TV column for Wednesday, April 18

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “American Idol,”
8-10 p.m., Fox.

Last week, viewers gave this a nasty
spin. They put the show's best singers – Jessica Sanchez and Joshua
Ledet – in the bottom three, with a good singer, Elise Testone. And
they put Sanchez last.

Fortunately, the judges get one “save”
a season and used it. Past history, however, is ominous.

The first person saved (Matt Giraud in
2009) would have finished seventh, he was ousted at No. 5. The
second, Michael Lynch, would have been eighth, he was No. 4. The
third, Casey Abrams, would have been 11th; he was No. 6.
Now we'll see if the gifted Sanchez can leap to the top.

the B in Apartment 23,” 9:31 p.m., ABC.

In last week's dandy opener Chloe
bedeviled her new roommate June. Now that she knows June won't budge,
she actually sets hr up with a smart, handsome guy who's a good

Yes, there's a catch – a funny one.
Also, James Van Der Beek has great moments playing himself, trying to
escape everyone's “Dawson's Creek” memories.

Order: Special Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC.

A Wall Street executive is chatting
with his wife by camera phone, when an intruder kidnaps her.

The husband is desperate; the police
are skeptical. From here, the story takes sharp twists.

This isn't nearly as good as last
week's episode, which saw Benson discover she'd helped convict the
wrong man. There's no mention of the aftermath here; it's an OK
story, boosted by great work from Chloe Sevigny, known for lots of
independent films (including “Boys Don't Cry”) and “Big Love.”

Other choices include:

– “Nature,” 8 p.m., PBS (check
local listings). Isaac Babcock called it a “honeymoon”; his new
wife Bjornen called it an “adventure.” They spent a year in the
2.5-million-acre River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho. They faced
problems – from wolves to her rheumatoid arthritis – and emerged
with great footage. With the auction starting at 5 p.m. on WCET, the
PBS shows move to this channel.

– “Best Friends Forever,” 8:30
p.m., NBC. Jessica's belongings have been sent cross-country. Now she
must accept the fact that she's divorcing … and Joe must accept the
fact she'll be around for a while.

– “Suburgatory,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.
Alicia Silverstone begins what will be at least a four-episode stay.
She plays the radiant Eden, a health-food buff who – in funny
scenes – puts George in the hospital.

– “Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.
There are some clever moments here, as Phil and Claire decide how to
tell their son that the kindly old neighbor is dead. Also, Barry
Corbin – forever playing tough Texans – is Cam's visiting father,
promptly annoying Mitchell's dad.

– “Revenge,” 10 p.m., ABC. Fresh
from a seven-week break, this show finds life in chaos. Daniel is in
jail under murder charges. His mother is distraught – but also
distracted by a former lover. He's played by James Purefoy – who
played regal leaders in the “Rome” and “Camelot” series

– “America Revealed, 10 p.m., PBS
(check local listings). A huge network gets us around the country,
including four million miles of roads, 200,000 miles of railroads and
5,000 airports. In an excellent hour, Yul Kwon visits control centers
and views Los Angeles' rush-hour crawl from a helicopter.

TV column for Tuesday, April 17

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Raising Hope”
season-finale, 9:31 p.m., Fox.

Last week brought a jolt: Hope's
mother, a convicted serial killer, survived her execution.

Now she seeks custody. There's plenty
of damning information about Jimmy's parenting skills.

The trial brings a string of witnesses,
including the three stars – Jason Lee, Jaime Pressly and Ethan
Suplee – of “My Name is Earl,” which was from the same
producers. A few jokes seem forced, but many click; “Hope” – a
clever but inconsistent show – ends its season on a high note.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Glee,” Fox or
“Gidget” (1959), Turner Classic Movies, both 8 p.m. ET.

Choose your youth-flashback era. “Glee”
eyes 1977, when disco ruled; the kids do numbers from “Saturday
Night Fever.” TCM goes even further back.

