TV column for Sunday, Sept. 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Emmy Awards, 8-11
p.m., Fox.

With Jane Lynch (“Glee”) hosting
and Mark Burnett (“Survivor”) producing, we can expect this to be
fast and fun, including lots of short comedy bits. Even “in
memoriam” will be upbeat, Burnett says.

HBO has the newest drama challengers
(“Boardwalk Empire” and “Game of Thrones”) and many of the
top movies and mini-series (“Mildred Pierce,” “Too Big to
Fail,” “Cinema Verite”).

Meanwhile, this is the final chance for
“Friday Night Lights” and its two stars to get a well-deserved
Emmy; it's also the final chance for Steve Carell on “The Office.”
And it's a bigger chance for drama actors; Bryan Cranston isn't
eligible because “Breaking Bad” didn't fit this season's time
structure.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “The Good Wife,”
8 and 9 p.m., CBS.

At the Emmys, this has nine
nominations, including best drama series, best actress (Julianna
Margulies) and supporting actress (Archie Panjabi, who won last
year). Here, people can see their work.

The first rerun has Alicia (Margulies)
raging at Kalina for her one-night stand with Peter. The second, the
season-finale, sees them trying to set that aside so they can focus
on a murder case.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Breaking
Bad,” 10 p.m., AMC.

Battered and weary, Walt misses his
son's birthday. He leaves his wife on her own, with her strange
scheme for handling the money. And he leaves Jesse almost alone, with
the cartel.

Stick with this one. It starts slowly
and ends with a power punch.

ALSO SUNDAY:

– “Love Begins,” 1 and 9 p.m.,
Hallmark. Here are two chances to see this OK film about a quiet
cowboy (Wes Brown) and an overworked farm-owner (Julie Mond). This is
a prequel to the seven “Love Comes Softly” movies. You can catch
the final three of those at 3, 5 and 7 p.m.

– Emmy previews. The E channel does
this big, with a preview at 5 p.m. and Ryan Seacrest's red-carpet
show from 6-8 p.m. There's more, at 7: Fox is on the red carpet; the
TV Guide Network has a preview.

– “Kung Fu Panda” (2008), 6 p.m.,
and “Monsters vs. Aliens” (2009), 8 and 10 p.m. The kids aren't
planning on seeing the Emmys, so here are some animated movies.
“Monsters,” for instance, has enough witty moments to keep the
grown-upswatching.

– Football, 8:20 p.m., NBC. Michael
Vick has his first return to Atlanta, with the Eagles. They had a
10-6 record in the regular season last year and opened this year
31-13 over St. Louis. Atlanta had a 13-3 record (the NFC's best), but
lost this year's opener to the Bears, 30-12.

– “Masterpiece Mystery,” 9-10:30
p.m., PBS. Who knew that religious colleges were so deadly? As one
prepares to elect a leader, there' jealousy and murders. For
Inspector Lewis, not that big on higher education, it's a tough case.
This movie is fairly stagnant, then leaps into all-out melodrama.

– “CSI: Miami,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Horatio has finally captured the last of the prison escapees. Then a
plan crashes and he escapes anew, in this rerun, with a dangerous
plan.

TV column for Saturday, Sept. 17


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

Two stars showed their range in this
season-finale, rerunning here.

Justin Timberlake was the host, not the
music guest, but he still sang three times – once while encased in
a beer-bottle costume. Lady Gaga was the music guest, but she also
did well in comedy sketches.

It was a strong finish to a shaky
season. Next week, Alec Baldwin hosts the season-opener.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Rules of
Engagement,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS.

Next month, CBS will start putting new
episodes of this funny-enough show on Saturdays. It will be a welcome
addition to a weak night; here are two reruns, to get us in the mood.

In the first, Russell (David Spade)
thinks he's booked a cruise with “red hot ladies”; it's “red
hat ladies” over 50, In the second, he throws Timmy a citizenship
party to impress a woman; also, Jeff and Audrey learn their surrogate
might be having twins.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Love Begins,”
9-11 p.m., Hallmark; repeats Sunday.

