TV column for Tuesday, June 17

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Fargo” finale, 10 p.m., FX, repeating
at 11:32.

This is how we’d expect this great show to end -- alternately
funny, violent, weird and wonderful.

Mild-mannered Lester killed his wife and watched Malvo kill
the investigating police chief; he framed both murders on his brother, married
his ditzy assistant and thrived … until Malvo returned, killing Lester’s second
wife. At one point, Molly was the only cop who suspected Lester; now she has
support from two FBI guys and her husband Gus, an ex-cop. A big, splendid
finish builds.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “American Experience,” 9-11 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).

Back in 1961, civil-rights struggles were being ignored by
many Americans, including John and Robert Kennedy. Then protestors forced the
issue by defying the segregation of interstate buses.

“Freedom Riders” ranges from ride leaders to the Southerner
(then a young girl) who saw a mob attack riders outside her home. It also
includes the rider whom police forgot to arrest; he politely reminded them.
It’s a superb rerun, leading into next Tuesday’s new “Freedom Summer.”

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Perception” season-opener, 10 p.m.,

Pierce’s mind takes him in odd directions, including
conversations with people who aren’t really there. That’s his sub-conscious at
work, sometimes helpfully and sometimes not.

But this time, he has a whole spy adventure bouncing before
him in Paris, with bigger-than-life characters. He’s never imagined anything this
elaborate. The result is wonderfully clever, twice as good as the usual
“Perception” … and ten times as good as the lame “Rizzoli & Isles” that
precedes it.

Other choices include:

“Rizzoli & Isles,” 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., TNT. Usually a
strong, solid show, this reruns its entire, 16-hour fourth season. Then the
fifth season starts with an oddly weak hour. The crime story – a slain jogger,
a missing baby – is a backdrop for Rizzoli’s personal secret. Both stories are
relatively limp and mild.

“America’s Got Talent,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. Auditions

“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. As the team searches for the terrorist
Parsa in this rerun, its newcomer – Bishop (Emily Wickersham) – reveals she has
a past connection to him.

“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Sam and Callen
head to Mexico, searching for a retired killer they confronted during their
first case together.

“Chasing Life,” 9 p.m., ABC Family. This second episode,
like the first, is a maddening mix of extremes. It has a charming cast (led by
Italia Ricci and Aisha Dee ) … gorgeous Boston settings … and fresh turf,
telling of a 24-year-old with leukemia. It also has an absurd view of newspaper
work, plus numbskull moments from the lead character. One of those is in
tonight’s first scene; then “Life” gets better.

“The Night Shift,” 10:01, NBC. This San Antonio emergency
room is stuffed with injured Alamo re-enactors – hey, it was a tough battle –
and with a violent amnesiac. Also, a secretly gay doctor has military exercises
with a homophobe. Like previous hours, this has awful scenes with the administrator;
unlike previous ones, it turns its best character (Jill Flint as the shift
chief) into a brooding fool.

TV column for Monday, June 16

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Murder in the First,” 10 p.m., TNT.

This second episode continues the bright promise of the
opener: Producer Steven Bochco, back after a five-year absence, delivers the
quality he gave us in “Hill Street Blues,” “LA Law” and “NYPD Blue.”

Last week’s opener saw a vile tech-billionaire linked to two
murder victims – his biological father and the stewardess he’d just fired. Two
smart cops (Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson) worked the case, while the
former was being shattered by his wife’s death from cancer. Opening with an
autopsy and a burial, this hour (the second of 10) is superbly directed (by
Bochco’s son Jesse), written and acted.

II: “24,” 9 p.m., Fox.

Squashing its typical, world-in-peril story into 12 hours
(instead of 24) has amped up the energy for what was already a high-octane
show. Now this eighth hour reaches a fresh peak.

Margot, the terrorist, has given the president (William
Devane) an offer: She’ll stop her drone attacks in exchange for his life. Will
he agree? Will someone – his daughter, her husband (the chief-of-staff), her ex-lover
(Jack Bauer) -- stop him? Can it all be averted by finding a way to re-gain the
drones? This show works because you really can’t guess; it’s another terrific

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Switched at Birth” return, 8 p.m.,
ABC Family.

Before the show’s 10-week break, Toby thought he had an
Internet love. It was a cruel trick by a former friend, who also beat him up; a
bad day got much better when Bay found and romanced him. Also, Regina was fired
by her boss … yet reviled by neighbors for his development plan.

Now crises build on the day after. Some of this – especially
from Toby –is exasperating and illogical. Still, these are appealing people,
with great moments from the talented Vanessa Marano as Bay.

Other choices include:

“The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Josh and Brian get
one-on-one dates with Andi Dorfman, amid the beauty of the French coast. The
other nine guys, alas, spend time with a French mime.

“Whose Line Is It Anyway?” 8 and 8:30 p.m., CW. In a new
episode, Brad Sherwood joins the improvisers. Then a rerun has Greg Proops.

