TV column for Saturday, Sept. 5


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Hawaii Five-0,” 8 p.m., CBS.

Why would anyone be
so rude as to kill an Elvis impersonator? There was a good reason, it
seems: Real diamonds were hidden among the sequins in his outfit.

This rerun is set at
an Elvis-impersonator convention, making things mote complicated.
Some of the characters listed include Kung-Fu Elvis, Trans Elvis,
Grandpa Elvis and Plain Clothes Elvis.

TODAY'S MIGHT-SEE:
College football, everywhere.

The first weekend of
the season is packed, even grabbing prime time on two broadcast
networks. At 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC has Texas at Notre Dame (ranked No.
11); at 8, ABC has the lone battle between ranked teams – Wisconsin
(No. 20) and Alabama (No. 3), at a neutral site in Texas.

The networks are
also busy in the afternoon, with 3:30 p.m. games: CBS has Louisville
at Auburn (No. 6); Fox has Virginia at UCLA (No. 13). And there's
much more on cable, starting with Stanford (No. 21) at Northwestern,
at noon ET on ESPN.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
Disney animation, ABC Family.

While their elders
scream about football, kids can savor some animated hits.

That starts with the
“Cars” films, at 11:30 a.m. (2006) and 2:15 p.m. (2011). They're
followed by “Ratatoille” (2007) at 4:45, “Tangled” (2010) at
7:15, “Finding Nemo” (2003) at 9:30 and “Tarzan” (1999) at
midnight. Don't stay up; “Tarzan” also launches a new marathon,
at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

Other choices
include:

“Ghostbusters”
(1984), 1, 6 and 11 p.m., Sundance. Bill Murray's carteer flashes
before us; we see him at 33 in this delight ... and at 63 in “St.
Vincent” (2014) on Showtime. The latter -- an alternately funny and
moving story of a lonely boy and his odd neighbor – got a Golden
Globe nomination for best comedy. Also, Sundance has “Ghostbusters
II” (1989) at 3:30 and 8:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.

“Bullseye,” 8
p.m., Fox. Here's a rerun of the first episode, with contestants
trying offbeat target shoots. A “Home Free” rerun follows at 9.

“Fresh Dressed,”
8 and 10 p.m., CNN (barring a pre-emption for news). If you missed
this interesting (if overstuffed) documentary Thursday, catch it
tonight. It starts with the emegence of hip hop music in 1980s New
York, then sees the transformation of dance, art and (especially)
fashion. We meet designers, trendsetters and music people --
including Sean Combs, Russell Simmons and Pharrell Williams – plus
Daymond John, who went from street-inspired fashions to “Shark
Tank.”

“Blunt Talk,” 9
p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10 and 11. The pilot film and the second
episode (which reruns at 8:25 p.m.) were terrific; this one is kind
of scattered. Walter (Patrick Stewart) heads to Alcoholics Anonymous,
promptly detouring. His staffers chase their own addictions, some
funny and some not.

“Survivor's
Remorse,” 9:30 p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10:30 and 11:30. When the
mom plans some intimate surgery, the family gets way too involved in
the discussion. It's always frank and sometimes funny, but viewers
may agree with Cam: “Can we promise never to talk about this
again?”

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m. (or later, with football overrun), NBC. Woody
Harrelson hosts this rerun, with Kendrick Lamar as music guest.

Previews, 11:30
p.m., Fox. After some tough years, Fox has a solid set of new shows
this fall. Now it has mini-previews, with “Scream Queens” at
11:30, “Minority Report” at 11:36, “Rosewood” at 11:42,
“Grandfathered” at 11:48 and “Grandfathered” at 11:54.

 

TV column for Friday, Sept. 4


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Masters,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

After a slow
century, tennis finally became integrated. The U.S. Open (continuing
1-6 p.m. today on ESPN, 6-11 p.m. on ESPN2) is played in Arthur Ashe
Stadium, named for the first black male champion; it focuses on
Serena Williams, the black superstar chasing a rare “calendar grand
slam.”

