TV column for Sunday, Sept. 9

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Masterpiece
Mystery,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

For a moment, Kurt Wallander (Kenneth
Branagh) has a hint of a smile. This morose police detective has
found a good woman (Saskia Reeves); he's almost happy.

It can't last, of course. A body is
found on his property – no, it's not just a coincidence – and his
life crashes anew. This year's three Wallander mysteries are even
better than the previous ones, linking smart writing, a great actor
and the sprawling gloom of the Swedish countryside.

Time,” 7-11 p.m., ABC.

The first rerun is the dazzling pilot
film, in which young Henry takes Emma (Jennifer Morrison) to
Storybrooke, Maine, where fairy-tale characters still live, unaware
of their identity.

Then is the 15th episode
(Emma hires Ruby), followed by the two-part season-finale, with lives
in danger in our world and in the fairy-tale land.

three networks.

The pre-season games are done now and
the NFL will dominate ratings during the regular season.

In the afternoon, that's on CBS and
Fox. Then NBC takes over, with a studio show at 7 p.m. ET and two
epic quarterbacks at about 8:15. Peyton Manning, the league MVP four
times with the Colts, now is with the Denver Broncos; they host Ben
Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Other choices include:

– “Puppy Love,” 1 p.. and 9 p.m.,
Hallmark. If you missed this pleasant-enough movie Saturday, here's a
quick rerun. A dog is accidentally owned by two strangers (Candace
Cameron Bure and Victor Webster).. The dog is cute, the people are
pretty and you know the rest.

– “Broadway of Bust,” 8 p.m., PBS
(check local listings). Imagine “American Idol” with more
finalists and more talent. Here are 60 immensely gifted teens, each a
winner or runner-up regionally. We see their week in New York, as
they learn from Broadway's best. After three episodes, a winner is

– “The Simpsons,” 8 and 8:30
p.m., Fox. In the first rerun, Homer is now the only human in a
planet run by robots. In the second, he bumps his head, gets six
weeks of rest at home and – surprisingly – tries to use the time
to become a better husband.

– “The Good Wife,”9 p.m., CBS. In
a previous episode, Alicia met a tough and ambitious judge (Matthew
Perry). In this rerun, he forces her back into the political

– :”Hell on Wheels,” 9 p.m., AMC.
Cullen – a former Confederate officer and a killer – has become a
security guy for the railroad. Now his past is catching up with him.

– “The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Some of the focus shifts to Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) in this
rerun. Investigating a surfer's death, she comes across her former

– “Copper,” 10 p.m., BBC America.
This intense series follows a cop – vengeful and violent, but
honest – in 1864 New York City. Tonight, he finds key info about
the kidnapping of his wife and the murder of their daughter.

TV column for Saturday, Sept. 8

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

A week before its season-opener, “SNL”
reruns its best episode from this season, with Jimmy Fallon hosting.
He brought back colleagues from his years on the show – Tina Fey,
Amy Poehler, Tracy Morgan, Chris Kattan, Rachel Drath, Horatio Sanz –
and more, including Jude Law and Will Arnett.

Beyond that, Fallon was busy. He played
Justin Bieber AND Russell Brand, doing Christmas duets with music
guest Michael Buble. He was also Regis Philbin, a kid crashing a
dance and more.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: Sports overload,
7:30 and 8 p.m.

Now that Fox has sports each Saturday,
the night will keep being a sports festival.

Tonight, Fox's college-football show is
at 7 p.m.; at 7:30, Nebraska visits UCLA in the Rose Bowl.

Also at 7:30, ABC has NASCAR. At 8, CBS
has the women's finals from the U.S. Open.

9 p.m., BBC America.

A new season is here for the brilliant
edition produced by Steven Moffat, with Matt Smith as The Doctor and
Karen Gillan (for now) as Amy Pond.

The season-opener reruns at 8 p.m. At
9, a ship hurtles through space; The Doctor must save its cargo –
dinosaurs ?!? – joined by an Egyptian queen, a big-game hunter and
someone from Amy's family.

Whisperer,” 8 p.m., NatGeo Wild, and “Puppy Love,” 9 p.m.,

It's bad-dog, good-dog night on cable.
The bad dog are with celebrities. Jillian Michaels is fierce in the
gym; Kelsey Grammer is domineering in “Boss,” but neither can
stop their little dogs from yipping. Michaels' Chihuaha even takes a
small nip of Millan, before behaving.

And the good one is big, fluffy and
lovable. By accident, two strangers (Candace Cameron Bure and Victor
Webster) adopt him. This can bring tumult and/or romance, in a
pleasant-enough film.

Other choices include:

– “Ray”(2004), 7:30 p.m., TV
Guide Channel. A great movie night starts with Jamie Foxx's
brilliant, Oscar-winning performance as Ray Charles.

– “America's Got Talent,” 8 p.m.,
NBC. After jerking the two-part “Saving Hope” finale around its
schedule, NBC has shelved it. Instead, it reruns Thursday's “Talent,”
picking the second half of its final six acts. This will rerun again
on Wednesday, leading into the two-night finale.

