TV column for Tuesday, April 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Raising Hope”
season-finale, 9:31 p.m., Fox.

Last week brought a jolt: Hope's
mother, a convicted serial killer, survived her execution.

Now she seeks custody. There's plenty
of damning information about Jimmy's parenting skills.

The trial brings a string of witnesses,
including the three stars – Jason Lee, Jaime Pressly and Ethan
Suplee – of “My Name is Earl,” which was from the same
producers. A few jokes seem forced, but many click; “Hope” – a
clever but inconsistent show – ends its season on a high note.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Glee,” Fox or
“Gidget” (1959), Turner Classic Movies, both 8 p.m. ET.

Choose your youth-flashback era. “Glee”
eyes 1977, when disco ruled; the kids do numbers from “Saturday
Night Fever.” TCM goes even further back.

Sandra Dee plays Gidget, a sweet and
slender teen in the brassy world of bikini beaches; she falls for
Moondoggie (James Darren) and Big Kahuna (Cliff Robertson). It's an
OK film; “Gidget Goes Hawaiian” (1961), at 9:45 p.m., is less OK,
but Deborah Walley and Hawaii are appealing.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The Woman Who
Wasn't There,” 8-9:30 p.m., Investigation Discovery.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the public
was fascinated by Tania Head's story.

She told of her fiance's death in one
tower, her own near-death in the other. She told of being rescued by
a hero who died; she guided tourists, led the survivor group, worked
tirelessly without pay.

And then the story took some stunning
twists. We won't spoil anything here; this Meredith Vieira production
lets the surprises roll out at just the right times.

Other choices include:

– “The Biggest Loser,” 8 p.m.,
NBC. Reality shows often offer cruel twists. This time, the final
five reportedly rebelled, walking out and shutting down production.
“Loser” managed to retain some of them; tonight, after the
walk-out, two people advance to the finale, with the third added next
week.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Gaius
Charles, one of the talented young “Friday Night Lights” stars,
guests. He plays a Baltimore detective who works with Tony after a
fire reveals classified Navy documents.

– “Ringer” season-finale, 9 p.m.,
CW. The truth may emerge. Bridget considers telling Andrew that she's
not really her rich twin Siobhan; Henry considers telling Bridget
what really happened to Siobhan. And others – cops and crooks –
close in on her.

– “Dancing With the Stars,” 9
p.m., ABC. In a change, the judges will decide who's going home; the
bottom two in viewer votes will dance to the same cha-cha numbr.
Earlier, Train sings “Drive By” and Selena Gomez sings “Hit the
Lights.” There's also a Latino number, with Sheila E as
percussionist.

– “New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox. Age
differences are key here: Nick's new girlfriend may be too young;
Jess' boyfriend may be too old for her. Jess struggles with
babysitting for his pre-teen daughter.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,”9:01 to
10:02 p.m., CBS. A murdered Navy officer was leading a double life.

– “Private Practice,” 10:01 p.m.,
ABC. Now that “Scandal” has taken this show's spot on Thursdays,
“Practice” borrows Tuesdays from “Body of Proof,” which ended
its season early. Tonight, Erica is near death; also, Pete and
Violet, both newly single, may have feelings for each other.

TV column for Monday, April 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Eureka”
season-opener, 9 p.m., Syfy.

Last season saw this genius-filled town
prepare the Astraeus craft on a journey to Titan. Then the ship
disappeared with Allison Blake – not an astronauts – still on
board.

Now come two big surprises, one early
in the hour and the other at the end. Both reflect the “Eureka”
knack for mixing humor, character drama and science-fiction twists;
its a great start to the final season.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Dancing With
the Stars” (ABC) and “The Voice” (NBC), 8 p.m..

“The Voice” has reached its
quarter-finals now, with 16 people left. They have more face-offs,
pointing to the May 8 finale.

And “Stars”? Last week, Sherri
Stringfield was eliminated, cutting the field to nine. Melissa
Gilbert was rushed to the hospital after bumping her head, but her
dance partner said that was exaggerated.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Where the
Boys Are” (1960), 8-10 p.m., Turner Classic Movies.