Sandra Dee plays Gidget, a sweet and
slender teen in the brassy world of bikini beaches; she falls for
Moondoggie (James Darren) and Big Kahuna (Cliff Robertson). It's an
OK film; “Gidget Goes Hawaiian” (1961), at 9:45 p.m., is less OK,
but Deborah Walley and Hawaii are appealing.

Wasn't There,” 8-9:30 p.m., Investigation Discovery.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the public
was fascinated by Tania Head's story.

She told of her fiance's death in one
tower, her own near-death in the other. She told of being rescued by
a hero who died; she guided tourists, led the survivor group, worked
tirelessly without pay.

And then the story took some stunning
twists. We won't spoil anything here; this Meredith Vieira production
lets the surprises roll out at just the right times.

Other choices include:

– “The Biggest Loser,” 8 p.m.,
NBC. Reality shows often offer cruel twists. This time, the final
five reportedly rebelled, walking out and shutting down production.
“Loser” managed to retain some of them; tonight, after the
walk-out, two people advance to the finale, with the third added next

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. Gaius
Charles, one of the talented young “Friday Night Lights” stars,
guests. He plays a Baltimore detective who works with Tony after a
fire reveals classified Navy documents.

– “Ringer” season-finale, 9 p.m.,
CW. The truth may emerge. Bridget considers telling Andrew that she's
not really her rich twin Siobhan; Henry considers telling Bridget
what really happened to Siobhan. And others – cops and crooks –
close in on her.

– “Dancing With the Stars,” 9
p.m., ABC. In a change, the judges will decide who's going home; the
bottom two in viewer votes will dance to the same cha-cha numbr.
Earlier, Train sings “Drive By” and Selena Gomez sings “Hit the
Lights.” There's also a Latino number, with Sheila E as

– “New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox. Age
differences are key here: Nick's new girlfriend may be too young;
Jess' boyfriend may be too old for her. Jess struggles with
babysitting for his pre-teen daughter.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,”9:01 to
10:02 p.m., CBS. A murdered Navy officer was leading a double life.

– “Private Practice,” 10:01 p.m.,
ABC. Now that “Scandal” has taken this show's spot on Thursdays,
“Practice” borrows Tuesdays from “Body of Proof,” which ended
its season early. Tonight, Erica is near death; also, Pete and
Violet, both newly single, may have feelings for each other.

TV column for Monday, April 16

season-opener, 9 p.m., Syfy.

Last season saw this genius-filled town
prepare the Astraeus craft on a journey to Titan. Then the ship
disappeared with Allison Blake – not an astronauts – still on

Now come two big surprises, one early
in the hour and the other at the end. Both reflect the “Eureka”
knack for mixing humor, character drama and science-fiction twists;
its a great start to the final season.

the Stars” (ABC) and “The Voice” (NBC), 8 p.m..

“The Voice” has reached its
quarter-finals now, with 16 people left. They have more face-offs,
pointing to the May 8 finale.

And “Stars”? Last week, Sherri
Stringfield was eliminated, cutting the field to nine. Melissa
Gilbert was rushed to the hospital after bumping her head, but her
dance partner said that was exaggerated.

Boys Are” (1960), 8-10 p.m., Turner Classic Movies.

As the weather warms, TCM starts four
nights of beach double-features. That includes double-Gidget on
Tuesday and the first two “Beach Party” films on Thursday.

First are two spring-break films: “Palm
Spring Weekend” (1963), at 10 p.m., drew shrugs; “Where the Boys
Are” drew attention with its hit song and its appealing newcomers –
Paula Prentiss, Yvette Mimieux, Jim Hutton, George Hamilton and the
immensely likable star, Dolores Hart. She's now known as Mother
Prioress, some 49 years after leaving Hollywood to be a nun.

Other choices include:

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. Ted is settling into a quieter life, living alone in his
apartment. Barney, however, says he should be out partying, making
every night “legndary.”

– “2 Broke Girls,” 8:30 p.m.,
CBS. On the night before the federal income-tax deadline, CBS airs
this handy reminder: Max, it turns out, has never filed a return.
This shocks Caroline, who knows about finance, what with her dad
being in prison for bilking people out of billions.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Alan is moving in with Lyndsey, despite his poor track record.
(Last time he did that, he burned her house down.) Also, Zoey and her
daughter move in with Walden.