But we should also
pause and see where this started. Althea Gibson began life on her
dad's five-acre cotton farm. She moved to Harlem with her family and
discovered tennis in the street. Long (5-foot-11) and lean, agile and
fiercely competitive, she broke barriers and won. It's a great story,
skillfully told.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “One Hundred and One Dalmations” (1961) and “The Jungle
Book” (1967), 7 and 9 p.m., ABC Family.

A holiday weekend
stuffed with Disney cartoons starts with two classics from a
half-century ago.

“Dalmations” is
a fun trifle, with cute pups and one of the great animated villains,
Cruella De Vil. “Jungle Book” ripples with great songs from
Richard and Robert Sherman, the “Mary Poppins” guys, who would go
on to fill more Disney movies for decades.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Hand of God,” any time, Amazon Prime.

For five fierce
seasons, Ron Perlman was the unbending patriarch on “Sons of
Anarchy.” Somehow, he's now found a show that almost matches that
in brutality, cynicism and powerful drama.

He plays Judge
Harris, whose mind has blurred since a suicide attempt left his son
in a coma; now he's convinced that God is sending him instructions
for vengeance. The one flaw of “Hand” is its lack of variety; it
imagines a world in which virtually everyone is selfish and cruel.
Still, it's told through sharp writing and great actors, led by
Perlman, Dana Delany and Garret Dillahunt.

Other choices
include:

Football, 7 and
10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. As a warm-up for the first Saturday of the college
season, here's a doubleheader. Baylor, ranked No. 4, visits Southern
Methodist; Boise State, No. 23, hosts Washington.

“Elementary,” 8
p.m., CBS. A night of CBS reruns starts with the case of a murdered
judge. The prime suspect is someone who escaped from a privatized
prison.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. In a rerun, the final five chefs face two “mystery box”
challenges, concocting things from mismatched ingredients.

“Strike Back,” 8
p.m. to midnight, Cinemax. For five seasons, this show has had
high-octane action and high body counts. Now it takes a holiday
break, rerunning the first five shows of its final season.

“Gotham,” 9
p.m., Fox. This rerun finds Fish plotting her escape and Gordon
investigating the Ogre. Also, Bruce and Selena (the futue Batman and
Catwoman) confront Reggie.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Think of this as a rougher version of “The Hangover.”
Three married men – Jaleel White, Pauly Shore and Kevin Farley –
wake up in their hotel room with a slain woman and no memory of what
happened.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Someone has confessed to the murder of a celebrity
chef, but Danny suspects he's taking the rap for someone else. Also,
Peter Coyote plays a senator who wants Danny's dad, the police
commissioner, to make a DUI charge disappear.

lep

TV column for Thursday, Sept. 3


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Mistresses” and “Rookie Blue” season-finales, 9 and 10 p.m.,
ABC.

ABC wraps up its
strong summer-Thursday line-up with a reminder that things rarely end
neatly.

On “Mistresses,”
Calista is behind bars and Joss is free ... but is starting to wonder
if the real killer isn't still out there; also, Harry (her lover, her
sister's ex-husband) has an out-of-town job offer. And on “Rookie
Blue,” Andy finally reaches her wedding day with Sam ... except
that someone stole her car and she's at the side of the road; also,
he has an uninvited guest.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Under the Dome,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Next week's
season-finale will see the end of the dome ... but that doesn't bring
easy solutions.

Tonight, Hektor
(Eriq LaSalle) insists anyone infected must never be allowed out of
the dome; Big Jim, whose son is infected, disagrees. There are
warnings that if people don't do something, they'll suffocate as the
dome fades. And Barbie (Mike Vogel) scrambles to get the half-alien
baby he had with Eva.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
“Partners in Crime,” any time, www.acorn.tv.

Back in 1922 –
long before Nick-and-Nora or“Hart to Hart” or “McMillan &
Wife,” Agatha Christie introduced the notion of a crimesolving
husband and wife. Tuppence and Tommy had PBS “Mystery” tales from
1984-7; this time, they're played by Jessica Raine (“Call the
Midwife”) and David Walliams.

