TV column for Sunday, March 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Bible,”
8-10 p.m., History.

After generations of despair, the
descendants of Abraham had found peace in Jerusalem. Now trouble
returns, with a brutal Babylonian leader and new generations of
slavery. At times the savagery is fierce; an event described in print
(eye-gouging, for instance) feels much worse on-screen.

Still, there's hope. The second hour
introduces Jesus; he resists temptation and gathers his first
disciple. Propelled by Keith David's strong narration, “Bible”
advances toward its Easter Sunday finale.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Red Widow,”
10:01 p.m., ABC.

For Marta, the mission has been clear:
Get back to real life, after shedding a debt that began when her
brother Irwin stole drugs from crime-boss Schiller (Goran Visnjic).

Now, however, Irwin is back, with new
schemes. Their dad – a mid-level Russian mobster – refuses to
help him. Marta (the excellent Radha Mitchell) finds herself sinking
deeper into crime.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Kingdom of
the Ocean” conclusion, 8-10 p.m., NatGeo Wild.

Like last week's opener, this is filled
with gorgeous scenes.

Sharks hunt; dolphins frolic. The blue
whale – with a heart as big as a small car – fills the screen.

Then the second hour gets a bit
grittier. We see creepy crawlers who prowl the ocean floor; we also
meet sand creatures that alternate their lives between the water and
the shore.

Other choices include:

– “Finian's Rainbow” (1968),
11:30 a.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. A St. Patrick's Day marathon of
Irish films goes from 9:45 a.m. to midnight, with this one near the
top of the list. Francis Coppola – no, he's not Irish – turned a
Broadway musical into a wonderfully visual movie gem.

– “Once Upon a Time,” 8 p.m.,
ABC. Now that Mary Margaret has stopped her, Regina vows revenge.
Meanwhile, an outsider has somehow reached the impenetrable
Storybrook with his son.

– “Revenge,” 9 p.m., ABC. Still
suspected in Amanda's death, Victoria and Conrad start a charity in
her name. Jack, her widower, remains suspicious. Also, Emily again
confronts someone from her past.

– “The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS.
Cary's father (John Shea) brings in some new business. Also, Alicia
and Will are at a coroner's inquest that allows only three questions
per witness.

– “Girls,” 9 p.m., HBO. This
witty series wraps up its season with an episode that Lena Dunham
directed, co-wrote (with Judd Apatow) and stars in. She plays Hannah,
with one day to finish her book.

– “The Quiet Man” (1952), 9:30
p.m. to midnight ET, Turner Classic Movies. John Ford's classic –
with John Wayne as a boxer returning to Ireland – is an appropriate
way to wrap up St. Patrick's Day. It's preceded at 8 p.m. by Ford's
trilogy of Irish tales, “The Rising of the Moon” (1957).

– “Vikings,” 10 p.m., History.
The odd plot of this mini-series squelches some enthusiasm. Yes,
Ragnar has resisted Viking traditions and sailed west, plundering an
English monastery. But now the chieftain (Gabriel Byrne) claims all
the booty; Ragnar heads back, this time confronting soldiers.

TV column for Saturday, March 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Saturday Night
Live,” 10 and 11:29 p.m., NBC.

Tonight's second reruns (Jennifer
Lawrence hosting) is pretty good, but the first one is one of the
show's best. Since this was, Justin Timberlake's fifth time hosting,
he was ushered into the mythical “Five Timer Club,” with such
members on-hand as Steve Martin, Paul Simon and – after years of
being bannedfor bad behavior – Chevy Chase. Non-members Dan Aykroyd
and Martin Short were on the waitstaff … allowing Aykroyd and
Martin to later revive the wild and crazy guys.

And Timberlake was everywhere – from
serious music (with Jay-Z) to portraying Elton John adapting “Candle
in the Wind” for Hugo Chavez's funeral. It was a great night.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Juno”
(2007), 9 p.m., Bravo.

