TV column for Saturday, July 14

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Castle,” 10
p.m., ABC.

A treasure-hunter has been killed, in a
case that reflects a 1947 murder. Naturally, Castle figures the old
case must be solved first.

That triggers a flashback, with Castle
(Nathan Fillion) as a hard-boiled detective and Beckett (Stana Katic)
as a femme fatale. It's filmed sylishly by Chuck Bowman, who's been
directing TV for 34 years; his son, Rob, is a “Castle” producer
and directed the first “X-Files” movie.

Girl: McKenna Shoots For the Stars,” 8-10 p.m., NBC.

Hardly any dolls (Barbie excluded) get
their own movies. Still, the American Girl company has made five
previous ones, airing them on the old WB, on Disney and (for one) in
movie theaters.

Now the series moves to its first
broadcast network. Appropriately, it's NBC (the Olympics network),
for a story about a teen gymnast. Jade Pettyjohn, a relative
newcomer, stars; in support are former Olympian Cathy Rigby (as a
coach) and “Big Fat Greek Wedding” star Nia Vardalos.

10 p.m., HBO, and 11 p.m.,Comedy Central.

Lately, George Lopez has been a
situation-comedy actor, a talk-show host and even the host of a
summertime dating show. At the core, though, he's a stand-up; HBO has
his live special.

Afterward, switch to Comedy Central for
Matt Braunger. Much of this – including his pitch for “Lonelyman
Dinners” – is a moderately funny look at being socially awkward.
It ends with two true (and incredible) stories from his drinking
days; for a comedian, alcoholic excess can be productive.

Other choices include:

--”The Andy Griffith Show,” noon to
7 p.m., TV Land. The tribute to the late Griffith continues today and
from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. Also, tonight from 10 p.m. to midnight,
Nicktoons has four “SpongeBob SquarePants” episodes featuring the
late Ernest Borgnine as the voice of Mermaide Man.

– “Edward Scissorhands” (1990)
and “Alice in Wonderland” (2010), 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., ABC Family.
Here's a stylish double-feature from director Tim Burton, Johnny Depp
and composer Danny Elfman.

– “NYC 22,” 8 and 9 p.m., CBS.
Here are two new episodes, replacing the one that was scheduled. Both
center on Kenny and Ahmad; they search a block party for a rapist in
the first hour, then probe an Ivy League student who robbed his
mentor in the second. That first hour has Drena De Niro, daughter of
“NYC 22” producer Robert De Niro, as Irma, a Special Victims Unit

– “Mobbed,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox.
Tentatively scheduled are two new hours in which people use social
media to create “flash mobs” to surprise someone.

– “Merlin,” 9 and 10 p.m., BBC
America. Magic makes more mischief. In the first, a love potion could
disrupt the Camelot peace conference; in the second, Morgana is asked
to steal from the Camelot vault.

– “The Firm,” 10 p.m., NBC. This
should be a happy day for Mitch's little law office. His receptionist
(the talented Juliette Lewis) is marrying his brother (Callum Keith
Rennie), who's an ex-con and an investigator. Then a new enemy
disrupts things; also, the Patrick Walker case deepens.

– “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29
p.m., NBC. Melissa McCarthy hosts this rerun, with music by Lady
Antebellum – the country group whose booty-call anthem, “Need You
Now,” reached pop charts.

TV column for Friday, July 13

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Charlie and the
Chocolate Factory” (2005), 8:30-11 p.m., ABC Family.

The original “Willy Wonka and The
Chonka Factory” (1971) – rerunning at 6:30 p.m. – was a dandy
movie, with zest and wit and Gene Wilder. The remake is even better,
an all-time classic.

From the first moments, director Tim
Burton gave this kids'-story-for-grownups a magical feel. As usual,
he worked with two of Hollywood's best, composer Danny Elfman and
actor Johnny Depp.

p.m., Fox.

Earlier, we met Finn, a young lab
technician with a sharp mind and a juvenile-delinquent past. In this
rerun, Cam isn't happy he's dating her daughter.

