TV column for Tuesday, Sept. 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “America's Got
Talent,” 9-11 p.m., NBC.

The top 10 acts perform, with the
emphasis on movement.

The West Springfield Dance Team has
teens. The Miami All-Stars range in age from 13-43. The Silhouettes
mix art and dance, Team iLuminate mixes dance and gymnastics (while
wearing lights), the Smage Brothers have motor bikes.

There's also a magician (Landon Swank),
a teen band (Poplyfe) and singers. Anna Graceman is 11, Landau Eugene
Murphy is a crooner and car washer, Lys Agnes has an operatic range.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Sons of
Anarchy,” 10 p.m., FX.

As the new season begins, the bikers
are emerging from prison. They have shorter hair, cleaner shaves and
fresh perspective. Jackson is even thinking about leaving the group.

Still, the Sons are built on rage and
vengeance. Their home town is changing and they're not happy about
it. The show matches its usual high level of acting, writing and
directing; it also, in tonight's final minutes, passes the usual
level of violence and brutality.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Marry Me”
(2010), 8-11 p.m., Lifetime Movie Network.

Barbara Hall has done strong work,
writing and producing “Joan of Arcadia” and “Judging Amy.”
For this one, she wrote a sharp and witty script.

Rae (Lucy Liu) has an artist's eye, a
social worker's heart and a fairy-tale optimism. Her romantic life,
however, is in chaos. She finds herself torn between an old boyfriend
(Bobby Cannavale), a new one (Steven Pasquale) and an exotic outsider
(Enrique Murciano). She even goes to a castle.

Other choices include:

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, the “port-to-port killer” may have infiltrated the agency.

– “Glee,” 8 p.m., Fox. Next
week's rerun is the season-finale, with the club preparing for the
nationals. Today, Jessie St. James is helping coach and is being a
tough taskmaster.

– “Raising Hope,” 9 and 9:30
p.m., Fox. In the first rerun (a so-so one), Jimmy learns how much
his dad uses flirting; soon, everyone tries it. In th second, Jimmy's
wild new girlfriend causes trouble.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 and 10
p.m., CBS. In the first rerun, Deeks tries to protect his chief
informant. In the second, Callen's ex-partner (Marisol Nichols) could
help find hijacked missiles.

– “Combat Hospital”
season-finale, 10 p.m., ABC. This hour starts with a shoot-out and
ends with waves of understated emotion. In between, it sags; that's
typical of the erratic season for this earnest drama, set in 2006
Afghanistan.

– “POV,” 10 p.m., PBS (chec local
listings). Bradley Crowder and David McKay grew up middle-class in
conservative Midland, Texas. Years later, they were arrested near the
Republican convention in Minneapolis. On its own, that's an
interesting story; there are bizarre twists, however – including a
provocateur who doubled as an informant. It's a tangled and sometimes
involving story.

– “Quirky,” 10 p.m., Sundance.
Last week's fairly good opener met inventors of a pasta strainer and
a power strip. It reruns at 9 p.m., followed by a new episode with a
car opener and a dog product.

TV column for Monday, Sept. 5


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Hell's
Kitchen,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox.

Last week's episode (rerunning at 8
p.m.) found verbal warfare between the women – Jennifer Normant,
Elizabeth Bianchi and the divisive Elise Wims. The men – Tommy
Stevens, Will Lustberg and Paul Niedermann – managed to avoid the
drama.

That spills into the new episode at 9:
Two weeks from the finale, the survivors link into one team.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: “The Real
Housewives of Beverly Hills” season-opener, 9 p.m., Bravo.

Much of the attention has been on
Taylor Armstrong, whose estranged husband Russell was an apparent
suicide after this season was taped. Bravo has been re-editing the
opener.

Still, the original version (prior to
editing) didn't reflect badly on him. Instead, we see Armstrong
describe herself as “pretty fragile” and blame herself for a
slowed sex life. At first, she says, “all we did was have crazy sex
all the time, (but) I have a lot of trouble breaking out of mommy
mode.”