Actually, this is a great movie night
all over cable, but we'll start here. “Juno” is as much fun as a
movie can be, when starting with a teen pregnancy.

Diablo Cody wrote a clever,
Oscar-winning script and Jason Reitman directed perfectly. There were
Oscar nominations for Reitman, star Ellen Page and best picture.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Tom, Dick and
Harriet,” 9-11 p.m., Hallmark.

Sure, Hallmark has lots of lightweight
comedies with cute names like this. But under its chirpy core, this
film has something to say about an overemphasis on youth and image.

Steven Weber plays an ad man, suddenly
considered too old (50) and un-hip. He hires an “avatar”with the
surface image, hoping that his daughter and an attractive co-worker
won't figure it out.

Other choices include:

– Basketball, all day. You can settle
in for a marathon of conference-tournament championship games. CBS
has Conference USA at 11:30 a.m. ET and Mountain West at 6 p.m.;
overlapping, ESPN has Big 12 at 5:30 p.m., Big East at 8:30 and
Pac-12 at 11. Also, ESPN2 has the Big West at 10:30 p.m.

– “The Lord of the Rings:
Fellowship of the Ring” (2001), 7-10:45 p.m., TNT. This started the
superp “Rings” trilogy; now it starts a great movie night.

– “Celebrity Wife Swap,” 8 p.m.,
ABC. For ex-Playmate Kendra Wilkinson, raising a 4-year-old may be
easy; she has an at-home husband (a former pro football player) and a
nanny/housekeeper. Now she switches with Kate Gosselin, who is alone
with her 12-year-old twins and 8-year-old sextuplets.

– Movies, 8 p.m., cable. “Tootsie”
(1982, Turner Classic Movies) is a comic masterpiece, boosted by
Dustin Hoffman's Oscar-winning work. “Scream” (1996, Independent
Film Channel) is a top-rate horror film. The newcomer is “The Best
Exotic Marigold Hotel” (2012, HBO), a witty – and sometimes warm
– film with English people trying what they think is a lush
retirement spot in India.

– “Wizards Return,” 8:30-9:30
p.m., Disney. This special debuted Friday, bringing back most of the
“Wizards of Waverly Place” people. Alex (Selena Gomez) sees her
magic go astray; it always does, but this time it split her into two
people – good and evil – and creates a fun hour.

– “The Following,” 9 p.m., Fox.
In a rerun of Monday's episode, Joe Carroll (the twice-escaped serial
killer) and Joey (his kidnapped son) are both missing. The FBI puts
someone new in charge.

– “Criminal Minds,” 9 p.m., CBS.
In this rerun, someone is replicating the unit's old cases.

TV column for Friday, March 15


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “The Wizards
Return: Alex vs. Alex” (Disney Channel) or “Return to Nim's
Island” (Hallmark), both 8 p.m.

Here are two pleasant – and kind of
similar – shows. Each is a sequel, focusing on a teen girl. Each
gets a bit goofy with the side characters, but the star has a natural
and likable quality.

On Disney, that's Selena Gomez, with
most of her “Wizards of Waverly Place” people. A magic trick gone
bad (as usual), creating an evil version of herself; the result is
mostly fun.

On Hallmark, it's Bindi Irwin, 15,
daughter of Steve Irwin, the late crocodile hunter. Having grown up
amid nature, she easily takes over the Abigail Breslin role from the
2008 “Nim's Island” movie, defending her gorgeous world from
poachers and developers.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: “Hawaii
Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.

The plan was to put “Golden Boy”
here. When that show soared on Tuesdays, however, CBS decided to keep
it there; “Vegas” will move to Fridays … but not until April 5,
to make room for basketball.

That makes room tonight for a random
“Five-0” rerun. Forced to remain still while technicians disarm a
bomb, Danny tells McGarrett about his toughest case as a New Jersey
cop.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “The World
According to Dick Cheney,” 9-11 p.m., Showtime; or “Banshee”
season-finale, 10 p.m., Cinemax.

This is the sort of night that jacks up
the cable bill. The best shows are on pay-extra channels.