– “House,” 9 p.m., Fox. Here's
more bad behavior from Dr. House: He's upset that his favorite hooker
is marrying and retiring; his solution, of course, is to sabotage her

– “Smash,” 10 p.m., NBC. A movie
star (played by Uma Thurman) has the lead in the musical; now Ivy and
Karen – former competitors – are reluctant allies. Meanwhile, the
songwriters have opposite fates: Tom's romance heats up; Julia and
her estranged husband must link to deal with a crisis.

– “Crash Course” debut, 10 p.m.
ET, BBC America. Richard Hammond, a modest-sized Englishman, travels
the U.S. to drive mega-sized vehicles. That starts with Army tanks at
the misnamed Fort Bliss. The result is fairly blah, letting us
appreciate the brilliant writing of Jeremy Clarkson, who makes sure
“Top Gear” (8-10 p.m. on BBC America, with Hammond and James May)
is thoroughly entertaining.

– Castle, 10:01 p.m., ABC. In his
novels, Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) gives tough-cop names –
Derrick Storm, Nikki Heat – to his heroes. Naturally, he can't
resist a chance to work with Ethan Slaughter, a hard-nosed cop.
Slaughter is played by Adam Baldwin, Fillion's old “Firefly”

TV column for Sunday, April 15

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Good Wife,”
9 p.m., CBS.

A previous episode introduced the
show's new villain, Mike Kristeva (Matthew Perry). Now we learn he's
cunning, scheming and a brash liar; he's also the biggest obstacle to
Peter's race for governor

It's a strong episode, the first of
three to wrap up the season. Eli helps his ex-wife (the terrific
Parker Posey) with her campaign; Alicia battles her mother-in-law and
scrambles to free jailed teens.

Classic,” 9-11 p.m. Sunday, PBS (check local listings).

When Charles Dickens died in 1870, “The
Mystery of Edwin Drood” was unfinished. Ever since, people have
fashioned their own endings, even turning it into a musical. Here's a
new try, deep and dark and ultimately worth the struggle.

A choirmaster (Matthew Rhys) is bitter
about his nephew Edwin (Freddie Fox) and in love with Rosa; in an
opium haze, he may have killed someone. It's a grim tale, but stick
with it and it all makes sense.

debut, 10 p.m., CBS

Talented people combined for this tough
cop drama. Robert De Niro produced, James Mangold (“Walk the Line”)
directed the pilot, good actors (led by Leelee Sobieski and Adam
Goldberg) play rookies.

Still, this will take some patience.
The opener tries too hard; it veers toward melodrama, making sure
everyone has a big back story and a huge first day. “NYC 22” gets
better in the weeks ahead.

Other choices include:

– “The Simpsons,” 7 and 8 p.m.,
Fox. First is a rerun, with Lisa falling for an intellectual guy.
Then a new episode finds Bart facing bullies after Jimbo's girlfriend
likes him.

– “A Few Good Men” (1992), 7-10
p.m., Ion. Aaron Sorkin (“West Wing”) turned his courtroom play
into a terrific movie. Rob Reiner directed it beautifully; Tom
Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson leads a top cast; with lots of
young stars – Kiefer Sutherland, Noah Wyle, Kevin Bacon and more.

– “Titanic” conclusion, 9-10:01
p.m., ABC. In Saturday's three hours, we met jaded aristocrats and
working-class dreamers. An Italian waiter fell instantly in love with
a cute maid, while his burly brother shoveled coal. An Irish-Catholic
dad dreamed of America, while his wife fell for a handsome killer.
Now, in the show's best hour, we'll see who survives.

– “The Borgias,” 9 p.m.,
Showtime. Yes, Rodrigo Borgia is cruel and lusty; now that he's Pope
Alexander VI, we also see his decency – especially when he shows
Rome's real poverty to a corrupt cardinal. Meanwhile, his daughter
Lucrezia meets the stable boy who fathered her child.

