TV column for Tuesday, April 29

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Chicago Fire,”10 p.m., NBC.

It’s race day in Chicago, a bright and cheery time.
Firefighters are setting up a booth; an off-duty cop (the Kim Burgess character
from “Chicago P.D.”) brings her niece.

Then a bomb bursts in a hospital, bringing high-octane
trouble. One firefighter is buried; another is concealing a brutal injury. Two
little girls hover near death. One doctor is stuck on a ledge, another is grabbing
a spare liver. It’s a gripping hour that leaves some crises for Wednesday’s “Chicago

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Fargo,” 10 p.m., FX.

Who was that guy whose body was discovered in the Minnesota
snow? This hour – skillfully mixing slow humor and quick violence -- starts
with a flashback, then booms ahead.

Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) has been asked to stifle a blackmailer;
naturally, he sees a chance to take over and blackmail for much more. A Duluth
cop (Colin Hanks) realizes he let himself be intimidated into not catching
Malvo during a traffic stop. And only one deputy suspects what viewers know –
that mild-mannered Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) killed his wife

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle,” 9
p.m., PBS (check local listings).

As the Hispanic community grew and transformed in Los
Angeles, Ruben Salazar seemed to ignore it. He married a non-Latino, lived in
Orange County, assimilated.

Then Salazar, a Los Angeles Times reporter, began to agree
with the young rebels he had once scoffed at. He criticized officials and the
police … then was killed by a police tear-gas canister. The events, more than
40 years ago, still draw controversy and help illustrate a changing era.
Ranging from Salazar’s editors to his daughter to his richly written journal,
this hour tells a strong story.

Other choices include:

“Agents of SHIELD,” 8 p.m., ABC. Cobie Smulders – known
mostly for “How I Met Your Mother” – plays Agent Maria Hill, a role she’s
already had in two movies. She tries to help Coulson as his team crumbles.

“Glee,” 8 p.m., Fox. Shirley MacLaine guests as a socialite,
befriended by Blaine. Also, Rachel endangers her Broadway role by auditioning
for TV; Mercedes tries to include Santana in her record deal.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. A Marine photographer disappears,
before he can testify in a controversial murder trial. Meanwhile, Abby tries to
help a young homeless woman reconnect with her family.

“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. Some important software
has been stolen and the lead engineer’s 10-year-old daughter is missing. Sam,
who once provided protection for her, searches for a link.

“New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox. Worried that a dance will be
sabotaged, Jess gets her friends to chaperone.

“The Mindy Project,” 9:30, Fox. Mindy is dating a cop (Tim
Daly); Danny is unhappy.

“Celebrity Wife Swap,” 10 p.m., ABC. After being a regular
in four situation comedies (from “Martin” to “Happily Divorced”), Tichina
Arnold has a leisurely life in New York with her husband (an assistant
basketball coach) and their 9-year-old daughter. Kelly Packard, a former
“Baywatch” beauty, has a busy California life, with her husband (a doctor),
four kids and many animals. Now they swap coasts and lives.

“Game of Arms” season-finale, 10 p.m., AMC. This show has
been following arm-wrestling teams in five cities. Now they converge for a
double-elimination tournament in Los Angeles.

TV column for Monday, April 28

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

Last year Ryan Hardy only had to worry about one brilliant
serial killer (Joe Carroll) and a handful of minions. Now there’s a second
master (Lily Gray), plus evil twins and the question of if Claire is alive.

Now this second season concludes with Ryan and Joe (Kevin
Bacon and James Purefoy) teaming on Lily’s turf. If the first season-finale was
any indication, expect something tough and tense.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Warehouse 13,” 9 p.m., Syfy.

With only four episodes left, “Warehouse” is in top form,
deftly mixing action, humor and emotion.

Tonight’s fun is at a Renaissance Fair, where a bumbling
juggler seems to be at the core of violence. The warmth – and the action aftershocks
– come when Claudia tries to nudge her sister out of a 15-year coma. “Warehouse”
has its share of silliness, but it also has skilled actors; there’s great work
tonight from Allison Scagliotti as Claudia, Joanne Kelly as Myka and Saul Rubinek
as their mentor Artie.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “All About Ann,” 9 p.m., HBO.

Ann Richards did everything with zest and gusto. As a Texas
mom and lawyer’s wife, she was at the center of every party and all the fun; as
a candidate, she campaigned furiously. A liberal in a conservative state,
admitting she was a recovering alcoholic and ducking cocaine rumors, she
started 18-percentage-points behind and was elected governor.

Four years later, Richards collided with the new combination
of George W. Bush and Karl Rove. Still, this fond portrait offers someone who broke
down barriers while using humor, candor and sheer zest.

Other choices include:

“Dancing With the Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Ricky Martin –
who has sold 70 million albums – opens with "Vida,” his World Cup song,
backed by the pro dancers. Then the competition resumes; seven dancers remain,
after last week’s ouster of Drew Carey.

“The Voice,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. The top 10 singers perform;
two will be ousted Tuesday.