“Banshee” ends its quick,
10-episode season with an hour that's sensational and (as usual)
brutal. We flash back to the prison life of the man now posing as
Sheriff Lucas Hood; we also see him race to save his ex-lover's son,
held by the boy's cruel grandfather. The result is fierce and
well-crafted.

“World” has Cheney recalling a life
of fascinating changes. He was a Wyoming laborer who failed twice at
Yale, had two drunken-driving arrests and –12 years later –
became Gerald Ford's chief of staff. He was a powerhouse
vice-president, personally propelling the Iraq war; five years later,
President George W. Bush sometime refused to take his phone calls.

Other choice include:

– “Last Man Standing,” 8 p.m.,
ABC. This is another reunion (the fourth) for the “Home
Improvement” pals, Tim Allen and Richard Karn. Bill (Karn) has gone
downhill since Mike (Allen) quit hiring him for architect work; they
have a confrontation. Also, Mandy discovers her dad's old ham radio.

– “Malibu Country,” 8:31 p.m.,
ABC. Still dreaming of a record career, Reba is appalled that her
boss wants her to write jingles. Also, her daughter is the reason
Sage wants to go to Stanford, nearby.

– “Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. The Wesen
code requires them to keep their true nature hidden. Now, however,
some Wesen use their true selves as disguises during bank robberies.
Meanwhile, memories are trickling back for Juliette, causing her to
worry about her mental state.

– “True Justice,” 9 p.m., Reelz.
This master criminal has been ahead of Kane's people all season. In
an episode filled with violent flashbacks, they realize they've been
doing just what the crook wanted.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Tragedy seems to be striking random people around New York. Now Danny
is desperate to find a connection. Meanwhile, his dad helps an old
friend fight alcoholism.

TV column for Thursday, March 14


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

It's time for the first weekly ouster
episode. Tonight (barring a save), one person will be sent home.

First, there's music. Bon Jovi does
“Because We Can,” the 10 finalists combine for a song from the
upcoming animated film “The Croods” … and Phillip Phillips,
last year's winner, is back.

Phillips' first album reached No. 4 on
the Billboard chart and its first single “Home” reached No. 6.
Now he does its second single, “Gone, Gone, Gone,” which people
may eventually dread: It will be this season's exit song, performed
during ousters.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Two and a Half
Men,” 8:31 p.m., CBS.

In last week's funny, offbeat episode,
Alan argued with Walden; he moved out … and moved in with Herb
(Ryan Stiles). These two men share an ex-wife and a solemn view of
life.

Alan eventually moved back, but now he
and Walden are concerned about Herb's despondency. They try to cheer
him up … then end up celebrating too hard.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Braxton
Family Values” season-opener, 9 p.m., WE; repeats at 10.

Life keeps changing for the vibrant
Braxton sisters.

Toni – a music great with six Grammys
– got her first lead role in a cable movie (Lifetime's recent
“Twist of Faith”). Towanda and Trina are patching up
relationships; Traci is big on motorcycles.

But the big change is in Tamar, who's
now obsessing on her own music (“Love & War” reached No. 57
on the Billboard chart and No. 13 on the R&B/hip-hop chart) and
her own cable show. As this season starts, the others take a trip to
Italy, while talking about the missing Tamar.

Other choices include:

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. So far, Howard has only talked about his mom; now he debates
whether to open a letter from his dad. Also, Leonard and Penny host a
“grown-up” cocktail party.

– “Community,” 8 p.m., NBC.
Everyone is trying to figure out why Chang lost his memory. Dean
Pelton wants to use this for a medical-research grant; Abed wants to
turn it into a documentary film.

– “Parks and Recreation,” 8:30
p.m. NBC. Two people from HBO's departed “Bored to Death” have
guest roles. Jason Schwartzman (who starred) plays the owner of a
video store that Leslie hopes to rescue; Jenny Slate (who played
Stella, his pot-smoking girlfriend) plays Tom's bad employee.

