TV column for Sunday, July 26

“The Last Man on Earth” return, 9:30 p.m., Fox.

After a successful
spring try-out, this comedy was boosted by three Emmy nominations,
two for Will Forte (as actor and writer) and one for directing. Now
its reruns return, in what will be its slot this fall.

Phil (Forte) married
the annoying Carol (Kristen Schaal) when they thought they were the
last people on Earth. Now there's another guy (Mel Rodriguez), who
has more respect and a beautiful companion (January Jones). Phil's
solution is ... well, to find a cow and later steal it. It makes
sense to him.

II: “Destination Wild: Clever Monkeys,” 10 p.m. ET., NatGeo Wild,
rerunning at 1 a.m.

It was back in 1954
that David Attenborough began making nature shows. Now, at 89, he
provides the witty narration for this charming film, which combines
footage from around the world.

We see monkeys
working in groups small (a mother gets two guys to help raise her
twins) and large (80 baboons form a massive society). We see them
link for attacks, for defense and for sympathy. They use leaves for
medicine, rocks for nutcrackers, cunning to steal from nearby

ALTERNATIVE: “Masterpiece: Poldark,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local

The two Ross
Poldarks again collide briefly. There's Aidan Turner, who plays him
potently. And there's Robin Ellis, who had the same role 40 years
ago; now he's the magistrate who sentenced Ross' friend to a year in
a disease-ridden jail, for poaching.

The result dominates
the start and end of this strong hour. In between, a ball lets
Demelza glow while Ross plays cards – confronting the magistrate
and the shark who won most of his cousin's money.

Other choices

“Welcome to
Sweden,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., NBC. This show shines when focusing on
culture clashes; tonight, both episodes do that. First, Bruce (Greg
Poehler) reluctantly goes skiing, which is clearly his wife's turf.
Then his parents (Patrick Duffey and Illeana Douglas) arrive to
“help” plan the wedding.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC. One episode has the families of former
sitcom hunks – Mario Lopez and Joey Lawrence. The other has
golden-era stars, Ed Asner and Vicki Lawrence.

“I Am Cait”
debut, 8 p.m., E, rerunning at 10 p.m. and midnight. From an Olympic
gold medal to pop-culture stardom as a Kardashian stepfather, Caitlyn
(formerly Bruce) Jenner keeps drawing attention. Now a new reality
show follows Jenner, 65, who has been transitioning to female.

“Madam Secretary,”
9 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, Elizabeth scrambles to find the secret
bank account of the former secretary of state ... then learns that
one of her staff people already has access to it.

“The Crimson
Field” finale, 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Accused of
aiding the enemy, Joan could face life in prison. Also, Kitty (the
terrific Oona Chaplin) doesn't know who to trust.

“The Strain,” 10
p.m., FX. Can normalcy exist in a New York that's overrun? In this
well-crafted hour, officials declare that Long Island is zombie-free;
then, of course, there's a daring kidnap incursion. Meanwhile, our
heroes persist: Ephraim has trouble with his son, Dutch searches
desperately for her friend ... and Nora finally learns just how old
the ancient Abraham is.

TV column for Saturday, July 25

“Save My Life, Boston Trauma,” 10 p.m., ABC.

After a strong
opener Sunday, this ABC News series moves into its regular night with
an even better hour. Quick-paced, yet deeply human, it gets us
involved with medical people and, especially, patients.

It opens with
chilling motorcycle-crash footage. Soon, we meet a teen who fell
25-feet during a church sleepover (from now on, she vows, “I'm just
going to go to church for praying and stuff”), a family that was
blindsided by another car at a red light and a woman who allegedly
spat at her rescuers. “It's another night in Boston,” an
ambulance guy says calmly. “At least, she's a Bruins fan.”

II: “Hell on Wheels,” 9 p.m., rerunning at 10.

The episode starts
with some sensational footage, the kind that will make you vow never
to crash down a steep, snowy mountain. That's a flash-forward, so be
patient; “Hell” returns to it later in the hour.

Trying to rush the
railroad along, Cullen switches things: The Mormons take over
show-shoveling, amid wretched cold; the Chinese workers push an
engine up the mountain. Then comes the crisis, involving his only
Chinese translator; it's a perilous and dramatic hour.

