TV column for Thursday, July 5

Theory,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS.

Here's a double helping of TV's best
comedy, with the second rerun adding a terrific guest star.

In the first, Penny and Sheldon are
feuding. Amy – who wants to remain Penny's friend and Sheldon's
girlfriend – is caught in the middle. Also, Leonard tries to spice
his video romance with Priya.

In the second, Penny links Raj – too
shy to talk to women – with a deaf beauty. She's played by Katie
Leclerc, who is moderately hard of hearing and is superb as a deaf
teen on “Switched at Birth.”

p.m., ABC.

Last week's “geeks vs. hotties”
season-opener seemed terribly contrived. This week at least has some
real athletes, in an all-military competition.

Contestants range from a private to a
lieutenant commander. They include a photographer, a recruiter, a
dental hygienist, an ammunition guy and more. They probably long for
a standard, boot-camp obstacle course … one that doesn't have a
“killer bee” emerging to knock them in the mud.

PBS (check local listings).

“What do you lose,” Ian Cheney
asks, “when you lose the night?”

He grew up outside a Maine town of
5,000, under a star-filled sky; now he's in New York City, where the
stars seem to be gone. His film views the harmful effects of too much
light. It also views people who retreat to the dark – including a
makeshift town (in the Arizona desert) for sky photographers.

10:30 p.m., FX.

Distinctive and eccentric, “Louie”
varies wildly with each story. That's especially true tonight.

One story, with Louis C.K.'s daughter
telling jokes, is charming. The other finds him inadvertently dating
someone played by Oscar-winner Melissa Leo; it's rude and crude,
with some adult appeal.

Other choices include:

– “Duets,” 8 p.m., ABC. Here's a
dizzying bit of time travel: Last week, contestants sang recent hits;
this week they try “music's golden age,” in the 1940s or so.
First, we learn who got the fewest votes last week, trimming the
field to four.

– “Saving Hope,” 9 p.m., NBC.
Alex tries to prove she can still be chief surgical resident, despite
personal tragedy. (Her fiance remains in a coma, his spirit walking
the hospital corridors and talking to others who are dead or
near-death.) She tackles the re-plantation of two hands.

– “Anger Management,” 9:30 p.m.,
FX. The last thing we want to do is imagine Charlie Sheen being even
less inhibited. Still, this episode has a therapist (Sheen) putting
his patients through 36 hours of sleep deprivation, to shed
inhibitions. That follows a 9 p.m. rerun of the so-so episode in
which he met a woman he had slept with in his baseball days.

– “Rookie Blue,” 10 p.m., ABC.
When this well-made show started, we met Andy's dad, a troubled
ex-cop. Now we meet the mom who left them15 years ago; she's a social
worker played by Barbara Williams, a busy Canadian actress who was
the vice-president in “FlashForward.”

– “The Mentalist,”10p.m., CBS.
Catherine Dent (“The Shield”) returns as FBI agent Susan Garcy.
Patrick Jane reluctantly works with her, suspecting she has an
ulterior motive.

– “Wilfred,” 10 p.m., FX. In a
fairly good episode, Wilfred (we see him as a guy in a tacky dog
suit) goes to Ryan's office, with good and bad results.

TV column for Wednesday, July 4

Fourth,” 8 p.m., PBS, re-running (check local listings) at 9:30.

Stuffed with starpower, this has lots
of people with TV fame. There's this year's “American Idol”
winner (Phillip Phillips), last year's “Voice” winner (Javier
Colon) and big-voiced people from “Smash” (Megan Hilty) and
“Glee” (Amber Riley).

There's more, with country star Josh
Turner and Broadway's Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara. The show
has a new host Tom Bergeron, but returns a familiar face: John
Williams, 80, conduct his Olympic fanfare, in a tribute that has
tenor Russell Watson and Olympians, including Apollo Ohno.

July music, 9 p.m., NBC; 10 p.m., CBS.

