TV column for Monday, May 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Mad Love” and
“Two and a Half Men,” 8:30 and 9 p.m., CBS.

As summer settles in, we'll have to get
used to comedy reruns. Here's a perfect place to start.

“Mad Love” repeats its dandy pilot.
Two likable strangers (Jason Biggs and Sarah Chalke) fall instantly
in love; their friends (Tyler Labine and Judy Greer) fall in dislike.
The humor is quick and crisp.

“Two and a Half Men” has been
wallowing; now it returns to its terrific season-opener, then repeats
shows in order. Tonight, Jake fumes after learning that his dad has
been sleeping with his friend's mom.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Platinum Hit”
debut, 10 p.m., Bravo.

Many shows dismiss contestants'
songwriting skills. This one, however, is about the writing.

It hedges its bets with 12 contestants
who tend to be good-looking and strong singers. Tonight, each has a
half-hour to come up with a song hook; in teams of three, they turn
the best hooks into songs, with top people – including Jewel and
Kara DioGuardi – judging. It's fun to watch and to hear.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Gettysburg,”
9-11 p.m., History.

April 12 marked the 150th
anniversary of the start of the Civil War. So today, Memorial Day, is
the day to remember one of the most brutal wars ever; it killed
618,000 soldiers, the History Channel says – 14.4 percent of the
Union troops, 20.8 percent of the Confederates.

Some of the most horrific moments came
on July 1-3, 1863, when units collided in Gettysburg, Pa. This film –
produced by movie directors Tony and Ridley Scott – acknowledges
the horrors; some people will want to skip it because of the graphic
re-enactments.

Still, it's beautifully filmed, with
vivid mini-profiles of key people. In three awful days, they would
make some smart moves and major mistakes, the kind that change
history.

Other choices include:

– “The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01
p.m., ABC, Ashley Hebert's first date on the show (with William in
Las Vegas) has spectacular moments, including a soaring water
fountain. Hebert, a dance teacher and dental student, also shows off
some great dance moves, when the guys must concoct routines to do
with Jabbawockeez in Vegas. Then she trims the field from 18 to 15.

– “The Secret Life of the American
Teenager,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC Family. As their wedding nears, Adrian
and Ben both have secret doubts about the quick marriage and the
impending parenthood.

– “House,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. The
first rerun involves a man re-enacting the crucifixion; the second
involves a hero who saved a stranger on the subway tracks. Both view
Taub's troubled marriage and other personal crises; in the second
hour, House tries to avoid Cuddy's mom (Candice Bergen).

– “Taking Chance” (2009), 9 p.m.,
HBO. Here's the perfect Memorial Day film, based on a real-life
account of escorting the body of a teen soldier to his Wyoming home
town. Filled with human warmth and dignity, “Chance” drew 10 Emmy
nominations, including best actor (Kevin Bacon) and movie.

– “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss
Edition” debut, 10:01 p.m., ABC. Rachel is an overachiever who was
valedictorian and homecoming queen. But at 21, she weighs 369 pounds
– a bad image for a gym teacher. For each of the next eight weeks,
we'll see Chris Powell guide one person through a weight-loss year.
Tonight's opener (with Rachel) feels familiar, but has ups and downs
along the way.

TV column for Monday, May 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Mad Love” and
“Two and a Half Men,” 8:30 and 9 p.m., CBS.

As summer settles in, we'll have to get
used to comedy reruns. Here's a perfect place to start.

“Mad Love” repeats its dandy pilot.
Two likable strangers (Jason Biggs and Sarah Chalke) fall instantly
in love; their friends (Tyler Labine and Judy Greer) fall in dislike.
The humor is quick and crisp.

“Two and a Half Men” has been
wallowing; now it returns to its terrific season-opener, then repeats
shows in order. Tonight, Jake fumes after learning that his dad has
been sleeping with his friend's mom.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Platinum Hit”
debut, 10 p.m., Bravo.

Many shows dismiss contestants'
songwriting skills. This one, however, is about the writing.

