TV column for Saturday, May 24

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: Sports takeover, three networks.

TV’s official season ended, just as summer and winter sports
were overlapping. So tonight, sports take half the big-four networks and more.

Fox starts its Saturday-night baseball at 7:15 p.m. ET, with
different regions getting St. Louis at Cincinnati, Washington at Pittsburgh and
Kansas City at the Los Angeles Angels. NBC has hockey at 8 p.m. ET, with
Chicago at Los Angeles. And ESPN has basketball play-offs at 8:30, with Indiana
at Miami.

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE II: “Celebrity Wife Swap,” 8 p.m., ABC.

As an actress, Isabella Hoffman has been busy and
successful. She was the love interest in the four-season “Dear John”; she’s
been a regular on many shows -- a police captain in “Homicide,” a doctor in
“Providence,” a professor in “JAG” – and then became a busy guest star.

Her personal life has been more difficult, with the drug
problems of former boyfriend, Daniel Baldwin. Now she lives with their 17-year-old,
autistic son. In this rerun, she swaps homes with Jermaine Jackson’s wife;
she’s dazzled by the grand estate and the expanse of clothes, shoes and

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Da Vinci’s Demons,” 8 p.m. to
midnight, Starz.

One of TV’s best dramas often goes unnoticed. You can catch
up with the four most-recent episodes tonight … or catch the full season at
noon next Saturday, leading to the 9 p.m. season-finale.

Tonight’s reruns starts with Leonardo da Vinci in South
America, where he feels the Vault of Heaven will have the answers to life. He’s
a captive alongside two friends and his enemy Rialto. Back in Italy, Prince
Lorenzo Medici is also a captive and Lucrezia (both men’s ex-lover) is
maneuvering. “Demons” mixes sharp dialog, epic visuals and stories that ripple
with imagination, sometimes nearing overkill.

Other choices include:

“Mike & Molly,” 8 p.m., CBS. After a terrific
season-opener, the show swerved in the wrong direction. Determined to write a
crime novel, Molly goes on a ride-along episode. This episode (and the
funeral-home one that followed) turned a good character into a dim-witted

“The Dirty Dozen” (1967), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. A
rousing tale – with prisoners becoming a World War II unit – became a
box-office hit, due to ideal timing. It had Lee Marvin, fresh from his Oscar, Jim
Brown, fresh from football retirement, John Cassavetes, Ernest Borgnine and
Charles Bronson

“Anna Nicole” (2013) and “Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret”
(2013), 8 and 10 p.m., Lifetime. This network likes true-story movies about
women with tabloid-friendly lives.

 “Bad Teacher,” 8:30
p.m., CBS. In this rerun, Meredith wants to date the rich father of one of her
students. Alas, the student refuses to give her permission.

“Orphan Black,” 9 p.m., BBC America. The clones have fresh
hope: Sarah may be able to follow clues to the roots of the experiment; Cosima
may have a way to treat her illness.

“In the Flesh,” 10 p.m., BBC America. Returning from the
grave, Freddie Preston hopes to win back his wife (formerly widow), who’s
living with another man.

TV column for Friday, May 23

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “In Performance at the White House,” 9
p.m., PBS (check local listings).

This is a great TV week for music. “American Idol” and “The
Voice” had their finales, country had its tribute to the troops and PBS’ “National
Memorial Day Concert” is coming Sunday. Now PBS fills a gap by rerunning last
month’s “Women of Soul” concert.

Here are some greats – Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Jill
Scott, Melissa Etheridge – joined by newcomers Janelle Monae, Ariana Grande and
Tessanne Chin. And many stations follow by rerunning the “Memphis Soul” concert
in the White House; it mixes classic stars (Mavis Staples, Sam Moore, etc.)
with Justin Timberlake, Queen Latifah, Alabama Shakes and more.

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Hannibal” finale, 10:01 p.m., NBC.

In the first minutes of this season, “Hannibal” pointed to
this moment: It flashed forward to a fierce fight between Jack (Laurence
Fishburne), the FBI guy, and Hannibal Lecter, the serial killer and cannibal.

