TV column for Friday, April 3


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Great Performances,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

With her richly
resonant voice, Annie Lennox seems able to do anything. She was a
rock/pop star in the 1980s with the Eurythmics; here, backed by an
awesome band, she does jazz classics.

When she sings
“Summertime” or “Georgia on My Mind,” you'll swear that
Lennox (who's from Scotland) grew up in the Old South, savoring its
past. A few minutes later, however, she sings “Strange Fruit,”
the compelling song about lynching. Leaping between extremes, she
performs each brilliantly.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Cristela,” 8:31 p.m., ABC.

From its beginning,
this show has linked with Tim Allen's “Last Man Standing.”
They've had some of the same producers, directors and writers. They
share the same hour and now have a crossover episode.

Mike (Allen) wants
to expand a gun range in Dallas. Now he needs the law firm to help
him get permission ... with Cristela dealing with zoning
commissioners. She's not happy about it – she dislikes guns, except
when playing “Call of Duty” -- but is happy to work with a
handsome law associate.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Wizard of Oz” (1939), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies.

This holiday weekend
is a terrific one on TV, for kids or grown-ups. And all of them can
snuggle together to rewatch this classic.

Here is the magical
combination of whimsy and hope, brightened by splendid visuals and a
great music score. Barely 17 when this opened, Judy Garland already
had immense skills and a classic movie.

Other choices
include:

“Back to the
Future” (1985) and “Back to the Future Part II” (1989), 6 and
8:30 p.m., ABC Family. Here's another dandy family choice. The
original is a delight; its sequel is kind of fun.

“Here Comes Peter
Cottontail,” 8-9 p.m., CW. This 1971 cartoon offers another choice
for kids. Peter Cottontail (Casey Kasem) has overslept and the evil
January Q. Irontail (Danny Kaye) may take over Easter. Danny Kaye
voices several roles, including Seymour S. Sassafras.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. It's time to open the Outdoor Man Grill,
with Kristin in charge ,,, but feeling that Ed is undermining her.
Also, Eve distances herself from a childhood girlfriend who seems to
have a crush on her.

“21 Jump Street”
(2012), 8-10 p.m., Fox. Back in 1987, “Jump Street” gave Fox one
of its first successes. Now Fox airs this movie version, a fun comedy
adventure with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Its sequel -- “22
Jump Street” (2014) -- airs at 9 p.m. on Starz.

“Live From Lincoln
Center,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Billy Porter has been
a potent theater force for two decades. But it was with “Kinky
Boots” -- his fifth Broadway show – that he soared, winning the
2013 Tony for best actor in a musical. Here, he sings and dances
Broadway-style.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Mykelti Williamson guests, in an episode that puts
pressure on Grover (Chi McBride), who doubts his old friend's account
of seeing his wife fall off a cliff to her death. Also, Danny and Dr.
Shaw are trapped in an elevator with a body that needs processing.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. The police commissioner (Tom Selleck) argues with a
reporter (Leslie Hope), who refuses to give the source who confessed
to murder.

TV column for Thursday, April 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 and 9 p.m., and “Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS.

After being bumped
by basketball on two Thursdays, our favorite clumsy geniuses (Sheldon
and Sherlock) are back where they belong. At 8, Sheldon tries to
sneak onto George Lucas' Skywalker ranch with Leonard; at 9, a funny
rerun finds Penny in the rare state of being a “buzzkill” in Las
Vegas.

At 10, Sherlock
Holmes is jolted by a lover's proposition. Alongside a fairly good
murder mystery – complete with killer cab and all-seeing technology
– he reflects on what it's like to be Sherlock-smart.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “American Crime,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Blessed with great
actors and deep material, “Crime” can switch nimbly between
characters. Tim Hutton has been superb as a grieving dad, but now
relative newcomer Caitlin Gerard gets the focus.

