TV column for Monday, Sept. 17

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Perception,”
10 p.m., TNT.

Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack) Is a
brilliant professor who's aware of his mind's tricks. He sees and
talks to people – including the lovely and wise Natalie – who
simply aren't there.

Last week, that finally hit overload.
After reporting a murder that apparently never happened, he agreed to
go to a hospital …. where the real Natalie works. Tonight, that's
resolved in a smart, complex hour.

Festival,” 8-11 p.m., ABC.

Each year, this special lives up to its
subtitle, “Country's Night to Rock.” Nashville's softer side –
yes, it has one – is mostly ignored; things turn rowdy and fun.

That's obvious when the first performer
(Carrie Underwood) shows that silver hot pants go well with an
American-flag shirt. It's clear when Luke Bryan sings “Drunk on
You” and “Shake It For Me.”

He hosts with Kimberly Perry of The
Band Perry. Performers include some newcomers (Eric Church, Brantley
Gilbert, Hunter Hayes) and lot of stars – Blake Shelton, Miranda
Lambrt, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum,
Zac Brown Band, Little Big Town and more.

debut,10 p.m., NBC.

TV often thrives when telling of a
civilization being rebooted. From “Lost” to “Jericho,” from
“Walking Dead” to “Falling Skies,” it finds fresh drama when
humans have to improvise.

This time, we're told that all the
world's electricity suddenly vanished. People scattered and made do.

There are way too many questions and
holes here, but if you get past them you have a skillfully filmed
adventure, with Billy Burke as a tough guy who's bad and/or good.

Other choices include:

– “Bones” season-opener, 8 p.m.,
Fox. Last season ended with Brennan accused of murder. While Booth
scrambles to prove her innocence, she's on the lam with their baby
and her dad (Ryan O'Neal). Now things are settled, with lots of help
from her lab-mates. It's a good hour, despite an odd ending,

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8-9
p.m., CBS. In an offbeat, two-part rerun, Lily is having her baby,
Marshall is racing back … and we get flash-forwards to Barney's
wedding day.

– “Alphas,” 8 p.m., Syfy,
rerunning at 10. Voters keep overlooking sci-fi actors, including
David Strathairn. In other shows, he has two an Oscar nomination and
an Emmy; here, he does great work as Dr. Rosen, facing a painful
decision. On a lighter note, Kat breezes into her first undercover

– “The Mob Doctor, 9 p.m., Fox.
This takes multi-tasking to the extreme: A young doctor (Jordana
Spiro) keeps up her hospital duties, while also keeping a family
obligation to patch up bad guys. Then a crisis makes her worlds
collide; Spiro is fine, but this mostly feels like an overwrought
soap opera.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 9-10 p.m.,
CBS. In another two-part rerun, the women scheme to get Martha
Stewart (playing herself) to sample their cupcakes.

– “Warehouse 13,” 9 p.m., Syfy,
rerunning at 11. Laura Innes, of “ER” and “The Event,” guests
as the estranged mom of Steve Jinks. With his life and Claudia's life
in danger, he needs her help.

--”Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.m., CBS. In
a rerun, one team member is shot and two people are kidnapped.

TV column for Sunday, Sept.16

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

Floating into Sweden is a boat with two
dead drug-runners. The case soon bounces back to the Latvian capital
of Riga, where people call Kurt Wallander “colonel,” bug his room
and duck his questions.

This moves “Wallander” – rich in
Swedish mood and backdrops – to another country. It strips Kurt of
his context and most of his support, creating one of the best films
in a great series.

8-11 p.m., ABC.

This fall, “Revenge” has the
imposing duty of taking the “Desperate Housewives” spot on
Sundays. To prepare us, here are reruns of three key episodes.

First, the stylishly crafted pilot
film. We see an engagement party turned tragic; then we flash back to
the start: A girl saw her father framed and her family destroyed; now
she's a young beauty (Emily VanCamp) with a new identity and new
wealth, ready for vengeance.

At 9 p.m. is the engagement-party
episode. And at 10 is the season finale, with sudden tragedy.

Empire” season-opener, 9 p.m., HBO.

A New Year's Eve party welcomes 1923,
with mixed feelings.

In Washington, D.C., the Harding
administration shows early signs of corruption. In Atlantic City, a
Nucky Thompson is hiding his misdeeds and re-branding himself as a
philanthropist; that won't be easy, especially with the brutal Gyp
Rosetti new in town.

And in Chicago, Al Capone has a new
turf war and Nelson Van Alden, the former FBI agent, finds hard times
and a possible break. It's a busy (but well-crafted) return of a
terrific series.

Other choices include:

– “Broadway or Bust,” 8 p.m., PBS
(check local listings). Sabaa Sharma and Brittany Dankwa grew up in
opposite worlds – Sabaa in a family of doctors and engineers,
Brittany homeless for two of her high school years. Both share a
passion and talent for Broadway; now they're featured heavily in this
mid-section of a three-week series, which shows 60 talented teens,
learning and competing in New York.