As the weather warms, TCM starts four
nights of beach double-features. That includes double-Gidget on
Tuesday and the first two “Beach Party” films on Thursday.

First are two spring-break films: “Palm
Spring Weekend” (1963), at 10 p.m., drew shrugs; “Where the Boys
Are” drew attention with its hit song and its appealing newcomers –
Paula Prentiss, Yvette Mimieux, Jim Hutton, George Hamilton and the
immensely likable star, Dolores Hart. She's now known as Mother
Prioress, some 49 years after leaving Hollywood to be a nun.

Other choices include:

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. Ted is settling into a quieter life, living alone in his
apartment. Barney, however, says he should be out partying, making
every night “legndary.”

– “2 Broke Girls,” 8:30 p.m.,
CBS. On the night before the federal income-tax deadline, CBS airs
this handy reminder: Max, it turns out, has never filed a return.
This shocks Caroline, who knows about finance, what with her dad
being in prison for bilking people out of billions.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Alan is moving in with Lyndsey, despite his poor track record.
(Last time he did that, he burned her house down.) Also, Zoey and her
daughter move in with Walden.

– “House,” 9 p.m., Fox. Here's
more bad behavior from Dr. House: He's upset that his favorite hooker
is marrying and retiring; his solution, of course, is to sabotage her
romance.

– “Smash,” 10 p.m., NBC. A movie
star (played by Uma Thurman) has the lead in the musical; now Ivy and
Karen – former competitors – are reluctant allies. Meanwhile, the
songwriters have opposite fates: Tom's romance heats up; Julia and
her estranged husband must link to deal with a crisis.

– “Crash Course” debut, 10 p.m.
ET, BBC America. Richard Hammond, a modest-sized Englishman, travels
the U.S. to drive mega-sized vehicles. That starts with Army tanks at
the misnamed Fort Bliss. The result is fairly blah, letting us
appreciate the brilliant writing of Jeremy Clarkson, who makes sure
“Top Gear” (8-10 p.m. on BBC America, with Hammond and James May)
is thoroughly entertaining.

– Castle, 10:01 p.m., ABC. In his
novels, Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) gives tough-cop names –
Derrick Storm, Nikki Heat – to his heroes. Naturally, he can't
resist a chance to work with Ethan Slaughter, a hard-nosed cop.
Slaughter is played by Adam Baldwin, Fillion's old “Firefly”
co-star.

TV column for Sunday, April 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Good Wife,”
9 p.m., CBS.

A previous episode introduced the
show's new villain, Mike Kristeva (Matthew Perry). Now we learn he's
cunning, scheming and a brash liar; he's also the biggest obstacle to
Peter's race for governor

It's a strong episode, the first of
three to wrap up the season. Eli helps his ex-wife (the terrific
Parker Posey) with her campaign; Alicia battles her mother-in-law and
scrambles to free jailed teens.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Masterpiece
Classic,” 9-11 p.m. Sunday, PBS (check local listings).

When Charles Dickens died in 1870, “The
Mystery of Edwin Drood” was unfinished. Ever since, people have
fashioned their own endings, even turning it into a musical. Here's a
new try, deep and dark and ultimately worth the struggle.

A choirmaster (Matthew Rhys) is bitter
about his nephew Edwin (Freddie Fox) and in love with Rosa; in an
opium haze, he may have killed someone. It's a grim tale, but stick
with it and it all makes sense.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “NYC 22”
debut, 10 p.m., CBS

Talented people combined for this tough
cop drama. Robert De Niro produced, James Mangold (“Walk the Line”)
directed the pilot, good actors (led by Leelee Sobieski and Adam
Goldberg) play rookies.

Still, this will take some patience.
The opener tries too hard; it veers toward melodrama, making sure
everyone has a big back story and a huge first day. “NYC 22” gets
better in the weeks ahead.

Other choices include:

– “The Simpsons,” 7 and 8 p.m.,
Fox. First is a rerun, with Lisa falling for an intellectual guy.
Then a new episode finds Bart facing bullies after Jimbo's girlfriend
likes him.

– “A Few Good Men” (1992), 7-10
p.m., Ion. Aaron Sorkin (“West Wing”) turned his courtroom play
into a terrific movie. Rob Reiner directed it beautifully; Tom
Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson leads a top cast; with lots of
young stars – Kiefer Sutherland, Noah Wyle, Kevin Bacon and more.

