TV column for Monday, March 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Bachelor”
finale, 8 p.m., and “After the Rose” 10:01 p.m., ABC.

It was three-and-a-half years ago that
Brad Womack became the worst TV bachelor ever. After sifting down to
two bright and beautiful women, he dumped them both and went home.

Tonight, Womack, 38, gets his second
chance to do it right, as his parents meet the final two women. Chantal
O'Brien, 28 and divorced, is an executive assistant in Seattle. Emily
Maynard, 24, is an event planner for a children's hospital in
Charlotte, N.C.; she's a mom whose fiance died in a plane crash.

The follow-up hour includes three
couples that are presented as lasting matches. Tellingly, two are
from “Bachelorette” (Trisha and Ryan, Ali and Roberto), only one
from “Bachelor” (Jason and Molly).

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “The Event,”
9 p.m., NBC.

After stumbling for a while, this show
returned last week with a powerhouse episode.

Sean and Leila rescued her sister and
others, then met her father – finally realizing he's one of the
other-world aliens. Now Leila reluctantly is on the run with him;
tonight, he leaves her with a friend (Gabrielle Carteris) while he
searches for Thomas – who is the real problem here.

Last week, Thomas led a mass escape of
the aliens. The president's aide barely got away; tonight, the White
House tries to re-gain control.

Other choices include:

– Martha Stewart, 10-11:30 a.m., 8-10
p.m., Hallmark. In the daytime, Stewart has her regular talk show and
then a “Martha Bakes” episode that feels like it's soaked in rich
chocolate. At night, another “Martha Bakes” (8 p.m.) deals with
pound cakes; after a “Mad Hungry” episode (8:30), Stewart is back
at 9 with Joan and Melissa Rivers as her talk-show guests.

– “Dora the Explorer,” 7 p.m.,
Nickelodeon. In this almost-prime-time edition, Dora faces a ballet
tragedy. (Well, not a “Black Swan” tragedy; it's just that
someone delivered flippers instead of slippers.) Can she retrieve the
footwear in time? As usual, this brings much charm and no harm.

– “House,” 8 p.m., Fox. The
matter-of-fact Dr. Masters (Amber Tamblyn) has a crush on a
bullfighter.

– “Chuck,” 8 p.m., NBC. Isaiah
Mustafa, who plays the perfect man on Old Spice commercials, is a
busy guest star now. Last week, he did “Hot in Cleveland”;
tonight, he and Stacy Keibler play the perfect agents who may make
Chuck obsolete.

– “Mad Love,” 8:30 p.m., CBS.
Happy as a couple, Ben and Kate work on each other's best friend. Ben
tries to help Connie at her work; Kate tries to change Larry's dating
habits.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun brings back Martin Mull as the pharmacist who's quick
to dispense drugs. Charlie and Alan want to set him up with their
mom.

– “The Chicago Code,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. When a rich kid is in a coma, a drug case soon builds into more.

– “Harry's Law,” 10 p.m., NBC.
Marriage is looking shaky here. Adam handles his first divorce case;
Harriet tries to convince a guy not to lock his cheating wife in the
basement.

– “Stargate: Universe,” 10 p.m.,
Syfy. Eli may have a way home, but Rush disagrees and wants
volunteers to stay with him on the ship.

TV column for Sunday, March 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Next Great
Restaurant,” 8 p.m., NBC.

Here's one of the best competition
shows, with a relatable concept, smart judges and clever contestants.

Last week, judges chose 10 ideas for a
franchise restaurant. Tonight, contestants must quickly find a chef
(from 17 choices), design a logo and appeal to masses at an amusement
park.

There are odd links – a Swedish chef
works on food from India – and quirks; the judges say one place has
“American trash food” and find others too bland. But there are
also ideas that catch on quickly

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Breakout
Kings,” 10 p.m., A&E.

The bad news is that this is yet
another tale of women held captive. From “Criminal Minds” to “Law
& Order: Special Victims Unit,” TV has that in overload.

