TV column for Thursday, April 25

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Community,” 8
p.m., NBC.

Inspired by the movie “Freaky
Friday,” Troy and Abed announce that they've switched bodies. Soon,
the spindly Dean Pelton claims he's switched with the macho Jeff.

Is this true? Are they putting us on?
And why does the custodian keep checking the light switch? The
answers unfold, sometimes hilariously, while Annie and Shirley
compete to be valedictorian.

Runway” finale, 9-11:01 p.m.., Lifetime.

In last week's episode (rerunning at
8), Daniel Esquivel was eliminated. That leave three people showing
their collections, with a shot at being the show's 11th

Michelle Lesniak Franklin, 34, is from
Portland, Ore., where she was once an assistant winemaker. Stanley
Hudson, 44, is from West Hollywood, where he also does costumes. And
Patricia Michaels, 46, is from Taos Pueblo, N.M., which her people
created centuries before Columbus.

10:01 p.m., NBC.

The show's strength and weakness are
accented in another extraordinary episode.

The weakness is in the
case-of-the-week. This wraps up suddenly, like an afterthought.

And the strength is in the richly
layered characters. Hugh Dancy is again superb as Will Graham, the
troubled crime-profiler. And for the first time we get some real
depth to his boss (Laurence Fishburne), whose wife (Gina Torres of
“Firefly” and “Suits”) is introduced, with her own troubles.

Other choices include:

– “American Idol,” 8 p.m., Fox.
Now things get tough. The only people left are Candice Glover, Kree
Harrison, Angie Miller and Amber Holcomb. Barring another
rules-changes, a great singer will depart.

– “Vampire Diaries,” 8 p.m., CW.
Will CW double its vampires next season? That depends on the success
of this series, which doubles as a pilot for a possible spin-off
series: Klaus heads to his family's home town of New Orleans, where
schemes swirl.

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Here's a constant frustration for science-fiction fans: A show
sets up a great premise … then is canceled without resolving it.
Tonight, that happens to Sheldon's favorite show and he turns gloomy;
also Raj learns a secret about his new girlfriend (Kate Micucci).

– “Two and a Half Men,” 8:31
p.m., CBS. Having been dumped (again) by Lyndsey, Alan is despondent.
Walden tries (again) to cheer him up.

– “Glee,” 9 p.m., Fox. When the
power goes out, Will and Finn ask glee-clubbers to do acoustic
numbers. And in New York, Isabelle (Sarah Jessica Parker) asks Kurt
to help at a charity event.

– “Mary and Martha,” 9 p.m., HBO.
If you missed this movie Saturday, catch it now. Hilary Swank and
Brenda Blethyn are superb as opposites, united by pain and hope in

– “Elementary,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Refusing to celebrate his first year of sobriety, Sherlock Holmes
tackles a tough task – finding the accomplice of someone who
blackmailed the family of rape victims.

– “Scandal,” 10:02 p.m., ABC. The
First Lady makes a decision that could doom the president.

TV column for Wednesday, April 24

Idol,”8-10 p.m., Fox.

Yes, this season may have the show's
best singers. More importantly, it has the best voters.

Each week, they've seemed to get it
right. All five of the guys were eliminated first. When only women
were left, voters dumped Janelle Arthur, a gifted singer surrounded
by gifted-plus. There's been no outrage … and no reason for judges
to use their “save.”

Now four women remain. They'll
reportedly choose one song at will and one from a “one-hit wonder.”

Family,” 8:30 and 9 p.m., ABC.

“Suburgatory” has finished its
season and a new show debuts next week. Filling the gap, ABC gives us
two reruns of this annual Emmy-winner; both bring trouble for Claire
(Julie Bowen).

In the first, she ends up in the
hospital after some Valentine's Day role-playing with her husband
Phil. In the second, she goes to a reunion alone and meets a
professor she used to date; then Phil arrives.

That first one also catches Cam and
Mitchell, the morning after their Valentine party. They have
hangovers … and no idea why Dylan is now living with them.

“Nature,” 9 and 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

In the old days, Australia had
mega-monsters; now it suburban kangaroos.

“Nova” offers the third chapter of
a four-part series on Australia's natural history. Like the previous
two, it has gorgeous scenery; unlike them, it adds elaborate
re-creations of dinosaurs and more, in surprising places. A bone-dry
town of 170 people has remnants of a giant lake that held

Then a delightful rerun offers less
ferocity. Kangaroos form an uneasy co-existence with suburbia.

Other choices include:

– “Survivor,” 8 p.m., CBS. With
last week's elimination of Phillip Sheppard – the former soldier,
former federal agent and current eccentric – “Survivor” is down
to six “favorites” and three “fans.” Tonight, among other
things, they have the annual food auction.

– “Nature,” 8 p.m., PBS (check
local listings). Leading into the Australian double-feature, this
rerun views the harpy eagle, a South American raptor capable of
taking a large monkey back to its nest.

