TVcolumn for Tuesday, Aug. 14

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC.

For two weeks, many of the reality
shows disappeared. NBC had Olympics; Fox had reruns.

Now both are back, colliding for two
hours tonight. For NBC, it's the return of this summertime ratings
leader. Tonight, we see a dozen acts that competed via YouTube; then
viewers vote.

9 p.m., Fox.

This is Gordon Ramsay's lone nice-guy
show, the one in which he's generally civil to amateur chefs.

Not tonight. The final six contestants
take over an elegant restaurant, with Ramsay screaming orders and
insults. That's tough for Monti Carlo, 36, a single mom with a
hearing problem … and for Christine Ha, 33, a grad student who's

Both were chosen by Becky Reams, 26, a
food photographer. The other team has Frank Mirando, 28, a
stockbroker; David Martinez, 32, a school administrator; and
seven-foot Josh Marks, 24, an Army contract specialist. It's an
interesting – albeit way too noisy – hour.

Bash” season-finale, 10 p.m., USA.

Bash's problm is that his law license
has been suspended. Franklin's is his dad (Beau Bridges); he wants to
buy the law firm and dismantle it.

Now they try to help their friend
(Chris Klein), an honest politician whose campaign manager tries to
stop him from dropping out of a race. As usual, this is a light,
loopy story, filled with wildly unlikely twists. Still, it almost
stands alone tonight, as a new, scripted show.

Other choices include:

– “Hotel Hell,” 8 p.m., Fox. It's
Ramsay again, this time as a bit of a crusader. In Monday's opener,
he was stunned by an upscale inn that piled up antiques, but barely
paid its staff. Now he gets a surprise, when having the antiques
assessed; also, he struggles to find a feel-good makeover.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS.In a rerun,
a Navy reservist with a high security clearance is dead. Gibbs
clashes with Dr. Ryan (Jamie Lee Curtis), as they try to determine if
it was suicide.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun sees a man gunned down outside the Vietnamese
consulate, where a conference is set. Dan Lauria (“The
WonderYears”) plays a retired Marine.

– “How 'Jaws' Changed the World,”
9 p.m., Discovery. On the 25th annual go-around for its
“Shark Week,” Discovery gives a nod to the movie that spurred
this interest. It views the way science has expanded since “Jaws”
came out in 1975.

– “NY Med,” 10 p.m., ABC. Two
likable people bring a personal feel to a breast-cancer story. One is
Dr. Eleni Tousimis; the other is her patient, Andree Brown.


– “Collection Intervention”
debut, 10 p.m., Syfy. One person was stunned; after marrying, she
found her husband had debts and a garage stuffed with Catwoman items.
Another was less surprised – his wedding party had full “Star
Wars” costumes and theme – but it was too much when his wife
filled most of the house with items. An expert intervenes with both,
in an OK hour.

– “20 Under 20,” 10 p.m., CNBC.
In the first half of this interesting (if stretched) documentary, we
met some of the 41 teens trying for a controversial prize – a
chance to skip college and land a two-year, $100,000 fellowship with
top mentors. Tonight, some of the nail their speeches – even trying
poetry and rap – and some bumble badly. We also learn some of the
20 winners.

TV column for Monday, Aug. 13

finale, 9-10:06 p.m., TNT.

For seven seasons, “Closer” has had
a terrific actress (Kytra Sedgwick), crisp direction and smart
stories that peak in the interrogation room. Now this dialog-driven
show offers surprising action.

It starts with a hillside chase, then
has two fierce conflicts between Brenda (Sedgwick) and her nemesis.
The result neatly wraps up a strong series … and blends instantly
into its spin-off.

season-opener, 10 p.m., NBC.

Nick's mom (Mary Elizabeth
Mastrantonio) is back, with some explaining to do. She left 18 years
ago when his dad was killed, offering not a speck of guidance about
the scary family traditions.

