TV column for Monday, Feb. 10

TODAY’S MUST-SEE: Winter Olympics, 3-5 p.m., 8-11:30 p.m.,
12:05-1:05 a.m., NBC; also cable.

The games settle into their weekday mode. In the afternoon,
the men will have medals for 500-meter speedskating and the biathlon – the odd
mix of skiers with rifles.

And at night? Women have medals for super-combined Alpine
skiing, men for free-style moguls skiing and for the 1500-meter short track.

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Intelligence,” 10 p.m., CBS.

After a strong start, this show wilted when it faced NBC’s
“Blacklist.” Now come a couple “Blacklist”-free weeks for audiences to find a
show that has action and … well, intelligence.

Josh Holloway stars as a soldier implanted with a computer
mind. Tonight, a deadly virus has broken out in Texas; he identifies Patient
Zero … then discovers fresh complications.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Brain Games,” 9:30 p.m., National
Geographic, rerunning at 11:30.

There’s a marathon from 4-5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.,
filled with amiable half-hours about the quirks of our minds and our perception.
Sandwiched in there is this Valentine-week special.

 We see if science can
predict which face we’ll be attracted to … or which couple is the most
compatible … or if opposites really attract. The result is slick and fun, while
leaving plenty of questions and doubts.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE II: “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).

In the late 1950s, the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission
was created by the legislature. Its goal, Gov. James Coleman said, was
“preserving the segregation of the races in this state.”

At first, that simply meant jolly promotional films,
depicting contented blacks. Then things spiraled downward – spying on
civil-rights meetings and turning names over to law-enforcement officials, many
of them Ku Klux Klan members. Eventually, the commission was dissolved and the
records were sealed … but, fortunately, leaked to a Jackson Clarion-Ledger reporter.
He helps tell a disturbing story.

Other choices include:

“The Bachelor,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Juan Pablo Galavis has
dates with two of the women and gives the other six a double sampling of New
Zealand culture – a wild sport that puts them inside enormous balls … then a
party on the set of “The Hobbit.”

“Almost Human,” 8 p.m., Fox. This futuristic tale again
finds improve-on-nature plans gone wrong: Designer drugs are killing
genetically enhanced children.

“2 Broke Girls,” 8 p.m., CBS. It’s an all-rerun night for
the CBS comedies, mixing up the order. That starts here, with a rock-star story
providing bi business at the cupcake window.

“Mom,” 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., CBS. The first rerun, a good one,
has Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer as Christy’s new friend. The second has scowls
from the parents of Luke, who impregnated Christy’s teen daughter. Nick Searcy
(the “Justified” boss) plays Luke’s dad here and a general on “Intelligence.”

“Mike & Molly,” 9 p.m., CBS. In the season-opener, Molly
quits her teaching job. The result is hilarious … but
the character in a ways-too-silly process.

“The Following,” 9 p.m., Fox. Ryan and his niece try to stay
ahead of the FBI, which wants them to quit.

“Jimmy Kimmel Live,” 10 p.m., ABC. This rerun is nudged into
primetime, with Kimmel talking to “Monument Men” stars, including George
Clooney, Matt Damon and Bill Murray.

[i] n

TV column for Sunday, Feb. 9

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The Night That Changed America,”
8-10:30 p.m., CBS.

Exactly 50 years ago -- at 8 p.m. on Feb. 9, 1964 – an “Ed Sullivan
Show” opened, nudging TV forward.  The
Beatles did five songs and 74 million people watched; pop music was no longer
on the fringe.

Now comes a night of Beatles music from Maroon 5, Keith
Urban, Alicia Keys, John Mayer and John Legend, plus Annie Lennox and Dave
Stewart re-uniting as the Eurythmics. The whole thing has been expanded by a
half-hour, adding a David Letterman interview with Paul McCartney and Ringo
Starr, who will also perform together, in a half-the-Beatles reunion.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: Winter Olympics, 2-6 p.m., 7-11 p.m.,11:35
p.m. to 12:35 a.m. NBC; also, cable.

At the summer Olympics, the team gymnastics event has been a
big deal, sometimes overshadowing the individuals. Now we’ll have the first
winner in team figure-skating. The pairs skaters have already wrapped up;
tonight the others – men, women, ice-dancers – do and we have an overall

Also, women will have their first gold for slope-style
snowboarding; men will have winners in Alpine downhill skiing and in K-95 ski

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Walking Dead” return, 9 p.m., AMC,
rerunning at 11.

The most-watched scripted show on TV booms ahead with the
second half of its 16-episode season.

Tonight, Rick finds a cabin in the woods; people in the
prison wonder if merely surviving is enough. It’s preceded by an all-day “Dead”
marathon and followed by a “Talking Dead” (including Greg Nicotero, the make-up
master who directed tonight’s hour) at 10:01 and “Comic Book Men” at midnight.

Other choices include:

“Wicked Tuna,” 8 p.m., National Geographic. A week before
the season-opener, here are past highlights.

“Masterpiece Classic,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).
Two semi-feuding relationships – between the dowagers and between Mary and a would-be
suitor – are nudged by problems … one health-related, the other pig-related.
It’s a good hour … and a rare chance to see a very muddy Lady Mary.