Then “Hannibal” spent the season getting there. Now Jack
realizes Lecter framed Will, the decent-but-fragile consultant. NBC isn’t
bringing it back, so let’s hope this hour wraps things up.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Labyrinth” conclusion, 8-10 p.m.,

During an archeological dig, Alice sensed a connection with
Alais (Jessica Brown Findlay, who was Lady Sybil in “Downton Abbey”), a 13
Frenchwoman. The story leaped between both lives.

We saw Alice in the modern world, pursued by thugs who think
she found a vital artifact. And we see Alais, facing a castle siege by the
Pope’s army. The story’s conclusion is dark and violent, but manages to tie
together a fairly good story that spans centuries and emotions.

Other choices include:

“Undercover Boss,” 8 p.m., CBS. “Unforgettable” has ended
its Friday run, but will start its third season June 29, in a
summertime-Sundays line-up. Now “Boss” returns with reruns, starting with the
CEO of the Utah Jazz. Joining the Dunk Team, he becomes (among other things) a
human hoop.

“24,” 8 p.m., Fox. On an overcrowded Monday, you might have
missed this episode so here’s a second chance. As forces pursue Jack Bauer in
London, he heads to the U.S. embassy; he’s trying to prevent the assassination
of the U.S. president, who currently faces a verbal barrage when speaking to

“Gang Related,” 9 p.m., Fox. This rerun of Thursday’s debut
starts with a wildly over-the-top car chase and shoot-out; it later adds unlikely
foot chases. In between, however, is a deep, cable-style drama about a young
cop who remains loyal to the crime boss who was his boyhood protector.

“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. A zombie-like man is shot on
Halloween. Soon, the Five-0 team scrambles to stop someone from doing
experiments on humans. Also in this rerun, Rumer Willis, the daughter of Bruce
Willis and Demi Moore, returns as Sabrina, the girlfriend of Max (Masi Oka).

“Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m.­, CBS. A little girl may have been
kidnapped; her mother denies it, but Danny feels her story doesn’t add up. Also
in this rerun, Frank visits a priest who was arrested for drunken-driving.

“Chrome Underground” debut, 10 p.m., Discovery. This reality
show offers a different kind of global treasure hunt – finding and bringing
back valuable old cars. It involves big money in dangerous places, so the car
buffs bring along an ex-Marine. The opener seeks a 1937 Bugatti in Mexico City.

TV column for Thursday, May 22

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Last Comic Standing” season-opener, 9-11
p.m., NBC.

The idea – a competition for stand-up comedians – offers
great summer fun, filled with sharp one-liners. But over the past 11 years, NBC
has behaved like a bad boyfriend, alternately loving and leaving it.

Once, it liked the show so much that it added an instant
fall edition … then failed to air the final episode. NBC skipped two summers
(2005 and 2009), then abandoned “Last” entirely after the summer of 2010. Four
years later, it brings it back with a new host (J.B. Smoove), strong judges (Roseanne
Barr, Keenan Ivory Wayans and Russell Peters) and a fresh concept, skipping
open auditions and inviting 100 pros.

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Gang Related” debut, 9 p.m., Fox.

At times, this has the qualities of cable-style dramas, good
(deeply conflicted characters) and bad (obsession with torture). At other
times, it’s an old-fashioned cop show, with an overwrought car chase plus unlikely
foot chases. (Why do TV cops rush cram the front door, stationing no one in the

It’s an odd hybrid, but viewers will get involved with an
otherwise-honest cop who has a secret loyalty to the crime boss who’s been his friend
since boyhood. An attractive young cast is anchored by skilled pros -- Terry
O’Quinn and Cliff Curtis – as the leaders of the cops and crooks respectively.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Labyrinth,” 8-10 p.m., CW; concludes

Helping out at an archeological dig, Alice (Vanessa Kirby)
senses what she later calls “800-year déjà vu.” Does she really have a link to
Alais (Jessica Brown Findlay), from the 13
th century? Who is the old
man (John Hurt) who seems to bridge the two? And why are dangerous people after

Based on a best-seller, “Labyrinth” requires coincidences
and supernatural twists, plus moments of brutality. Still, it’s a Ridley Scott
production, richly capturing both eras. Findlay, formerly Lady Sybil on
“Downton Abbey,” is especially good in (after “Winter’s Tale”) her second
time-span story this year.