“Friends with Better Lives,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. Kate’s love
life is a bit hectic and now she has accidentally slept with a male prostitute.
She’s wondering if there’s a way to take it back.

“Mike & Molly,” 9 p.m., CBS. Susan Sarandon returns as
the author Molly idolizes. Mike and Carl haven arrested her for driving under
the influence.

“Fish Tank Kings” season-opener, 9 p.m., NatGeo Wild. The
trouble with the creating a 5,000 gallon shark tank is finding a way to hoist
it through a second-story window. The trouble with a massive octopus tank is …
well, catching a massive octopus. Both projects get “Kings” off to a colorful

“Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). In
2006, Chris Paine’s documentary (“Who Killed the Electric Car?”) criticized the
neglect and mistakes that kept us confined to gasoline; five years later, he
was far more upbeat with “Revenge of the Electric Car.” This rerun is now
slightly outdated, but offers an optimistic look at fresh interest by General
Motors and Nissan, plus the scrappy individuals behind Tesla and behind efforts
to rework existing cars, one at a time.

“The Blacklist,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. When a Czech politician is
framed for murder, Red suspects a man – known as The Kingmaker – who is behind
powerful politicians.  

TV column for Sunday, April 27

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed,” 10 p.m.,
Comedy Central.

For centuries, Gaffigan says, people have disliked fruit.
Artists only painted it because they knew no one would steal it; donuts would
have been swiped during the first session.

Gaffigan thinks that way. On the surface, he’s an Everyman,
a beefy father-of-five from Indiana; beneath that is a David Letterman favorite
whose sharp wit focuses on everyday things. He distrusts kale and any food with
its own casing; oranges are bad, clams are worse. He also frowns at weddings; “when
I see someone cry, I say, ‘Don’t worry, it probably won’t last.’”

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Bletchley Circle,” 10 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).

Tall, confident and clever, Millie figures she can improvise
her way through any situation. It’s a perfect role for Rachael Stirling, the
daughter of PBS favorite Diana Rigg.

In 1950s London, Millie is dealing in the black-market … and
in a bigger, scarier mess than she can handle. In this two-parter, her friends
– all former wartime code-breakers – scramble to save her. Some things work out
way too conveniently, but it’s an involving story with a skilled actress at the

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Silicon Valley” and “Veep,” 10 and
10:30 p.m., HBO.

Each week, “Silicon” satirizes techno-zillionaires, as an
earnest chap creates a big-money product. Tonight, he wakes up with a hangover
and the news that he gave his loud landlord a key position.

That episode is fairly good, but ”Veep” promptly follows with
a brilliant Silicon satire. Preparing her presidential campaign, Selina visits
a young tech whiz; under the playful image, she finds cunning.

Other choices include:

“The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox. Bart gets his teacher pregnant?
Well, sort of; it involves a voodoo doll.

“Resurrection,” 9 p.m., ABC. After a one-week movie break,
this show returns with people trying to rescue Rachael. Also, doctors keep
searching for clues about the people who returned from the dead

“The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS. Alicia becomes a witness, when
a body is found in the home of her client, Colin Sweeney. The episode was
directed by Josh Charles, after he left his acting role as Will.

“Game of Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO. Last week saw Jaime have sex
with his sister, alongside Joffrey’s casket. Even among “Game” royalty, this is
poor form; now he discusses his honor with Brienne. Meanwhile Tyrian is in jail
and his wife has fled; Wildlings and Daenerys make aggressive moves.

“Nurse Jackie,” 9 p.m., Showtime. Jackie’s family continues
to crumble. At work, however, she makes a masterly move, after finding an
overmedicated patient.

“Californication,” 9:30, Showtime. Hank’s life gets more
complicated – in funny ways, mostly – when the adult son he just met becomes an
assistant on the overwrought cop show he writes for.

“The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS. For Patrick Jane, the cases
have been much larger since he started working with the FBI. Now he finds a
vast human-smuggling ring.

“Mad Men,” 10 p.m., AMC. While Don takes a sudden trip, the
ad-firm partners face a decision.

TV column for Saturday, April 26

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Despicable Me” (2010), 8 p.m., ABC; “The
Little Mermaid” (1989), 8:30, Disney.

Two Disney-owned networks compete with each other, giving us
some good animated choices.

“Mermaid” is the sweet one, with romance, optimism and
gorgeous artwork; it also has terrific songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, including
the Oscar-winning “Under the Sea” and the nominated “Kiss the Girl.” By
comparison, “Despicable” goes for the laughs, complete with a villain (Steve
Carell) who has his own minions and a scheme to steal the moon.

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE II: “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

Here’s a rerun of Louis C.K.’s second hosting bit, with Sam Smith
as the music guest. It has some great moments when Kenan Thompson hosts “Black
Jeopardy,” with C.K. as the only white contestant, a black-history professor from
Brigham Young University.

