TV column for Saturday, April 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Basketball, 6:09
p.m. ET and about 8:49 p.m., CBS.

Tonight, we learn who will be in the
NCAA championship game Monday.

Of the four teams that were top-seeded
in the regions, Louisville is the only one that's still around.
Tonight – after losing Kevin Ware to a compound leg injury – it
faces ninth-seeded Wichita State.

Afterward, two No. 4 seeds, Syracuse
and Michigan, collide. This could be fun.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II:“Orphan Black,”
9 p.m., BBC America.

Slick, smart and deeply human, this
show gets better each week.

In last week's opener, street-smart
Sarah (the superb Tatiana Maslany) kept seeing women who look like
her. One committed suicide; Sarah snatched her purse and her identity
– perilous one as a cop.

Another was killed in Sarah's car. The
next steps – covering up a body, uncovering secrets – are
difficult and compelling.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Smash,” 9
p.m., NBC

After a soaring start, “Smash”
faded in the ratings and has just been banished to Saturdays. Still,
it tells an interesting story – Broadway musicals in the making –
with great songs and voices.

Karen left “Bombshell” (the Marilyn
Monroe musical) to join the emerging “Hit List” show. Now she's
fallen for the composer … unaware of his druggie past (and, maybe,
present). Tonight, things crumble.

Now Ivy stars in “Bombshell” –
and is jolted to learn that Tom has hired her mom (Bernadette Peters)
to play her mom. Now Tom tries to soothe things with a surprise; Liza
Minnelli is a guest star.

Other choices include:

– “The Voice,” 8 p.m., NBC.
Here's a rerun of Tuesday's episode, with the fourth night of
auditions.

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a
rerun, the parents try to focus on a different kid for each day of a
three-day weekend. That means paintball with Axl, a sci-fi book
convention with Brick … and an overbooked, 17-item itinerary with
Sue.

– “Doctor Who,” 8 p.m., BBC
America. The doctor takes Clara to the rings of a planet that is
having its festival. Unfortunately, there will be a sacrifice.

– “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), 8
p.m. to midnight, Turner Classic Movies. Sweeping visuals help tell
the true story of an Englishman who led an Arab revolt. The result
won seven Oscars, including best picture and director (David Lean).
Peter O'Toole and co-star Omar Sharif were nominated.

– “How to Live With Your Parents
(For the Rest of Your Life,” 8:30 p.m., ABC. Here' a second chance
to see the fun pilot film. An earnest mom (Sarah Chalke) returning to
her mom's chaotic world.

– “The Following,” 9 p.m., Fox.
Here's a quick rerun of Monday's solid episode, with sudden changes
in surroundings. Claire is in Joe's hide-out, desperate to find her
kidnapped son; the FBI people are in a former armory that Joe seems
to be using for weapons and training.

– “Saturday Night Live,” 10 and
11:29 p.m., NBC. First is a rerun, with Bruno Mars as host and music
guest. Then Melissa McCarthy has her second turn as host, this time
with music from Phoenix.

TV column for Friday, April 5


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Vegas” return,
9 p.m., CBS.

On Tuesdays, this show drew strong
ratings and one gripe from advertisers – too few young viewers. Now
it's been nudged to Fridays, where the audience is older anyway.

Tonight, the sheriff (Dennis Quaid)
pursues a pimp who has under-age hookers. A federal agent is willing
to let the pimp free if the only witness focuses on Vince Savino, the
Mob's casino boss.

It's a good story that adds rich depth
to Mia Rizzo (Sarah Jones), Savino's business chief … and Jack Lamb
(Jason O'Mara), the sheriff's deputy and brother, who loves her and
killed her mobster dad .

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Happy Endings,”
8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC.

Here are two new episodes of this
comedy, each including woes for Dave's food-truck business. In the
first, it's stolen; in the second, Dave wants to sabotage his
competitor.