Hallmark made seven movies, some of
then fairly good, from Janette Oke's frontier novels. You can them
today, starting with “Love Comes Softly” (2003) at 1 p.m.,
showing how Marty (Katherine Heigl) met Clark (Dale Midkiff); the
others are at 3, 5 and 7 p.m. today, then at 3, 5 and 7 p.m. Sunday.

Now Hallmark adds two movies – one
now, one Oct. 1 – that traces Clark's earlier life. We see him (Wes
Brown) as a quiet cowboy with the wrong companion; then he meet an
earnest woman (Julie Mond), farming with her little sister. There are
no surprises, just some slow and diligent drama.

Other choices include:

– Football, 8 p.m. ET, ABC. This is a
big one – top-rated Oklahoma visiting No. 5-rated Floriday State.
Also tonight: Ohio State at Miami (7:30 p.m., ESPN), Syracuse at
Southern Cal (8 p.m., FX).

– “Who Do You Think You Are,” 8
p.m., NBC. This show often has celebrities learn good things about
their ancestors. Not this time: Kim Cattrall (“Sex and the City”)
studies the grandfather who abandoned his wife and daughters
(including Cattrall's mom); she learns he had more troubles
afterward.

– “Cops,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., Fox.
First is a new episode, filled with chases. Then is a rerun of the
800th episode, which includes a call that a boa
constrictor is loose.

– “Defiance” (2008), 8-11 p.m.,
AMC. Edward Zwick – who has ranged from TV's “thirtysomething”
to the movie “Glory” – directed and co-wrote this true story of
Jewish brothers who led a resistance movement in the woods of
Belorussia, Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber star.

– “Criminal Minds,” 9 p.m., CBS.
In a reru, young lovers are on a cross-country killing spree. Also,
Prentiss (Paget Brewster) gets disturbing news about her former
Interpol boss.

– “Up All Night” and “Free
Agents,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC. For the third time this week, NBC
shows the pilot films of these two comedies. “Up All Night”
(Christina Applegate and Will Arnett coping with a new baby) does
have some good moments; “Free Agents” doesn't

 

– “Killer Instinct” debut, 9
p.m., Cloo. This channel (previously called Sleuth) has been offering
reruns of crime dramas. Now comes a slight change – a non-fiction
show, tracing cases that included former FBI profiler Mark Safarik.
This opener – a serial killer in Washington state – is fairly
interesting; an Oct. 1 episode (one murder, no body, a cunning
killer) is the opposite and more interesting.

 – “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. A murder probe requires Benson and Stabler to
go undercover at a swingers' club, in this rerun. Rose McGowan plays
the popular Cassandra Davina.

TV column for Friday, Sept. 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: ALMA Awards, 8
p.m., NBC.

This used to be a fast, fun two-hour
show, honoring Latino actors and musicians. Now it's squeezed into
one hour, making it even faster.

There will be music by Demi Lovato (who
switches some of her “Skyscraper” words to Spanish), Gloria
Estefan and Pitbul, plus starpower. Most crowded, perhaps, is the
category for best reality or variety personality: It includes
Christina Aguilera (of “The Voice”), dog whisperer Cesar Millan
and three unrelated Lopezes – George (who hosts this show with Eva
Longoria), Mario and Jennifer.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Happy
Endings,” 5-11 p.m., ABC Family.

This bright, broad comedy will be back
Sept. 28 on ABC. Here's a fresh chance to see the first season.

That starts, logically, with the pilot;
Alex flees her wedding, leaving Dave forlorn and their friends
confused. It ends with the season-finale, in which another bride
fears Alex is a jinx.

In between, however, the order is
juggled. The funny episode that aired second – Dave's bizarre,
young rebound-girlfriend – airs at 7 p.m.; the fourth – Penny
dates a guy names Hitler – is at 8:30.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “48 Hours,”
8 p.m., CBS.

Bullying can be brutal, says Dara
Genovese, 13. ““I'm trapped in a world of hate and backstabbing.”