The good news: This puts special
emphasis on Lloyd Lowery, TV's best new character. Wonderfully played
by Jimmi Simpson, he's a former psychology professor, now in prison.
Desperate to find a victim while she's still alive, the team needs
Lloyd's quirky approach.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Sister Wives”
return (TLC) and “Big Love” (HBO), both 9 p.m.

Watch one, tape the other and you'll
catch opposite reactions to polygamous families.

The fictional “Big Love” has a
worst-case scenario, with the Henricksons facing fierce waves of
intolerance. There are other problems tonight; Nicki may send her
daughter to boarding school.

“Sister Wives” is a reality show,
focusing on Kody Brown, his four wives (one via legal process), 13
children and three step-children; it prefers optimism. “People are
good; people are open-minded,” says Christine, the third wife.
We're guessing she's right, but the episode ends with the family
being investigated under Utah's anti-polygamy laws.

Other choices include:

– “The Simpsons,” 7 and 8 p.m.,
Fox. First, a rerun has Marge change her towering blue hairdo. Then a
new episode has Cheech and Chong re-forming as Cheech and Chunk (with
Homer) and Teach and Chong (with Principal Skinner).

– Movies, 7 p.m., cable. Kids might
try “Kung Fu Panda” (2008, FX). Grown-ups will like Steven
Spielberg's well-crafted “Jurassic Park” (1993, TNT), the
Oscar-winning musical “Chicago” (2002, Starz) or Heather
Locklear's twisting psychological thriller “He Loves Me” (2011,
Lifetime).

– “Secret Millionaire,” 8 p.m.,
ABC. Wealthy from California real estate, Marc Paskin spends a week
in Detroit, living on $50 and learning of local charities. In an OK
episode, he finds some good ones, including Young Detroit Builders,
which has once-troubled people fixing up once-crumbling homes.

– “Brick City,” 8 p.m., Sundance.
This excellent documentary series concludes its second season on
election night. Battered by economic woes, the charismatic Cory
Booker seeks re-election as mayor.

 

– “Nature's Immortality,” 8 p.m.,
Smithsonian. The second “Women in Science” episode has a
fascinating portrait of JoGayle Howard, who uses science to help
endangered species reproduce. The black-footed ferret was even called
instinct; when 18 survivors were found, science stepped in.

 

– “Celebrity Apprentice,” 9-11
p.m., NBC. Last week's opener, oddly, saw David Cassidy fired and
Richard Hatch spared. Tonight, the teams are writing and performing a
kids' book.

– “Desperate Housewives,” 9 p.m.,
ABC. In a rerun, Susan's sexy Internet job is no longer a secret.

– “CSI: Miami,” 10 p.m., CBS. At
an exclusive club, people hunt humans. (No, that's not legal in
Miami.) Adam Rodriguez, who plays Delko, wrote and directed the
episode.

 

TV column for Saturday, March 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Rascal Flatts:
Nothing Like This,” 9 p.m., ABC.

New entertainment specials are rare on
Saturdays, so let's try this one, with a band that tops country
charts. Billboard lists Flatts with six straight No. 1 albums and 10
No. 1 singles, from “These Days” and “Bless the Broken Road”
to “Here Comes Goodbye.”

For this concert – taped in St. Paul,
Minn. – Natasha Bedingfield also performs. The special includes
clips of Justin Bieber working on the band's “That Should Be Me”
video and in the video itself.

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

Last week, this show had one of its
best outings, ranging from wicked fun at Charlie Sheen's expense to a
good-sport bit by Miley Cyrus: She appeared inside the mean-spirited
“Miley Cyrus Show” segment – not as herself, but as Bieber.

Now Zach Galifianakis – an actor and
an offbeat comedian – hosts, with Jessie J as the music guest.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Best Player”
debut, 8-10 p.m., Nickelodeon.

This movie starts with a bright concept
and flashy, videogame graphics. Then it sinks, under mismatched
acting styles.