Now she's back, as his world wobbles.
His girlfriend is in a coma and a new killer has just arrived via
ocean transport, sort of like the emerald ash borer did. This hour,
starting a two-parter, is almost absurdly gory; still, it's also
sleekly filmed and compelling.

8 p.m., Fox.

At last, Gordon Ramsay has someone
worth shouting and cursing at. He meets the co-owner of the Juniper
Hill Inn, a Vermont gem where three presidents have dined; rooms are
up to $350 a night.

Money flows for antiques, artwork, a
$100,000 recreational vehicle and a huge surplus of furnishings –
but not to employees. The chef averages $400 a week and paychecks are
often late. Ramsay fumes, in a story that concludes Tuesday.

Other choices include:

– “Stars Earn Stripes” debut,
8-10 p.m., NBC. Reality TV turns into action-adventure. Many of the
celebrities have already starred in football (Dean Cain, Terry
Crews), boxing (Laila Ali), snowmobile racing (Todd Palin) and
Olympic skiing (Picabo Street). Those five – plus Nick Lachey, Eve
Torres and Dolvett Quince – tackle war-game challenges, alongside
military veterans.

– “Bachelor Pad,” 8-10:01 p.m.,
ABC. A couple of enviable Los Angeles dating opportunities are at
stake here – playing in Dodger Stadium or being in a downtown movie

– “2 Broke Girls,” 8:30 and 9
p.m., CBS. Reruns sweep the women through two holidays. They're store
elves for Christmas, then spend Valentine's Day at the hospital,
after Earl seems to have a heart attack.

– “20 Under 20,” 10 p.m., CNBC.
Is a full college education necessary for all of today's super-smart
young people? Or should some – in the tradition of an Edison or a
Jobs – leave early to tinker with innovation? This documentary sees
41 brilliant teens compete for 20 Thiel Fellowships, which would give
each $100,000 and top mentors for two years. This two-night
documentary seems way too padded, but the process and the candidates
are fascinating.

– “Major Crimes” debut, 10:06
p.m., TNT. Here's a seamless transition from “Closer” to its
spin-off. Most of Brenda's old colleagues are back – along with her
husband, who's the FBI liaison. Tohey face some robbery pros, while
facing distractions. Tonight, they have a new leader and a new
detective; also, the intense teen from the “Closer” finale is
still there, providing some personal passion.

TV column for Sunday, Aug. 12

TODAY'S MUST-SEE: Olympics, NBC and

The closing ceremony runs from 7-10:38
p.m. on NBC. Before that, competition continues.

That starts early, with men's
basketball – the bronze-medal game at 6 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports
Network, then the gold-medal game at 10 on NBC. Also during the day –
boxing, wrestling, cycling, handball, water polo and the pentathlon.

Wheels” season-opener, 9 p.m., AMC.

The first season offered a richly
textured portrait of the post-Civil War frontier. As railroad baron
Doc Durant pushed westward, lives transformed.

Cullen, a former Confederate officer,
was a railroad foreman, waiting to avenge the slaying of his family;
now he's wanted for murder. Elam, a former slave, was a laborer; now
he does railroad security.

Tonight, the two friends meet at
gunpoint. It's a terrific hour that starts and ends powerfully.

Practice” sneak preview, 10:38 p.m., NBC.

George (Justin Kirk), a veterinarian,
is nice to animals and abrasive to people. Now his ex-lover (JoAnna
Garcia Swisher) is his new boss, adding to his people problems.

The humor here is erratic, but there
are enough big moments – complete with a python and a clever monkey
– to keep us watching. After this preview, the series is still six
weeks away.

Other choices include:

– “The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox.
After getting a concussion, Homer has six weeks off work. He decides
to secretly use the time to learn to be a better husband.

– “The Cleveland Show,” “Family
Guy” and “American Dad,” 8:30 to 10 p.m., Fox. Here's a rerun
of the crossover event, with a storm expected to rip through all
three towns.