Other choices tonight include:

“The Bachelorette,” 8-9:30 p.m., ABC. Here’s a quick rerun
of Monday’s opener.

“Hollywood Game Night,” 8-9 p.m., NBC. There are still some
new hours left, to spark the summer start of “Last Comic Standing” and (next
Thursday) a new comedy. Tonight has three “Hot in Cleveland” stars (Valerie
Bertinelli, Wendi Malik and Jane Leeves), plus Mekhi Phifer, Billy Eichner and
Andy Richter.

“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Who needs new shows,
when you have TV’s best comedy? This rerun has everyone going to Howard’s
mother’s house for Thanksgiving, despite Sheldon’s objections.

“The Millers,” 8:31 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Nathan tells his
mom make someone else her chauffeur.

“Two and a Half Men,” 9:01 p.m., CBS. Walden is determined
to show he’s a man’s man. Also in this rerun, Alan learns what Lyndsey never
told him: She and Larry have broken up.

“Modern Family,” 9:30 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Phil and Claire
have conflicting surprises at the school fair.

“Elementary,” 10:01 p.m., CBS. This rerun probes a
home-invasion case in Captain Gregson’s home. His wife is played by Talia
Balsam, who is best-known as an ex-wife – to George Clooney in real life and to
Roger Sterling (played by her real-life husband John Slattery) on “Mad Men.”

TV column for Wednesday, May 21

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “American Idol” finale, 8-10:06 p.m.,

On the final night of the official TV season, Caleb Johnson
or Jena Irene will become the 13
th “Idol” champion. This year’s top
10 will perform, including third-place Alex Preston, singing with Jason Mraz.

Mraz is in swarm of guest singers. Some are country
(Jennifer Nettles, Lady Antebellum), many are rock or pop (Demi Lovato, Kiss,
John Legend, Phillip Phillips, Paramore, Aloe Blacc); Darius Rucker is both.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE (second option): “Survivor” finale, 8
p.m., CBS, with reunion at 10.

For the first time, the two reality-competition giants let
their finales collide. After years of Sunday finales, “Survivor” goes
eye-to-eye with “Idol.”

Surviving are two people from the “brains” tribe, two from
“brawn” and (reassuringly) none from “beauty.” The brawny ones are Tony
Vlachos, 39, a cop, and Yung “Woo” Hwang, 29, a martial arts instructor; the
others are Kass McQuillen, 41, a lawyer, and Spencer Bledsoe, 21, a student.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Modern Family” season finale and
“Mixology” finale, 9 and 9:31 p.m., ABC.

Here’s another big-draw event: Cam and Mitchell, the most
popular characters in one of TV’s best comedies, are getting married. We can
expect many complications and many guest stars – including Nathan Lane,
Elizabeth Banks, Adam DeVine and Barry Corbin.

Most people abandon ABC after “Modern Family,” which is
unfortunate. Despite occasional flaws – most centering on the Bruce character –
“Mixology” is an interesting comedy experiment, with a whole season packed into
one matchmaking night. Tonight’s finale mixes things up, with occasional

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-RECORD: “Motive” season-opener, 10 p.m.,

Often, ABC spices a reality-strewn summer with some Canadian
dramas – “Rookie Blue,” “Combat Hospital” and (beginning last year) this show.
Some are hits; all (being Canadian) reflect subtle skill.

“Motive” starts by telling us who is the killer and who is
the victim; we stay to learn why it happened and how the police will find out.
This opener finds a faked suicide; the victim was trying to find a woman who
was widowed years ago. It’s a complex tale that ties together neatly.

Other choices include:

“The Middle” season-finale, 8-9 p.m., ABC. Last week, Sue –
who rarely succeeds at anything – won her family a Disney World vacation. Now we
see it, filled with complications – the long drive from Indiana, Brick pushing
for a detour to meet his Online girlfriend, Axl fretting about his
college-freshman grades.