It hedges its bets with 12 contestants
who tend to be good-looking and strong singers. Tonight, each has a
half-hour to come up with a song hook; in teams of three, they turn
the best hooks into songs, with top people – including Jewel and
Kara DioGuardi – judging. It's fun to watch and to hear.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Gettysburg,”
9-11 p.m., History.

April 12 marked the 150th
anniversary of the start of the Civil War. So today, Memorial Day, is
the day to remember one of the most brutal wars ever; it killed
618,000 soldiers, the History Channel says – 14.4 percent of the
Union troops, 20.8 percent of the Confederates.

Some of the most horrific moments came
on July 1-3, 1863, when units collided in Gettysburg, Pa. This film –
produced by movie directors Tony and Ridley Scott – acknowledges
the horrors; some people will want to skip it because of the graphic
re-enactments.

Still, it's beautifully filmed, with
vivid mini-profiles of key people. In three awful days, they would
make some smart moves and major mistakes, the kind that change
history.

Other choices include:

– “The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01
p.m., ABC, Ashley Hebert's first date on the show (with William in
Las Vegas) has spectacular moments, including a soaring water
fountain. Hebert, a dance teacher and dental student, also shows off
some great dance moves, when the guys must concoct routines to do
with Jabbawockeez in Vegas. Then she trims the field from 18 to 15.

– “The Secret Life of the American
Teenager,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC Family. As their wedding nears, Adrian
and Ben both have secret doubts about the quick marriage and the
impending parenthood.

– “House,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. The
first rerun involves a man re-enacting the crucifixion; the second
involves a hero who saved a stranger on the subway tracks. Both view
Taub's troubled marriage and other personal crises; in the second
hour, House tries to avoid Cuddy's mom (Candice Bergen).

– “Taking Chance” (2009), 9 p.m.,
HBO. Here's the perfect Memorial Day film, based on a real-life
account of escorting the body of a teen soldier to his Wyoming home
town. Filled with human warmth and dignity, “Chance” drew 10 Emmy
nominations, including best actor (Kevin Bacon) and movie.

– “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss
Edition” debut, 10:01 p.m., ABC. Rachel is an overachiever who was
valedictorian and homecoming queen. But at 21, she weighs 369 pounds
– a bad image for a gym teacher. For each of the next eight weeks,
we'll see Chris Powell guide one person through a weight-loss year.
Tonight's opener (with Rachel) feels familiar, but has ups and downs
along the way.

TV column for Sunday, May 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “National
Memorial Day Concert,” 8-9:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Each year, on the eve of Memorial Day,
this offers an epic-scale concert – big crowds (on the Capitol
Lawn), big orchestra (National Symphony) and big voices. Pia Toscano,
the “American Idol” belter, should fit perfectly into a concert
that has gospel's Yolanda Adams and classical's Hayley Westenra, plus
Daniel Rodriguez, remembered as the singing cop who performed during
Sept. 11 memorials.

There's more, including blues great
B.B. King, “Idol” winner Kris Allen and comments by hosts Gary
Sinise and Joe Mantegna, plus Colin Powell and more.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “The Killing,”
10 p.m., AMC.

Last week's episode ended fiercely:
Stan Larsen brutally beat the teacher suspected of killing his
daughter – unaware that police had just realized their suspicions
were wrong.

Now lives are collapsing for the
Larsens and for Sarah Linden, the obsessed police detectivd. And now
Linden has a new suspect and a possible breakthrough.

This is another brilliant episode –
with richly layered characters and darkly gorgeous filming.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The Real
Story,” 8 and 11 p.m., Smithsonian.

Each week, this well-made series looks
at the true stories behind movies. Tonight is “Jaws.”
This
documentary views a similar story – true-life attacks along the New
Jersey coast in 1916. It mixes re-creations and new scientific
studies of shark behavior.