ALTERNATIVE: “Aquarius,” 9 p.m., NBC.

For a time, the
summer overload was dizzying – 13 scripted hours (nine on broadcast
networks) every Thursday. In a last-minute move last week, this show
and “Hannibal” were bumped to Saturdays.

There's an up side:
Formerly the worst Thursday show, “Aquarius” is almost adequate
by Saturday standards. Tonight, two clumsy storylines – Hodiak's
drink was spiked by a hallucinogen, a fellow cop has hidden his
Latino roots – play alongside the ongoing stories about Charlie
Manson and about a young undercover cop. The undercover story is
fairly well-done, the others aren't.

Other choices

“Tut,” 6 p.m. to
midnight, Spike. Here's the entire mini-series in one gulp. It's
large and lavish; it's also a tad silly, somehow transforming Tut
into a warrior king.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. Julie Chen (“Big Brother,” “The Talk”)
plays an. ambassador in this rerun. After she escapes an attack in
Tunisia, Sam and Callen head on a dangerous mission.

“Cedar Cove,” 8
p.m., Hallmark. In last week's season-owner, Olivia hesitantly
resumed her romance with Jack, who'd lied about his alcohol relapse.
She does, however, rebuff his idea of moving in with her. Also last
week, Olivia's best friend (Grace the librarian) added unpaid duties
as a city administrator; now her daughter Maryellen returns with

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Scott Mescudi (also known as Kid Cudi) plays a
musician who created a controversial algorithm that makes hit songs.
Cliff “Method Man” Smith also guests.

“Boston EMS”
debut, 9 p.m., ABC. A companion piece to “Save My Life,” this
focuses on the first-responders. They're also in the 10 p.m. show,
but that one is more hospital-based.

“Hannibal,” 10
p.m., NBC. Here's the other show banished to Saturdays; now it jumps
ahead: Hannibal Lecter is in prison and a new villain (dubbed “The
Tooth Fairy”) looms. Jack asks Will for help.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) hosts this
rerun, with the Zac Brown Band as music guest.

TV column for Friday, July 24

“Home Free,” 8 p.m., Fox.

If you missed this
show's debut on an overcrowded Wednesday, catch it on this thoroughly
undercrowded night. “Home Free” is a huge leap from Fox's
mean-reality-show days.

We meet nine likable
duos, each desperate to be the one that wins a gorgeous home. First,
they link to remodel a standard house, under the skilled eye of Mike
Holmes ... who must eliminate one duo each week. The catch: Those
“losers” don't realize they've won the house they just worked on.
The final minutes of the show, as that begins to sink in, are a total

“Great Performances: Dudamel Conducts a John Williams Celebration
With the LA Phil,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

The first few
minutes of this concert show us the stunning range of composer John
Williams. First is a blast of trumpets and the rousing theme to the
1984 Olympics; then comes the haunting pain of Itzhak Perlman's
violin, with music from “Schindler's List.”

Some viewers will
consider Perlman's segment a tad slow, but stick around. Soon,
conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharonic have the
jazzy joy of “Catch Me If You Can,” then the booming sounds of
“ET” and “Star Wars” and such, plus a children's chorus
soaring with “Amistad.”

ALTERNATIVE: “The Terminator” (1984), 8 p.m., BBC America, and
more movies.

For all the
commotion of its sequels, this original “Terminator” – smaller
and tauter – remains a classic. Now it leads a packed movie night,
at 8 p.m. on cable.

There are laughs
with “Ghostbusters” (1984) on IFC, hugs with “The Blind Side”
(2009) on TNT and screams with “Scream 2” (1997) on MTV. Also,
Starz has the animated “Big Hero 6” (2014).

Other choices

More movies, cable.
If you're looking for large-scale adventure, there are two more
choices, from top directors. Chris Columbus' “Harry Potter and the
Chamber of Secrets” (2002) is 7-10 p.m. on ABC Family; Tim Burton's
“Alice in Wonderland” (2010) is 9-11:30 p.m. on TBS.

