TV column for Thursday, July 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Project Runway”
season-opener, 9 p.m., Lifetime; reruns at 10:30.

Tonight, we'll learn which previous
contestant is being brought back by viewer vote. We'll also meet the
15 new people, ages 24 to 45, including ones from Sweden, England,
Russia and he Congo.

That international flavor continues
with the regulars. Heidi Klum, the host, is from Germany; Nina
Garcia, a judge, is from Colombia. Tim Gunn, the mentor (this year
given the added power to save one ousted contestant) merely seems
like he's from another world.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.

Greats merge, when TV's best current
comedy is visited by the man who did some of its all-time best.

That's Bob Newhart, 83. In this rerun,
he plays the guy who was “Professor Proton” on TV when Sheldon
and Leonard were growing up.

In droll and witty Newhart style, he's
doubtful about Sheldon's “genius” status, but impressed by Penny.
“The blonde is your girlfriend?” he asks Leonard. “I think
you're the genius.”

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Elementary,”
10 p.m., CBS.

This reruns captures the Sherlock
Holmes show at its best, mixing all the elements.

Jonny Lee Miller flashes rage, plus the
usual Sherlock-like (and, as it happens, Sheldon-like) mixture of
genius, ego and humor. And for the first time, we see Watson (Lucy
Liu) in her former element.

That's a hospital, where Holmes seems
to have found “angel of mercy” killings. There's superb
guest-star work from David Costabile, David Harbour and the superb
Anika Noni Rose.

Other choices include:

– “Hell's Kitchen,” 8 and 9 p.m.,
Fox. First is a rerun from last week, with four women and one man
remaining. Then a new hour has the final four, ages 25 to 31, trying
to guess the ingredients of Gordon Ramsay's dish and re-create it.
Only two will advance to next week's finale.

– “The Winner Is,” 8 and 9 p.m.,
NBC. This starts with a rerun of last week's episode, choosing the
third of six finalists for a million-dollar prize. Then a new hour
chooses the fourth.

– “Road to the Runway,” 8 p.m.,
Lifetime; reruns at midnight. Here's a “Project Runway” preview.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 8:31
p.m., CBS. This is the episode that aired on Valentine's Day. That
holiday turns out to be a bummer for Alan; meanwhile, Walden tries to
get Kate back.

– “Big Brother,” 9 p.m., CBS.
It's time for the third eviction.

– “Motive,” 9 p.m., ABC. A
mortgage broker has been strangled in his office parking lot. Now
the killer will do anything to hide the motive.

– “Hollywood Game Night,” 10
p.m., NBC. Host Jane Lynch has her “Glee” enemy, Matthew
Morrison, as one of the players. Others are comedy actors – Valerie
Bertinelli, Sarah Chalke, Cheryl Hines, Rob Riggle and Yvette Nicole
Brown.

– “Rookie Blue,” 10:01 p.m., ABC.
When Andy and Marlo do a drug bust, they learn that the drugs have a
deadly bacteria. That sets up a furious effort to get it off the
streets; meanwhile, Marlo's secret is exposed by the decontamination
and quarantine process.

TV column for Wednesday, July 17


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

After three months on the shelf, this
smart comedy starts its summer reruns. It begins with the clever
episode that opened the season.

Tessa spent the summer in the city with
her maternal grandmother. Returning to the suburbs, she's wearing her
mom's old jacket and hoping she has her mom's music talent.

Suburbia, she finds, is still daft,
especially with Noah trying to steal back Dalia's nanny. In the midst
of a subtle episode, Dalia's monologue about nannies is a comic gem.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “The Bridge,”
10 p.m., FX.

In last week's opener, we met
opposites: Sonya is a by-the-books El Paso cop. Marco isn't rigid;
you can't be, as a cop in a city (Juarez) where 250 women were killed
last year.

Now we see their differences go much
deeper. He's a warm family man; she's socially challenged and takes
stranger-sex to an extreme.

Together, they work a murder case that
keeps widening. In tonight's excellent episode, a rich American
(whose husband died of a heart attack) makes a startling discovery.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Camp,”
10:01 p.m., NBC.