– “Titanic” conclusion, 9-10:01
p.m., ABC. In Saturday's three hours, we met jaded aristocrats and
working-class dreamers. An Italian waiter fell instantly in love with
a cute maid, while his burly brother shoveled coal. An Irish-Catholic
dad dreamed of America, while his wife fell for a handsome killer.
Now, in the show's best hour, we'll see who survives.

– “The Borgias,” 9 p.m.,
Showtime. Yes, Rodrigo Borgia is cruel and lusty; now that he's Pope
Alexander VI, we also see his decency – especially when he shows
Rome's real poverty to a corrupt cardinal. Meanwhile, his daughter
Lucrezia meets the stable boy who fathered her child.

-- "The Client List," 10 p.m., Lifetime. This show is floundering to find an identity. The movie version -- a housewife accidentally finds a career at a massage parlor with sexual overtones -- was serious; the first series episode added Loretta Devine, Cybill Shepherd and humor. This episode flubs its few humor attempts and veers into melodrama, as Riley (Jennifer Love Hewitt) traces a mysterious phone number written by her missing husband.

– “Nurse Jackie,” 10 p.m.,
Showtime. The immensely cynical Jackie is in rehab now, mad at the
world. Back at the hospital, her colleagues face changes with one
question: “What would Jackie do?”

– “The Big C,”10:30, Showtime.
Recovering mentally, Cathy crumbles emotionally in a strong episode.
Her husband reveals way too much on his blog; she drinks (using an
assumed name) and misbehaves

– “Girls” debut, 10:30, HBO. Two
years out of college, Hannah suddenly has no job, no boyfriend and
only enough money to stay in New York for three-and-a-half days.
Written by and starring near-newcomer Lena Dunham, this is a
deceptively smart and funny start to a promising series..

TV column for Saturday, April 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Titanic,” 8-11
p.m., ABC; concludes 9-10 p.m. Sunday.

It was 100 years ago tonight, just
before midnight, that the Titanic struck an iceberg. Now the story is
retold by Julian Fellowes, a master (“Downton Abbey” and “Gosford
Park”) of period dialog.

This is a British-Canadian-Hungarian
project, meant to be in four one-hour chunks. ABC lumps the first
three together, making an odd experience. People are boarding
lifeboats by the end of the first hour; then we keep flashing back to
learn more about them.

A few of themare overwrought, but many
soon become involving. We see multiple class structures in 1912, so
rigid that British passengers fume about having an Italian waiter. We
also see America as the goal; it's the one place where people can
grow … if the ship will get them there.

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

Josh Brolin's first time hosting “SNL”
was impressive. Adele sang; Mark Wahlberg dropped in.

This time, the music guest is Gotye –
an electronic pop band which has a French pronunciation (like
Gauthier), is from Australia … and is actually one guy. That's
Wally de Backer; this year, his album has reached No. 9 on the
Billboard chart and his “Somebody That I Used to Know” was No. 4.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Aladdin”
(1992) and“Beauty and the Beast” (1991), 7 and 9 p.m., ABC
Family.

Fast and frenetic, “Aladdin” is a
fairly fun film, including Robin Williams' hyperactive work as the
genie. “Beauty” is warmer, deeper and better, the first cartoon
nominated for the best-picture Oscar.

Songwriters Alan Menken and Howard
Ashman also won two Oscars for “Beauty”; they also did the music
for “Aladdin,” with Tim Rice stepping in after Ashman's death
from AIDS.

Other choices include:

– Racing, 7 p.m. ET, Fox.There's no
“Cops” tonight; instead, it's NASCAR from Fort Worth, Texas.

– “Good Hair” (2009) and “I
Think I Love My Wife” (2007), 7 and 9 p.m.,BET. It's a Chris Rock
double-feature. He produced and hosts a documentary, then directs and
stars as a tempted guy.

– “CSI: NY,” 8 p.m., CBS. This
rerun is set on the 10th anniversary of th Sept. 11
attacks. That brings a flood of flashbacks, with Jaime Ray Newman as
Mac's late wife.