– “Criminal Minds,” 9 p.m., CBS.
With “3” plunked quickly onto the shelf, this rerun fills in.
Tonight, there are hints that the long-ago “zodiac killer” (or a
copy) is back.

– “The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Back when Patrick Jane was a phony psychic, Beth Flint was a client.
In this rerun, she needs help after her son is kidnapped. First, Jane
battles her new “spiritual advisor.”

– “Celebrity Roast,” 10 p.m.,
Comedy Central. Roseanne is the target, with even ex-husband Tom
Arnold showing up. Jane Lynch is roastmaster, introducing Carrie
Fisher, Sharon Stone, Katey Sagal, Wayne Brady, Seth Green and Ellen
Barkin, plus comedians Gilbert Gottfried, Amy Schumer, Anthony
Jeselnik and, as usual, Jeffrey Ross.

– “The News Room,” 10 p.m., HBO.
After downplaying some sensational stories, the newscast sees ratings
decline. It scrambles for a quick turnaround.

– “Breaking Bad,” 10 p.m., AMC.
Walt's team has to scramble to get key supplies.

– “Episodes,” 10:30, Showtime.
There are funny moments for Beverly, who proclaims herself (quite
accurately) the worst date in history. And poignant ones for Matt
(Matt LeBlanc); already troubled by his stalker and his shrinking
role on a show, he's now been described (inaccurately) as “chunky.”

TV column for Saturday, Aug. 11

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Olympics, 8 p.m. to
midnight, NBC.


In a change-of-pace, NBC detours at 8
p.m. to show “Their Finest Hour,” Tom Brokaw's tribute to host
country Great Britain and the way it slowed Germany's advance in
World War II. Had it not been for that, historian Anthony Beevor says
in the film, “Hitler would have ruled all of Europe and there would
have been very little the U.S. could do about it.”

Then the gold-medal finals resume. For the women, that
includes volleyball, high jump, the 800-meter run and the four-by-400
relay; men have the javelin, platform diving, the 5,000-meter

Men also have the four-by-100-meter
relay, which used to be American turf. During one stretch, the U.S.
men took gold at 12 of 13 Olympics. Lately, however, they've won only
three of eight.

p.m., CBS.

This show seemed to offer gritty
potential. Produced by Robert De Niro, it was filmed in New York,
with good actors – Leelee Sobieski, Adam Goldberg, etc. – playing
rookie cops.

Alas, stories were so-so and interest
drooped; here's the final episode. “White House”(Sobieski) and
“Jackpot” patrol a streetball tournament; Kenny and Ahmad search
for a pickpocket. Also, “Lazarus” (Goldberg) and Tonya try to
convince people to leave a building that's being torn down.

Teacher,” 9-11 p.m.,Hallmark.

Following the lead of others – Disney
Channel, Nickelodeon, Fox, more – Hallmark has found a way to spice
a story with original music. The result is mixed – vibrant music,
weak story.

Annie Potts stars as a teacher whose
after-school music program is being cut. Her students return for a
fund-raising show – and a chance to undo past mistakes. Good actors
– attractive unknowns, mostly – step into flat, predictable
situations; the Broadway-style music, however, soars.

Other choices include:

– Olympics, daytime. It's time for
the medal games in several team sports. For women's basketball, the
bronze game is at noon on MSBC; the gold is 4 p.m. on NBC; for men's
soccer, the gold starts at 10 a.m. on the NBC Sports Network. Also,
NBC has the rhythmic gymnastics finals at 1p.m.

– “Game Plan” (2007), 8-10 p.m.,
ABC. A pro quarterback (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) seems happy
with his bachelor life. Then he learns he has an 8-year-old daughter
to care for; lives change.

– “The Dog Whisperer,” 8 p.m.,
Nat Geo Wild. Sure, some guys might envy Hugh Hefner. He's 86; he
lives in a mansion with exceptionally attractive women, including
current girlfriend Shera Bechad, 26. Still, there's a problem; her
chihuahua is irritable. Cesar Millan works with them and with other
former playmates. The cases are fairly standard, but the people look

– “The Fifth Element” (1997),
9-11:30 p.m., Bravo. Luc Besson – who wrote and directed the
original “La Femme Nikita” –made this futuristic tale so
gorgeous that we'll forgive its many flaws.