– “Glee,” 9 p.m., Fox. Tension
has been building between the teachers, Will and his ex-student Finn.
In a turnaround, club members give them an assignment. Also, Santana
is suspicious of Brody's job.

– “Grey's Anatomy,” 9 p.m., ABC.
The new hospital administration created chaos, with one of the
doctors considering leaving. That comes while doctors try juggle
several difficult transplants.

– “Elementary,” 10 p.m., CBS. For
the first time, Dr. Watson (Lucy Liu) takes on a solo case, searching
for a woman who left a tearful video farewell, mentioning a murder on
a subway platform. Meanwhile, Sherlock Holmes gets interested in the
subway-murder part.

– “Scandal,” 10:02 p.m., ABC.
Scott Foley has jumped from one ABC Thursday show to the next. On
“Grey's Anatomy,” he was Henry, in a marriage-of-convenience with
Teddy; now he attracts Olivia. Meanwhile, the president has been
shaken by the election scandal and doesn't know whom to trust.

TV column for Wednesday, March 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Neighbors,”
8:30 p.m., ABC.

Always weird and sometimes hilarious,
this show gives the neighbors a new adventure each week.

They are, after all, from another
planet; that fact is known by only one Earthling family. They keep
trying to master our ways and tonight they're learning a dilly –
the Broadway musical.

Soon, they're doing their songs –
clever ones from composer Alan Menken, who has won eight Oscars for
Disney cartoons. A sub-plot (involving kids' resistance) is so-so,
but the main story is a delight.

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

Last week, the show finally named its
finalists. There are four teens (two 18, two 19) and six others,
ranging from 21 to 25.

Tonight, each is told to do a song
that's been done by one of the 11 previous “Idol” winners. That
includes the current champion, Phillip Phillips, who will performs in
the results show Thursday.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Psych,” 10
p.m., USA.

James Roday has managed to find full
employment during this show's seven-year run. He's written 14
episodes, directed six of them and stars in all of them; now he does
all three in a witty tour de force.

Mimicking everything from “The Blair
Witch Project” to “Continental Divide,” he pretends the entire
hour was done with video cameras, during a search for Bigfoot. Shawn
(Roday), the fake psychic, is enthusiastic about the search; Gus is
not. Then come the surprises – some goofy and most just fun.

Other choices include:

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a
rerun, Frankie invites Marines for Thanksgiving dinner. That might
not be a big favor: Her parents (Jerry Van Dyke and Marsha Mason)
spend the time bickering,

– “Modern Family,” 9 p..m., ABC.
This rerun catches a key time for Manny. After 14 years, he soon will
not be an only child; his parents try to compensate with a big
birthday party. Also, Phil and Claire fret when Haley is hanging out
with a much-older guy.

– “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest”
(1975), 9 p.m. to midnight, Ion. After buying th rights to the 1963
Broadway play, Kirk Douglas hoped to produce and star in the the
movie version. That fell through and he gave the rights to his son
Michael, who produced a triumph. “Cuckoo's Nest” swept the Oscars
for best picture, director (Milos Forman), actor (Jack Nicholson),
actress (Louise Fletcher) and adapted script. It was the first film
to do that since the 1934 “It Happened One Night.”

– :Suburgatory,” 9:31 p.m., ABC.
Wilmer Valderrama (“That '70s Show”) has great moments as Yoni,
Dallas' former boyfriend. He claims to be a new-age dog whisperer,
ready to cure her dog's depression.

– “Nashville,” 10 p.m., ABC. This
rerun catches both singers at pivotal moments. Rayna tells her kids
about the upcoming divorce and starts to sign the first act (Scarlett
and Gunnar) for her new label; Juliette is encouraged by fan approval
for a performance that was less glitzy and more passionate.

– “CSI: Crime Scene
Investigation,”10 p.m., CBS. Things again turn personal for D.B.
Russell (Ted Danson) in this rerun. This time, his son's coach has
been killed and the boy is a suspect.