TV column for Wednesday, April 10


 

(Re-sending the TV column for
Wednesday, April 10, catching a few typos)

By MIKE HUGHES

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC.

There are some big laughs tonight, on
two fronts.

One has Manny's dad (Benjamin Bratt)
return, this time bringing his new girlfriend (Paget Brewster).
Gloria – expecting a waitress or receptionist – is in for a
surprise.

The other sees Claire and Cam finish
buying and remodeling a house. Now Phil tries to sell it; as things
sputter, Mitchell struggles to suppress a major “I told you so.”

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

The all-female (almost) season heats
up. There will be two solos – including a “song I wish I had
written” – from each contestant.

There are six left – five women and
Lazaro Arbos. Viewers have ousted a guy every week and could do it
again, considering the explosive female talent.

Then again, judges might use their lone
“save” to spare someone. This is the longest any panel has lasted
without using the save; it's also the final week that it can be used.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Nova,” 9
p..m., PBS (check local listings).

As Richard Smith tells it, his
Australian homeland is the perfect laboratory for natural history.

Some people consider it our oldest
continent. It certainly seems to have the oldest specimens –
crystals considered 4.5 billion years old, fossils traced to 3.5
billion, animal fossils at 500 million and more.

Smith, a marine biologist, leads this
four-week tour of Australia's natural history. This first part –
encompassing the first four billion years or so – slips snippets of
information into dazzling visuals.

Other choices include:

– “Survivor,” 8 p.m., CBS. Last
week, the tribes merged and one of the “favorites” (Corinne
Kaplan) was ousted. That leaves seven favorites, four “fans” and
more commotion.

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC.
Frankie seeks her first dental-assistant job, with Jack McBrayer (“30
Rock”) as a potential boss. Also, her husband reluctantly has a
Prairie Scouts camping trip with Brick.

– “Doctor Who”and “Spies of
Warsaw,” 8 p.m. and 9-11 p.m., BBC America. First we see David
Tennant as the zestful Doctor, leaping across time and space; in this
rerun from 2009, a creature is in the waters of Mars. Then a miscast
Tennant is a spy and action hero. In the second half of a so-so
mini-series, he tries to rescue Anna (Janet Montgomery) and a crucial
cargo.

– “Suburgatory,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.
A week before the season-finale, George delivers the world's
least-romantic proposal for cohabitation: “Let's hook up and stick
it to our cable-provider.” That leads to painful decisions about
what to dump … and to a hurried sale by Sheila, who's new in real
estate.

– “How to Live With Your Parents
(For the Rest of Your Life),” 9:31 p.m., ABC. After last week's
lively start, the show settles in. Polly (Sarah Chalke) is injured,
leaving her mom and step-dad in charge of her daughter. On the plus
side, they urge her ex-husband to give her some space.

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
10 p.m.,CBS. A 6-year-old was the only witness to a triple murder.
Now D.B. Russell (Ted Danson) tries to break through to the kid.

TV column for Tuesday, April 9


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Cougar Town”
season-finale, 10 and 10:30 p.m., TBS.

Two key stories sprawl across both
episodes.

One is what viewers had hoped for –
romance between Laurie (who's been around) and Travis (who's sort of
loved her since he was a kid). They have their first date and plan
their first kiss.

In the other, Jules' dad (Ken Jenkins
of “Scrubs”) has a health crisis. Now the gang is determined to
take him to Hollywood and help him meet former movie star Tippi
Hedren.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “American
Masters,” 8-9:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Carol Burnett grew up at the edge of
the movie world, with little chance of reaching it. She ushered at a
theater, did shows at Hollywood High, watched her mother's
frustration.

Then an anonymous donor helped her move
to New York; fame followed. “The Carol Burnett Show” ran 11 years
(only four prime-time variety shows went longer), won 25 Emmys and
finished as high as 13th in the annual Nielsen ratings.
This terrific rerun airs on the day her book comes out and 17 days
before her 80th birthday. It's followed by a “Pioneers
of Television” half-hour on TV's funny women.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Ready For
Love” debut, 9-11 p.m., NBC.

Imagine tripling “The Bachelor” and
adding more commotion. “Love” has studio-audience moments, a
matchmaker and more, to find someone for three guys who shouldn't
need the help.

Tim Lopez is a rocker, the guitarist
for Plain White T's. Ben Patton developed and sold his first
apartment complex at 24 and was an investment manager for the royal
family Dubai.

Ernesto Arguello, the son of Cuban and
Nicaraguan refugees, grew up in the Honduras and studied in Miami.
There he became a civil and architectural engineer whose charity
builds Third World homes.

Other choices include:

– “Home Alone” (1990) and “Home
Alone 2” (1992), 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., ABC Family. The original was
peppered with great sight gags. The sequel is fairly funny.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. A Navy
reservist finds her living room covered in blood and her husband
missing. Meanwhile, Tony worries that Ziva will seek personal
vengeance for her dad's death.