Johnny Cagno, 14, echoes that: ”I was
very, very scared to go to school every day.”

Others have shared that fear, CBS says.
On a typical day, 160,000 stay home because of bullying; in recent
years, there have been more that 150 suicides.

Schools do nothing, says Cynthia Logan,
who lost a daughter. “They don't want this to be their problem.”
But CBS visited an exception – a Rhode Island middle school with an
anti-bullying program.

Other choices include:

– “Ringer” and “The Secret
Circle,” 8 and 9 p.m., CW. The CW started before its bigger
competitors; here's a second chance to see two of its pilots. Both
have talented stars from previous shows on CW or its predecessor –
Sarah Michelle Gellar of “Buffy,” then Britt Robertson of “Life
Unexpected.” The first show has stylish, film-noir visuals, but
puts an unlikable character in an unlikely situation; the second has
its merits for CW-genre fans.

– “Karaoke Battle USA,” 9 p.m.,
ABC. This has been a quick, end-of-summer competition, on six
Fridays. Tonight, we learn the male and female winners; each gets a
record release.

– “Fringe,” 9 p.m., Fox. In a
rerun of the season-finale, the alternate-world Walter has put our
world in jeopardy. The key to this is Peter – the son of the
alternate-Walter, but stolen and raised by the our-world Walter. Yes,
it's an odd story, but a good one.

– “CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. This is
a rerun of the season-finale. After almost dying, Mac obsesses on
solving his only unsettled case.

– “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.
The season ended powerfully with this episode. The police
commissioner (Tom Selleck) has his family proving the secret group
that may have killed his son.

TV column for Thursday, Sept. 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS.

Next week, “Big Bang” open its
season with two episodes. Here are terrific reruns to get us ready.

In the first, Howard finally tells his
mom he's marrying Bernadette – bringing an extreme response. In
the second, Bernadette gets her doctorate, leaving him as the only
one with a mere Master's.

Also in that 8:30 episode, Raj
overhears his sister's lovemaking with Leonard. He moves into
Sheldon's apartment, with aftershocks that set up next week's opener.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “The Secret
Circle” debut, 9 p.m., CW.

Brittany Robertson is the ideal CW
actress – talented, attractive and looking really young.

Robertson, 21, again plays a smart and
sensitive teen-ager, overwhelmed by a new situation. She's done it
beautifully in “Life Unexpected,” “Avalon High” and now as
Cassie in this series.

The hour starts spectacularly with her
mom's murder. Then Cassie moves to her old home town – where way
too many people seem to know some secret. A couple side characters
are overwrought, but Robertson brings a richly human depth.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Archer”
season-opener, 10:30 p.m., FX.

When we last saw Sterling Archer, his
Russian bride had been killed at the wedding. He seemed upset.

Apparently, he was. The season-opener
finds him missing for three months; his mom sends a former superspy
(voiced by Patrick Warburton of “Rules of Engagement”) to find
him.

The rest is a big adventure, with
exotic islands, shoot-outs, pirates and a plane crash. Animated shows
can do that easily; this one, starting a three-parter, skillfully
mixes humor and violence.

Other choices include:

– “Castle,” 3-11 p.m., TNT.
Here's a marathon of key episodes from this above-average series.
That includes Alyssa Milano's guest spot (4 p.m.), Castle being
arrested as a murder suspect (6) and two hours involving the search
for the long-ago killer of Beckett's mom (9 and 10 p.m.).

– “Wipeout,” 8-10 p.m., ABC. In
the season-finale, 12 couples will meet for the first time, then go
on a messy blind date, complete with obstacles and a $100,000 prize.

– “Vampire Diaries”
season-opener, 8 p.m., CW. As her 18th birthday nears,
Elena is searching (with Damon) for Stefan, who's searching (with
Klaus) for a werewolf. Also, Jeremy sees ghosts of his sister and his
former girlfriend.

– “The Mentalist,” 9 and 10 p.m.,
CBS. Leading into next week's season-opener, here are reruns of the
final hours from this year. Patrick Jane finally learns who has been
informing Red John, the serial killer who murdered Jane's wife. Then
comes a confrontation with Red John.