These fun stories
are now set in the early 1950s. He's a war veteran who wants to
settle down; she savors adventure, especially after a train passenger
disappears. The first two hours are available today, with the final
hour next Thursday; a second (and better) three-parter then arrives
over three weeks.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” 10 p.m., FX.

We already have
“mumblecore,” a minimalist style of acting and filmmaking; now
here's “normcore”: Musicians dress up like they're at the mall
and do ... well, very little.

That's one of
several funny notions tossed around by Denis Leary, who wrote,
directed and stars as an over-the-hill rocker with a talented
daughter. Now he wants to manipulate her dating life via reverse
English; also, their bandmates want to duck the perpetual anonymity
of a drummer and a bass player.

Other choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. This rerun has some fairly funny moments when
Sheldon and Leonard try to sneak onto George Lucas' “Skywalker
Ranch” ... and some very funny ones when Bernadette schemes to get
rid of Howard's impressive “Dr. Who” artifact.

“Mom,” 8:31
p.m., CBS. Bonnie feels the aftermath of her pill addiction. She's
doing community service and she argues so often with Christy that
they've worn out their welcome. None of this sounds very funny, but
it is, with zingy writing and perfect performances.

“Fresh Dressed,”
9 p.m., CNN, repeats at 10:45; also, 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday. As hip
hop music emerged in 1980s New York, we're told, it changed
everything – dance, music, art and (especially) fashions. This
documentary has huge range, interviewing people who are famous --
Sean Combs, Russell Simmons, Daymond John, Pharrell Williams – or
should be. That range is both its strength and weakness, as it
strains to go in so many directions in one crowded film.

“Project Runway,”
9-10:32 p.m., Lifetime. After a condensed rerun of last week's sow at
8, we see the designers in a paint-gun battle, to determine who gets
the first choices of fabrics.

“Graceland,” 10
p.m., USA. Trying to stop a gang war, Johnny goes undercover.

“Married,” 10:30
p.m., FX. The Mother's Day meal isn't going so well here. Lena and
her teen daughter are fighting; both stay outside, as Russ fidgets.
The result is sometimes funny and sometimes just sad.

TV column for Wednesday, Sept. 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
All night, NBC.

Two fun competitions
have reached their key points now: “America's Got Talent” (8
p.m.) finally names half its top 10. “Last Comic Standing” (10
p.m.) already as its 10; they have one-on-one face-offs tonight,
leaving us with the final five for next week's season-finale,

Meanwhile, the hour
between these two shows has imroved, now that the lame “Mr.
Robinson” has vanished and the better “Carmichael Show” has
stepped in at 9 and 9:30 p.m.. “Carmichael” has some clever
moments in the first episode, when Jerrod convinces is dad to eat
kale.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC.

What could possibly
go wrong on Mother's Day? A lot, this hilarious rerun says.

Frankie's kids are
inept at buying gifts ... her husband is worse at making a tea-party
reservation ... and her own mom (Marsha Mason) brings more troubles.
Also, Frankie asks the kids what they'll do differently when they're
parents; the kids, alas, answer honestly – and at length.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Young & Hungry” and “Kevin From Work,” 8
and 8:30 p.m., ABC Family.

Roommate problems
complicate both of these likable comedies. For “Young” (which
often suffers from bluntness), Sofia is jobless and miserable; Gabi
must convince her that a non-existent job is real.

And for “Kevin”
(one of the summert's better surprises), the bad roommate is his
sister. He wants her out ... but also frets that she's having an
affair with Roger, her work colleague. Kevin disapproves; she's
played by Jordan Hinson, 24, and Roger is played by Fred Willard, 75.

Other choices
include”

“High Scool
Musical” (2006), 2 p.m., and “High School Musical 2” (2007), 8
p.m., Disney. Just before the real school year gets serious, kids can
see how much fun a fictional one is. These two films offer buoyant
music, zesty visuals and an OK story; “High School Musical 3”
airs at 8 p.m. Thursday.

“America's Next
Top Model,” 8 p.m., CW. Two complications emerge – a romance
between two models ... and despair over the notion that there will be
no touch-ups after this photo shoot.