The idea: Desperate for money, a guy
needs to win a videogame tournament. His solution is to find and
sabotage his prime opponent.

The problem: Jerry Trainor and Amir
Talai play this as a broad comedy – way too broad – while
Jennette McCurdy and Janet Varney play it straight. There are moments
when “Best Player” is great fun … and moments when it seems too
silly even for many of its young viewers.

Other choices include:

– Basketball, all day. Conference
tournament championships fill up the day. That starts at 11:30 a.m.
on CBS, with Conference USA in El Paso; it ends at 10 p.m. on ESPN2
with the Western Athletic Conference in Las Vegas. There are more,
plus a bonus: At 9:30 p.m., HBO has “Runnin' Rebels of UNLV,” the
story of the Las Vegas school that turned basketball into a
high-energy burst of fun.

– “Harry's Law,” 8 p.m., NBC.
This rerun focuses on a drive-by shooting, Harriet sues to get the
victim a transplant and Adam defends a young man who is on the scene
as a makeshift doctor.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Here's a
rerun of the Halloween episode, with DiNozzo's date making the
holiday interesting for him. Meanwhile, Abby is fixated on solving
the murder of a brilliant scientist.

– Movies, 8 p.m., cable. There's fun
tonight, with an animated delight (“Aladdin,” 1992, ABC Family),
a solid comedy (“Knocked Up,” 2007, E) and a slick comedy
(“Intolerable Cruelty,” 2003, TV Guide Network) that gives great
dialog to George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun starts with the bodies of two men who pretended to be
Marines. That leads to the discovery of a national security threat.

– “Secret Millionaire,” 10 p.m.,
ABC. Here's a rerun of the OK season-opener. Dani Johnson lives in a
rundown section of Knoxville for a week and meets good people who are
helping others. That includes heroic, 82-year-old twins who run a
food kitchen.

TV column for Friday, March 11


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Fringe,” 9
p.m., Fox.

Don't you hate it when thieves aren't
restricted by gravity? They seem to have an unfair advantage.

For “Fringe” – a high-quality
show on a low-viewership night – that's one of the problems. A
bigger one involves the fact that Walter (John Noble) ruptured the fabric of the
universe, by journeying into the alternate world; now he tries to
slow the damage he's done.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS.

For the second straight week, this
focuses on the past of Danny, well-played by Donnie Wahlberg.

A former Marine war hero, now homeless,
has been killed; Danny – a police detective and an ex-Marine –
takes the case personally. In a separate story, someone has planted
the false rumor that his dad (Tom Selleck), the police commissioner,
is running for mayor.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Beast
Hunter,” 9 p.m., National Geographic.

For years, Pat Spain says, 19th-century
scientists scoffed at stories of a hairy, man-like beast that walked
the jungles. When a missionary returned with a skull in 1847, they
learned about gorillas.

Then what of the other legends? In
1910, newspapers told of dinosaur-like creatures. Spain travels to
the Congo Basin, where he gets first-hand reports and (as usual)
nothing substantive.

Like the show's first two episodes (one
of which reruns at 10), this is all about possibilities. Viewers must
settle for interesting glimpses of a dense jungle and the Pygmy
people who survive there.

Other choices include:

– “The Defenders,” 8 p.m., CBS.
Accused of killing a yoga instructor, a husband and wife want
separate lawyers. The firm temporarily dissolves, so Morelli and
Kaczmarek can each take one.

– “Who Do You Think You Are?” 8
p.m., NBC. In a rerun, Kim Cattrall (“Sex and the City”) traces
the grandfather who abandoned her mother and aunts. She emerges with
disturbing news.

– “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa”
(2008, FX) or “School of Rock” (2003, TBS), 8 p.m. This a good
night to catch a family film. FX has an animated sequel (rerunning at
10) with delightful animal characters. TBS has Jack Black as a
musician pretending to be a teacher; the result (rerunning at 10:40)
is well-made, with Richard Linklater directing and Mike White writing
and co-starring.