It's time for the annual
capture-the-flag game, providing a neat backdrop for personal crises.

The camp owner (Rachel Griffiths) fumes
about her estranged husband. Robbie, a camp counselor, races home to
her his mom, a clueless gambling addict; Kip – wide-eyed and
sweet-spirited – keeps his love of Maria hidden; now he's being
manipulated by the clever Chloe.

Some stories are pretty good, but this
particular flag game makes no sense, weakening the hour.

 

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE II: “Bulloch
Family Ranch” debut, 10 p.m., UP (former GMC).

Rusty and Julie Bulloch were
multi-tasking before it was fashionable. He's a football coach and
farrier (hoseshoe expert), she's a photographer and event-planner.
Also,they have a ranch near Lakeland, Fla.

There's more, though: In addition to
their two biologic children, they've been surrogate parents for more
than 25 others. Here's a feel-good reality show; amid Bulloch
milestones – building a barn, hearing about a grandchild-to-be –
we see lots of thoroughly likable people in their everyday lives.

Other choices include:

– “America's Got Talent,” 8 and 9
p.m., NBC. The second hour wraps up the Las Vegas round, deciding who
will advance to the live shows. The first hour offers highlights of
the Vegas round so far.

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC.
Since Mike is useless at gift-giving, Frankie tells each kid exactly
what she wants for Mother's Day. Meanwhile, Axl gets bad news from
his brainy girlfriend during prom.

– “Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.
Just as Cam is directing a grand production of “Phantom of the
Opera” at school, the star turns sick. Now Manny is desperate to
take over.

– Espy awards, 9-11 p.m., ESPN. At
times – “Saturday Night Live,” “Todd Margaret” – Jon Hamm
has shown a droll humor. He can use that while hosting these sports
awards. Up for best male athlete are Lebron James, Miguel Cabrera,
Michael Phelps and Adrian Peterson; for best female, Serena Williams
faces basketball's Brittney Griner and two Olympians – Gabrielle
Douglas and Missy Franklin.

– “The Neighbors,” 9:31 p.m.,
ABC. Chaperoning a dance, Debbie tries to re-create a romantic moment
with Marty; Jackie, the outer-space alien, tries to re-invent the
dull way she met her husband.

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
10 p.m, CBS. In a rerun that was scheduled for last week, then
delayed, the team probes the death of the sister of a famous Cuban
singer.

TV column for Tuesday, July 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Baseball All-Star
game, 8 p.m. ET, Fox.

Stuffed with some of the game's
greatest hitters, the American League has managed exactly two runs in
the last three All-Star games. It lost by a combined 16-2.

Then again, the league preceded that
with a 13-game streak of 12 wins and a tie. And it goes into the game
with (again) the game's leaders in home runs (Chris Davis), RBI and
batting average (both Miguel Cabrera). Tonight, they try the Mets'
field in New York.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Whose Line Is
It Anyway” return, 8 and 8:30 p.m., CW.

Simple and barebones, “Line” is
also ofte hilarious. It has no scripts or sets, but does have people
with great wit; often, that's enough.

This started as a British series in
1988 and moved to ABC a decade later, with the notion intact: Throw
out funny set-ups, then watch individuals and duos improvise; edit
sharply to include only the best bits.

The new version has the three best
players from the ABC version (Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady, Colin Mochre)
and an exceptionally smart host (Aisha Tyler). It rotates a fourth
panelist and guests. With the right set-ups – “things you can say
about your food, but not your date” – the result is a delight.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Covert
Action” season-opener, 9 p.m., USA.

On a basic-cable budget, this show
somehow delivers vibrant international adventure. That's especially
true in this hour, which leaps between Washington, D.C., schemes and
Latin American jeopardy.

Henry Wilcox, a former spy chief, shows
Annie (Piper Perabo) some possibly damning information about her CIA
boss, Arthur Campbell. Now she heads to Colombia alone … she
thinks. She's soon surrounded by her lover Auggie (a CIA agent who
was blinded in action) and new characters, superbly played by Hill
Harper and Manolo Cardona. This lacks an ending, but points to a
promising season.