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. In
fairly good stories, Axl fears he's no match for his brainy
girlfriend and Sue fumes at the prospect of the cheerleaders taking
over her duties as a wrestling rooter. In a lesser story, Frankie
arranges for her stoic husband to have a “play date” with a

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 9 p.m., NBC. When a sorority pledge say she was raped,
Benson finds administrators are intent on protecting reputations, not
protecting students.

– “How to Live With You Parents
(For the Rest of Your Life),” 9:31 p.m., ABC. Other kids may have
imaginary friends, but Natalie has an imaginary bully. She conjures
it up after hearing that her divorcing parents won't have the annual
family camping trip.

– “Chicago Fire,:”10 p.m., NBC.
Dawson tries desperate steps to help her brother (Jon Seda).

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
10 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, five bodies have been found in what
seems to be a meteor site. Finlay (Elisabeth Shue) recognizes one and
re-visits her past.

TV column for Tuesday, April 23

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “New Girl” and
“The Mindy Project,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., Fox.

It's a possible turning point for
“Project,” as Mindy fumes about her medical partners and decides
to be her own boss. Before that is a “New Girl” rerun, with
romance being tattered in hilarious ways.

Jess tries to shrug off the fact that
Nick kissed her, but grants that “I saw through space and time for
a moment,” Now she tries to hide this from her handsome boyfriend

Also, Cece goes to a marriage
convention for people who share her East Indian roots. Schmidt –
not even remotely East Indian – goes there to win her back.

p.m., CBS.

Ziva (Cote de Pablo) has been on a
personal mission to catch the man who killed her father, the head of
Israel's Mossad force. Now she believes Bodnar (Oded Fehr) is in
Berlin; she heads there with Tony.

That's in an hour that also has
flashbacks to her early years with her dad. Also, a Mossad operative
has been killed in the U.S.; the NCIS team tackles the case amid
international repercussions.

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

A week after Ken Burns' compelling
“Central Park Five,” PBS starts a rerun (on two Tuesdays) of a
Burns classic with a much different time and tone.

The setting is the American prairie.
Lured by speculators, outsiders bought so-so farm land and were
encouraged by the government to plow it up. Then the winds. The
stories – of moving on or of withstanding a decade without money or
hope – are deeply moving.

Other choices include:

– “The Voice,” 8 p.m., NBC. This
is the last of the “battle rounds,” with dueling duos. Next week,
the “knockout “ rounds begin.

--Basketball, 8 and 10:30 p.m., TNT. In
the weeks ahead, the pro play-offs will take up large chunks of
cable. Tonight's double-header has the second game in two
best-of-seven series; it's the Boston Celtics at the New York Knicks,
then the Golden State Warriors at the Denver Nuggets.

– “16 Wishes” (2010), 8:30 p.m.,
Disney. Before getting her own series (“Jessie”), Debby Ryan was
the likable lead in this light (and fairly funny) film. On her 16th
birthday, wishes start to come true.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS.After a task force killed a drug-cartel boss, his body was
stolen. The NCIS people search for a leak … and for the body. Kensi
and Deeks head to Mexico.

– “Golden Boy,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Clark has been secretly dating a reporter. Now he's accused of
leaking information in the latest case, about the murder of an
aspiring model.

– “Frontline,” 10 p.m., PBS
(check local listings). Americans have invested $10 trillion toward
their retirements … but are the financial institutions really on
their side? This probe looks at fees, kickbacks and “self-dealing”

– “Body of Proof,” 10:01 p.m.,
ABC. A teen-ager has been killed at a mental institution and another
patient says she saw the killer emerge from a heating vent.
Meanwhile, Megan persists in trying to prove her dad didn't commit
suicide; she wants her mother to approve exhuming the body.

TV column for Monday, April 22

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: :”Brain Games,”
9 and 9:30 p.m., National Geographic.

The mind, it seems, is easily misled.
It will tell us one object is bigger (or brighter or faster) than
another, even if they're identical. It will focus on one thing and
lose the rest.

Magicians use these quirks, scientists
study them and now TV turns them into fun. Jason Silva is the
enthusiastic host, with magician Apollo Robbins offering surprises
and illusions. This is a bright, play-along show; occasionally,
viewers will get something right.

Following,” 9 p.m., Fox.

A week from the finale of this taut
season, the forces are ready to collide.

Aided by the FBI's Parker and Westen,
Ryan (Kevin Bacon) prepares to raid the compound of serial-killer Joe
Carroll and his followers. Meanwhile, some of the followers have
infiltrated the town's evacuation center, creating a distraction …
and a kidnapping.

opener, 9-11 p.m., Sundance.

Daniel Holden (Aden Young) spent 19
years on Death Row. Then the sentence was vacated on a technicality;
DNA evidence suggest his innocence, but some people want a new trial.

Now he's in a world he doesn't know.
The family business is run by his mother's new husband, whose son
also works there. Only Daniel's sister backs him energetically.

Tonight's first hour is filled with
eloquent pauses. In the second hour, Daniel has two remarkable
dialogs that show this six-hour mini-series could be special.