That's on Brennan's first day back
after her baby's birth. An extreme couponer (really) has been killed.

shows, PBS (check local listings) and FX.

Born in Colombia and raised in Queens,
Leguizamo has become a deep and varied performer.

He can be silly, as the voice of Sid
the sloth in the fun “Ice Age” films. The second and third ones
(2006 and 2009) air tonight (opening night for the fourth in
theaters) at 8 and 10 p.m. on FX.

He can also be dead serious – or can
mix the two, in his acclaimed one-man Broadway shows. Now the third
one, “Ghetto Klown,” airs at 9 p.m. on PBS; it's part of the
Friday “PBS Summer Arts Festival” hosted by Anna Deveare Smith,
another master of one-person shows.

Other choices include:

– “House,” 8 p.m., Fox. Michael
B.Jordan (Vince in “Friday Night Lights”) guests in this rerun,
as a blind man struck by a serious illness, just before a marriage
proposal. Also, House's widowed mom (Diane Baker) returns with her
new boyfriend (Billy Connolly).

– “Whitney,” 8 p.m., NBC. A busy
rerun includes two (yes, two) marriage proposals, plus a
confrontation between Whitney and a stripper. Also, Lily and Neal
struggle with their new relationship as friends who aren't dating
each other. And Mark is surprised to be attracted to Roxanne.

– “Community,” 8:30 p.m., NBC.
Here's another rerun built around a proposal. Shirley's ex-husband
(Malcolm-Jamal Warner) wants to re-marry her. Britta and Annie
scramble with wedding plans.

– “CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. Two
deaths, seemingly unrelated, seem connected in this rerun.

– “Motives & Murders” and
“Evil, I,” 9 and 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery. Celebrating
(sort of) Friday the 13th, two specials ponder the mental state of
real-life killers.

– “Can You Survive a Horror Movie?”
9 p.m., Chiller. Until now, we didn't know the best place to hide
during a zombie attack. It's an airport, one expert says; entry
points are limited and there's a watch tower, plus lots of gas. (We'd
add that there's a good supply of pretzels and teeny pillows.) Such
advice, linked with lots of movie clips, provides the good part of
this Friday-the-13th special. The bad: The three
attractive actors are put through nasty – yet fairly uninteresting
– tortures.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. In
a rerun, Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) shoots an undercover cop who failed
to identify himself. Now an Internal Affairs review probes his
sometimes-intense state of mind.

TV column for Thursday, July 12

Theory,” 8 and 8:30, CBS

TV's best comedy offers a pair of
reruns. The first – Sheldon is invited to a party by his nemesis,
actor Wil Wheaton – is OK; the second one great.

In that one, Leonard continues to have
an active – maybe overactive – romantic life. He meets a hot
woman in the comic-book store, while continuing his long-distance
romance with Priya. Also, Sheldon tries to scare his friends, with
hilarous results.

9 p.m., CBS.

Four people from previous seasons will
be back, to be revealed tonight.

They'll join the usual outgoing types –
a bartender, a waitress, a model, a house-flipper, a rock bass
player, an unemployed guy who likes the beaches of Florida and a
woman who likes the California beaches and has a mobile spray-tanning

There's also a nurse, a chef, a
marketing consultant, an engineering student – and, for contrast,
Willie Hantz. He's a Texas tankerman who describes himself as
“serious, hostile and docile.”

p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Gill Sanderson writes five romance
novels a year for Harlequin and its British branch. Her heroines are
spunky and spirited; her heroes have taut torsos and good hearts.

And who is Gill? Actually, she's a
balding British pensioner named Roger. In this delightful film, we
meet him and Stephen Mazzonigro, who has posed for hundreds of
covers. We also follow the real-life romances of three fans of such
books, in England, India and Japan.

Center,” 10 p.m., NBC.

Last year, Ali Bakran was an
air-conditioner repairman. Now he's back in his homeland, as a
respected commander in the rebel forces; Richard Engel reports.

Also, Kate Snow reports on troubles
faced by people trying to leave the Church of Scientology, as Katie
Holmes is doing now. And Harry Smith has a report – fueled by the
Costa Concordia shipwreck – on cruise-ship patrons' shortage of
legal rights.