– “Grey's Anatomy,” 10 p.m., ABC.
This rerun of the season-finale has Owen finally choosing his chief
resident and Teddy making a surprising choice of her own. Christina
finds her relationship with Owen wobbling. And Meredith's cheating on
the clinical trial has caused huge problems.

– “It's Always Sunny in
Philadelphia” season-opener, 10 p.m., FX. This show sometimes
assumes sheer excess is automatically funny. It's not in this
episode, as Frank prepares to marry a prostitute.

TV column for Wednesday, Sept.14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “America's Got
Talent” finale, 8-10 p.m., NBC.

After getting huge ratings all summer,
this show tries to end big. It has guest performances across a great
age range – Tony Bennett, 85, Queen Latifah, 41 and last season's
runner-up, Jackie Evancho, 11.

Then we'll learn who wins the
million-dollar prize. It could be singer Landau Murphy, teen group
Poplyfe or one of two movement groups – Silhouettes and Team
iLuminate.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Survivor”
opener and “Big Brother” finale, 8 and 9:30 p.m., CBS.

“Survivor” has 16 newcomers –
ranging from an oil crewman, 19, to a rancher, 51 – ad two past
favorites. Ozzy Lusth, 30, was a runner-up in 2006, when he won
almost every physical challenge; Benjamin “Coach” Wade finished
fifth in 2009; he turns 40 on Monday and has been a composer,
conductor and soccer coach. Each did an all-star edition; now they'll
be on opposite teams.

Then “Big Brother” wraps up its
season and names the $500,000 winner.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Up All Night”
debut, 10 p.m., NBC.

For the first few minutes – as an
upscale husband and wife learn she's pregnant – this is fresh and
funny. After that, it settles for adequacy.

Yes, she (Christina Applegate) has a
needy boss (Maya Rudolph). Yes, he (Will Arnett) clings to bits of
his male ego, while watching the baby at home. And yes, neither one
gets much sleep. None of that, however, is terribly funny. “Night”
will have to improve when it moves to 8 p.m. next week.

Other choices include:

– “H8R” debut, 8 p.m., CW. Think
of this as historic: “H8R” may pass ABC's “Are You Hot”
(2003) as the worst broadcast-network show of the millennium. The
idea is to pair a celebrity with someone who hates him or her. In the
opener, neither Nicole Polizzi (Snooki on “Jersey Shore”) nor her
hater has anything interesting to say. Also, the camerawork is shaky.

– “The Middle,” 8 and 8:30 p.m.,
ABC. In the first rerun, Frankie has an awful time getting the kids
ready for the second day of school. In the second, Mike has an
extreme punishment for Axl.

– Melissa & Joey, 8 and 8:30
p.m., ABC Family. In the first episode of this kinda-fun comedy,
Melissa (Melissa Joan Hart) and Joey (Joey Lawrence) worry when her
daughter goes to a dance. In the second, he finally gets money from
his scandalized ex-employer; now he can leave his job as her nanny.

– “Modern Family,” 9 and 9:30
p.m., ABC. This remains Wednesday's best comedy. In tonight's first
rerun, the rush to Manny's graduation is complicated by everything
from a faulty gate to a bad Botox reaction. The second has touching
(and funny) moments, when Phil tries to impress an old nemesis.

– “America's Next Top Model”
season-opener, 9 p.m., CW. In a night of reality overkill, this show
launches its first edition to pit past contestants.

– “My Fake Fiance” (2009), 9-11
p.m. ABC Family. If you liked “Melissa & Joey,” you can stick
around for this movie. It has the same stars, the same adequate tone.

– “Free Agents” debut, 10:30
p.m., NBC. Alex (Hank Azaria) isn't taking his divorce well; he cries
after sex. Helen (Kathryn Hahn) isn't doing any better with her
fiance's death. Would there be humor in pairing these two sad sacks?
Maybe in the British version, but not in this one.