She's Aubry, whose
addictions nudged her boyfriend into rough circumstances ... and into
being the prime suspect in a murder case. Early on, this show
suffered from a monotone blur of overwrought characters. Now some of
them have left or (at least) calmed; what remains is great drama.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Red Road” season-opener, 10 p.m., Sundance.

The first season
ended sensationally. Two former football teammates – Jensen, a
tough sheriff's deputy, and Kopus, a giant ex-con – tried to kill
each other ... then turned to stop the thugs attacking them.

Now they must
coordinate their stories and go on with their lives. Tribal
jurisdiction has finally been approved, changing the power structure;
also, Jensen keeps shielding his troubled wife and her hit-and-run
accident. This opener is tough, brooding and quiet ... until a new
crisis emerges in the final minutes.

Other choices
include:

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. A school field trip to the hospital turns dramatic when
two injured cops arrive. Also, Stephanie is soon attracted to one of
the chaperones.

“The Odd Couple,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. Going to a wedding, the guys have different agendas:
Oscar wants to meet an old flame; Felix wants to convince his ex-wife
(Christine Woods) that he's changed.

“The Blacklist,”
9 p.m., NBC. An attractive con artist is targeting rich people.

“Scandal,” 9
p.m., ABC. With his father facing the death penalty, a congressman
wants Olivia's help.

“Mom,” 9:30
p.m., CBS. Bonnie (Emmy-winner Allison Janney) faces temptation –
something she rarely handles well. A recovering addict, she's been
prescribed pain medication for a back injury.

“The Slap,”
conclusion, 10 p.m., NBC. This richly crafted, eight-week mini-series
started with a single slap – Harry (Zachary Quinto) hitting a wild
5-year-old at a party. Now the kid's parents (Melissa George and
Thomas Sadoski) have taken the matter to court. The trial focuses on
photos taken by young Richie ... and on a secret that could unravel
his world.

“Olympus” debut,
10 p.m., Syfy. A young man named Hero doesn't know who he is or why
he grew up hiding in the forests. He may find out, if he can slay the
Cyclops, free the Oracle and befriend Medea.

TV column for Wednesday, April 1


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Idol,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

Now merely a hit
show – instead of a mega-hit -- “Idol” is loading up on guest
stars and memories. Next week, it brings back Jennifer Hudson, along
with Iggy Azaelea, Jason Derulo and Florida Georgia Line. And
tonight, Kelly Clarkson performs and mentors, as contestants tackle
her songs.

There are eight
left, after two women – Adanna Duru and Maddie Walker – were
ousted. That followed the previous week's “save” of Qaasim
Middleton; he survives, with one person ousted tonight.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Cancer” conclusion, 9-11 p.m., PBS.

In the four decades
since declaring war on cancer, scientists have faced extremes. Fresh
approaches emerged, were heralded, then failed; researcherslearned
how complex and evolving cancer is.

In its final night,
this excellent series has some deeply disturbing scenes; two people
are told on-camera that there's no hope. Still, there's also been big
progress in prevention – the smoking rate has been cut in half –
and treatment; for many types of cancer, the survival rate has
soared. And emerging is the idea of reworking patients' own immune
system; that showed great leaps in the years this was being filmed.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Dovekeepers” conclusion, 9-11 p.m., CBS.

After lots of
soap-style extremes, the key characters are now in seclusion. There's
Shirah (Cote de Pablo), who masters herbal medicines so skillfully
that she's considered a witch; and there's Yael (Rachel Brosnahan),
with her daughter (who spent years disguised as a warrior boy) and
son.

After fierce raids
on Roman soldiers, their people are atop the Masada, an awesome
fortress built by King Herrod. Below those steep cliffs, a vengeful
Flavius plans his attack. This overwrought tale – told to historian
Josephus (Sam Neill) – is salvaged by the epic look provided by
director Yves Simoneau.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Big Time in Hollywood, FL,” 10:30 p.m., Comedy
Central.

Last week's opener
had a wonderfully dark, daft twist: Told to leave home and get jobs,
brothers had a scheme to finance their filmmaking. They hired an
actor to play a drug-dealing kidnapper, demanding $20,000 from their
parents. Alas, the mom called the police -- who killed the perplexed
actor.