– “Knocked Up,” E, or “Superbad,”
FX (both 2007), 8 p.m., cable. Here are two Seth Rogen comedies,
both produced by Judd Apatow. Rogen co-wrote “Superbad,” but
takes only a supporting role. He stars with Katherine Heigl in
“Knocked Up,” a delight written and directed by Apatow.

– More movies, 8 p.m., cable. One off
the all-time great films, Steven Spielberg's “Saving Private Ryan”
(1998), is on TNT. Turner Classic Movies counters with “The Goodbye
Girl” (1977), with a clever Neil Simon script and Richard Dreyfuss'
Oscar-winning performance

– “Law & Order: Special
Victims Unit,” 9 and 10 p.m., NBC. The first rerun is a tough one
for Benson (Mariska Hargitay), raising doubts about a conviction she
got eight years earlier. When a tough defense attorney (Andre
Braugher) arrives, her relationship with an assistant district
attorney (Harry Connick Jr.) is endangered. The second hour involves
a teen, tattoos and self-mutilation.

TV column for Friday, Sept. 7

Cancer,” 8 p.m., most networks.

For two of music's top divas, this is a
busy TV stretch – two straight night of live performances. Taylor
Swift and Alicia Keys were both scheduled for the MTV awards Thursday
and for this special.

Also performing are Tim McGraw and
Coldplay. Other stars will show up, including Gwyneth Paltrow (who is
producing the show), Katie Couric (who co-founded the event three
years ago), Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Samuel L Jackson, Michael
Douglas and Jessica Biel.

Performances,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

At the Capitol Records building in Los
Angeles, the walls are lines with photos of the greats who recorded
there – Frank Sinatra, Nat Cole, Judy Garland, Dean Martin and
more. Paul McCartney – whose Beatles were a Capitol act –
returned to do songs from his album of vintage tunes.

In an intimat concert, McCartney has no
instrument but his voice. He's backed by the best, including great
work from pianist Diana Krall and guitarists John Pizzarelli and Joe
Walsh. Some of the songs are obscure and too much time is spent on
praise, but it's still a great concert, beautifully filmed.

p.m., Starx.

Shattered by guilt, family hatred,
mental lapses and a secret neurological disorder, Mayor Kane
(KelseyGrammer) grasps for one more grand legacy. He will level a
crumbling housing project and replace it with something impressive.

Residents are properly suspicious. That
leads to two great scenes – first when his aide (the superb Sanaa
Lathan) visits the project, where she grew up, and then when Kane
shows up himself.

Other choices include:

– “Pride & Prejudice” (2005),
6-9:10 p.m., Oxygen. With great direction (by Joe Wright) and
stunning performances (led by Keira Knightley), this gorgeous film
uses few words and great visuals.

– “America's Next Top Model,” 8
p.m., CW. As it has done in previous years, the show asks the women
to pose in the nude. As usual, someone resists.

– “Coma,”8 p.m. to midnight, A&E.
If you missed this miniseries on Monday and Tuesday, catch it in one
gulp. It's the second adaptation of a novel about a young doctor who
suspects evil. Lauren Ambrose stars, with top pros – Richard
Dreyfuss, James Woods, Ellen Burstyn, Joe Morton – in support.

– “Bones,” 9 p.m., Fox. Booth's
son – played by Ty Panitz, 13 – returns from England. That leaves
Brennan wondering how he'll react to having a baby half-sister.
Meanwhile, there's a new murder case – a body found in a woods –
and Hodgins is buying lots of lab equipment.

– “CSI: NY,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, a body has been dismembered and placed at four street corners.

– “Blue Bloods, 10 p.m., CBS. In
this rerun, a key witness in a Russian Mob trial was almost killed.
Danny and Jackie realize someone in the task force must be leaking
information; that leaves them on their own to protect the witness.

TV column for Thursday, Sept. 6

convention, all night.

The presidential race – which already
seems to have gone on forever – finally hits full-speed.

A week after Mitt Romney's speech at
the Republican convention, Barack Obama has his turn. ABC and CBS
will be there for the 10 p.m. ET talk; NBC even arrives at 9 p.m. ET,
making up for the fact that it missed Wednesday because of football.
For more, catch PBS (8 p.m. ET) and cable.

Awards, 8-10 p.m., MTV.

You know there's a youth emphasis when
Taylor Swift, former teen wonder, is almost an old-timer.

Swift us 22; Demi Lovato is 20. Only
one of the One Direction guys is 20; the other four are18 and 19.

Lovato sings “Give Your Heart a
Break” during the preview at 7. Swift and One Direction sing in the
show; so do Frank Ocean and Rihanna (both 24), Pink, Alicia Keys and
Green Day. Kevin Hart hosts.

Hope,” 8 p.m., Fox.

