TV column for Thursday, March 7

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “American Idol,”
8 p.m., and “Glee,” 9:30-10:30 p.m., Fox.

The biggest week for Fox peaks here,
pushing the network's prime time a half-hour longer than usual.

That starts with “Idol” naming it
finalists, after its first two nights of live shows. Then “Glee”
has a key episode that includes its 500th musical number.

In the aftermath of the wedding of Will
and Emma, glee-clubbers are assigned to do their favorite songs from
movies. And in New York, Santana settles in quickly – too quickly,
Rachel and Kurt feel.

Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.

After pausing for reruns last week,
TV's best comedy is back to a new episode. Leonard, Sheldon and
Howard speak to junior-high girls, talking about careers in science.

Also, viewers can root for Raj. In real
life, Kunal Nayyar (who plays him) is married to a former Miss India;
on “Big Bang,” Raj is a shy chap who has started dating the
eccentric Lucy (Kate Micucci).



This was supposed to be when ABC had a
promising episode of “Zero Hour.” The network showed critics an
epic hour that leaped between two continents, two generations and
three stories … while finally telling what's in the box being
sought an/or protected.

The episode was large, confusing,
ambitious … and then pulled, without notice. Current plans, barring
another change, call for a “Shark Tank” rerun.

Other choices include:

– “Community,” 8 p.m., NBC. The
show's return from a long hiatus leaves us re-checking calendars.
During Valentine week, “Community” ran its Halloween episode.Now
it's Thanksgiving; Jeff visits his estranged father (James Brolin)
and the others go to Shirley's house.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 8:31
p.m., CBS. After claiming he wants Alan to move out, Walden gets his
wish: They have a fight and Alan moves in with Herb, the guy who
married his ex-wife.

– “Grey's Anatomy,” 9 p.m., ABC.
In a rerun, the survivors of the plane crash get news about their law
suit. Also, Richard ducks romantic advances from Catherine.

– “Battleground: Rhino Wars”
debut, 9 p.m., Animal Planet. These days, every cable network wishes
its non-fiction shows could be action adventures. This takes it to an
extreme: Four former Special Forces soldiers head to South Africa, to
train people who battle rhinosaurus poachers.

– “Freakshow” debut, 9:30 p.m.,
AMC. This reality show visits sideshow-type people in Venice Beach,
Cal. It gets a logical spot after a “Walking Dead” rerun (8 p.m.)
and “Comic Book Men” (9).

– “The Ben Show,” 10 p.m., Comedy
Central. The reality-type bits – Ben Hoffman assembles strangers
into a rock band – are OK; the short mini-sketches vary immensely.
Some are loud and sophomoric; others – including a football
coach's rambling, racist talk – are extremely funny.

– “Scandal,” 10:02 p.m., ABC.
This reruns the episode in which David learned the truth of the
Cytron scandal, putting pressure on the conspirators – including
the First Lady, the chief of staff and Olivia.

TV column for Wednesday, March 6

Investigation,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Here's a rerun of the season-opener,
which quickly made things personal for D.B. Russell (Ted Danson): His
granddaughter had been kidnapped.

That brings back Peri Gilpin
(“Frasier”) as his wife. Enrique Murciano plays a detective.

p.m., USA.

Online dating, it seems, can be
perilous and humorous.

Tonight, Gus seems to find a perfect
woman (Parminder Nagra) and Juliet finds lots of guys. This promptly
upsets her boyfriend Shawn.

Then again, lots of things upset Shawn,
now that he's living with both his estranged parents (Corbin Bernsen
and Cybill Shepherd). The result is fairly fun, in a loose, loopy way

evening, Turner Classic Movies.

Fame came by accident, Novak tells
Robert Osborne here. She was a model who visited a movie studio and
was suddenly given a screen test and (soon) starring roles. She could
have been overwhelmed, but her childhood – bi-polar father,
perplexed mother – somehow prepared her for it.