“Mike & Molly,” 9 and 9:31 p.m., CBS. In the first
rerun, Molly reluctantly sees a therapist. In the second, she encourages Samuel’s
hopes of being a stand-up comedian.

“The Fosters,” 9 p.m., ABC Family. The first season ended
with jolts: Brandon, the pianist, was beaten up and his hand was deliberately
crushed; Callie’s adoption was delayed. Tonight, some flashbacks are confusing
and a plot detour is absurd, but there’s a compelling twist at the end.

“The Normal Heart” (2014), 9-11:15 p.m., HBO. Here’s a
seething look at the sluggish response to the AIDS crisis. Despite one flaw –
the conflicts sometimes seem heightened for dramatic effect – this is a strong
and moving film.

“Mistresses,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. Savi (Alyssa Milano) has
trouble at work (clashing with newcomer Toni) and at home, where she and her
estranged husband argue about selling the house. Also, April faces a big
assignment from her daughter’s school.

TV column for Sunday, June 15

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

Will Burton is a brilliant British lawyer who wins
everything. Now he faces another great lawyer (Sophie Okonedo) and a master
criminal, in a story that becomes increasingly tense and personal.

David Tennant – who has leapt from “Dr. Who” to Shakespeare
to dramas and a musical – gives another perfect performance in “The Escape
Artist.” It’s a clever two-parter, launching a summer of mysteries. Next are four
tales with young Endeavour Morse, two with Hercule Poirot and another

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Believe” and “Crisis,” 9 and 10 p.m.,

Two once-promising shows end their Sunday runs. Neither will
be back next season.

“Believe” was the top prospect, with Oscar-winner Alfonso
Cuaron (“Gravity”) as co-creator and director of the first episode. Tonight,
little Bo tries to start a fresh life, then is drawn into a confrontation with
Dani. Skouras (Kyle MacLachlan) realizes he must link with Winter and Channing.

“Crisis” was (like CBS’ “Hostages”) a poorly conceived
kidnapping tale that viewers rejected instantly. Tonight, Gibson takes extreme
steps to look like a victim; oddly, there’s still an unscheduled episode.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Game of Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO, rerunning
at 10:15.

HBO seizes Sundays now, with “Thrones” ending its season
tonight and “True Blood” starting its final one a week later.

Tonight, Daenerys finds it’s difficult to control the former
slave cities and her increasingly-willful dragons. There are big changes north
of the Wall. Also, Tyrion Lannister (Emmy-winner Peter Dinklage) and Bran Stark
adjust to changes in their lives.

Other choices include:

Basketball, 8 p.m. ET, ABC. The fifth game of the
best-of-seven series returns to San Antonio, where fans envision ending the
Miami Heat reign. That’s preceded by Jimmy Kimmel at 7 and a preview at 7:30.  

“The Good Wife,” 8 and 9 p.m., CBS. The first rerun, a
particularly good one, has Alicia in New York to give a speech about her life,
triggering flashbacks. That also sees her trying to link with a hot New York
lawyer (Jill Hennessy). And it introduces election fraud probe that continues
in the second hour.

“Inside Combat Rescue: The Last Stand,” 8-10 p.m., National
Geographic. Last year, “Inside Combat Rescue” spent six episodes following an
American unit in Afghanistan. Then cameras returned for six weeks, to follow
the 83
rd Rescue Squadron, assigned to protect the 36,000 people in
the Bagram area.

“Nurse Jackie,” 9 p.m., Showtime. It isn’t easy to dump a
sobriety sponsor, Jackie finds. When hers refuses to leave, she takes drastic
action, in a fairly good episode.

9:30, Showtime. Hank plans an intimate dinner to win back Karen, who is
recovering from her car crash. Then more and more people keep arriving – including
a bizarre chap, played with gusto by Rob Lowe. It’s an increasingly fun
episode, as the show nears the end of its seven-year run.

“The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS. Grace (Amanda Righetti) has
been kidnapped and the prime suspect seems to have a solid alibi. In this
rerun, Patrick Jane needs to use his mental skills quickly.

TV column for Saturday, June 14

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: AFI Life Achievement Award, 9 p.m., TNT;
repeats at 10:30.

For decades, the American Film Institute has given this
annual award – to men, usually. In the first 11 years, Bette Davis was the only
female winner; in the 30 years since then, there have been seven.

Now Jane Fonda gets the award … just as her dad (Henry) did
36 years ago. She brings an active career – from six Oscar nominations
(including wins in “Klute” and “Coming Home”) to HBO’s splendid “News Room.”
She also brings a high-profile life as an activist, a workout-video pioneer and
more. Presenters include her brother Peter, plus Meryl Streep, Sally Field,
Michael Douglas and Penny Marshall.

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “The Blacklist” and “Saturday Night
Live,” 10 and 11:29 p.m., NBC.

With no hockey to worry about tonight, NBC can get back to
entertaining us with reruns. That starts with the team going after “The
Alchemist,” who uses science to transform crooks’ DNA.