– “CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. Welcome
to the sort of world “Gossip Girl” knows – with rich kids in an
elite Manhattan school. Tonight, police investigate the murder of a
popular and gifted student.

– “Supernatural,” 9 p.m., CW.
When virgins are disappearing, the guys jump to the obvious
conclusion that dragons are responsible. Less obvious is how to
defeat a dragon.

– “Monk,” 9 p.m., MyNetwork. The
first time John Turturro played Adrian Monk's agoraphobic brother
Ambrose, he won an Emmy. Here's a rerun of his second episode; this
time, Ambrose seems more interested in Natalie than the case. That
follows an 8 p.m. rerun in which Natalie is a murder target.

– “Merlin,” 10 p.m., Syfy.
Pauline Collins has been on British TV for more than four decades;
she also won a Tony and was nominated for an Oscar for “Shirley
Valentine.” Now, at 70, she plays the ex-love of Merlin's mentor,
Gaius. Merlin can't convince him that she's under a spell, in a plot
to kill the king.

TV column for Thursday, March 10


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

As it starts the weekly elimination
nights, “Idol” loads up on star power.

Adam Lambert, its runner-up in 2009,
performs. So does Ditty-Dirty Money, with Skylar Gray. Also, David
Cook, the 2008 champion, has recorded this year's farewell song, a
remake of Simple Mind's 1985 “Don't You (Forget About Me).” That
will be in the background tonight when one of the memorable young
singers exits.

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

When this wonderful series started,
Leonard's love life seemed hopeless. Now he incites jealousy.

He's been dating Priya, Raj's gorgeous
sister. Now she's upset about all the time he spends with his
ex-lover Penny. Meanwhile, Howard has a magic trick that drives
Sheldon crazy.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Parks and
Recreation,” 9:30 p.m., NBC.

Next week, this show plans a new
episode – a particularly good one – set at the harvest festival.
First, however, here's a rerun with some great moments.

The flu is sweeping through Pawnee and
Ann is overwhelmed at the hospital. April is the world's worst
patient; Chris (Rob Lowe) is the most worried, fearful of any
imperfection. Leslie is the most reluctant, insisting she should be
at the festival-planning meeting; she gets there, but her mind
wobbles.

Other choices include:

– “Wipeout,” 8-10 p.m., ABC. It's
an all-rerun night on ABC – in sharp contrast to the all-new CBS
and Fox. This one, from last June, links 12 single men and 12 single
women into “blind date” duos, then has them try wild obstacles,
seeking a $100,000 prize.

– “Perfect Couples,” 8:30 p.m.,
NBC. This rerun has some funny moments, as Dave concocts excuses for
why an attractive and cheerful young woman is his hiking partner.

“Rules of Engagement,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. When Russell goes on a
date, Timmy is his interpreter. Also, Jeff plans to surprise Audrey
by actually remembering their anniversary.

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
9 p.m., CBS. An ex-cop, killed in prison, had a list of people he
suspected of killing his wife.

– “Bones,” 9 p.m., Fox. Booth
uses his military training to pursue Jacob Broadsky, the snper. Also,
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top plays Angela's dad, insisting on naming her
baby.

– “The Office,” 9 p.m., NBC. In a
rerun (originally scheduled for last week, then moved), Andy holds a
seminar and Erin wants help in Scrabble.

– “The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS.
There's a shake-up, when LaRoche takes over the CBI and puts Cho in
charge of the team. Meanwhile, the team probes the murder of a
doctor, with plenty of suspects.

– “Grey's Anatomy,” 10 p.m., ABC.
This rerun has new interns arriving while their elders are in flux.
Arizona tries to make up with Callie; Teddy must make a decision for
Henry during surgery.

– “30 Rock,” 10 p.m., NBC. The
next couple episodes – a rerun tonight, a new one next week –
focus on the reality show about Tracy's wife. Tonight, cameras visit
his workplace.