“Elementary,” 8
p.m., CBS. Launching a night of CBS reruns, Kitty is beginning to
crumble as her danger grows. As Sherlock tries to help, we learn
about the start of her relationship as his protege.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. When a neurosurgeon is killed, the case leads to the
disappearance of four reform-school boys, 40 years ago. Also,
McGarrett's car has been stolen.

“Knock Knock
Live,” 9 p.m., Fox. Well, it's not live any more, but it was on
Tuesday. This reruns the debut, with Ryan Seacrest hosting a show
that surprises strangers with gifts and opportunities.

“The Messengers”
series finale, 9 p.m., CW. It's time for the Messengers to battle the
Four Horsemen.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. When Jamie intervenes in an abusive relationship, he
becomes the guy's target. Meanwhile, his dad (the police
commissioner) faces the fall-out from insensitive remarks that were
made by his own father (the former commissioner) and leaked to the

“Missing in
Alaska” debut, 10:03 p.m., History. Every year, this channel says,
4,000 people disappear in Alaska; most are never found. In the
northwest part of the state, one region is even compared to the
Bermuda Triangle, with exotic explanations. In this series, experts
trace cases.

TV column for Thursday, July 23

“Wayward Pines” finale, 9 p.m., Fox.

Last week, Ethan
(Matt Dillon) finally told townspeople the truth: They're somehow in
the distant future; outside the massive fences is a scorched world,
with creatures ready to kill them.

Now the new woes
pile up: Pilcher – the town founder, who called himself Dr.
Jennings – has turned off the fence electricity, with deadly
results. Nurse Pam (Melissa Leo) confronts him. The intense Academy
students take action. Fox still calls this the “season finale,”
but sometmes admits it's more than that – the series finale,
wrapping up an odd but compelling story.

“Rookie Blue,” 10 p.m., ABC.

The season began
with Traci (Enuka Okuma) loaning her apartment to Andy (Missy
Peregrym) ... who then had to fight off an attacker. A massive search
for the neighborhood's serial rapist failed.

Now, four episodes
later, Traci fails to show up for a raid that she's been organizing.
Fearing that the rapist has returned, Andy and Gail start a frantic

ALTERNATIVE: “The Fugitive” (1993) and “Rectify,” 7 and 10
p.m., Sundance.

First is a terrific
film about a straightforward world. A guy (Harrison Ford) was
wrongfully convicted of murder; all he has to do is break free, elude
a great cop (Tommy Lee Jones) and find the real killer.

Then “Rectify,”
a Peabody Award-winner, has a deeper, subtler world. We doubt that
Daniel killed his girlfriend, but to end his prison nightmare, he
signed a confession and plea bargain; he faces a deadline to leave
town. Tonight brings great scenes probing his anger issues ... and
strong detours to the women he's impacted -- his sister and
sister-in-law, superbly played by Abigail Spencer and Adelaide

Other choices

“The Astronaut
Wives Club,” 8 p.m., ABC. In 1964, John Glenn launched his first
run for the U.S. Senate. This sees him on the campaign trail, with
his shy wife and her outgoing friend Rene Carpenter.

“Mom,” 8:30
p.m., CBS. Christy's quiet night alone is interrupted by a neighbor
(Colin Hanks). Also in this rerun, Bonnie's time with Alvin is
interrupted by his ex-wife (Beverly D'Angelo).

“Dateline,” 9-11
p.m., NBC. On Thursdays that are stuffed with non-reruns, NBC turned
out to be the loser. In a last-minute move last week, it exiled
“Aquarius” and “Hannibal” to Saturdays; now it must resort to
airing true-crime documentaries on TV's best night.

“Mistresses,” 9
p.m., ABC. Things go way too far for everyone – Joss helping
Calista's vengeance, Karen in her love triangle and Harry in the
aftershocks of having sex with his boss' mistress.

“Under the Dome,”
10 p.m., CBS. Big Jim has been taken prisoner by the corporation
that's trying to harness the dome's energy. Now he pumps Catherine
(Marg Helgenberger) for information.

10 p.m., FX. Johnny (Denis Leary) has to come up with five songs for
the album he'll make with his old bandmates and the talented daughter
he just met. Alas, they want him sober and he says he can't create
that way. The result is uneven, but has some funny moments.