That version focused more on the woes
of Camille Grammer (Kelsey Grammer's ex-wife) and former child star
Kim Richards, whose sister Kyle has called her an alcoholic.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “9/11: The Day
That Changed the World,” 8 p.m., Smithsonian.

You may have heard these stories
before, but now they are skillfully woven together, with odd details.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, for
instance, couldn't be reached for 25 minutes after a plane hit the
Pentagon; he was helping carry the wounded. Later that day, Rumsfeld
suggested bombing Iraq; Richard Clarke, a counter-terrorism advisor,
said he told Rumsfeld the terrorists had been based in Afghanistan,
not Iraq: “He looked at me and said, 'There aren't enough targets
in Afghanistan.'”

Other moments: Joe Lhoda, New York's
deputy mayor, saying his acts of contrition, in case he didn't
survive the day … Lynne Cheney, the vice-president's wife,
surprised that the White House bunker had cookies on doilies … Air
Force One, nearing a military base, requesting 24 bagels and 100
muffins.

Other choices include:

– “Bachelor Pad,” 8-10 p.m., ABC.
For the final two weeks, the contestants will be split into couples.

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8 and
8:30 p.m., CBS. In the first rerun, Broadway's Laura Bell Bundy plays
Robin's annoying co-anchor; in the second, Barney has feelings his
only Valentine's Day date.

– “Mike & Molly,” 9:30, CBS.
This rerun is a great episode for Rondi Reed, as Mike's cynical
mother. Heading into minor surgery, she assumes she'll never make it
back.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Here's a rerun of the episode that finally told why Chin Ho (Daniel
Dae Kim) lost his police job. His cousin Kono (Grace Park) learns
during a visit to their aunt.

– “Children of 9/11,” 10 p.m.,
NBC. Thea Trinidad was 10 when her father called to say goodbye.
Justin Strada was 4 days old when his dad, a partner in a World Trade
Center firm, died; Farquad Choudhury was born two days after his dad,
a Windows on the World waiter, died. This documentary follows them
and other children for a year.

– “Castle,” 10 p.m., ABC. Michael
McKean plays the wealthy owner of a beauty pageant – yes, a lot
like Donald Trump – in this rerun. And, of course, he becomes a
murder suspect.

TV column for Sunday, Sept. 4


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Good Wife: A
New Beginning” and “The Good Wife,” 9:30 and 10 p.m., CBS.

In its first two seasons, “Good Wife”
has won a Golden Globe (for star Julianna Margulies) and an Emmy
(co-star Archie Panjali). It's been nominated for 17 Emmys, including
(twice) best drama series.

A bigger task – facing “Desperate
Housewives” this fall – looms, so CBS is giving it a head stat.

Tonight, a “New Beginning” special
reviews what has happened and interviews the stars. Then a rerun
involves a South American dictator and the results of the local
election. Fred Dalton Thompson plays an actor-turned lawyer, in
reality, he's a
lawyer-turned-actor-turned-politician-re-turned-actor.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Curb Your
Enthusiasm,” 10 p.m., HBO.

“Curb” is at its best when stirring
a wild broth, then having it spill over in odd ways.

Tonight, it has plenty – Larry's
neurosis about ice-cream trucks … his broken-down car … his new
lover… a softball error … and Bill Buckner, who had the most
famous error in sports history.

Yes, Buckner is there, with plot twists
that will surprise you. It's classic “Curb.”

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Masterpiece
Mystery,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

The reruns and pledge drives are
finally done (for now) and new shows are back. There are four
straight “Inspector Lewis” tales, before shifting to a
“Masterpiece Classic” miniseries and movie.

Lewis (Kevin Whately) is a solemn
widower, solving murders amid the peaceful beauty of Oxford. The show
is sometimes drab, but not this time.

A reunion is held at a women's college
– the same spot where Lewis was probing a case when his wife was
killed. There's a fresh attack … and then more. The plot gets too
tangled, but it's all done with a big cast (including “Masterpiece”
favorite Juliet Stevenson as a professor) and a glossy backdrop.