You can cruise between two cities here.
Each has 20-plus minutes of fireworks – as does PBS.

On NBC, the city is New York, with a
famous New Yorker (Regis Philbin, 80) as host; the music is from Katy
Perry and Kenny Chesney. On CBS, it's Boston, with Keith Lockhart
conducting the Boston Pops along the Charles River Esplanade; Michael
Chiklis hosts and Jennifer Hudson sings.

8-10 p.m., Fox.

The networks aren't tossing any new
reality shows into the mix tonight. “So You Think You Can Dance”
gets the week off and the season's best new show has four reruns.

Each focuses on Jess' dating
adventures. The first, played by Justin Long, is invited to
Thanksgiving dinner. The second is played by Ryan Kwanten (“True
Blood”); Jess wants a no-attachment fling on Valentine's Day. The
next two involve her fling with an older guy, played by Dermot

Other choices include:


– “Dallas,” 5-10 p.m., TNT. As
first, TNT had planned to give the show a week off, simply rerunning
the previous ones. Now the reruns begin at 5 p.m., leaving room for a
new episode at 9; it's a messy one that starts with a punch to the
jaw and ends with pretty much everyone mad at everyone else.

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC.
After all those years of bad luck and disrespect, Frankie (Patricia
Heaton) finally reaches a breaking point in this rerun. She goes home
to her mother (Marsha Mason).

– “Up All Night,” 8:30 p.m., NBC.
Chris and Reagan try way too hard to befriend a hip couple.

– “Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.
The first rerun has Manny's dad (Benjamin Bratt) pay an unexpected
visit. The second has Claire and Jay becoming way too involved in a
school “egg-drop” project.

– “America's Lost Treasures”
debut, 9 p.m., National Geographic. Each week, some likable experts
converge on a city, looking for items tied to history. In Austin,
they find lots of Texas flavor, from the saddle of a rodeo star to
the pistol of a famed Texas Ranger – as verified by his former
colleague, age 99. There's even a fiddle, reportedly played prior to
executions. There's a catch, though: From all of this, only one item
will be shown at a museum exhibit, making it all seem anti-climactic.

– “Futurama,” 10 p.m., Comedy
Central. After two reruns – Bender in witness protection, Leela
managing a presidential campaign – we get a new episode, with
Bender as a paparazzo.

– “Final Witness,” 10:02 p.m.,
ABC. Zack Bowen was a popular bartender and musician in New Orleans'
French Quarter, troubled by his military past in Iraq and Kosovo;
Addie Hall was a poet and dance teacher, with her own troubled past.
Their romance deteriorated after Hurricane Katrina; the story is told
here by friends, Zack's mom, Addie's boss and more.

TV column for Tuesday, July 3

Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS.

When this series started three years
ago, it gave Chris O'Donnell a neatly vague character.

Callen had been plunked into an
orphanage and then foster homes. He never had a birthday party and
doesn't know when his birthday is; he doesn't know his first name,
except that it stars with a “G.”

This rerun of the season-opener shed
some light. Trying to rescue Hetty, Callen recognize Romania from his
childhood. There's danger ahead, with a family history that's much
deeper than he'd imagined.

Wind (1939), 8 p.m. to midnight, Turner Classic Movies.

When this channel says “classic,”
it means it. “Wind” still works after 73 years, because it
combines intimate character drama with sprawling visuals.

This result won eight Academy Awards,
including best picture, plus two more technical or honorary Oscars.
Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel won for best actress and supporting
actress; Olivia de Havilland was another supporting-actress nominee
and Clark Gable was nominated for best actor.

England,” 8-10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Kibworth might not seem like a place
for TV crews to converge. Its two villages (split by a major road)
total 6,000 people in the east midlands, about 100 miles from London.

But the entire area was bought in 1274
by the founder of Merton College in Oxford. That's why the college
has seven centuries of information on the area, from a butcher's
letter in 1447 to a complete list of 23 pubs and inns. The history
ranges from mass tragedy – the black plague killed two-thirds of
the Kibworth people – to individual crises. In this series
(continuing on two more Wednesdays), historian Michael Wood weaves
between local and national events.