Then we get Jonah Hill hosting “SNL,” with Bastille as music
guest. The show starts big with Leonardo DiCaprio showing up, then levels off.
But Seth Meyers was still around, which is a good thing.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Power,” 9 p.m., Starz, rerunning at

Last week’s debut (rerunning at 8) introduced us to “Ghost,”
a drug boss who wishes he could focus on his upscale nightclub. It’s a stylish
show, but Ghost is so tight and distant that he’s hard to care about.

Tonight his problems grow, as people attack his couriers.
Against a messy backdrop, Ghost flirts with his old high school girlfriend; he
doesn’t know she’s a government attorney, she doesn’t know he’s the crook she’s
after. It’s another tough hour to get into, but the final minutes ripple with
strong moments.

Other choices include:

“Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” (1981), 7 and 9 p.m., Sundance[MH1] .
The original “Mad Max” was a micro-budget film, edited by its director (an
Australian doctor) on his kitchen table. Still, it packed power; this sequel, given
a full budget, is a sharply crafted, post-apocalyptic adventure.

“Hawaii Five-0,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun of the
season-opener, McGarrett and Wo Fat escape from prison and promptly find new
trouble: Gunmen have stormed headquarters; now McGarrett must break the law to
rescue Catherine. This is the hour that introduces Chi McBride as Grover, the
SWAT captain.

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” 9 p.m., CBS. With more
than a million dollars in money and chips on a poker table in this rerun,
there’s a robbery and murder.

“Sing Your Face Off” finale, 9 and 10 p.m., ABC. Yes, the
season ends two weeks after it began. In all, six episodes were stuffed into
three Saturdays. We’re betting this won’t match the “MASH” finale in interest.
Tonight, we get people performing as James Brown, Madonna, Little Richard and

“Orphan Black,” 9 p.m., BBC America. Cosima’s health is
deteriorating quickly, causing Sarah to take a desperate step. Meanwhile,
Alison and Donnie battle the law.

“In the Flesh” season-finale, 11 p.m., BBC America. In a change,
this zombie drama is airing an hour later than usual (with Graham Norton’s talk
show moved up to 10). Tonight’s “Flesh” finale finds Kieren in danger, when
Gary suspects him of planning a zombie attack on the town.



TV column for Friday, June 13

(TV column for Friday, June 13)


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Great Performances,” 9-11 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).

For 76 years, Tanglewood has given the Boston Symphony a
scenic summer home, near the Bershire Mountains. Now here’s a rerun of the 75
concert, stuffed with talent.

The one weak spot was choosing James Taylor to do three
songs -- “Old Man River,” “Shall We Dance” and “Over the Rainbow” – that were a
stretch for him. Otherwise, here are some greats – violinist Anne-Sophie
Mutter, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianists Emmanuel Ax and Peter Serkin, with the
orchestra conducted by Keith Lockhart, John Williams, Andris Nelsons and David

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Some episodes keep Tom Selleck – as Police Commissioner
Frank Reagan – off to one side; this one, however, plunges him into the center
of the story.

Frank is having dinner with a friend (Chazz Palminteri), who’s
a Mob lawyer; the friend is killed and Frank barely escapes. Meanwhile, his son
Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) somehow is on the jury of a murder trial, becoming the
lone dissenter.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “How to Train Your Dragon” (2010), 8
p.m., FX, rerunning at 10:02.

On the day that its sequel opens in theaters, we get another
chance to catch the original on TV.

Hiccup is a Viking lad who can do nothing right … until he
befriends a dragon. Villagers dislike dragons (what with the fire and death and
destruction and all), so he must keep a fairly large secret. “Dragon” has
standard battle scenes near the end, but until then it’s an animated delight.

Other choices include:

More movies, 7 and 8:30 p.m., cable. For dead-serious drama,
Sundance has “Blood Diamond” (2006) at 7 and 10 p.m., with Leonard DiCaprio in
war-torn Sierra Leone. For fun, ABC family has “The Goonies” (1985), a
treasure-hunting delight with Sean Astin and Josh Brolin leading a likable
young cast.

“MasterChef” and “24,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. In a change, Fox
is simply rerunning its Monday shows here. First, the 20 remaining chefs must
feed 500 soldiers at a desert base. Then a deadly shoot-out leaves Heller (the
president) trying to confront Margot (the terrorist), while Jack and Kate race
to a rescue.

“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. Danny has daddy trouble, when
Grace punches someone at school. Then this rerun brings a bigger problem: He
and McGarrett are kidnapped by an escaped convict who demands they prove him

“Whose Line Is It Anyway,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., CW. These reruns
have Jeff Davis and Wilson Bethel joining the comedy improvisation.

“Hart of Dixie,” 9 p.m., CW. In a rerun from early in the
season, Zoe is back in town and hoping to practice medicine without Brick
noticing; then she learns of a troublesome clause in her contract.

“Continuum,” 10 p.m., Syfy. An attack leaves Kiera and John
Doe in danger, Also, Alec frets that his invention is the reason for Jason’s odd