– Basketball, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. Two
Big East teams – Connecticut and Louisville – collide for the
women's championship. Ironically, neither was the conference champ;
that was Notre Dame, which was upset Sunday by Connecticut; before
that, Louisville (seeded only 5th in its region) upset
California.

– “Dancing With the Stars,” 9
p.m., ABC. Fresh from his performances Sunday at the Academy of
Country Music awards, Brad Paisley performs “Southern Comfort
Nights.” Brilynn Rakes, 17 – who has been legally blind since
birth – dances with Derek Hough. Also, Andrea Bocelli – blind
since he was 12 – sings a duet with Jennifer Lopez. Then, of
course, someone is sent home.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9:01 p.m.,
CBS. Cyanide has been found in a communal water jug. The next
question is whether this is the start of a mass plot

.– “Golden Boy,” 10:01 p.m., CBS.
With a promotion looming, Clark and Arroyo, race for a key arrest.

– “The Late Show,” 11:35 p.m.,
CBS. Lindsay Lohan guests, in what could be a ratings-grabber.

TV column for Monday, April 8


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Basketball, 9 p.m.
ET, CBS.

Over 66 games, this year's college
tournament has had strong ratings and solid surprises.

Of the dozen top-seeded teams (three
per region), only one made it to the final four. As favorites fell,
interest grew; now we have the last two. CBS strips out it regular
Monday line-up, except for a couple comedy reruns that precede the
game in most areas and follow it on the West Coast.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Castle,”
10:01 p.m. ABC.

This rerun finds “Castle” at its
breezy best, probing a murder at a science-fiction convention.

It's a parody of sci-fi in general and
“Star Trek” in specific, done with affection. Jonathan Frakes –
who directed two “Trek” movies and co-starred in “Star Trek:
The Next Generation” – directs. The captain seems like early
William Shatner – whose song closes the show. Guest stars include
Armin Shimerman (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”), Ed Quinn
(“Eureka”) and Erin Way (“Alphas”).

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “50 Children,”
9 to 10:05 p.m., HBO.

Back in 1939, one woman recalls, Jews
could leave Austria … but had nowhere to go. “Everyone could get
out, but no one would let us in. Everybody could have been saved.
Everybody.”

Most Americans ignored the situation,
bt Gilbert Kraus took action. A lawyer, he gathered 50 unused visas
and 50 American sponsors. He and his wife Eleanor left their
comfortable Philadelphia home and entered Nazi Austria. It was a long
shot that worked; the story is told quietly and eloquently.

Other choices include:

– “Dancing With the Stars” (ABC)
or “The Voice” (NBC), 8-10:01 p.m. Even against basketball, these
shows boom ahead. “Voice” continues auditions; “Stars” starts
a new week, with Lisa Vanderpump and Andy Dick still around. They
were in the bottom two the first time, but Dorothy Hamill left for
medical reasons; they were in the bottom three last week, but Wynonna
Judd was ousted.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 8 p.m., CBS.
This rerun catches a party for the opening of the cupcake shop.

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 8:30
p.m., CBS. In space, it turns out, you can hear a scream. In this
terrific rerun, Wolowitz – orbiting in the space station – hears
his mom and wife screaming on the phone.

– “Home Alone” (1990), 9-11 p.m.,
ABC Family. The art of the sight gag peaked with this loose gem.

– “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). Americans have spent $1 trillion for its
war on drugs, filmmaker Eugene Jarecki says, with little progress. He
ranges from prisoners to politicians; he also finds deep emotion when
talking to a beloved maid from his childhood home.

– “Top of the Lake,” 10 p.m.,
Sundance. Next week is the two-hour finale to a seven-hour
mini-series that is slow, dark, grim and beautifully done. Tonight
starts with the darkest moment – Robin (Elisabeth Moss) recalling a
multiple rape when she was 15. Then she's back to her maybe-futile
police job, searching for a pregnant 12-year-old who vanished months
ago. There are key moments tonight.

– “Revolution,” 10:01 p.m., NBC.
Just as she's patching her relationshp with her daughter, Rachel
leaves on a major mission. Meanwhile, Neville is distrusted by Monroe
and captured by Miles.

TV column for Sunday, April 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Academy of Country
Music awards, 8-11 p.m., CBS.

From the opening number – hosts Blake
Shelton and Luke Bryan jamming with Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert and
Brad Paisley – this should be full of crossover appeal. That
includes music by Stevie Wonder, Kelly Clarkson and Jewel, plus a
Dick Clark tribute with Garth Brooks and George Strait.

There's much more, in a packed night.
Other performers include Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Kenny
Chesney, Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Hunter Hayes and
Dierks Bentley, plus Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and The Band
Perry.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Mad Men”
season-opener, 9-11:08 p.m., AMC.

Don't get used to tonight's sunny,
tropical start. The story soon returns to wintertime New York, for
some serious – and well-crafted – ruminations on life, loss,
death and beyond.