Then there are personal quirks. In the
first, a hair-salon owner (RuPaul) gives Max gossip about Jane and
Alex; in he second, Penny tries to re-connect with her dad (Andy
Richter) before her wedding.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Michael
Feinstein's American Songbook,” 9 and 10 p.m. PBS (check local
listings).

This little series – three hours on
two Fridays – juggles good musics (several songs by Feinstein, plus
a great Christine Ebersole one in the opeer), so-so reality, classic
clips and interesting conversation.

The best talk is in the first hour
(involving musicals). Stephen Sondheim discusses the drinking of
Lorenz Hart and other composers; “a lot of us medicate ourselves.”
Feinstein visits an archives, filled with notes he wrote when he was
Ira Gershwin's assistant … before Gershwin's widow fired him.

The best clips are in the second hour
(involving dance), including a 13-year-old Liza Minnelli.

Other choices include:

– “Fashion Star,” 8 p.m., NBC.
Working in duos – not their favorite style – the designers must
create two separate garments that create a cohesive style.

– “Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. This
isn't what we expect from jury duty: Rosalee determines that the
defense attorney is using his supernatural powers to set a killer
free.

– “Spartacus,” 9 p.m., Starz;
reruns at 10. Next Friday, this series – impressive in visuals,
excessive in brutality – ends its run with a crescendo of tragedy
and triumph. Leading up to it is this lesser hour; given a chance,
the escaped slaves show all the ugliness of their former captors.

– “Tron” (1982), 9-11 p.m., BBC
America; and “Tron: Legacy” (2010), 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., FX. The
original was a fairly good film that sent a guy (Jeff Bridges) inside
his own computer program. The clever sequel finds him (Bridges,
again) still there, with his son trying to retrieve him.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Danny probes the murder of a devoutly religious woman who was keeping
a relationship secret from her family,

– “Vice,” 11 p.m., HBO. In the
Philippines, we're told, “the gun has become an acceptable manner
of political communication.” The governor of one province needed a
150-vehicle military caravan, to register for re-election; the last
time he registered, 57 people – including his wife and sisters –
were killed. That story and one about Afghanistan launches a series
with two tough stories each week.

TV column for Thursday, April 4


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Hannibal”
debut,10:01 p.m., NBC.

Let's ignore the title. Sure, Hannibal
Lecter is a character here; still this is a prequel to “Silence of
the Lambs.” No one knows he's a cannibal; he's a psychiatrist,
working with the hero, Will Graham.

Like many of TV's best characters –
from Dr. House to Sherlock Holmes – Will has a strong mind and weak
social skills. He's an FBI profiler who can step inside killers'
minds.

And like House and Holmes, he's played
by a gifted Englishman. Hugh Dancy's work is worthy of an Emmy … to
accompany the two his wife, Claire Danes, already has. Bryan Fuller
(“Pushing Daisies”) has crafted a show that remains compelling,
despite some excessive gore.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “American
Idol,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

Carrie Underwood is this show's biggest
success story. She's had nine singles reach No. 1 on Billboard's
country chart, three more hit No. 2 and seven in the top 20 for all
music.

Now she sings “See You Again”;
Casey James – who's had one single reach No. 24 on the country
chart – does “The Good Life.” Underwood was the show's 2005
champion, James finished third (to Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox)
in 2010; barring a save, someone will finish seventh tonight.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Tabatha Takes
Over” season-opener, 10 p.m., Bravo; repeats at 11:30 p.m. and 1:30
a.m.; other episodes rerun today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.:

After seeing a Nashville salon, Tabatha
Coffey is – as usual – unhappy.

The owner is a shopping zealot with
$100,000 in debts, while her salon is short of supplies. One stylist
takes three-hour naps; another used to party hard, then show up three
hours late. One customer ended up being there for six-and-a-half
hours; another found the door locked, with no bell.

Things work out, including a great
hairstyle for country star Jana Kramer. This fifth season starts
well.