Other choices include:

– “Duets,” 8 p.m., ABC. Here's
the final chance for contestants to draw favor, before the winner is
announced next week. First, we hear the results of last week,
dropping one person. Then the three survivors do songs chosen by
their mentors. Afterward, viewers have the final say.

– “The Choice,” 8:58 p.m., Fox.
Here's a contrast: Women might date a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon
(Robert Nettles) or a football star (Ndamukong Suh) known for
penalties and a suspension. Others are Dean Cain, the former TV
Superman, and Tyler Beckford, a model, actor and frequent reality-TV

– “Anger Management. 9 and 9:30,
FX. First is a rerun of last week's episode, as Charlie (Charlie
Sheen) tries sleep-deprivation for his therapy group. Then a new
episode finds Kate (Selma Blair) – his own therapist and
sometimes-lover – stealing his patient.

– “Rookie Blue,” 10 p.m. ABC.
Parties and families cause problems tonight. Andy plans a
housewarming party, when her once-estranged mom shows up. She also
breaks into a teen party, where there's a stabbing – and a cop's
rebellious daughter is a potential witness.

– “Rock Center,” 10 p.m., Last
year, Ali Bakran was an air-conditioner repairman. Now he's back in
his homeland, as a respected commander in the rebel forces; Richard
Engel reports. Also, Kate Snow reports on troubles faced by people
trying to leave the Church of Scientology; Harry Smith has a report –
fueled by the Costa Concordia shipwreck – on cruise-ship patrons'
shortage of legal rights.

– “Backstory,” 10 p.m., GAC
(Great American Country). Kenny Chesney is a football fanatic who
re-shape his career with an athlete's intensity. The story is told
here by Chesney and friends.

– “Louie,” 10:30, FX. At a Miami
gig, Louie makes a friend and sees a world that's the opposite of his
solemn, New York life. It's an interesting and low-key episode.

TV column for Wednesday, July 11

Can Dance, 8-10 p.m., Fox.

After taking a 4th-of-July
break, this show is ready for its next phase, with 20 finalists.

It's a richly varied bunch. Often
dominated by contemporary and jazz dancers, the show includes three
people who's best style is ballet, three who prefer ballroom and –
in firsts for the show – a bellydancer and others specializing in
stepping, robotics and martial arts fusion.

Investigation,” 10 p.m., CBS.

After 11 seasons, “CSI” was losing
its male lead for the second time. It could have crumbled.

Instead, it crafted a fresh character:
D.B. Russell (Ted Danson) is the opposite of his quiet predecessors.
The son of hippies, he's a detective-novel buff who takes an organic
view of a crime scene.

In this rerun of his first episode, he
views a fierce scene, with stabbings and shootings on a tram.

p.m., TNT.

Spinning wildly in all directions,
“Dallas” has reached extreme in just six episodes. Now Bobby
Ewing is even angry at his sweet-spirited wife.

She asked her ex-husband to withhold
tankers, stopping (temporarily) J.R.'s plan to grab the oil under the
family ranch. Now John Ross (J.R.'s son), begs his mom to intervene.

And Bobby's sturdy son Christopher? He
raged at his ex-fiance (now back with John Ross) and at his estranged
wife – who struggles to make up for her schemes and deceptions.
There's more, in a show that's become wildly excessive … yet –
with pretty people in shaky situations – oddly watchable.

Other choices include:

– ESPY's preview (7 p.m. ET) and
awards (9-11 p.m. ET), ESPN. Here's the only award show to pit LeBron
James against Justin Verlander, the St. Louis Cardinals against the
New York Giants. It's odd, but it also aims for stars and fun;
comedian Rob Riggle hosts.

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. Norm
Macdonald is back for his third turn as Mike's strange brother Rusty.
In this rerun, he sends the Hecks an invitation to his wedding –
which will be in their home.

– “Modern Family,” 9 and 9:30
p.m., ABC. Both reruns, tentatively scheduled, eye family trips.
First, Jay takes Gloria and Manny to his class reunion; then he takes
everyone to Disneyland.