Other choices include:

– “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of
the Crystal Skull” (2008), 8:15-11 p.m., NBC. It's an adventure
from the masters – director Steven Spielberg, producer George
Lucas, star Harrison Ford. There are flaws (don't think a
refrigerator will protect you from a nuclear blast), but enough fun
to suffice.

– “Mike & Molly,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Reruns tonight and Monday focus on Rondi Reed, who's terrific as
Mike's cynical mother. Tonight, she insists she can take better care
of Mike when he's sick.

– “Dinosaur Revolution,” 9 and
10 p.m., Discovery; concludes next Sunday. Don't dismiss dinosaurs as
the hapless victims of evolution, scientists tell us here. They ruled
the planet for millennia; they controlled their evolution brutally,
killing the offspring of lesser creatures. This documentary uses few
talking heads and much computer-created visuals (some quite violent)
to tell the story well.

– “9/11: Heroes of the 88th
Floor,” 9-11 p.m., TLC. Surrounded by World Trade Center chaos,
Frank De Martini and Pablo Ortiz organized the effort to break
through the debris and reach the stairwell. While co-workers escaped,
they stayed in the tower to free others. It's a big story, told in
this documentary.

– “Breaking Bad,” 10 p.m., AMC.
As played (beautifully) by Giancarlo Esposito, Gus Fring has been the
ultimate crime boss, unflinching and unshakable. Now we see the first
twitches of stress, as officersquestion him. We also see a flashback
to a fiercely violent event that shaped him.

– “Entourage,” 10:35, HBO. A week
from the series finale, this show still finds personal lives in
chaos.

TV column for Saturday, Sept. 3


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Football, 8 p.m.
ET, ABC.

The season's first college-football
Saturday ends with a good one – Oregon and Louisiana State.

Oregon's odd Ducks finished the regular
season undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the nation, then lost the
national championship game on a last-second field goal. They're
ranked third in a pre-season poll.

LSI's Tigers beat Texas A&M, 41-24,
in the Cotton Bowl; they're ranked No. 4 this year.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Game Time:
Tackling the Past,” 8-10 p.m., NBC.

On “Chuck,” Ryan McPartlin plays
Chuck's brother-in-law, the almost-too-perfect doctor dubbed “Captain
Awesome.” He's a similarly awesome guy, a pro football star, in
this family-friendly film.

When his father (Beau Bridges) has a
heart attack, the star returns to the little town he left abruptly.
He faces career crises, while re-connecting with his brother, his
high school sweetheart and his past.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The High Low
Project” debut, 8:30 p.m., HGTV.

In the confines of an apartment, a
couple wants one room to be many things – a master bedroom, a home
office for him, a post-work refuge for her. Sabrina Soto gives them
that, with a catch:

The room she created cost $31,000;
their budget ($4,500) is less than the two bedside tables. Now she'll
try to re-create the look for cheap.

Soto, first-generation Cuban-American
from Miami, is an attractive TV personality with a good touch. She
shows some things viewers can do – and some that only work if you
know a master carpenter.

Other choices include:

– More football, all day, ESPN starts
with the revamped (but still feared) Ohio State at noon ET, against
Akron, then has two wide-open teams – Brigham Young (at
Mississippi) at 4:45 p.m., Boise State (at Georgia) at 8. NBC has
South Florida at Notre Dame at 3:30 p.m.; there's much more.

– “Lonesome Dove,” 4 p.m. to
midnight, AMC. Here's a cowboy classic in one big gulp. Beautifully
crafted by Australian director Simon Wincer, it has a dryly smart
script by Larry McMurtry and Bill Wittliff and a perfect cast led by
Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover and Diane Lane.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 8 p.m., CBS.
Back when she was 13, Larisa Oleynik starred in the fun Nickelodeon
series “The Secret World of Alex Mack.” She's 30 now and this
rerun is the first of her three “Five-0” guest roles, as a CIA
agent who may know something about the people who killed McGarrett's
parents. Meanwhile, McGarrett also must learn why a costumed
science-fiction fan was killed.