– “The Simpsons,” 8 and 8:30
p.m., Fox. In the first rerun, Bart schemes to make summer vacation
last forever. In the second, a party for Ned and Edna causes people
to ponder the quirks of marriage.

– Football, 8:15 p.m., NBC. The San
Francisco 49ers (13-3 last season) host the Detroit Lions (10-6).
Both teams won last week's openers, but against opposite opponents:
The 49ers, on the road, upset the Packers (15-1 last season); the
Lions, at home, had a last-second win over the Rams (2-14).

– “Leverage,” 9 and 10 p.m., TNT.
Each week, this clever drama has scam artists trying to cheat the
cheaters. Now here are two new episodes, before its mid-season break:
In the first, the target is a terrorist; in the second, the team must
figure out who framed Sophie for art theft.

– “Hell on Wheels,” 9 p.m., AMC.
Doc Durant (Colm Meaney) bristles with confidence, as he bribed his
way to wealth. Now he's struggling to save his own life and to keep
his railroad alive.

– “Copper,” 10 p.m., BBC America.
A gang schemes to rob some of the richest families in New York.

– “Weeds,” 10 p.m., Showtime.
After an eight-year run, this comedy-drama-soap has its finale.

TV column for Saturday, Sept.15

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

Trying to keep its post-Olympics
momentum, NBC is starting its shows early. Now “SNL” begins,nine
days before the season officially starts.

Seth Macfarlane – writer-producer of
“Family Guy,” “The Cleveland Show”and the movie “Ted” –
hosts; Frank Ocean is music guest.


Two years ago, one of TV's great games
came when Notre Dame visited Michigan State. It was almost midnight
when MSU faked a tying field goal and scored a touchdown for an
overtime win.

Now – after Notre Dame's victory last
year – the teams (each 2-0) have a rematch at MSU. Kick-off is at
8:07 p.m., when viewers might already be watching Fox (second-ranked
Southern California at Stanford at 7:30) or cable. ESPN starts its
evening doubleheader at 6 p.m., ESPN2 at 7.

Whisperer” finale, 8 p.m., NatGeo Wild.

For eight seasons, Cesar Millan has had
non-violent relationships with strangers' dogs. Now, oddly, he's been
bit uring each of the show's final two episodes.

Last week's hour, rerunning at 9 p.m.,
brought a tiny bite from a Chihahua owned by Jillian Michaels. This
week, a bigger bite sends Millan to the hospital; he recovered and is
working on a new show.

Other choices include:

– “The Voice,” 8-11 p.m., NBC.
Tossing the last two “Saving Hope” episodes on the shelf, NBC
simply reruns the Monday and Tuesday rounds of “Voice” auditions.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, a chief petty officer with top clearance has been killed. When
the murder is linked to arms dealers, a security crisis looms.

– Movies, 8 p.m., cable. On the light
side is “Date Night” (2010, FX), an amiable mis-adventure with
Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Much heavier is “Casino: (1995, AMC),
Martin Scorsese's Mob classic. Somewhere in between is “Blind Side”
(2009, ABC Family), an uplifting story of caring and football.

– “ET,” 8:30-11 p.m., Ion. Here's
another chance to see one of the all-time great movies. Steven
Spielberg brought immense artistry to this tale of a lonely boy and a
stranded alien.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.
In a rerun, Jenna (Larisa Oleynik) needs help bringing a ransom to
free her fiance in North Korea. McGarrett is soon working with an old
military pilot (Jimmy Buffett.).

– “Doctor Who,” 9 p.m., BBC
America. Each week, this wonderfully clever show changes wildly. Last
week's season-opener (rerunning at 8) had dinosaurs on a space ship;
this one has the Doctor working as an Old West lawman.

– “Iyanla, Fix My Life” debut, 10
p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. Iyanla Vanzant, once a Winfrey favorite,
launches a show trying to remake people's lives. She starts with
Evelyn Lozada, known for her long relationship with basketball star
Antoine Walker and short marriage to football star Chad Johnson.

TV column for Friday, Sept. 14

p.m., Fox.

Even when it's No. 1, Fox remembers its
old habits – fantasy, fun and treating Friday like a real day.

This fall, Fridays will have “Touch”
and the final 13 episodes of the terrific “Fringe.” Before that,
Fox throws in what it calls a “bonus” episode of “Touch”

Martin (Kiefer Sutherland) finds that
his car has mysteriously stopped in the town where he got his start
as a reporter. Now he suspects that his old mentor is up to something

season-opener, 8 p.m., ABC.

Lori Greiner, the inventor sometimes
called “queen of QVC,” will join the panel for many of this
season's episodes, including this opener. It includes an update on
the eyeglass holder she invested in.

Other pitches involve a belt buckle
that holds beverages, a ticketless coat check and ideas related to
body massage and to bed bugs. One idea ends up with five panelists
linking to become investors.

p.m., Starz.