 “Revolution,” 8 p.m.,
NBC. Let’s assume this is the series finale, since NBC isn’t bringing it back
next fall. Tonight, Miles, Monroe and Charlie plan to attack the Patriots, then
must scramble to avert a larger war.

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” season-finale, 9
p.m., NBC. Last week, Detective Amaro gave a brutal beating. Now he faces the
consequences and a new case involves someone connected to Benson.

“The 100,” 9 p.m., CW. In last week’s episode (rerunning at
8), Clarke and Finn – the most sensible of these young settlers on a ravaged
Earth -- tried to broker a peace with the locals, called Grounders. Tonight, Murphy
returns, claiming the Grounders tortured him. Also, a virus spreads through the

“Chicago P.D.,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. Lindsay finally confides her
crisis to Voight, her boss and father figure.

TV column for Tuesday, May 20

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

Two powerhouse voices collide one last time, before viewers
choose the new champion.

Last week, Caleb Johnson, 23, overcame a throat ailment to
blast epic rock that had two of the judges up and dancing. Jena Irene, 17,
countered with passionate ballads. It was a strong night that left Alex Preston
behind; on Wednesday’s finale, the show will have its 13
th champion.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “The Voice” and “Dancing With the
Stars” finales, 9-11 p.m.

As soon as “Idol” finishes its season’s second-to-last
episode, two other shows start their last ones. Each has a preview hour at 8,
with lots of clips, then gets down to the real thing.

For “Voice,” the final three are Jake Worthington (coached by
Blake Shelton), Christina Grimme (Adam Levine) and Josh Kaufman (Usher). “Stars”
started the week with actors James Maslow and Candace Cameron Bure, Paralympic
snowboarder Amy Purdy and Olympic ice-dance champion Meryl Davis.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “All-Star Salute to the Troops,” 9-11
p.m., CBS.

It’s a night of music overload … and Blake/Keith overload. Keith
Urban judges on “Idol” and sings here. Blake Shelton coaches (and maybe sings)
on “Voice” and duets here with his wife, Miranda Lambert.

There’s more from Nashville’s best, old (Merle Haggard,
George Strait) and young (Hunter Hayes). Other performers are Carrie Underwood,
Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice, Lady Antebellum,
Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry, the Eli Young Band and Florida Georgia Line.

Other choices include:

“Apocalypse Now” (1979), 6:45 p.m., Sundance (repeating at
10); “The Elephant Man” (1980), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. Here are true
classics, each nominated for eight Oscars, including best picture.

“Judge Judy Primetime,” 8 p.m., CBS. Back in 1993, “60
Minutes” had a piece about Judy Sheindlin, an acerbic judge; three years later,
she started a show that eventually topped even Oprah Winfrey in the ratings.
This hour includes part of the “60 Minutes: piece, plus clips and some new

“Coming Back,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings). The tough
part can be simply fitting into a different world at home, combat veteran Wes
Moore says in this strong hour. He meets one man who moved into a tough
Baltimore neighborhood and another who turned his injuries into a stand-up
comedy act. He continues stories about one married vet still in transition and
another pondering civilian work overseas.

“Supernatural” season-finale,” 9 p.m., CW. Last week’s
episode (rerunning at 8) left Dean with the effects of using the First Blade.
Now he must help stop Metatron’s fight against humanity.

“Frontline,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). The
relationship, voluntary or not, between private businesses and the National
Security Agency is studied in this jolting hour. One year, the NSA sent 56,000
demands for cyber-information; only one small company resisted and it won in
court. Others scan customers’ E-mails to fashion advertising … possibly with
the NSA piggybacking onto their use.

“Fargo,” 10-11:17 p.m., FX. What started as a buoyant
mixture of comedy and dark drama has grown increasingly dark. This episode
takes some fierce turns during snowstorm shoot-outs. It’s part of Lorne Malvo’s
inexplicably large plan for a distraction, while he blackmails a corrupt
supermarket mogul.