“True Detective,” 9 p.m., HBO. After a Super Bowl break,
“True” returns with a superb hour that sees lives flip-flop. One cop (Woody
Harrelson) crumbles; another (Matthew McConaughey) turns heroic.

“The Making of a Lady” (2012), 10 p.m., PBS (check local
listings). Adapted from a novel by “Secret Garden” author Frances Hodgson
Burnett, this movie has a penniless young woman, working as a lady’s companion
and hoping for more. Lydia Wilson stars, with Joanna Lumley and Linus Roche in

“Coast Guard: Cape Disappointment” debut, 10 p.m., Weather
Channel. The channel’s third Coast Guard show eyes four bases (including Cape Disappointment)
that protect the Northwest and the Pacific.

“The Millers,” 10:30 p.m., CBS. In a change (to make room
for the extra Beatles half-hour), here’s a rerun with Nathan and his mom
peeking at his sister’s diary.

“Episodes,” 10:30 p.m., Showtime. Here’s another great
return after a Super Bowl break. Among the odd twists: The former network chief
retaliates by stealing his blind wife’s valuable paintings.


TV column for Saturday, Feb. 8

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: Winter Olympics, 2:30-6 p.m., 8-11 p.m.,
midnight to 1 a.m., NBC.

The first full day of competition will hand out gold. For
men, that’s in the new slope-style snowboarding, with Shaun White hoping to add
it to his previous half-pipe wins; for women, it’s freestyle moguls skiing.

Meanwhile, another new event -- team figure-skating –
continues. The women and ice-dancers have their short programs; pairs skaters,
who got an early start Thursday, do their full routines.

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Rake,” 8 p.m., Fox.

If you missed this show’s jaunty debut, here’s a second
chance. Greg Kinnear plays a handsome lawyer who keeps digging himself into
trouble with gambling, lust and sheer foolishness.

One simple task – turning a giant tuna into cash – gets
complicated; another – watching a serial killer plead guilty – gets worse. It’s
a fun start, with Sam Raimi, who did the Spider-Man trilogy, directing.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006), 8-10:30
p.m., ABC.

This true store from the 1980a resonates powerfully in any
era when good jobs are scarce.

Chris Gardner is losing his money, home and family. He
grasps for hope, including an unpaid internship. This is tough to watch, but done
with subtlety and skill, especially by Will Smith and his son Jaden.

Other choices include:

More Olympics, cable. Unlike the NBC events, which are tape-delayed,
cable will be live. Given the time-zone differences, that means early starts
for the NBC Sports Network – including a 3 a.m. ET women’s hockey game between
the U.S. and Finland – plus MSNBC and the USA Network.

“The Walking Dead,” all day, AMC. The rerun marathon
continues, pointing to Sunday’s mid-season return.

“Two and a Half Men,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Walden dates
an injury-prone model.

Movies, 8 p.m., cable. On the serious side, HBO has the
solid “42” (2013), with Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford as Jackie Robinson
and Branch Rickey, breaking baseball’s racial barrier. On the fun side: “Red”
(2010) on TNT, “Crazy, Stupid Love” (2011) on FX, “The Devil Wears Prada”
(2006) on Oxygen,

“The Millers,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. In a so-so rerun, Nathan schemes
to get his parents back together by having them divide items with sentimental

“The Mentalist,” 9 p.m., CBS. This rerun goes back to the
Red John days, with four suspects confronted. Meanwhile, the team probes the
killing of a software engineer by drone strike.

“Black Sails,” 9 p.m., Starz. The pirates are still
landlocked, gathering men and ships to chase a grand treasure. Captain Flint
claims he knows the route … but it exists only in the memory of the scheming
John Silver. Eleanor Guthrie, a bisexual beauty, runs the pirate-refuge island
that includes her ex-lovers, Max (a prostitute) and Vane (a fierce captain).
Late in this hour, power shifts explosively.

“The Middle,” 10:30 p.m., ABC. Frankie and Mike think
they’ll have a romantic weekend watching her sister’s house … except they can’t
master the technology. Meanwhile, Sue tries to keep order at home.


TV column for Friday, Feb. 7

MUST-SEE: Winter Olympics opening ceremony, 7:30 to 11:30 p.m., NBC.

Now that
Renee Fleming has sung the National Anthem at the Super Bowl, viewers are used
to an opera star in a sports stadium. Tonight, Anna Netrebko sings the Russian
National Anthem.

music is a Russian specialty, so others – pianist Denis Matsuev, violist Yuri
Bashmet, the Moscow State Chamber Choir – are expected. There will also be
fireworks and spectacle, but probably nothing to match 2012’s James Bond and
Mary Poppins in London. 

MIGHT-SEE: “Bones,” 8 p.m., Fox.

Like most
shows, “Bones” won’t waste a new episode against the Olympics ceremony. Unlike
some, it chose its rerun carefully.

The story
involves the murder of a man already dying of cancer; a lame detour involves a
crime-solving computer system. More importantly, Booth and Brennan are nudged
into planning their wedding; that sets up next week’s hour … which, on
Valentine’s Day, reruns the wedding.