Other choices include:

– “Hollywood Game Night,” 8 p.m.,
NBC. Here's a rerun of Thursday's opener, with Jane Lynch hosting
games-players, including former “Friends”stars Matthew Perry and
Lisa Kudrow.

– “Pretty Little Liars,” 8 p.m.,
ABC Family, reruns at 10. Hanna's in trouble with police and her
parents; Mona's in trouble with everyone, after spilling Spencer's
secret. Soon, Spencer and Toby are heading to the odd town of
Ravenswood … which will have its own series in October.

– “Giuliana & Bill,” 8 p.m.,
Style. The great charm of Bill (especially) and Giuliana Rancic is
proven by this: We can watch them be smothered in good fortune,
without resenting them. As they ponder a new home in Chicago (despite
work in Los Angeles), they gibe about his “baby hog” tendency.

– “America's Got Talent,” 9-11
p.m., NBC. Auditions continue, this time in Las Vegas.

– “Perfect Score,” 9 and 9:30
p.m., CW. A game show and dating show merge, when two friends try
compatibility tests to meet the perfect mate. The winner gets money
and a date.

– “Body of Proof,” 10 p.m., ABC.
In a rerun, Tim DeKay of “White Collar” plays the dad of a baby
who died. Police suspect murder; parents blame the Devil.

– “Suits,” 10:01 p.m., USA. Lots
of unlikable people scheme to cheat each other. It's difficult to
follow the plot, much more difficult to care about it.

TV column for Monday, July 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Ultimate Pool
Party,” 8-10 p.m., CW.

With a summertime line-up of reruns –
even a reality rerun – the CW has had ratings that edge toward
zero. Now it livens things up with fun game shows on Tuesday and this
party tonight.

At the Fontainebleu in Miami Beach, a
young pool crowd hears music by Pitbull, Krewalla, Jason Derulo,
Icona Pop, Afrojack and more. Others – Miley Cyrus, LL Cool –
visit.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “The
Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

In a dozen years of romantic
adventures, we're guessing, no bachelor or bachelorette has been
treated to a ride in a snow-cone truck … or to a suitor in a furry
penguin suit.

That happens when Desiree Hartsock, 26,
accompanies Zak, 31, a drilling engineer who revisits his Dallas
family's snow-cone business. Also returning to his roots is Chris,
27, now a mortgage broker and formerly a pro baseball player; they
play on the McMinnville, Oregon, field where he started.

Other visits are to Scottsdale, Ariz.,
for Drew, 27, a digital markting analyst, and to Salt Lake City.
That' where she meets the 10 siblings – plus spouses and more –
of Brooks, 28, a marketing consultant.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “POV,” 10
p.m., PBS (check local listigs).

The setting for this documetary is as
starkly compelling as a set designer could imagine. Santa Clarita is
a California desert town, with big houses near emptiness. Teens visit
an untended pool and a former miniature golf course. They turn an
abandoned home into a sort of clubhouse.

Garrison Saenz and Kevin Conway –
best friends since 13 – ponder foggy futures and a quiet present;
their friend Skye Elmore emerges as a great TV character. Tall
(5-foot-11), strong and smart, Skye was sure of a few things – her
mom was dead, her dad was in prison, Garrison was her boyfriend and
her grandfather had a secure home for her. By the end of the film,
she's found that none of those are true. In its quiet way, “Only
the Young” is deeply involving.

Other choices include:

– “Queer Eye,” 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.,
Bravo. It was 10 years ago today that Bravo launched the
fashion-makeover show that would give it a new image and a new
audiecee. Here's an 11-show marathon, starting with the first hour
and ending with the 100th and final one.

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. Before he can marry Robin, this rerun says, Barney must
ask her father. That's not easy: He's played by Ray Wise, whose TV
roles have ranged from Satan in “Reaper” to killing Laura Palmer
in “Twin Peaks.”

– “Switched at Birth,” 8 p.m.,
ABC Family. A week after her “Warehouse 13” finished its season,
Allison Scagliotti shows up here. She plays a confident Army medic
who was in Afghanistan with Ty.