As this potent episode starts, Mayor
Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) is in control, rushing things before he
becomes crushed by guilt, hallucinations and a neurological disorder.

He's working with an out-of-state
contractor, even arresting his old cronies. He's backing Sajac, an
empty-suit candidate for governor, while his ex-aide (and Sajac's
ex-lover) backs the opposition.

Then things fall apart, with scenes of
immense impact. One involves the debate, another involves the
contractor … a third, involving a pothole, is Shakespearean in its

Other choices include:

– “Guys With Kids” and “Go On,”
8 and 8:30 p.m., NBC. The network has shifted its plans tonight, but
the idea – reruns of new comedies – remains. “Guys” has its
pilot film, with some big laughs near the end; “Go On” has its
second episode, with the group helping its therapist, who panics
during tests.

– “Close Encounters of the Third
Kind” (1977), 8 p.m., AMC. A truly great movie returns, blending
the passions of an outer-space alien tale with the stunning visual
sense of director Steven Spielberg.

– “Great Performances at the Met,”
9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Richard Wagner's “Ring Cycle”
ends with emotions that are … well, operatic. Siegfried and
Brunnhilde (Hunter Morris and Deborah Voigt) have the ring. Then
greedy humans intervene, setting up the title: “Twilight of the

– “Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. Here's a
rerun of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio's second episode as Nick's mom.
She has two fierce fight scenes – then leaves again.

– “Bones,” 9 p.m., Fox. Already a
suspect in two murders, Christopher Pelant seems linked to the
killing of Brennan's friend. Then this rerun has a twist:The evidence
point to Brennan herself.

--”CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, a successful businessman often returned to the Brooklyn
housing project where he grew up. Now he's apparently been killed

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Danny probes the death of a big-money investor. Also in this rerun,
Danny's brother Jamie had an undercover assignment that went bad.
Their dad (Tom Selleck), the police commissioner, has puts him under
house arrest, to protect him from a Mob hit.

TV column for Thursday, Sept. 13

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

Kathy Bates already has an Academy
Award, but now she's added A niche in awards history: She has two
Emmy nominations this year – one playing a woman (in “Harry's
Law”) and the other a man.

As Alan recovers from a mild heart
attack, his mind starts to toy with him. That includes a visit from
his brother's ghost (Bates), in a wildly funny rerun.

Talent” finale, 8-10 p.m., NBC.

America definitely has some odd talent.
The final six includes a dog act, a speed-painting team, a sand
painter and an earth harpist, plus comedian Tom Cotter and the
kid-dance troupe The Untouchables.

Tonight, one act wins $1 million.
First, there will be lots of performers, including Justin Bieber.

season-opener, 9 p.m., Fox.

Graduation can create some awkward
transitions, especially for a teen TV show.

Now Rachel is in New York, with a
teacher (Kate Hudson) who is cruel, smart, alcoholic and talented.
Kurt is trying community college, Finn is gone, the championship glee
club is wobbling.

So is “Glee,” for half of this
hour. Even a “Call Me Maybe” routine seems bland.

Then it all clicks. “Glee” bounces
beautifully between Rachel's audition in New York and a gifted
newcomer(Melissa Benoist) back in Ohio. It catches Kurt in two
brilliant scenes – with his dad (Mike O'Malley) and on the phone
with Rachel. It shows that it really might survive this awkward

Other choices include:

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Already a terrific show, “Big Bang” got even better when
Howard met Bernadette. Now they'll dominate the final two reruns,
before the new season. Tonight brings the bachelor party; as usually
happens on TV, it soon puts the marriage in jeopardy.

– “Grey's Anatomy,” 9 p.m., ABC.
In this rerun, the doctors face questions that seem vital: Many are
choosing their residencies, Mark is choosing between Lexie and Julia,
Ben is planning a surprise for a distracted Bailey. By next week's
season-finale, many will face a bigger, life-and-death crisis.

– “The Real Housewives of Miami”
season-opener, 9 p.m., Bravo. Only three of the show's previous women
– Lea Black, Adriana de Moura and Marysol Patton – return.
They're joined by a dentist, a “supermodel,” a lawyer-chef …
and by Lisa Hochstein, 29. She's been in Playboy three times and in
2009 married the plastic surgeon who's been called “the boob God of

– “Person of Interest,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun puts some extra focus on Finch. He's familiar with
the dark government plot that encases the current person-of-interest;
also, Reese learns more about him.

– “Extreme Chef” finale, 10 p.m.,
Food. In the jungles of Thailand, the final three chefs compete for
the $50,000 prize. They may have to catch their breath first:
They'll climb hundreds of steps, before preparing food in front of a
Buddhist temple.

– “Scandal,” 10:02 p.m., ABC. As
a reporter probes the past of a former presidential aide, flashbacks
begin. We see the angry primary campaign between the people who are
now president (Tony Goldwyn) and vice-president (Kate Burton). We see
how Olivia met him and how each of her staffers arrived.