The interview with Novak, 80, airs at 8
and 11 p.m., sandwiching her comedy “Bell, Book and Candle”
(1958) at 9. Then come three of her dramas – “Picnic” (1955) at
midnight, “The Man With the Golden Arm” at 2 a.m. and “Of Human
Bondage” (1964) at 4:15 a.m.

Other choices include:

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a
rerun, Sue tries to get her brothers involved with their parents'
20th anniversary party. That won't be easy; Brick is
fuming, because Axl cruelly revealed a book's ending.

– “The Neighbors,” 8:30 p.m.,
ABC. Amber won't let her dad teach her to drive – then gets a
bizarre teacher (Sandra Bernhard). The neighbors feel driving must be
easy; after all, they piloted a space ship.

– “Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.
In a rerun, Jay plans a New Year's Eve vacation in Palm Springs for
the grown-ups. His enthusiasm sags when it turns out to be an awful
hotel, then revives when he meets Billy Dee Williams. Back home,
Haley and Alex have a tough time watching the kids.

– “Robin Hood” (2010), 9 p.m. to
midnight, Ion. After triumphing with“Gladiator,” director Ridley
Scott and Russell Crowe keep re-teaming. Here's their fifth film;
Cate Blanchett plays Maid Marion.

– “Haunted Collector”
season-opener, 9 p.m., Syfy. John Zaff, who has a paranormal museum,
investigates reports of a haunted horse farm in Montgomery, NY, and a
haunted club in Niagara Falls. His approach is calm, but “Collector:
still requires us to take people's word for everything.

– “Prospectors” debut, 9 p.m.,
Weather Channel. This reality show follows people searching for
quartz and other minerals. The prospectors – including a young
widow with seven kids – are fairly interesting.

--”Suburgatory,” 9:31 p.m., ABC.
Here's an episode focusing on Rex Lee, the former “Entourage”
co-star. He's Mr. Wolfe, the guidance counselor, despondent since his
break-up with Chef Alan.

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. This reruns the October episode that
introduced Raul Esparza as the Manhattan district attorney. Anna
Chlumsky, the former child star of the “My Girl” movies, plays
the author of a sado-masochistic novel; after a show, she's attacked
by the TV host.

TV column for Tuesday, March 5

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “American Idol,”
8-10 p.m., Fox.

This is the week when “Idol” tries
to regain its spot as master of the TV universe. It borrows a third
night, giving the Tuesday comedies the night off.

The top 10 men sing tonight, with the
10 women Wednesday. On Thursday, we'll have the finalists.

p.m., NBC

As the two musicals nudge forward,
there are doubts everywhere.

“Hit List” has its first reading
and its young writers (Jeremy Jordan and Andy Mientus) have lost
their confidence. Meanwhile, Tom is suspicious of the writer (Daniel
Sunjata of “Rescue Me”) who is working with Julia on the
“Bombshell” rewrites.

There's more, including Ivy's doubts
about her co-star (Sean Hayes). Maybe Broadway is just difficult.

Detectives” and “The Car Chasers,” 9 and 10 p.m., CNBC.

Here's a key change for this financial
channel, introducing its first two reality series.

The second one is fairly appealing, as
an amiable Texan tries to buy classic cars, fix them up and sell them
at an auction. Problems range from a tough negotiator (who happens to
be his father) to a dent that suddenly appears after shipping.

And the first one? There's a reason few
action-adventure movies are made about art authenticators. There's
not much that can be done to make paint-probing or handwriting
analysis interesting.

Other choices include:

--”History of the Eagles,” 6:55-10
p.m., Showtime. Earlier, this documentary ran in two parts. Now
here's the whole thing – the history of the California pop-rock
group – in one gulp.