Now the cover-up
begins, alongside an “intervention” (for a fake drug habit),
clumsy escapes and a weak-link friend. In half-hour bursts, we get a
broad – and very funny – comedy-adventure movie.

Other choices
include:

“The Mysteries of
Laura,” 8 p.m., NBC. Dodging her own birthday, Laura works a murder
case. Kathie Lee Gifford plays a psychiatrist helping work the case.

“The Middle,” 8
p.m., ABC. It's an all-new night for ABC comedies, starting with some
lessons in niceness. When Axl's girlfriend says he's mean to his
sister, he tries to feign being a good brother. Also, Mike starts to
wonder if he was a bully to his hapless brother Rusty (Norm
Macdonald).

The Goldbergs,”
8:30, ABC. This comedy night surely needs at least one April 1st
reference. Tonight, an April Fools Day joke escalates into a war
between Adam and his brother. Also, their sister is thinking about
skipping college and focusing on being a singer.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. It isn't easy second-guessing Jay. His kids offer to pay
back long-ago loans, assuming he'll decline. And his son-in-law Phil
thinks a high-tech grill is a perfect present.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 9 p.m., NBC. Swiping from recent headlines,
this hour sees a student make rape charges against a fraternity. Rob
Morrow plays an assertive TV host.

“Chicago P.D.,”
10 p.m., NBC. Voight is linked to a teen whose botched robbery led to
two murders.

TV column for Tuesday, March 31


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Weird Loners” debut, 9:30 p.m., Fox.

Most of these people
are attractive and all are alone. Caryn dates the wrong men; Stosh
beds the wrong women (including his boss' fiancee). Zara leaves men;
Eric stayed home with his parents.

Now circumstances
throw them together. The upcoming episodes have key flaws, making the
guys too extreme to care about; this opener, however, is a dandy.
Producer-director Jake Kasdan (“New Girl”) skillfully molds a
likable cast, led by Becki Newton. One scene -- lip-reading a wedding
– is hilarious.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“iZombie,” 9 p.m., CW.

You really are what
you eat, it seems. Last week, Liv (the reluctant zombie) munched the
brains of a dead artist and became wildly passionat; tonight, she
munches a hit man and turns stone cold.

She also has her
weekly crime story -- a byproduct of working in a morgue. That part
is OK and some of the performances are so-so; still, “iZombie”
scores whenever Liv (Rose McIver) transforms.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Dovekeepers,” 9-11 p.m., CBS; concludes
Wednesday.

Lots of mismatched
elements are thrown into a crowded, four-hour package. You'll find
epic history, grand visuals and a bizarre string of soap-opera plot
twists.

Josephus, the
ancient historian, described 900-plus Jewish rebels facing Roman
attackers on the hilltop fortress of Masada. Two women survived,
presumably fueling his account. This story (based on Alice Hoffman's
novel) adds love, rape, gender-disguise, superstition and brutality.
It often seems excessive, but Cote di Pablo is solid in the lead and
director Yves Simoneau provides an epic look.

Other choices
include:

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Here's the show that de Pablo left. Tony (her former boyfriend
on the show) is working with his current girlfriend (Marisol
Nichols); his dad (Robert Wagner) arrives to meet her.

“Hook” (1991), 8
p.m., ABC Family; or “Finding Neverland” (2004), 9 p.m., AMC.
Here are two takes on Peter Pan. First is Steven Spielberg's OK film,
with Robin Williams as a middle-aged Pan. Then Johnny Depp and Kate
Winslet are excellent as the “Pan” author and a young widow he
admires.

“Cancer,” 9-11
p.m., PBS. This mid-section of a three-night documentary introduces
another involving current case -- a heroic cancer doctor, facing
cancer herself. It also continues its historical account: We're now
in 1971, with Richard Nixon declaring war on cancer ... which becomes
a long, slow war.