Other choices include:

– “NCIS, 8 p.m., CBS. A homecoming
party was planned for a young Marine. He arrived, however, with a
fatal stab wound; now the team investigates.

– “MasterChef,” 9 p.m., Fox.
Contestants keep facing the challenge of a “mystery box” of
ingredients. Now Graham Elliot tackles the same task. Of course,
he'll still have his job as judge; two of the 11 contestants will be
going home.

– “America's Got Talent,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. The results show will usually be on Wednesdays, but things were
nudged ahead one day to avoid the 4th of July. Tonight,
four of Monday's 12 acts will advance.

– “Rizzoli & Isles,” 9 p.m.,
TNT. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander), the medical examiner, has always
had lots of odd information; one thing she hasn't known, however, is
who her biological mother is. Now we meet her: As played by Sharon
Lawrence (“NYPD Blue”), she's a doctor with lots of spare

– “Franklin & Bash,” 10 p.m.,
TNT. Sometimes bright and fun, this lawyer show often tries too hard,
turning goofy. That's what happened here: One case involves a judge
accused of soiling his record by an affair with a lawyer; the other
has a guy trying to prove he's gay. Both are badly strained.

– “Retired at 35,” 10 p.m., TV
Land. In last week's season-opener, David's parents (George Segal and
Jessica Walter) got back together and his sister Amy (now played by
Marissa Jaret Winokur) visited. Now things get tough: David and Amy
try living together; their parents try a therapist (Robin Givens).

TV column for Monday, July 2

Bachelorette, 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

The best parts of this show(and “The
Bachelor”) sometimes come during hometown visits.

For Emily Maynard, that means sampling
other cultures. In Chicago, Chris takes her to a Polish restaurant;
in Arizona, she's unhappy when Arie's family talks in Dutch, in front
of her.

She also catches Jeff's Utah ranch –
with his sisters, who disapproved of previous girlfriends – and
Sean's Dallas home. One man will be eliminated; three reach next
week's overnight-stay possibility.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: Swimming (8 p.m.)
and “America's Got Talent” (8:30-11 p.m.), NBC.

If 10 days of the U.S. Olympic trials
just weren't enough for you, here's a tad more. There are reruns from
3-8 p.m. on cable's NBC Sports Network, followed by two last swimming
events – the women's 50-meter and men's 1500-meter – on the big

That leads to “Talent,” which moves
things up a day. Tonight, twelve acts perform and viewers vote.

Abramovic: The Artist is Present,” 9-11 p.m., HBO.

Abramovic nudges the definition of art.
She drove a car in an oval for 16 hours, shouting numbers. She lay
naked under a skeleton. She and her boyfriend Ulay kept walking naked
into each other. She and Ulay stared at each other naked, with just
enough room for artgoers to squeeze past them.

Yes, some work has a nudity theme. Some
doesn't: She and Ulay started on opposite ends of the Wall of China,
1,500 miles apart, walked to the middle, shook hands – then broke
up after 12 years.

This elegant documentary includes some
biography: Abramovic, 65, says she received no warmth from her
parents (both heroes of the Yugoslavian revolution), but much from
her grandmother.

It also offers her 2010 show: She sat
unflinching, for seven-and-a-half hours a day, as patrons eyed her.
One moment, with Ulay in the opposite chair, is stunningly beautiful.

Other choices include:

– “2 Broke Girls,” 8:30 p.m.,
CBS. In a funny rerun, the women are house-cleaners for a hoarder.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Walden is starting to realize he'll never get back with his
wife. He looks for someone new, while Alan tries to get back with

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.m., CBS.
This rerun brings Terry O'Quinn back as Lt. Commander Joe White. He
has doubts that a SEAL committed suicide; soon, Max (Masi Oka) is
re-doing the autopsy.