– “The Boogeyman,” 9-11 p..,
Syfy. Don't expect any of the Saturday silliness of some Syfy films.
This is a serious – and fairly well-made – tale of a small town,
an old house and sudden gore. Eddie McClintock (“Warehouse 13”)
adds a light touch, but mostly this is a solid, standard horror tale.

– “Castle,” 10 p.m., ABC. In a
rerun, a bomb has killed five people at a protest rally. Castle and
Beckett turn to witnesses and to video, trying to re-create the 47
seconds before the explosion.

– “Jeff Lewis Roasts America,” 11
p.m., Comedy Central. It's been an odd career for Lewis – a star in
every comedy roast, an unknown otherwise. So he did a stand-up tour
roasting the audience, even trying a “speed-roasting” exercise.
This is sometimes nasty stuff, but there are hilarious moments.

TV column for Friday, Aug. 10

season-finale, 10 p.m., USA.

This show opened with a couples
therapist (Sonya Walger) handling two feuding cops. It's often been
light and bright, your usual tale of mismatched partners; still,
something has been gnawing at the core.

Now we finally get there. With some
sharp flashbacks, we learn what caused one cop to draw a gun on the
other. The hour starts with humor and ends with action, wrapping up a
good first year.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: Olympics, 8 p.m.
to midnight, NBC.

Two days before the closing ceremony,
there are still plenty of gold medals to hand out.

For men, that includes the pole vault
and the four-by-400-meter relay; for women, it includes the
1500-meter run and the four-by-100 relay. For both, there's the BMX
(bicycle motocross).

Performances,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

There's a light, airy feel to the
Tanglewood music area and to this 75th-anniversary concrt.

We get three orchestras, a chorus, four
conductors and some great soloists. Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter is
particularly good; cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianists Emanuel Ax and
Peter Serkin are first-rate. As for James Taylor … well, he's
really much better when doing James Taylor songs.

Other choices include:

– Olympics, daytime. Men's basketball
has reached its semi-finals now and NBC Sports Network has the games
at noon and 3:30p.m. ET; in between, it has women's field hockey at
2. MSNBC has men's events – volleyball at 10 a.m., handball at
noon, the bronze-medal soccer game at 2:30. NBC has variety,
including rhythmic gymnastics at 1:45p.m.

– “Miss Congeniality” (2000), 6
p.m., ABC Family. Sandra Bullock is fun as a clumsy FBI agent, going
undercover at a beauty pageant. The sequel(2005) is at 8:30.

– “Young Dr. Kildare” (1938),
6:30 p.m. T, Turner Classic Movies. This is part of a 24-hour Lionel
Barrymore stretch that starts at 6 a.m. It's followed by “You Can't
Take It With You” (1938) at 8 p.m., “Night Flight” (1933) at
10:15 and “Key Largo” (1948) at midnight.

– “Bones,” 8 and 10 p.m., Fox. In
the first rerun, a century-old feud may have led to a murder. In the
second, Brennan goes to Hollywood to see the filming of a movie based
on her book; alas, she finds that one of the movie cadavers is way
too real,

– “CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. Word of
a party races across social media; a crowd gathers, a balcony
collapses and a teen girl dies. In this rerun, police try to learn
if it was actually a murder..

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Margaret Colin plays a high-profile reporter who' s a friend of Frank
(Tom Selleck), with Tom Wopat as her boss. When she's almost
assaulted, Frank's son Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) leads the

– “Saturday Night Fever” (1977),
10 p.m., TV Guide Network. Here's a fresh chance to see a great
movie. It scored at the box office because of the BeeGees music and
John Travolta dance moves; beyond that, however, are surprisingly
deep and well-drawn characters