– “The Bodyguard” (1992), 8-11
p.m., AMC. This is the movie many people turned to after Whitney
Houston's death. The story – a tough pro (Kevin Costner) protecting
a music star (Houston) – is so-so, but there are stunning moments
when she sings Dolly Parton's “I Will Always Love You.”

– “48 Hour Mysteries,” 9 and 10
p.m., CBS. In a late change, CBS is pulling its “Mentalist” rerun
and running two straight true-crime hours.

– “Being Human” season-finale, 9
p.m., BBC America. The Old Ones arrive, intent on destroying the
world. This is not good.

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,”10 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, a military contractor has been
drugged and assaulted, but seems unwilling to testify. As Haden
(Harry Connick Jr.) joins the probe, it leads to a much larger
conspiracy in Iraq.

TV column for Friday, April 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Lionel Richie
and Friends,” 9-11 p.m., CBS.

Spanning 43years, 22 top-10 hits and
100 million records, Richie has done bits of everything.

He did funk with the Commodores, pop
with Diana Ross and Michael Jackson (co-writing “We Are the World”)
and on his own. He even did a little country with Kenny Rogers.

Now the country crowd gathers. Richie
does duets with Rogers, Kenny Chesney, Jennifer Nettles, Tim McGraw,
Darius Rucker and Rascal Flatts. Marc Anthony and Sara Evans sing
“Endless Love”; also performing are Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan,
Lady Antebellum, Big & Rich and The Band Perry.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Art in th
Twenty-First Century” season-opener, 9 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

Catherine Opie grew up in Sandusky,
Ohio, in the shadow of the Cedar Point amusement park. Before moving
with her family to Los Angeles at 13, she savored the art galleries
of Toledo and Cleveland. She mastered portrait photography, then
returned to Ohio to shoot the spare beauty of Lake Erie.

Dragged down by its no-narrator,
no-structure approach, this show often reminds us that many artists
don't verbalize well. That's re-enforced here, with El Anatsui and
(especially) Ai Weiwei; those segments offer great art and bad TV.
The Opie segment, which opens the hour, is a happy exception.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: Horror films,
cable.

On Friday the 13th, cable
piles up the scares.

“Bravo” goes classy with “Silence
of the Lambs” (1991) at 6:20 and 9 p.m.; it won Oscars for best
picture, actor (Anthony Hopkins), actress (Jodie Foster), director
and script. Also well-crafted are “Poltergeist” (1982) at 8 p.m.
on Encore (followed by its so-so sequels) and “Scream” (1996) at
9 p.m. on Showtime. Even Travel and Planet Green have haunted-places
reality shows.

And Chiller debuts “Ghoul” at 9. A
good story – nice kids, nasty parents, cemetery murder –
overcomes direction and performances so clumsy that we're reminded
how well Rob Reiner made “Stand By Me”.

Other choices include:

– “The Finder,” 8 p.m., Fox. A
man desperately tries to revive memories of the restaurant evening
when he and his wife fell in love. First, our guy is supposed to
find that chef; the Mob also wants him.

– “Casablanca” (1942), 8 p.m.,
Turner Classic Movies. Here's one of the all-time classics, with
crisp dialog, gorgeous black-and-white filming and a top cast led by
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. It won Oscars for best picture,
director Michael Curtiz and the three screenwriters.

– “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” 8
and 10:30 p.m., AMC. It's a great movie night.This one has George
Clooney, stylish direction by the Coen Brothers and superb, old-time
Americana music.

– “Fringe,” 9 p.m., Fox. Walter
returns to the alternate world, eying an event tied to both worlds.

– “Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. Nick was
wondering about Harry's mystery woman. He and Juliette meet her on a
double date – and Nick is upset by who it is.

– “Magic City,” 10 p.m., Starz.
Ben Diamond, we learn quickly, is brutal to dogs, sharks and humans.
Last week, Ike – his partner in a hotel in 1959 Miami – asked him
to dissuade a labor leader. Now Ike worries about how far Ben went;
so does the FBI. Also, Ike's son continues his risky affair with
Ben's wife. It's another great episode, softened by some sweet,
daddy-daughter moments.