– “Miss Advised,” 10 p.m., Bravo.
People go against type tonight: Amy Laurent, the matchmaker, lets
someone set her up. Julia Allison, the dating columnist, gets a
dating coach. Emily Morse – who has a sex-talk radio show, returns
home to suburban Detroit and dates the guy she liked in 5th

– “Push Girls,” 10 p.m.,
Sundance. These dynamic women, confined to wheelchairs, disagree on
stem-cell surgery. Auti Angel opposes it; Chelsie Hill desperately
wants any solution. Angela Rockwood has used it for modest
improvements. Mia Schaikewitz insists she's happy as-is – until a
key moment is set up by a question: If she's happy, why did she quit
her passion (swimming), 17 years ago?

– “Web Therapy” season-opener, 11
p.m., Showtime. Meryl Streep tackles improvisational comedy as a
“conversion” specialist for the gay husband of Fiona (Lisa

TV column for Sunday, July 1

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

“Mystery” fans may have assumed
Inspector Morse was born old. As played by John Thaw in 33 films, he
had prematurely white hair, a luxury car, an Oxford police job and a
grasp of classic literature and classical music; only near the end
did anyone learn his first name, Endeavour.

This prequel shows him as a young cop,
sent to Oxford on a missing-girl case. The result is beautifully
filmed, smartly written and perfectly cast. Shaun Evans is an
excellent Endeavour Morse; Abigail Thaw, whose late father was the
original Morse, has one scene as a newspaper editor.

trials, 7-11 p.m., NBC.

The 10-day trials wrap up with finals

The first hour has track, with the
men's 200-meter sprint and the the men's and women's 400-meter
hurdles and 1500-meter run. Then are swimmers at 8 p.m., women
gymnasts from 9-11 p.m.

Newsroom,” 10 p.m., HBO

After the show's triumphant debut,
producer-writer Aaron Sorkin tops himself with more blisteringly
brilliant dialog, beautifully handled by a gifted cast.

Last week, a cranky anchorman (Jeff
Daniels), working with a makeshift staff, scored with coverage of the
Louisiana oil spill. Now he tries to adjust to having his ex-lover
(Emily Mortimer) as producer. Both have strong moments and Alison
Pill is wonderful as the intern-turned-assistant.

Other choices include:

– “Leverage,” 4 p.m. to 3 a.m.,
Ion. With clever scams and gifted actors, this has become a
first-rate series. The new season starts July 15 on TNT; first, Ion
has marathons today and next Sunday.

– “Queen & Country” opener, 8
p.m., PBS (check local listings). At times, this stagnant hour seems
as old as Elizabeth II, the 86-year-old queen. Still, it does have
insights, especially into the diligence and memory of a queen who
devours documents before any meeting with the prime minister.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 8 p.m., CBS.
In a rerun of the season's second episode, the new governor adds
someone to the team. She's played by Lauren German, the likable star
of ABC's “Happy Town.”

– “The Good Wife,: 9 p.m., CBS. A
sharp lawyer (Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham) accuses the firm of
encouraging a couple's break-up.

– “True Blood,” 9 p.m., HBO.
Sookie is feeling really down, after rejecting two boyfriends and
turning her best friend Tara into a vampire. She does finds some joy
late in this hour, which has potent scenes – a dream-like party …
Tara's first big blood feast … and the Vampire Authority finding
its traitor.

– “Forensics Firsts,” 9 p.m.,
Smithsonian. Previous hours have deeply detailed the crime-solving
history of fingerprints and DNA. This one views the study of skeletal

– “Weeds” season-opener, 10 p.m.,
Showtime. At the end of last season, someone was shot; now we learn
whom. As hospital-deathbed episodes go, this has surprising bursts of

– “Episodes,” 10:30 p.m.,
Showtime. As the first season ended, Matt LeBlanc (playing himself)
shattered his show's husband-wife producing team by bedding the wife
. Tonight's above-average season-opener finds all three of them
fuming as their show debuts to scathing reviews.