We hear of a 1916 hero: Stanley Fisher
died while fighting a shark that attacked a 12-year-old boy. There
are random facts – worldwide, sharks only killed five people and
injured 60 last year – and an argument for a colorful world:
Studies show that 90 per cent of shark victims are wearing dark
clothes.

Other choices include:

– Oprah marathon, Oprah Winfrey
Network. The all-weekend event – timed to follow the last new
episode of Winfrey's talk show, – includes two movies she produced.
“David & Lisa” (1998), with superb performances by Lukas Haas
and the late Brittany Murphy, is at 2 p.m.; “Before Women Had
Wings” is at 4. A rerun of Gayle King's “after party” is at 6,
with a new “Behind the Scenes” at 8.

– Racing, 5:30 p.m. ET, Fox. Sorry,
there are no Fox cartoons tonight. Instead, we get the Coca-Cola 600,
the longest race in the NASCAR series.
– Animated movies, cable.
At 6 p.m., FX has “Madagascar 2” (2008) and The Cartoon Network
has “Shrek the Third” (2007). At 7, ABC Family has the fun “Bolt”
(2008). At 8 and 10, FX has “Kung Fu Panda” (2008). And at 9, ABC
Family has the sweetly poignant “WALL-E” (2008).

– “William & Kate” (2011),
8-10 p.m., Lifetime. Here's a rerun of an adequate film, depicting
Prince William and Kate Middleton as likable, lusty college students,
negotiating a complex courtship.

– “The Bourne Supremacy” (2004),
9-11 p.m., NBC. In this sequel, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still
being chased by hit men … and still doesn't know why. Much action
follows.

– “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,”
9-11 p.m., ABC. Justin Bieber entertains a family while its Texas
trailer is being replaced by a new home.

– “CSI: Miami,” 10 p.m., CBS. In
a rerun (following a pair of “Undercover Boss” reruns), a
sugar-refinery explosion reveals a surprise about one of the
employees.

TV column for Saturday, May 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Baby Mama” (2008), 8
and 10 p.m., Ion; “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29, NBC.

This is a good night to savor “SNL”
people, past and present.

First, the old “Weekend Update”
co-anchors star in a funny-enough movie. Tina Fey plays the
responsible type; Amy Poehler plays the schemer she hires as a
surrogate mother. This was written (adequately) and directed
(sharply) by Michael McCullers, who was a new “SNL” writer
alongside Fey in 1997; he soon left to write two “Austin Powers”
sequels; she stayed for nine years and stardom.

Then catch a rerun from this “SNL”
season. Zach Galifianakis hosts, using parts of his wonderfully odd
stand-up act; Jessy J is the music guest.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “The
Bachelorette,” 9-11 p.m., ABC.

Here's a quick rerun of Monday's
opener, with Ashley Hebert, a dance teacher and dental student.

Straining to impress her, various guys
bring a poem, a guitar and dental floss. One lifts up the tiny Hebert
to dance; another hoists her on his shoulder. One wears a mask;
another falls asleep.

Hebert seems way too amused by most of
this. Hey, it's more fun than studying gum disease.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: Oprah marathon,
Oprah Winfrey Network.

Trying to borrow the heat from her
talk-show finale, Winfrey's network has an all-Oprah day.

That includes two TV films she
produced: “The Wedding” (1997), 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., stars Halle
Berry in a buoyant setting; “Before Women Had Wings” (1998), 8-10
p.m., has Winfrey helping kids battered by their parents' alcoholism
and despair.

There are also “Master Class”
profiles of Winfrey (6-8 p.m.) and Maya Angelou (10 p.m.). From 3-6
p.m. are Gayle King's “after party” for the finale and a “Behind
the Scenes” of the post-Oscar show.

Other choices include:

– “Doctor Who” marathon, 6 a.m.,
BBC America. Taking a break from new episodes, this show reruns all
of the ones so far that have the terrific pairing of Matt Smith as
The Doctor and Karen Gillam as Amy Pond. Their entire first season
runs from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the first five hours of this second year
are from 4-9 p.m., 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and (skipping one hour), 2-6 a.m.