“New Girl,” 9
p.m., Fox. Jess must crash a funeral, to remove a revealing text.
Also, two “Saturday Night Live” alumni visit – Nora Dunn as
Schmidt's mother, Nasim Pedrad as Winston's police partner.

“One Big Happy,”
9:30 p.m., NBC. Lizzy (Elisha Cuthbert) is attracted to Kate, a
beauty in her gym; now come hurdles: Lizzy doesn't know if Kate is
gay; Kate doesn't know Lizzy is pregnant. There are some sharp lines
here, sabotaged by the show's fondness for cheap and witless
throw-away lines.

“Forever,” 10
p.m., ABC. The team's first cold case is really cold – mummified
returns from 30 years ago. Working on it, Henry recalls a romance
that failed because she was aging and he wasn't.

 

TV column for Monday, March 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Cancer” opener, 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Two master
filmmakers – Barak Goodman (“Clinton,” “My Lai”) and Ken
Burns (“Civil War”) link, backed by the rich research of Dr.
Siddhartha Mukherjee's book.

The result sprawls
over three nights and six hours, juggling opposite styles. On one
hand, cameras tonight follow current kids with cancer; each story is
disturbing, some are heartbreaking. On the other, there is the sort
of history that Burns masters: People have written about cancer for
4,000 years, but didn't understand it enough to mount a concerted
effort until the 1960s. It's a big story, beautifully told.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber,” 10 p.m., Comedy Central.

The nice thing about
being a star is that you get to mock Justin Bieber to his face. “I
feel like I'm roasting you for the entire world,” comedian Jeffrey
Ross tells him.

Other comics also
savor the opportunity, including Kevin Hart (who hosts), Hannibal
Buress, Chris D'Elia, Natasha Leggero and “Saturday Night Live”
newcomer Pete Davidson. There are also some non-comics taking shots,
includikng Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, Martha Stewart and Shaquille O'Neal.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Returned,” 10:01 p.m., A&E.

Like the French
series this is based on, this series beautifully captures muted
emotions. Small-town people quietly reflect pain and confusion, as
loved ones return unchanged, years after they died.

Simon died on his
wedding day. Camille was 15 when she died four years ago; now she
pretends in public to be a cousin, enraging her twin sister. Now we
learn more about little Victor; we also meet a woman who offers an
eloquent view of the agony of a life that simply never ends.

Other choices
include:

“Jamaica Inn,”
any time, www.acorn.tv. Here's a
fairly good finish to this dark, Daphne du Maurier tale starring
Jessica Brown Finlay. Beginning today, this streaming service has all
three chapters.

“Keeping Up With
the Kardashians,” 7 a.m, to noon, 4-7 p.m., 8-10 p.m., E. The 9
p.m. spot was supposed to go to “Fashion Police” ... until that
show imploded after a stray comment about dredlocks. Kelly Osborne
and Kathy Griffin quit; “Police” was yanked until fall.

“Dancing With the
Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Last week, Redfoo became the first star
ousted. Chris Soules (“The Bachelor”) and Charlotte McKinney
survived, but they're in trouble. Judges gave them a 21 and 26 out of
40. Those were the bottom scores; others went as high as a 34 for
Nastia Liukin.

“The Voice,”
8-10:01 p.m., NBC. Here's the second of three “knock-out” nights.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. Protecting a key witness, the team is on the run, with the
cartel in pursuit.

“Bates Motel,” 9
p.m., A&E. “Chaos seems to swirl around you,” a cop (and
ex-lover) tells Norma tonight. Last week, a hotel resident died in
her arms, while handing her a flashdrive. In a good episode tonight,
some scary types want to retrieve it.

“Strange
Inheritance,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., Fox Business. What happens to odd
collections? The first half-hour involves 140 vintage tractors; the
second has 72 portraits of Battle of Little Big Horn warriors.

“Castle,” 10:01
p.m., ABC. When a larger-than-life lawyer is killed, the list of
suspects is enormous.