– “America's Got Talent,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. On Tuesday, a dozen acts performed and viewers voted. Now we
learn which four will be part of what will be the final 16.

– “Beverly Hills Nannies” debut,
9 p.m., ABC Family. A network that does wonderfully with scripted
shows veers into reality. Some of the men and women have done
child-care for the glamorous, working for Charlie Sheen, Kenny G,
Kyle Richards, Nick Cassavetes and more. Others are new: We meet a
Midwesterner who has just arrived and a Californian whose party
attitude may be wrong for the job.

– “Damages,” 9 p.m., DirecTV. The
final season begins, this time with Ryan Phillippe as the center of
an Internet controversy. The season pits Ellen (Rose Byrne) against
her former mentor (Glenn Close).

– “The Soul Man,” 10 p.m., TV
Land. Boyce (Cedric the Entertainer) wants to spend a quiet birthday
with his wife (Niecy Nash).Then their former neighbors intrude.

TV column for Tuesday, July 10

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: All-Star game, 7:30
p.m., Fox.

Tony La Russa has had plenty of time to
plan the National League line-up for this game, in Kansas City: He's
only the second retiree to manage an All-Star team.

He faces a tough time, because the
league lost two of last season's top three home run hitters to
free-agency: Prince Fielder now starts for the American League,
alongside three Yankees and three Rangers. Albert Pujols – a
seven-time National starter – wasn't even chosen as an American

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

Hiding from the feds seems splendid
when Neal does it. He and Mozzie are on an island that has no
extradition treaty. A crook protects him; a local beauty loves him.

The problem is an FBI man (Mekhi
Phifer) who will break rules to retrieve back . Peter, Neal's FBI
friend, tries to find him first, launching a two-parter that strains
logic, but is thoroughly entertaining.

p.m., ABC.

Previously, Terence Wrong skillfully
crafted documentary series at hospitals in Boston and Baltimore. Now
he moves to three New York medical centers, with fascinating people.

We see Marina Dedivanovic, an
attractive, Bronx-born emergency-room nurse, treat a patient who took
a pill and now has a relentless erection. Another case tests her
policy of not dating patients.

We meet Arundi Mahendran, from a Sri
Lankan-British family; she's a doctor who also rehearses classical
music in the hospital chapel. And we meet Mehmet Oz. He's known as a
TV talk-show host, but here's his real work, as a heart surgeon with
the world's best bedside manner.

Other choices include:

– “America's Got Talent,” 8-10
p.., NBC. Twelve more acts perform and viewers vote.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, the team tries to determine why a Navy officer was the target
of a professional killer. Also, Abby (Pauley Perrette) learns new
information about her family.

– “Destination Truth”
season-opener, 8 and 9 p.m., Syfy. Josh Gates chases more legends
worldwide. Tonight has the “Vietnam Bigfoot” and “Belize
Goblin” and a return to Romanian forests. Too much of this is
“trust me, I just felt something,” but Gates and Erin Ryder find
fun in their unusual locations.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun finds Callen and Sam marking their fifth anniversary
as NCIS partners, just as they tackle a tough undercover assignment.

– Trust Us With Your Life debut, 9
and 9:30 p.m., ABC. Guests – Serena Williams in one half-hour,
Kelly and Jack Osbourne in another – discuss their lives; at
various points, improvisational comics act that out. The result is
mixed; sometimes there are so many gimmicks that the comedy can't
build. Still, some moments are hilarious, especially when David
Armand mimes a song guests must guess.

– “Hardcore Pawn” season-opener,
9 p.m., TruTV. The final episode of last season (rerunning at 8:30)
showed Rich Pyle in an angry fight with his long-time boss, Les Gold.
Now Rich is back and suspect s someone is selling stolen goods.
That's encased by reruns, from 8-11 p.m.

– “Covert Affairs” season-opener,
10 p.m., USA. Things start with a fierce jolt. Then, in a fairly good
hour,– Annie (Piper Perabo) – newly aware that her CIA work is a
life-and-death business – finds herself with a new boss, a desert
adventure and a potential romance.