ALTERNATIVE: “American Masters,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Walker grew up poor in Georgia, the daughter of a sharecropper and a maid. Her
parents resisted having her work the fields; she thrived in school and
graduated from Sarah Lawrence.

Her novel
“The Color Purple” won a Pulitzer Prize and became an epic movie and musical,
while drawing attacks for its view of black men. Two days before her 70
th birthday, this beautifully crafted
film offers a woman surrounded by bright colors and complicated relationships.

choices include:

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC. These reruns focus on the sisters. First,
Vanessa convinces Mandy to dump Kyle; then Eve’s snow-shoveling business

Movies, 8
p.m., cable. Strong choices include a family delight (“The Muppets,” 2011,
Disney), clever comedies (“Knocked Up,” 2007, TBS; “National Lampoon’s
Vacation,” 1983, TV Guide) and a deep drama. “From Here to Eternity” (1953,
Turner Classic Movies) won eight Oscars, including best picture.

Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. This season-opener started with woes everywhere –
McGarrett in prison with Wo Fat, Kono on the lam with Adam. Then Catherine was

9 p.m., Fox. Resisting the trend, Fox has two new comedies tonight. In this
one, Pete tries to fit into his new duties; the husband of a deployed soldier
makes that difficult.

Hope,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. Ignoring all experience, Virginia feels Burt will buy an
expensive anniversary present. She takes him to a dude ranch with a hyper
cowboy (Keith Carradine).

Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. Brother and sister link in this rerun, when Danny (a
police detective) and Erin (an assistant district attorney) probe a rich man
who escaped conviction.

10 p.m., Cinemax. In a detour, this high-octane series has a broodingly
beautiful hour, shifting between reality and daydreams as Hood retrieves Carrie
from prison. A few other actors (including the brilliant Zeljko Ivanek) show
up, leading to a visually stunning finish.

“Late Night
with Jimmy Fallon,” 12:05 a.m., NBC. A half-hour earlier than usual, Fallon has
Andy Samberg and the Muppets on his final late-night gig, before taking over
“Tonight” on Feb. 17.


TV column for Thursday, Feb. 6

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The Tonight Show,” 11:35 p.m., NBC.

For two decades, Jay Leno has hosted “Tonight,” providing
clever monologs, OK conversations and (usually) top Nielsen ratings. Tonight,
he says farewell.

His first guest 20 years ago (Billy Crystal) will also be
his first guest tonight. Garth Brooks will also be there plus, perhaps,
surprises. Then Leno says goodbye … not voluntarily, but (we’ll guess) with

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: Winter Olympics, 8 p.m. ET, NBC.

Most Americans know that any Olympics are big and flashy and
exciting; still, few care about anything beyond figure-skating and (now that
Lindsay Vonn is injured) Shaun White on a snowboard.

The solution is to add more of both. Tonight (on the eve of
the opening ceremony), the Olympics launch two new events. There’s slope-style
snowboarding and – similar to team gymnastics in the summer – team
figure-skating. It begins tonight with the short programs for individuals and
pairs, then concludes Saturday and Sunday. Also tonight is freestyle skiing,
with the women’s moguls.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Spoils of Babylon,” 7:30 to 10:30
p.m., IFC.

Once a simple plaything for Will Ferrell and writer Adam
McKay, Funny or Die keeps growing. Now it has a new production facility, some
series and this mini-series.

Well, a micro-series, with six half-hours telling a soapy
tale at hyper-speed. Ferrell pretends to be author Eric Jonrosh and takes other
roles. Tim Robbins plays the patriarch, with Kristen Wiig and Tobey Maguire as
his daughter and adoptive son, who have a forbidden romance. The first five
episodes rerun tonight, leading to the 10 p.m. finale, with Winston (Haley Joel
Osment) scheming revenge.

Other choices include:

“Lincoln” (2012), 7 p.m., Showtime. A strong film night
begins with Steven Spielberg’s moving epic.

“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Here’s an odd Valentine’s
Day double date – the married Howard and Bernadette head to wine country with
the thoroughly unconsummated Sheldon and Amy. That leaves Penny and Leonard,
who still haven’t defined their relationship.

“American Idol,” 8 p.m., Fox. After Wednesday’s “Hollywood
or Home” detour, the “Hollywood Week” round begins. A week from now, the
semi-finalists will be chosen.

More movies, 8 p.m., cable. Here are exact-opposite
classics. Disney has “The Little Mermaid” (1989), a gorgeous cartoon; Turner
Classic Movies has “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” with Richard Burton and
Virginia Woolf perfectly handling the fiercely acerbic dialog.

“Rake,” 9 p.m., Fox. Keegan (Greg Kinnear) should understand
this client: To cover her gambling debts, she told the insurance company her
son has cancer.

“Reign,” 9 p.m., CW. The focus again turns to the gifted
Megan Follows as Queen Catherine. She throws scandalous charges at Bash; he
promptly points out her own scandals

“Elementary,” 10 p.m., CBS. Holmes probes the murder of an
emerging ballet star, while Watson looks at the possible abduction of a homeless