– “Mike & Molly,” 8:30 and
9:30 p.m., CBS. In the first rerun, Mike and Molly try to set up
Harry and Victoria for a Valentine's Day date. In the second, Mike
visits a male fertility clinic.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 9 p.m., CBS.
In a rerun, Max and Caroline compete for a spot on a “Cupcake
Wars.”

– “The Mindy Project,” 9:30 p.m.,
Fox. This rerun is a sort of an “Office” reunion, with BJ Novak
playing Mindy's ideal (at first) new boyfriend.

– “Under the Dome,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Here's another problem with being encased in a dome: Amid a
meningitis outbreak, medical supplies are scarce.

– “King & Maxwell,” 10 p.m.,
TNT. Jerry O'Connell guests on this show, starring his wife, Rebecca
Romijn. He plays her rival of his wife, in a case involving a mystery
blogger bedeviling a congressman.

– “Mistresses,” 10:01 ., ABC.
People have been fuming at Savi (Alyssa Milano), ever since she
admitted she isn't sure who is the father of her baby-to-be. Now her
husband confronts her work colleague (and one-night lover) at a
social function; also, her sister moves out.

TV column for Sunday, July 14


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Newsroom” season-opener, 10 p.m., HBO.

Nothing is easy here. Complex dialog
swirls by at blurring speed. Some of it is about relationships from
last season; more is about events we won't even see until next week.

It's dizzying … but worth it. Aaron
Sorkin (“West Wing”) gives brilliant words to great actors.

In the first season, he made news
anchor Will (Jeff Daniels) a bit too all-wise; now there's none of
that. Will's bombast – calling the Tea Party “the American
Taliban” – stirred trouble. A new issue, drone attacks, seems to
paralyze him. Then there's the mistake – a big one, apparently –
we'll see next week.

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

At opposite ends of the macho scale,
Lorenzo Lamas and Andy Dick both have tangled personal lives.

Lamas lives with his fifth wife – who
runs the home while holding two jobs – and three daughters. Dick
lives in a trailer with his girlfriend; that's in the driveway of the
home where his ex-girlfriend lives with their daughter and her own
two daughters. Tonight, she trade lives with Lamas' wife.

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

It's not easy being Endeavour Morse,
with a taste for classical music. Other cops mock or shun him.

But then a serial killer throws out
clues relating to opera music. Like Rudolph on a foggy Christmas eve,
Morse becomes useful.

All of this seems way too contrived and
convenient, but it's beautifully filmed, with rich use of music.
Abigail Thaw – whose late father John starred as the older Morse
for 13 seasons – is back as a newspaper editor, which she'll
continue for the season's final two “Endeavour” films.

Other choices include:

– “The Simpsons,” 7:30 and 8
p.m., Fox. In the first rerun, Homer hangs with a trendy couple from
Portland, Oregon – voiced by Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen
from the delightful “Portlandia.” In the second, a new pastor
makes Homer a deacon.

– “Tia & Tamera”
season-opener, 8 p.m., Style. The Mowry twins range from trying the
odd (an herbal formula for intimate areas) to self-propelled personal
crises. This is strictly an acquired taste.

– “True Blood,” 9 p.m., HBO.
Leaping around wildly, this hour flashes back 5,500 years (really).
It also shows Sookie the truth of how her parents were killed and it
has most of the vampires behind bars, some voluntarily. It's a busy
hour – too busy sometimes.

– “Dexter,” 9 p.m., Showtime. Two
women tug at Dexter in opposite ways, in another strong hour. Dr.
Vogel (Charlotte Rampling) pushes for non-emotion; Deb – who has
secretly killed a cop and a crook lately – is crumbling with
emotion, at the edge of confessing to her former police colleagues.

– “Crossing Lines,” 10 p.m., NBC.
A two-parter begins with the kidnapping of a rich teen-ager.

– “Falling Skies,” 10 p.m., TNT.
On one level, civilization is re-forming, complete with a president,
despite alien attacks. On the other, Tom (Noah Wyle) is on a family
mission with his sons, colliding with a bandit family. It's a strong
hour that ends in mid-crisis.

– “Ray Anthony,” 10 p.m.,
Showtime. Some cops want to keep Mickey (Jon Voight) out of prison,
but his son Ray works to get him back in. We see why, as Mickey
creates chaos everywhere.