Other choices include:

– “Curious George Swings Into
Spring,” 8 a.m., PBS (check local listings). Here's an hourlong

– “Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood,”
11 a.m., PBS (check local listings). The amiable cartoon character –
son of one of Fred Rogers' puppets – has his first Earth Day
special, cleaning the neighborhood park. Some PBS stations also have
holiday episodes of “Barney & Friends,” “WordGirl” and

– “An Apology to Elephants,”
7-7:40 p.m., HBO. Elephants have great emotional depth, narrator Lily
Tomlin tells us. They nurture together, mourn together. Often,
however, humans confine them to zoos or use fear to teach them circus
tricks. Using vivid clips, “Apology” ranges deftly from joy to

– “Dancing With the Stars,”
8-10:01 p.m.,ABC. This has been a tough year for dancing comedians.
Last Monday, D.L. Hughley and Andy Dick tied for the lowest totals
from judges. Once viewers' votes were added in, Hughley was ousted,
with Victor Ortiz at second-low.

– “The Voice,” 8-10:01 p.m.,
NBC. The “battle round” continues today and Tuesday.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 9 p.m., CBS.
In a rerun, Caroline expects an intimate cabin vacation with Andy.
Then Max comes along, making things awkward.

– “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). The Republic of Maldives seems like a
tropical paradise. Only one-tenth of its 1,200 islands are populated,
with less that 330,000 people overall. But the islands are less that
five feet above sea level and could be swallowed if the Indian Ocean
continues to rise. This Earth Day film sees the Maldives president go
to the Climate Summit.

– “Lost Girl” season-finale, 10
p.m., Syfy. This packed episode starts with Bo desperate to save
Tamsin … who is crucial in saving the caged Dyson. There's much
more, including a fierce crash.

-- "Castle," 10:01 p.m., ABC. In a late switch, ABC is inserting an episode with Ioan Gruffudd. He plays a charming man whose business parter was killed. Castle is eager to wrap up the case, before Beckett falls for the guy.

TV column for Sunday, April 21

Sunday,” 9-11 p.m., ABC.

Gus (Zachary Levi) is a jewelry-store
worker, a bright and likable guy whose brain aneurysm left him with
no short-term memory. Molly (Alexis Bledel) is a waitress with big
dream and bad luck.

The story may sound contrived, but it's
done with all the skill we expect from “Hallmark Hall of Fame”
films. Barry Morrow (“Rain Man”) wrote a neatly nuance script and
Jeff Bleckner, a two-time Emmy-winner, directed beautifully, getting
great work from the stars.

Circle,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listing).

During World War II, these women
cracked codes and saved lives. Now they've settled into quiet lives …
until one feels she's detected a serial killer's pattern.

This launches a three-week series that
has one flaw (one-dimensional men) and many pluses. There's a smart
plot with twists and surprises; there's also a superb lead
performance by Anna Maxwell Martin.

Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO.

Here's the hour that the season's first
three episodes pointed to. Several stories peak, one powerfully.

That involves Daenerys, who's buying an
army to go along with her young dragons. She's dealind with a foul
man whose insults are covered up by his translator. Tonight,
negotiations conclude spectacularly.

Other choices include:

– Once Upon a Time,” 8 p.m., ABC.
Belle has troubles in both worlds with Rumplestiltskin and his modern
persona, Mr. Gold. In our world, he tries to jog her now-cursed
memory; in fairytale land, he forces her to join a mission to find
and kill the thief she freed.

– “Lovestruck: The Musical,” 8-10
p.m., ABC Family. A magic potion helps a mom turn young and secretly
meddle in her daughter's romance. It's a fairly fun story, spiced
with music, dance and the rarity of Jane Seymour sharing a role with
young Chelsea Kane.

– “The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS.
Alicia has complications at home (Peter wants to renew their vows)
and work (she takes a case as a favor for her mom). Also, Kalinda
pits two sides against each other.

– “Masterpiece Contemporary,” 9
p.m., PBS. Selfridge's affair with Ellen Love has crumbled badly. Now
she turns to pills and he goes out for a drunken drive.

– “Nurse Jackie,” 9 p.m.,
Showime, reruns at 9:30. On Jackie's birthday, she's clean-and-sober,
but still troubled. Her best friend has left the country, her boss
has memory lapses, there's a custody fight and the attractive new
doctor manipulates guys. It's a busy and involving hour.

– “The Borgias,” 10 p.m.,
Showtime. The plots to poison the pope and kill his family have
failed. Now he starts his retribution … unaware of plans for one
more fierce attack

– “Veep,” 10 p.m., HBO. The
vice-president juggles family crises, a hog roast and a hostage
crisis. This may be the best episode to contain the line: “Move the
veep away from the pig.”

– “The Client List,” 10 p.m.,
Lifetime. With bills piling up, Riley gets a chance to make big
money. She mopes a lot and cries some, in an exceptionally bad

-- "Ice Cold Gold" debut, 10 p.m., Animal Planet. Here's an unexpected effect of global-warming: For the first time in centuries, prospectors might be able to reach valuable minerals in Greenland's imposing terrain. This interesting series follows an American team which has about two months to try to strike it rich in a fierce setting.