 10:30
p.m., CBS. How obsessed is Patrick Jane with finding Red John? His
latest scheme is to help Lorelei Martins escape from prison, in hopes
she'll lead him there.

TV column for Saturday, Nov. 17


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

Adam Levine has been making NBC his
personal network – as a “Voice” judge and as a member of Maroon
5. Tonight's “SNL” (with Jeremy Renner as host) will be the
group's third time as the music guest; Levine also showed up a couple
other times when Kanye West was music guest.

The NBC link works well. Before
“Voice,” Maroon 5 only had one single reach Billboard's top-10.
This year, it's had two at No. 1 and one at No. 2; four albums (two
of them old ones) made the top 10.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “A Few Good
Men” (1992), 8-11 p.m., AMC.

Director Rob Reiner made all the right
moves here. He started with a Broadway play, a military-courtroom
drama, and hired the playwright (Aaron Sorkin) to adapt it. Then he
cast it beautifully.

Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack
Nicholson star and the supporting cast is amazing. You'll spot early
work by Noah Wyle, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Cuba Gooding Jr.
and more. All went on to big things; so did Sorkin, who did Reiner's
“American President” and then his own “The West Wing.”

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Wedding
Band,” 10 p.m., TBS.

This show – about regular guys,
clinging to their rock-band dreams on weekends – got off to a fine
start last week. It offered a pleasing mixture of comedy, music and
likable characters.

Tonight, the band plays at Comic-Con. A
sexy sci-fi star (Megan Fox, in what's really not a stretch) falls
for Tommy (Brian Austin Green).

Other choices include:

– Football, 7 p.m. Fox has Oklahoma
at West Virginia; ESPN2 has Tennessee at Vanderbilt.

– More football, 8 p.m. The top two
college teams (in the AP and USA Today polls) compete for attention.
ABC has top-ranked Oregon hosting Stanford; ESPN has Kansas State
visiting Baylor.

– “Elementary,” 8 p.m., CBS.
Tentative plans call for rerunning the pilot film, which has a so-so
mystery and terrific characters. This Sherlock Holmes (Johnny Lee
Miller) is an eccentric Englishman, fresh from drug rehab, solving
crimes in modern New York; this Dr. Watson (Lucy Liu) has lost her
medical license and is working as his “sober buddy”; he'd rather
be alone.

– “Revolution,” 8 p.m., NBC. In a
rerun of Monday;s hour, a ruthless member of the militia pursues
Miles and Charlie. Also, Nora meets a relative and must choose
between family and a promise.

– “The Color Purple” (1985), 8-11
p.m., USA. Two mismatched talents merged, creating a complicated but
dazzling movie. Novelist Alice Walker provided a story of black women
being nearly crushed by life in general and men in particular;
director Steven Spielberg added the much-needed counterpoint –
bright visuals, glowing gospel music and a sense of hope. Together,
they created a stirring epic.

– “Holiday High School Reunion,”
8-10 p.m., Lifetime. Rachel Boston plays an aspiring designer who
goes to her reunion, dreaming of rekindling a teen romance.

– “Chicago Fire,” 9 p.m., NBC. A
corrupt cop keeps pressuring Casey to change his testimony. Also in
this rerun, Severide – trying to cover up an injury – turns to a
former girlfriend who's a drug rep.

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. This rerun has a baby stolen at a playground.
The kidnapper (Bijou Phillips) says she's the mother and a lawyer
(Scott Bakula) is the father.

TV column for Friday, Nov. 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC.

Mike really doesn't want an evening
with the black neighbors. He doesn't dislike blacks, but he does
dislike neighbors … and, oftenn, people in general.

That sets off some strong moments for
Tim Allen and guest star Jonathan Adams, as guys who really don't
want to be there. Toss in another strong story – a turning point
for the only daughter who shares Mike's intrest in sports – and you
have a surprisingly sharp, funny episode

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “We Will
Always Love You: Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston,” 10 p.m., CBS.

As the daughter of a gospel star (Cissy
Houston) and cousin of a pop star (Dionne Warwick), Whitney Houston
soared easily in both fields. Now this special includes stars from
both.

CeCe Winans has won 10 Grammys, Usher
has seven, Celine Dion has five and Yolanda Adams has four. We'll
hear all of them – plus Jennifer Hudson (no Grammys, but an Oscar)
and the late Houston. Clips range from a 1985 “Merv Griffin Show”
(at 21) to most of her Grammy-telecast performances.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “America's
Next Top Model” finale, 8 p.m., CW.

After dumping Nastasia Scott last week,
the “college edition” has its final three people – Kiara Belen,
22, of University of California, Irvine; Laura James, 21, of Paul
Smith's College in New York and Leila Goldkuhl, 20, of the University
of Rhode Island.

Tonight, they have a final show in
Jamaica. Someone wins; also, someone tumbles off the runway.

Other choices include:

– “The Twilight Saga: New Moon”
(2009), 7-10 p.m., FX. On the day the fifth “Twilight” film
reaches theaters, the second one reruns. Bella has the
always-difficult choice of loving a vampire or a werewolf.

– Comedies, 8-9 p.m., NBC. Still
scrambling here, NBC plans “Go On”and “Guys With Kids”
reruns.

– “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), 8
p.m. ro midnight, Turner Classic Movies. David Lean's mega-movies had
deep dramas tucked inside epic visuals. This true story is set in the
expanse of a desert revolt. It won seven Oscars, including best
picture, plus nominations for Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif.

– More movies, 8 p.m., cable. There
are slickly entertaining films in lots of genres. That include action
(“Bourne Identity,” 2002, TNT), animation (“Toy Story 2,”
1999, Disney), drama (“Disclosure,” 1994, TV Guide) and romantic
comedy (“You've Got Mail,” 1998, WE).

– “Malibu Country,” 8:30 p.m.,
ABC. Reba is happy that a song she wrote will be recorded – until
she learns it will be done by a rapper (Travie McCoy).

– “CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. When a
student, studying for SAT's, is killed, the team looks into the
high-pressure world of private schools. And in Montana, Lindsay faces
issues with her dad (James Read).

– “Craft in America,” 9 p.m., PBS
(check local listings; some stations are airing it as late as 2 a.m. or not at all). Growing up in Tijuana and San Diego, Tanya
Aguinga developed art that mixes Mexican brightness and American
minimalism. She's featured in an hour that views the merger of
styles, including Minnesota potters who call their style
“Mingei-sota.”

– “The Walking Dead” (AMC) or
“Boardwalk Empire” (HBO), 10 p.m. If you missed either episode
Sunday, you can catch them now. Both find the lead characters dealing
with grief; in “Boardwalk,” a bomb killed Nucky's showgirl lover
and left him with shaky hearing and a foggy mind.