– “Celebrity Wife Swap,” 8 p.m.,
ABC. All music-star homes don't have the same parenting approach, it
seems. Coolio's girlfriend Mimi raises three kids on her own, while
working as a bartender and exotic dancer; she's startled to see that
Mark McGrath's wife Carin has a nanny, a maid and her live-in
parents, all to care for 2-year-old twins. Meanwhile, Carin is
startled by Coolio's non-involvement.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Sometimes,
it helps to know the right people. A man worries that his son might
have been involved in a high-profile killing. Fortunately, he's
Gibbs' barber and can ask for help.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Sam (LL Cool ) worries about the safety of his wife (Aunjanue
Ellis of “The Mentalist”) when she's asked to resume an old
undercover identity.

– “Golden Boy,” 10 p.m.,CBS.
Here's the second of two Tuesday airings, before “Golden Boy”
moves to Fridays. Tonight, Detective Clark's promising career is
endangered by a tape Arroyo has.

– “Body of Proof,” 10 p.m., ABC.
Tim DeKay competes with himself tonight. While he's playing a
good-guy FBI agent in “White Collar,” he plays a menacing father
in this show, talking about the Devil's retribution. One daughter has
been killed; now her mother fears for the other.

– “White Collar” season-finale,
10 p.m., USA. Neal (Matt Bomer) has been trying to prove that his
long-lost dad (Treat Williams) wasn't a dirty cop. Tonight, at the
top of the Empire State Building, he seeks crucial information.

– “Our America,” 10 p.m., Oprah
Winfrey Network. Lisa Ling looks at three America families that
practice variations on bigamy.

TV column for Monday, March 4

p.m., TNT.

A week from now, this show has the
funeral of one of TV's great characters.

Over 15-plus seasons of the old and new
show, J.R. Ewing (perfectly played by the late Larry Hagman) lied,
schemed and cheated. Long before Tony Soprano, he taught us to like a

Now we can catch up. The season's first
six episodes rerun at; this seventh one has J.R. and
Bobby link to fight the takeover of Ewing Energies. Also, their sons
have a high-stakes car race.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “The Bachelor,”
8-10:01 pm., ABC.

Next week, we learn Sean Lowe's choice.
It could be Catherine Giudici, a graphic designer from Seattle, or
Lindsay Yenter, a substitute teacher (and general's daughter) from
Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

First, the others get their say. In
this “women tell all” episode, they comment on Lowe and each

Birth,” 8 p.m., ABC Family.

From the beginning, “Switched” has
been a fairly sharp, smart drama. Now it's also a pioneer: With two
exceptions – a short opening scene and a final sentence – it's in
sign language and sub-titles.

The school board has decided to close
Carlton, pushing its deaf students into mainstream schools. It even
offers the counselor (Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin) a job if she'll
hush the resistance.

Then there's talk of a mass protest.
This episode requires forgiving some logic – why would keys be in a
coat pocket, not a purse? – but it's worth it. The story, which
continues next week, stirs emotion.

Other choices include:

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Barney's pre-nuptial agreement brings a flood
of fresh pre-nups by his friends.

– “Rules of Engagement, 8:30 p.m.,
CBS. Now that they're about to be parents (via surrogate), Jeff and
Audrey try to hard to prove they're young. Also, Timmy tricks Russell
into going to a nursing home.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 9 p.m., CBS.
In this rerun, a new credit card arrives, unannounced. Naturally, Max
and Caroline have opposite notions of what to do with it.

– “The Following,” 9 p.m., Fox.
Somehow, Joe Carroll convinces people that he should switch prisons.
Meanwhile, the kidnappers meet one of Roderick's men, who has a

– “A Lot Like Love” (2005), 9
p.m., ABC Family. Two pretty people meet by accident and then keep
not-meeting by accident. Yes, this is a terribly contrived romantic
comedy; still, it's kept afloat by the easy appeal of Ashton Kutcher
and Amanda Peet.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.m., CBS.
This rerun focuses on Chin, played by Daniel Dae Kim of “Lost.”
He's been kidnapped and dropped into a prison; now he has to fight
his way out. In the backdrop are seven unreleased songs by Jimi
Hendrix; they're in an album that will be released Tuesday.