The second season ended with this
large-scale episode, a court fight over the custody of little Hope.
It's erratic (most “Hope” episodes are), but has some great

It also lets producer Greg Garcia throw
in a huge list of guest stars. All of his “My Name is Earl”
people – Jason Lee, Jaime Pressly, Ethan Suplee – are there; so
are Bijou Phillips, David Krumholtz, Amy Hill and – as themselves –
Nancy Grace and Ed Begley Jr.

Other choices include:

– “Anger Management,” 6-11 p.m.,
FX. Here are 10 episodes of this fairly funny Charlie Sheen comedy –
which has now been renewed for 90 more. At 10 p.m. is an excellent
one, with Martin Sheen playing his father (which he is in real
life). Yes, the guy who played President Bartlet competes for
attention with another Democratic president.

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Stephen Hawking, the famed physicist, plays himself in a fairly
funny rerun. Wolowitz is working with him and Sheldon is desperate to
meet him.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 8:31
p.m., CBS. Here's a rerun – scheduled earlier, then postponed –
in which living together turns out to be hard. Alan finds that at
Lyndsey's place; Walden finds that when Zoey moves in with her

– “Glee,” 9 p.m., Fox. Yes,
people sometimes finish high school on TV – eventually. After three
seasons, Rachel and her classmates graduate in this rerun. They face
decisions about their future.

– “Rookie Blue,” 9 p.m., ABC. A
violent child abductor has escaped; soon, Andy and Swarek are working
frantically to save a girl. That's in the season-finale, which also
finds major decisions for Gail –still recovering from her hostage
trauma – and Chris and Traci.

– “The Next,” 9 p.m., CW. While
each nurtures a contestant in Chicago, some of the mentors have a
chance to sing. Gloria Estefan does at a Cubs game, John Rich at a
public-transit station.

– “Project Runway,” 9 p.m.,
Lifetime; reruns at 10:30. In some shows, designers try to sell
clothes to stores. Here, they have to sell to people on the street.

– “Sullivan & Son,” 10 p.m.,
TBS. Steve's sister, a con artist, shows up.

TV column for Wednesday, Sept. 5

Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

Last week brought sensational work from
all eight contestants. Will Thomas was dropped; Cole Horibe was
spared. Lindsay Arnold was dropped and Witney Carson, her lookalike
friend, survived.

Those two survivors – specializing in
“martial arts fusion” and Latin ballroom – are part of a
surprisingly varied bunch. There are two ballet people, a jazz
dancer, and someone in “animation robotics.” Tonight, they
perform and we learn which four will be in Tuesday's performance

convention, all night.

Joe Biden gives his vice-presidential
speech at 10 p.m. ET, with CBS and ABC joining the coverage. NBC –
see next item – is busy with football.

All three networks will have their
morning shows and evening newscasts there, plus ABC's “Nightline.”
For more, try PBS (starting at 8 p.m. ET) or cable. CNN, Fox News,
MSNBC and C-SPAN will all be there; so will Current, with Al Gore
anchoring coverage on some familiar turf.

p.m. ET, NBC.

The pro season begins with the New York
Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys. Last year, both had middling
regular-season records (9-7 and 8-8), but the Giants went on to win
the Super Bowl.

A preview starts at 7:30. This game is
usually on a Thursday; NBC slides it ahead a day and plans to spend
two primetime hours at the convention Thursday, when Barack Obama has
his speech.

Other choices include:

– Julia Roberts films, cable.
Stepping easily into opposite characters, Roberts reminds us of her
immense range. In “Pretty Woman” (1990, 6:30 p.m., ABC Family),
she's an insecure prostitute, dazzled by a rich guy (Richard Gere).
In “Notting Hill” (1999, 8 p.m., WE), she's a movie star,
dazzling an insecure guy (Hugh Grant). In “My Best Friend's
Wedding” (1997, 9 p.m., ABC Family), she's a disruptive force. All
(except “Hill”) have big story flaws, but all have Roberts.

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. Sue
finally finds a kindred spirit – a long-neglected guidance
counselor (Whoopi Goldberg). That's in a rerun that has a great sight
gag from Axl, demonstrating pull-ups.

– “Modern Family, 9 p.m., ABC.
Claire is surprised to see her daughter's boyfriend, Dylan,at Disney
World. That's in a rerun that has Lily wandering about the park and
Phil trying to keep up with Luke.

– “The Woman Who Wasn't There,”
9:30-11 p.m., repeating at 12:30 a.m., Destination America (formerly
Planet Green). A marathon of Sept. 11 documentaries – from 6 p.m.
to 3 a.m. – includes the bizarre and compelling story of someone
who was, for a time, a key figure among survivors.

– “The Soul Man” season-finale,
10 p.m., TV Land. Two complications hit St. Louis – a power
blackout and the return of Barton's ex-wife (Loretta Devine); Boyce
tries to mediate.

– “The Exes,” 10:30, TV Land.
This is supposed to be fun, crashing a party on Phil's boss' yacht.
Alas, little Eden (Kelly Stables) goes into labor; also, Holly
(Kristen Johnston) faces her worst fear.