Also, of course, there are advertising
emergencies – a small one for Don Draper, a big one for Peggy
Olson. And in the “Mad Men” tradition, there's anger, humor and a
dab of marital infideltiy.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Call the
Midwife,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

In a strong and emotional episode, the
young women each face a personal crisis.

Jenny re-meets Jimmy, the guy she liked
(but rejected) last year. Chummy ponders bringing her husband and
becoming a mission nurse in Africa. And Cynthia is eyed warily, after
a medical tragedy.

Other choices include:

– “Erin Brockovich” (2000), 6-9
p.m., AMC. Leading into “Mad Men,” AMC reruns this superb film,
an Academy Award nominee for best picture. Julia Roberts won an Oscar
for her work as a real-life secretary who used smarts and sex appeal
to battle a corporation.

– Red-carpet preview, 6:30-8 p.m.,
GAC (Great American Country). CBS is busy with “60 Minutes,” so
this cable channel handles the Academy of Country Music preview.

– “Masterpiece Classic,” 9 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). “Mr. Selfridge” opened last week,
with a zestful American opening a London department store. In this
excellent episode, he stirs controversy by moving cosmetics to the
front. He continues his affair with a singer, while his wife meets a
painter.

– “Game of Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO.
Last week's strong opener left forces in a state of mutual
discomfort. The next two episodes set up a powerhouse one on April
21.

– “Shameless” season finale, 9
p.m., Showtime. Fiona's latest plan might get the family some money,
just as Lip finally graduates. Then news about their shameless dad
changes everything.

– “House of Lies” and
“Californication” season finales, 10 and 10:30 p.m., Showtime.
First, Marty puts his master plan into motion; then Hank rushes a
rock star to his gig – only to have the show stopped by a proposal.

– “Red Widow,” 10:01p.m., ABC.
With one exception – a new “Celebrity Apprentice,” at 10 p.m.
on NBC – this is a night of reruns for ABC and NBC. At least, this
is a dandy rerun; it's the pilot film, showing how a suburban wife
became a widowed drug-dealer.

TV column for Saturday, April 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Basketball, 6:09
p.m. ET and about 8:49 p.m., CBS.

Tonight, we learn who will be in the
NCAA championship game Monday.

Of the four teams that were top-seeded
in the regions, Louisville is the only one that's still around.
Tonight – after losing Kevin Ware to a compound leg injury – it
faces ninth-seeded Wichita State.

Afterward, two No. 4 seeds, Syracuse
and Michigan, collide. This could be fun.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II:“Orphan Black,”
9 p.m., BBC America.

Slick, smart and deeply human, this
show gets better each week.

In last week's opener, street-smart
Sarah (the superb Tatiana Maslany) kept seeing women who look like
her. One committed suicide; Sarah snatched her purse and her identity
– perilous one as a cop.

Another was killed in Sarah's car. The
next steps – covering up a body, uncovering secrets – are
difficult and compelling.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Smash,” 9
p.m., NBC

After a soaring start, “Smash”
faded in the ratings and has just been banished to Saturdays. Still,
it tells an interesting story – Broadway musicals in the making –
with great songs and voices.

Karen left “Bombshell” (the Marilyn
Monroe musical) to join the emerging “Hit List” show. Now she's
fallen for the composer … unaware of his druggie past (and, maybe,
present). Tonight, things crumble.

Now Ivy stars in “Bombshell” –
and is jolted to learn that Tom has hired her mom (Bernadette Peters)
to play her mom. Now Tom tries to soothe things with a surprise; Liza
Minnelli is a guest star.

Other choices include:

– “The Voice,” 8 p.m., NBC.
Here's a rerun of Tuesday's episode, with the fourth night of
auditions.

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a
rerun, the parents try to focus on a different kid for each day of a
three-day weekend. That means paintball with Axl, a sci-fi book
convention with Brick … and an overbooked, 17-item itinerary with
Sue.

– “Doctor Who,” 8 p.m., BBC
America. The doctor takes Clara to the rings of a planet that is
having its festival. Unfortunately, there will be a sacrifice.

– “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), 8
p.m. to midnight, Turner Classic Movies. Sweeping visuals help tell
the true story of an Englishman who led an Arab revolt. The result
won seven Oscars, including best picture and director (David Lean).
Peter O'Toole and co-star Omar Sharif were nominated.

– “How to Live With Your Parents
(For the Rest of Your Life,” 8:30 p.m., ABC. Here' a second chance
to see the fun pilot film. An earnest mom (Sarah Chalke) returning to
her mom's chaotic world.

– “The Following,” 9 p.m., Fox.
Here's a quick rerun of Monday's solid episode, with sudden changes
in surroundings. Claire is in Joe's hide-out, desperate to find her
kidnapped son; the FBI people are in a former armory that Joe seems
to be using for weapons and training.

– “Saturday Night Live,” 10 and
11:29 p.m., NBC. First is a rerun, with Bruno Mars as host and music
guest. Then Melissa McCarthy has her second turn as host, this time
with music from Phoenix.