That won’t match the brilliant bit they did previously, as
Lincoln and an ex-slave, but it brings some big laughs. When C.K. finally gets
a correct answer (to “things white people lie about”) he’s told: “Actually, we
would have accepted any answer.”

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Orphan Black” (BBC America) or “Da
Vinci’s Demons” (Starz), 9 p.m.

There’s something wrong with a world in which two of the
best and most imaginative dramas are at the same time. Fortunately, “Demons”
promptly reruns at 10.

Last week’s “Orphan” season-opener saw Sarah searching for
her daughter; now she’s shocked by where that leads. And last week’s “Demons”
(rerunning at 8), saw both Leonardo da Vinci and Prince Lorenzo Medici find
fresh trouble at the end of their journeys; tonight, the prince is in a bloody
game and the painter is at the Vault of Heaven … along with his enemy Riario.

Other choices include:

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1” (2010) and “Part
2” (2011), 5:30 and 9 p.m., ABC Family. The epic tale concludes in this cable

Racing, 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox. NASCAR is in Richmond, Va.,
launching a night of sports overload. ESPN has the basketball play-offs at 7
and 9:30 p.m. ET and the NBC Sports Network has hockey playoffs at 7:30. In the
afternoon, there’s more of each – basketball at 2 and 4:30 on TNT, hockey at 3
on NBC,

“Two and a Half Men,” 8 p.m., CBS. This reruns the episode
that brought back Rose, Charlie’s old stalker. She has to help out, after Alan’s
affair with Lyndsey puts Walden in danger.

“Bad Teacher,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. In a quick rerun of Thursday’s
opener, we see Meredith (Ari Graynor) find herself divorced and -- due to a bad
pre-nuptial agreement -- broke. Her solution is to fake a resume and become a
teacher at a ritzy school, where she’ll find a rich dad to marry. The principal
(David Alan Grier) is gullible; colleagues are inspired (Sara Gilbert),
suspicious (Kristin Davis) or amused (Ryan Hanson).

“NCIS,” 9 p.m., CBS. This rerun has Gibbs re-examine a
hit-and-run case, after learning about a confidential alibi. Meanwhile, McGee
is suspicious of Tony’s odd behavior.

“Joan & Melissa,” 10 p.m., WE. Joan Rivers insists her
daughter be her magician’s assistant.

TV column for Friday, April 25

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Last Man Standing,” 8 and 8:30 p.m.,

This pleasant-enough series ends its season with a new
episode and then a rerun.

First, Boyd might try the “mutton-busting” contest; his mom
says no, but his grandfather (Tim Allen) and dad are all for it. Also, Eve’s
date dislikes her plan to wear her ROTC uniform to the prom. And in the rerun,
there’s trouble when the family’s little dog impregnates the neighbor’s German

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE II: “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.

As a lawyer in a police family, Erin (Bridget Moynihan)
sometimes battles her kin.

Tonight, as an assistant district attorney, she probes a cop
accused of killing someone in custody; her dad (Tom Selleck), the police
commissioner, wants to avoid a publicity swirl. Meanwhile, her brother Jamie (Will
Estes) urges a fellow cop to forgive her father’s sins.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: Movies, 8 p.m., cable.

This is a good night for movies … and was a great one, until
CMT re-scheduled “Animal House.”

Still, there are two Oscar-winners for best-picture –
“Gladiator” (2000) on AMC and “No Country for Old Men” (2007) on IFC. There’s
also animated fun with “Cars 2” on Disney and a true baseball story –
“Moneyball” (2011) on FXX – with Brad Pitt handling a smart Aaron Sorkin
script. Also, rowdy John Wayne films -- “North to Alaska” (1960) and “McLintock”
(1963) -- are 8 and 10:15 p.m. ET on TCM.

Other choices include:

“Kitchen Nightmares,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. Some nightmares last
longer. A double episode is needed for a Colorado restaurant that apparently
had both bad food and bad feelings.

“Unforgettable,” 8 p.m., CBS. Don’t expect any gritty Queens
settings tonight: Carrie and Al borrow their boss’ house in the Hamptons, in
exchange for solving a mystery there.

“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. What starts as simply the
murder of a pool cleaner soon leads to the discovery of a possible terrorist

“Great Performances,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).
Matthew Bourne says he was watching “True Blood” while pondering fairy tales. That
led to this interesting hybrid; it uses Tchaikovsky’s original music for the “Sleeping
Beauty” ballet, but adds vampires, fairies, warm romance and a 100-year time

“Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. Portland already had plenty of
troubles without this: A new woman has arrived, promptly leaving a trail of
dead creatures.

 “Mountain Monsters,”
10 p.m., Destination America. Back in the 1770s, we’re told, Shawnees were
massacred in Webster County, W. Va.  People
talked of a “Webster werewolf,” triple the size of a wolf. Centuries later, the
stories persist; now the team builds another of its wildly unlikely traps.

“Hannibal,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. When Will meets a woman who is
another of Hannibal’s patients, they compare notes on the odd advice they’ve
been given. Soon, Will is sent on a precarious test.