– Baseball, 7 p.m. ET, Fox. Taking no
chances here, Fox has six games, choosing them by region.

– “Shrek the Third” (2007), 7
p.m., Cartoon; “Bolt” (2008), 9 p.m., ABC Family. Here's an
animated double feature, for family fun. “Bolt” – with a dog
surprised to learn his superhero status is only as a TV actor – is
an odd delight.

– More movies, cable. Three big ones
– each an Academy Award nominee for best picture – collide.
“Terms of Endearment” (1983, 7 p.m., TV Guide) won that Oscar and
four others. “Pulp Fiction” (1994, 8 p.m., Independent Film
Channel) won for its script; the wonderful “Raiders of the Lost
Ark” (1981, 8:30, USA) won in five technical categories.

– “Law & Order: Los Angeles,”
9 and 10 p.m., NBC. The first rerun finds a fire whipping through
Malibu; someone may have used it to hide a gruesome crime. The second
finds a casino worker killed in his bathtub – which leads to
discovery of a larger scheme.

 

TV column for Friday, May 27


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Friday Night
Lights,” 8 p.m., NBC.

The TV season officially ended Sunday,
but “Lights” – one of the great dramas – is still going
strong. It has seven more episodes in this final season, including a
strong one tonight.

Coach Eric Taylor takes his East Dillon
team against the Dillon High powerhouse he used to coach. He has
endless distractions – including a Web site exposing players'
juvenile crime records.

His original quarterback (now
parapalegic and a sports agent) is visiting; his new quarterback has
an overzealous dad supervising college recruitment. Also, his
daughter retreated from college, after a brief affair with a married
teaching assistant. Life is complicated; football is fierce.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Jamie
Oliver's Food Revolution,” 8-10 p.m., ABC.

In the show's first season, Oliver
tried to transform the eating habits of one West Virginia town. Now
comes a much bigger target – the massive Los Angeles school
district.

This show aired on Tuesdays last month,
but was yanked after two weeks of limp ratings. Now it's on
less-competitive turf, starting with reruns of those two episodes.

Banned (for now) from schools, Oliver
tries demonstrations. In the first hour, he pours a mountain of sugar
– the difference, he says, between chocolate and white milk in the
schools; in the second, he dresses as a tomato and hands out healthy
meals. In both, he works to change fast-food tastes.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Patton”
(1970), 8-11 p.m., AMC.

On Memorial Day weekend, AMC has a big
war film each night. Sunday's “Pearl Harbor” is lame, but the
first two – “Patton” and Saturday's “Apocalypse Now” –
are superb.

Both were co-written by Francis Ford
Coppola, with his great ear for male dialog. “Patton” managed to
be remarkably fair, capturing both the strengths and the flaws of
Gen. George Patton.

The result piled up Academy Awards for
best picture, director (Franklin Schaffner), actor (George C. Scott,
who refused to accept it), script, editing, sound, and
set-decoration.

Other choices include:

– “Bones,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. The
first rerun involves the remains of a ballet dancer who had wanted to
switch to hip-hop. The second has a body – with links to a modern
crime – found on an old slave ship.

– “Smallville,” 8 p.m., CW.
Here's a rerun of the opener for the 10th and final
season. Lois finds Clark's body and removes the kryptonite, allowing
him to return to life.

– “Flashpoint,” 8 p.m., CBS.
This well-made series pauses for a rerun, before returning to new
episodes next week. Tonight, a woman (Kelly Rowan of “The O.C.”)
has kidnapped two young children; police scramble to find what they
have in common.

– “CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, a woman seems to have literally been scared to death. Then
other eerie things start to happen.

– “CMT's Next Superstar,” 9 p.m.,
CMT. The final three singers have four days to create a music video.
Next week, the two survivors will sing in Nashville's historic Ryman
Auditorium.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. In
a rerun, a gangster's son is killed and the police commissioner's son
(Donnie Wahlberg) digs into the world of the Russian mob.