Other choices include:

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. After a two-week basketball break, TV's best comedy is back.
Three guys – Sheldon, Leonard and Raj – are competing for tenure
and the women get involved.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 8:31
p.m., CBS. Jake was happy dating an older woman, Tammy, but now he
cheats with her 18-year-old daughter. Jaime Pressly, 35, plays Tammy,
with Emily Osment (“Hannah Montana”), 21, as her daughter … and
Scott Bakula, 58, as the daughter's recent boyfriend.

– “Grey's Anatomy,” 9 p.m., ABC.
When several patients develop infections, one doctor worries that
she's at fault. Meanwhile, Meredith and Derek take some preventative
action for their children.

– “Elementary,” 10 p.m., CBS. The
biggest problem for “Hannibal” is that “Elementary” is so
similar, with its own gifted English actor (Jonny Lee Miller)
outsmarting crooks. Tonight, he tries to stop a scheme to rob a vault
in the midst of a giant snow storm.

– “Men at Work” season-opener, 10
p.m.. TBS. Milo (Danny Masterson) reluctantly uses social-media
trickery to attract women.The story is so-so, partly rescued by sharp
handling of the punch lines.

– “Scandal,” 10:02 p.m., ABC.
Olivia's relationship with Jake (Scott Foley) heats up, just as her
ex-lover, the president, is at a low point with his wife. Also, an
old case now seems suspect.

TV column for Wednesday, April 3


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “How to Live With
Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)” debut, 9:31 p.m., ABC.

Polly (Sarah Chalke) has left her
husband, who means well but doesn't do well. With her daughter, she
moves in with her mom (Elizabeth Perkins) and step-dad (Brad
Garrett). What can go wrong?

Almost everything, it turns out. She's
an attentive mom; they're inattentive grandparents, spilling secrets
about dates and Santa and such. Juggling clever character moments
with broad sight gags, this opener is worthy of its spot behind
“Modern Family.”

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

To boost its new show, ABC has fresh
episodes of its other three Wednesday comedies.

That starts with a fun one, reminding
us that love isn't logical. Mismatched with a brainy girlfriend, Axl
keeps sort of breaking up in funny ways; also, his mom is crushed by
a mismatch on “The Bachelor.”

And with Sue accidentally on the tennis
team; her dad teaches her: “Sports isn't about being nice.”

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Doctor Who”
(8 p.m.) and “Spies of Warsaw,” 9-11 p.m., BBC America; they
repeat at 11 p.m. and midnight to 2 a.m.

First, we see David Tennant at his
breezy best in a 2007 “Who.” He and Martha (Freema Agyeman) are
trapped in 1969, with Sally Sparrow (Carey Mulligan) in the future,
trying to save them. Mulligan went on to be an Oscar-nominee (for “An
Education”); Agyeman went on to the current “Carrie Diaries”
and Tennant went on to things great (“Hamlet”) and not (this
one).

Wildly miscast , he playing a stoic war
hero, caught in the intrigue leading to World War II. The story –
which concludes next week – has its moments, but the film feels
stiff and clumsy, despite gifted actors.

Other choices include:

– “American Idol,” 8-10 p.m.,
Fox. In a female-dominated year, tonight's theme is “classic rock –
no ballads.” That could hinder some women, but Candice Glover and
Kree Harrison rocked powerfully last week; all five female finalists
remain, while three of the five guys are already gone.

– “Survivor,” 8 p.m., CBS. Six
“fans” have been ousted – Julia Landauer was the latest –
alongside only two “favorites.” Now the tribes merge; individual
challenges begin, starting with yucky eating.

– “Suburgatory, 8:30 p.m., ABC. Now
that Dalia is being nice to her, Tessa frets about what she really
wants. Meanwhile, Tessa's dad worries about being one of the guys in
the local calendar.