– “Monday Mornings,” 10 p.m.,
TNT. There are troubles everywhere. Hooten (Alfred Molina) fears that
his mentor may have lost his cognitive ability; Lieberman (Jonathan
Silverman) and Sydney (Sarayu Rao) have tried some romance, but she
has doubts about his medical talent.

– “Castle,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. In
this rerun, Beckett is probing a ritualistic murder when she spots
links that make Castle a suspect. She soon wonders how well she knows

TV column for Sunday, March 3

debut, 9-11 p.m., ABC.

Marta (Rahda Mitchell), a mother of
three, blends into upscale suburbia. No one would guess her father is
a Russian gangster, her brother is corrupt and her husband ships

Then – suddenly and violently –
she's immersed in it all. “Red Widow” is smartly crafted by
Melissa Rosenberg, who wrote the “Twilight” films. Mitchell leads
a terrific cast, with Goran Visnjic (“E.R.”) as the unflinching
crime boss.

debut, 10 p.m., History.

The people who made the lush “Tudors”
are back, this time with a grittier, grimier setting.

In the 8th century, a Norse
chieftain (Gabriel Byrne) send his ships to plunder impoverished
countries to the east. Now a rebel (Travis Fimmel) hears tales of
riches to the west.

It's tough to sympathize with people
whose goal is to pillage, but this nine-week series succeeds.
Against gorgeous, natural backrops, we see strong (and, often,
likable) characters.

Apprentice” opener, 9-11 p.m., NBC.

This one is billed as “All-Star
Celebrity Apprentice” – even though some of its people are
neither stars nor celebrities. Still, it's a colorful bunch that even
has Omarosa and Gary Busey.

She's still mean, he's still vague, but
it's Trace Adkins who reveals the show's flaw: The winner is simply
whoever has the most rich friends donate money. Adkins doesn't even
bother to open his restaurant to the public; he calls it a private
event and waits for the big checks to arrive.

Other choices include:

– “Once Upon a Time,” 8 p.m.,
ABC. Ginnifer Goodwin has the focus in both worlds. In our world,
she's Mary Margaret, scrambling to keep the dagger away from Regina;
in fairytale land, she's Snow White, given an unconventional spell
that could save her dying mother, Queen Eva.

– “The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox. We
learn that Grampa was once Gorgeous Godfrey, a villainous wrestler.
Naturally, Bart wants to emulate him.

– “The Bible” debut, 8-10 p.m.,
History. Thing start on the ark, where Noah briefly recalls the
events – Adam, Eve, serpent, etc. – that preceded him. Then we
race ahead, wrapping up tonight with Joshua at the edge of Jericho.
This will continue for four more weeks, concluding on Easter Sunday.
It's steeply ambitious, but many of the stories don't translate well
in cold, naturalistic terms.

– “Annie Hall” (1977), 8-10 p.m.
ET, Turner Classic Movies. Here's a true classic, listed by the
American Film Institute as the fourth-best comedy ever. Woody Allen
won Academy Awards as director and co-writer; there were also Oscars
for Diane Keaton and – rare for a comedy – best picture

-- "Great Performances," 9 p.m., KNPB. From a fishing village in Italy, Andrea Bocelli sings love songs. He's joined by music director David Foster, trumpeter Chris Botti ans more.

– “The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS.
Eli is battling the government in two courtrooms, with the help of
his eccentric attorney Elsbeth. That leaves Jordan (T.R. Knight) to
prep Peter for a debate. Meanwhile, things are still evolving in
Alicia's new role as a partner in the law firm.

– “The Walking Dead,” 9 p.m.,
AMC. Remember when Rick only had to worry about hordes of zombies?
Now that he's also fighting the government, he schemes to get more

– “The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS.
The body of an elderly heiress is found in the living room of her
spooky mansion.