“Married,” 10:30
p.m., FX. As her 40th birthday nears, Lina insists she
doesn't really want it noted. Her husband and friends aren't so sure;
the resulting party bounces between very funny and bittersweet. It's
a fine showpiece for the talented Judy Greer ... who did, indeed,
turn 40 on Monday.

TV column for Wednesday, July 22

“Last Comic Standing” season-opener, 9-11 p.m., NBC.

It's been a bumpy
ride, with eight previous seasons sprawled over 12 years. One time,
NBC skipped the show for three summers; another, it ordered two
editions ... then skipped the finale of the second.

Now “Comic” is
back, with more changes. It's shorter (eight weeks), has its fourth
host (Anthony Jeselnik) and has changed one of the judges (Norm
Macdonald replaces Russell Peters, alongside Roseanne Barr andKeenen
Ivory Wayans). At the core, however, is a show spotlighting gifted

“Extant,” 9 p.m., CBS.

This is an ambitious
summer show, with Oscar-winners as producer (Steven Spielberg) and
star (Halle Berry). Ratings have slipped in this second season,
though, so CBS is moving it an hour earlier.

Tonight, Molly
scrambles to find a virus that would destroy alien hybrids. Also, her
artificial-human son escapes from his keeper, in an attempt to stir
his wiped-away memories of her..

ALTERNATIVE: Debuts of “Home Free,” 9 p.m., Fox, and “Twinning,”
10 p.m., VH1.

In many ways, these
shows are opposites. “Home Free” -- a feel-good, home-fix-up show
-- has a terrific host (Mike Holmes) and, tonight, a wonderful
ending; “Twinning” has neither.

Still, there's a
common point: “Home Free” has a likable set of twins ...
inclucing the first person who gets a time out, for being overzealous
with a sledge hammer; “Twinning” pits a dozen sets of twins,
varying widely: Two guys dress alike and have never been apart for
more than 12 hours; two women have had sharply different looks for a
decade. You'll soon hate some twins and root for others.

ALTERNATIVE II: “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No,” 9 p.m., Syfy,
repeating at 11.

Twice now – first
in Los Angeles, then New York – airborne sharks have rained down;
both times, Finn (Ian Ziering) has fought back with guts, luck and
(at times) a chainsaw. But now an attack is zooming down the entire
East Coast; as usual for disaster films, national monuments are early

This brings back
Cassie Scerbo as Nova, the action hero from the first “Sharknado,”
and piles up the cameo roles, some of them (David Hasselhoff, Mark
Cuban, Frankie Muniz) substantial. It has many flaws – scarce
humor, grisly violence, disjointed story – but never claimed to be

Other choices

8-10 p.m., ABC. Fresh from its Emmy nomintion (for star Anthony
Anderson), this comedy offers four straight reruns. It starts with
Dre (Anderson) trying to preserve Halloween traditions; it concludes
with him reluctant to tell his mom that his sister (Raven-Symone) is
a lesbian.

“Melissa &
Joey,” 8 p.m., ABC Family. This is basically a clip show, with
scenes from the past. Still, the basic set-up – a parlor game --
brings laughs of its own.

“Baby Daddy,”
8:31 p.m., ABC Family. As Bonnie prepares for yet another wedding
day, her sons are in charge of her dress. The results, of course, are

“Suits,” 9 p.m.,
USA. Eric Close is know as a co-star of many shows (including
“Without a Trace”) and as the cheating mayor on “Nashville.”
But in five “Suits” episodes, he was Travis Tanner, Harvey's
enemy. Now he returns, claiming to be a changed man.

“Modern Family,”
10 and 10:30 p.m., ABC. Both transplanted reruns center on Claire.
The first, which is hilarious, has her stuck in the airport and
spying on the family via computer; in the second, she must quickly
shoot a commercial for her dad's closet company.

“The Jim Gaffigan
Show,” 10 p.m., TV Land. This quietly clever comedy got off to a
good start last week. Tonight, Jim tries to cut back on junk food;
then a kid's birthday cake tempts him.