– “CSI: Miami,” 9 p.m., CBS. In
this rerun, Josh Malina plays a suspect whose life is built on lies.

– “Doctor Who,” 9 p.m., BBC
America. A boy thinks there are monsters in his bedroom cupboard. On
this show, of course, he may be right.

– “Law & Order: Special
Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, Debra Messing plays a TV
host who gets death threats. That revives her obsession with solving
her sister's long-ago abduction.

– “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29
p.m., NBC. Zach Galifianakis isn't your usual “SNL” host; he even
brings part of his neatly offbeat stand-up act. Jessi J is the music
guest.

 

TV column for Friday, Sept. 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Fringe,” 9
p.m., Fox.

Leading into the new season, Fox starts
a three-parter that focuses on the two Walters – perfectly played
by John Noble.

The one in our world has a brilliant
and crumbling mind; long ago, his son died and he stole the son of
the alternate-world Walter. Now that one – called “Walternate”
by “Fringe” fans – schemes revenge that could destroy our
world. It's a huge story, with big, end-of-the-world stakes.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “20/20,” 10
p.m., ABC.

“Double-jeopardy” usually means
that someone acquitted of a crime can't be re-tried. Still, there are
fascinating exceptions – including the difference between civilian
and military courts.

Tim Hennis was accused of killing
another soldier's wife and daughter in Fayetteville, N.C. He was
convicted, re-tried and acquitted. He spent 15 more years in the
Army, retiring as a master sergeant.

That meant the Army was able to recall
him to active duty and try him in military court, using fresh DNA
advice. It's a twisting cast that – barring late news events –
Elizabeth Vargas will describe tonight.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: Cowboy films, 8
p.m., cable.

For a quick – well, semi-quick –
cowboy story, catch “Tombstone” (1993) on CMT. It retells the
story of the gunfight at OK Corral, stuffing it with macho types.
Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott and Bill Paxton are the Earps, joined by
Val Kilmer, Michael Biehn, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Priestley and
more.

For a longer view, settle into AMC for
“Lonesome Dove,” the 1989 classic with Robert Duvall and Tommy
Lee Jones as former Texas Rangers. The eight-hour mini-series runs
from 8 p.m. to midnight today and Saturday …. or you can catch the
whole thing in one gulp, starting at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Other choices include:

– “MTV Music Video Awards,” 7
p.m., and “Jersey Shore,” 9 p.m., MTV. Boosted by a “Jersey
Shore” lead-in, Sunday's video awards had their best ratings ever.
Now that combination runs in reverse. First are the awards, starting
with Lady Gaga as a leather-jacked guy, then ranging from silliness
to an earnest Amy Winehouse tribute. Then is “Jersey Shore,” with
Mike leaving the house on a stretcher.

– “Friends With Benefits,” 8 and
8:30 p.m., NBC. Pete Wentz, the rock star, guests in the second
episode; he's the ex-boyfriend of Sara, who alters her personality
when he's around. In the first episode, she decides she doesn't like
dating a blind guy, because he never praises her appearance.

– “CSI: NY.” 9 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, a killer is manipulating crime scenes.

– Blue Bloods, 10 p.m., CBS. When a
tourist is shot outside a trendy restaurant, in this rerun, the news
coverage makes New York sound crime-ridden. That angers the police
commissioner (Tom Selleck).

– “Torchwood: Miracle Day,” 10
p.m., Starz. A week before the finale of this splendid mini-series, a
global recession is growing and the Torchwood team is on the run.

– “Strike Back,” 10 p.m.,
Cinemax. Last week's episode ended with a bomb exploding on the back
of Scott, who was working undercover. Tonight, we see what happened –
plus much more. The final minutes of this hour (like the opening
minute) are absurd; in between, “Strike back” is fairly solid.