– “Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.
Phil and Claire have opposite parenting views on everything,
including Haley quitting her job. Then they see a family that's like
a future version of their own.

– “ET” (1982), 9-11:30 p.m., Ion.
This great movies has warmth, humor and zestful adventure.

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
10 p.m., CBS. Kate Danson, 33, is surrounded by TV's best. Her father
(Ted Danson) stars here; her husband (Jesse Bochco) is a “Dallas”
director whose dad led “NYPD Blue” and more. She plays a lawyer,
in a story about what might be a serial killer's lair.

– “Best Ink,” 10 pm., Oxygen. The
season starts with a good host (rocker Pete Wentz) and a bad contest,
in which spray-painted murals are difficult to see. The elimination
contest is more interesting, with quirky clients. One micro-manages;
another has high expectations and a low threshold of pain.

 

TV column for Tuesday, April 2


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

It all started with an odd discovery –
a stash of drugs and cash at the home of Raylan's crooked dad.

That was stolen from the Detroit mob
long ago by Drew Thompson … who then transformed himself into
Sheriff Shelby Parlow. Now Raylan has captured Drew and rescued Ella
Mae, the sweetly dim prostitute Drew loves. Boyd Crowder is desperate
to hush Ella Mae and get money from the mob; this could be a strong
finish to what has been a great season.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “The New Normal”
season-finale, 9-10 p.m., NBC.

Force are rushing together now. David
and Brice near their marriage …. which may not happen before their
adoptive baby is born. Bryan's mom (Mary Kay Place) arrives, adding a
complicating voice.

Even choosing the baby's name brings
disputes … and new about how Goldie chose Shania's name.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Kind Hearted
Woman” conclusion, 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

David Sutherland's films let us step
inside real lives, without reality-show glitz. This one – like the
previous “Farmer's Wife” and “Country Boys” – has been
slow, difficult and worth the trouble.

We met Robin Charboneau emerging from
rehab and trying college, while fighting for custody of her children.
This involves two states (North Dakota and Minnesota), two court
systems (tribal and federal) and two countries (U.S. and Canada).
Sometimes her own worst enemy, she remains worth rooting for.

Other choices include:

– “Splash,” 8 p.m., ABC.
Ndamukong Suh has conquered football opponents, but the diving board
was another matter. Last week, he was the second person ousted (after
Keshia Knight Pulliam in the opener). Eight divers remain, including
Brandi Chastain, a late addition (after Chuy Bravo's injury), who
beat Suh in last week's dive-off. Afterward, “Dancing With the
Stars” also ousts someone.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Here's a
rerun of the episode that showed Abby's roots. An investigation
triggers memories of her at 10 (played by Brighton Sharbino), working
on her first mystery.

– “Charlie and the Chocolate
Factory” (2005), 8:30-11 p.m., ABC Family. Three great talents –
director Tim Burton, composer Danny Elfman and Johnny Depp were at
their best – in this buoyant gem.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, Sam is contacted by a man he knew years ago – and
who is soon killed. On a lighter note, Deeks and Kensi are undercover
at a dog show.

– “New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox. On a
guys' night out, Nick and Schmidt are attracted to a beauty (Brooklyn
Decker) who is attracted to sadness. Also, Jess' relationship with a
loftmate changes.

– “The Mindy Project,” 9:30 p.m.,
Fox. Entitled “Pretty Man,” this is a sort of “Pretty Woman”
take-off. Mindy accidentally meets a handsome prostitute and needs to
bring him to a dinner party.

– “Golden Boy,” 10 p.m., CBS. At
a subway shooting, the bullets seem to be from the gun that killed
the brother of Detective McKenzie (Bonnie Somerville) years ago.

– “Smash,” 10:01 p.m., NBC.
Here's the final Tuesday episode, before “Smash” is exiled to
Saturdays. A veteran star (Bernadette Peters) oins the “Bombshell”
cast, despite a rift with her daughter Ivy.