-- "The Client List," 10 p.m., Lifetime. This show is floundering to find an identity. The movie version -- a housewife accidentally finds a career at a massage parlor with sexual overtones -- was serious; the first series episode added Loretta Devine, Cybill Shepherd and humor. This episode flubs its few humor attempts and veers into melodrama, as Riley (Jennifer Love Hewitt) traces a mysterious phone number written by her missing husband.

– “Nurse Jackie,” 10 p.m.,
Showtime. The immensely cynical Jackie is in rehab now, mad at the
world. Back at the hospital, her colleagues face changes with one
question: “What would Jackie do?”

– “The Big C,”10:30, Showtime.
Recovering mentally, Cathy crumbles emotionally in a strong episode.
Her husband reveals way too much on his blog; she drinks (using an
assumed name) and misbehaves

– “Girls” debut, 10:30, HBO. Two
years out of college, Hannah suddenly has no job, no boyfriend and
only enough money to stay in New York for three-and-a-half days.
Written by and starring near-newcomer Lena Dunham, this is a
deceptively smart and funny start to a promising series..

TV column for Saturday, April 14

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Titanic,” 8-11
p.m., ABC; concludes 9-10 p.m. Sunday.

It was 100 years ago tonight, just
before midnight, that the Titanic struck an iceberg. Now the story is
retold by Julian Fellowes, a master (“Downton Abbey” and “Gosford
Park”) of period dialog.

This is a British-Canadian-Hungarian
project, meant to be in four one-hour chunks. ABC lumps the first
three together, making an odd experience. People are boarding
lifeboats by the end of the first hour; then we keep flashing back to
learn more about them.

A few of themare overwrought, but many
soon become involving. We see multiple class structures in 1912, so
rigid that British passengers fume about having an Italian waiter. We
also see America as the goal; it's the one place where people can
grow … if the ship will get them there.

Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

Josh Brolin's first time hosting “SNL”
was impressive. Adele sang; Mark Wahlberg dropped in.

This time, the music guest is Gotye –
an electronic pop band which has a French pronunciation (like
Gauthier), is from Australia … and is actually one guy. That's
Wally de Backer; this year, his album has reached No. 9 on the
Billboard chart and his “Somebody That I Used to Know” was No. 4.

(1992) and“Beauty and the Beast” (1991), 7 and 9 p.m., ABC

Fast and frenetic, “Aladdin” is a
fairly fun film, including Robin Williams' hyperactive work as the
genie. “Beauty” is warmer, deeper and better, the first cartoon
nominated for the best-picture Oscar.

Songwriters Alan Menken and Howard
Ashman also won two Oscars for “Beauty”; they also did the music
for “Aladdin,” with Tim Rice stepping in after Ashman's death
from AIDS.

Other choices include:

– Racing, 7 p.m. ET, Fox.There's no
“Cops” tonight; instead, it's NASCAR from Fort Worth, Texas.

– “Good Hair” (2009) and “I
Think I Love My Wife” (2007), 7 and 9 p.m.,BET. It's a Chris Rock
double-feature. He produced and hosts a documentary, then directs and
stars as a tempted guy.

– “CSI: NY,” 8 p.m., CBS. This
rerun is set on the 10th anniversary of th Sept. 11
attacks. That brings a flood of flashbacks, with Jaime Ray Newman as
Mac's late wife.

– “The Bodyguard” (1992), 8-11
p.m., AMC. This is the movie many people turned to after Whitney
Houston's death. The story – a tough pro (Kevin Costner) protecting
a music star (Houston) – is so-so, but there are stunning moments
when she sings Dolly Parton's “I Will Always Love You.”

– “48 Hour Mysteries,” 9 and 10
p.m., CBS. In a late change, CBS is pulling its “Mentalist” rerun
and running two straight true-crime hours.

– “Being Human” season-finale, 9
p.m., BBC America. The Old Ones arrive, intent on destroying the
world. This is not good.

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,”10 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, a military contractor has been
drugged and assaulted, but seems unwilling to testify. As Haden
(Harry Connick Jr.) joins the probe, it leads to a much larger
conspiracy in Iraq.