“Extant,” 9
p.m., CBS. A week before the season-finale, Molly keeps groping for
answers. She tries to learn about her late husband's mysterious
colleague; also, she asks Charlie, the tech guy, to figure out who
Lucy (her human-like robot) is really getting orders from.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. A valedictorian battle, decided by (literally) a
run-off? That happens here, when Alex is tied for the honor; both
teens have a gym incomplete, so their run could settle this. Also,
Gloria prepares for her citizen test, but she's distracted by Manny's
dad (Benjamin Bratt).

“Black-ish,”
9:31 p.m., ABC. Dre is convinced his son needs some black friends.
Meanwhile, his wife picks the wrong day to take their daughter to
work.

“Mr. Robot,” 10
p.m., USA. Here – after being delayed a week – is the
season-finale of this compelling and complex series about a rogue
hacker and the war inside his mind.

“Twinning,” 10
p.m., VH1. Two mismatched elements are juggled here – the
intriguing psychological question of whether twins think alike ...
and the messy, name-calling style of reality TV. Now that reaches a
mid-point; after starting with a dozen sets of identical twins, the
show trims to six.

 

TV column for Tuesday, Sept. 1


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Tyrant” season-finale, 10 p.m., FX.

No show – not even
“Empire” or “Scandal” -- has matched this show for powerhouse
plot twists. And this season – unlike the first – has somehow
maintained depth and even some subtlety.

The big blows have
been to Jamal, the tyrant in this fictional, Middle Eastern country.
His wife and son have moved to overthrow him; his brother Bassam (a
Pasadena pediatrician named Barry when this started) led a resistance
against him. Now new questions emerge: Will Jamal be killed? Where
will his family fit into this new world? And can Barry really go back
to his old life after this mega-adventure?

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“In Their Own Words” debut, 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Here's a different
approach to profiles – using mostly quotes from the subjects, mixed
with reflections and photos from people who knew them.

Coming are Muhammad
Ali (Sept. 8) and Jim Henson (Sept. 15). First, however, is Queen
Elizabeth. This includes comments from former national leaders
(George H.W. Bush and Britain's John Major), plus actor Ben Kingsley,
“King's Speech” screenwriter David Siedler and Elizabeth herself.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “iZombie” (CW) or “Dusk Till Dawn” (El Rey),
both 9 p.m.

This is what passes
for variety these days – choosing between different styles of
zombie/vampire shows. CW has the light, amiable type; when Liv
munches brains in the morgue, she gains memories and moods; that's
fun in this rerun, when the victims are teens and she adds some giddy
traits.

By comparison, El
Rey (via cable or satellite) has a dead-serious effort. This is a
series of great scenes that don't always make a good show. Robbers
scheme, a killer stalks, a cop frets, two women (a wife and a
girlfriend) seem overwhelmed; so do viewers, but there are impressive
moments along the way.

Other choices
include:

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. A dozen acts are back to start a new
round. On Wednesday, some of them will become half of the show's top
10.

“Fresh Off the
Boat,” 8-10 p.m., ABC. Here are four reruns of this above-average
comedy, many of them focusing on Eddie's odd mom. In the first
episode, she gives the boys extra homework. In the third (9 p.m.),
she delays taking her Realtor exam; in the fourth, her sister and
rich brother-in-law visit.

“NCIS.” 8 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun continues the efforts of NCIS' cyber expert. Evidence
says people are using the Internet to recruit children for acts of
terrorism.

“Zoo,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. The entire team is on the run now, trying to find a cure for the
virus.

“Last Man on
Earth,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. Phil was happier when he thought he really
was the last guy on Earth, responsible for all procreation. Now he
fumes because there's another guy ... chubby Todd, who seems to be
having lots of spirited sex with the beautiful half (January Jones)
of the female population.

“Public Morals,”
10 p.m., TNT. In the show's second episode, Muldoon (Edward Burns),
the show's creator and star) investigates the murder of his uncle,
who's a cop.

“Hollywood Game
Night,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. This fun show mixes singer Joe Jonas,
dancer Cheryl Burke and comedian Jeff Dye with actors Jenna Elfman,
Seth Green and Michelle Trachtenberg