TV column for Thursday, March 8


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 and 8:31 p.m., CBS.

TV's best comedy gets back-to-back
episodes. Both focus on Sheldon (Emmy-winneer Jim Parsons) and his
iffy status as Amy's boyfriend.

In the first, he catches a two-day
videogame marathon, instead of accompanying her to a birthday party.
In the second, a rerun, Penny coaches him after he seems unimpressed
by Amy's accomplishment.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Awake,” 10
p.m., NBC.

Last week's brilliant opener showed us
the basics: Michael sometimes wakes in a world in which he and his
wife are mourning the son who died in a car crash; at other times,
the wife is dead and the son is not. One world is in his imagination,
but we can't tell which; each has its own therapist, its own partner
for Michael (a police detective), its own cases.

In tonight's strong hour, we learn that
he has the same boss (Laura Innes) in both worlds. She frets about
his sanity; he can't tell her he's probing a crime in one world by
using a clue from the other.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Saving Face,”
8:30 p.m., HBO.

Just 11 days after winning the Academy
Award for best short documentary, this has its cable debut. Yes, it's
well-crafted, important and affecting; it's also, however, extremely
hard to watch.

Many Pakistani women have had their
faces scarred by acid, often by angry husbands or spurned boyfriends.
Now some people push for new laws and for tougher prosecution; also,
Dr. Mohammad Jawad, a plastic surgeon, returns to his homeland to
help rebuild faces and lives.

Other choices include:

– “Jersey Shore,” 11 a.m., MTV.
Maybe you could cancel all your plans, get some beer – a LOT of
beer – and stare at the Jersey folks. This 91-hour marathon will
continue until 6 a.m. Monday.

– “American Idol,” 8 p.m., Fox.
Tonight brings the first elimination. Also, Lauren Alaina, last
year's runner-up, sings her new single, “Georgia Peaches.”

– “30 Rock,” 8 p.m., NBC.
Kenneth, the former page, goes against Liz in his new job.

– “Grey's Anatomy,” 9 p.m., ABC.
In a rerun, Richard performs his 10,000th surgery. It's not a joyful
time, though; he sees the early signs of his wife's Alzheimer's
disease.

– “Project Runway,” 9 p.m.,
Lifetime. Tonight, we learn who will be the three finalists in this
“all-star” edition. Also, a design is chosen to be sold
nationally.

– “Japan Tsunami:Caught on Camera,”
9 p.m., TLC. Tapes of the 2011 disaster are woven together.

– “Up All Night,” 9:30 p.m., NBC.
Chris and Reagan are intent on befriending a cool gay couple.

– “The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Catherine Dent (“The Shield”) is back as FBI agent Susan Darcy.
She wants Patrick Jane to help in a case involving a woman who was
killed after meeting someone Online.

– “Archer,” 10 p.m., FX. In this
offbeat show, even death is temporary. Katya – the sexy Russian spy
who was Archer's true love – has been revived as a robot. The
resulting episode is less funny and more raunchy than usual, but has
its moments.

TV column for Wednesday, March 7


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

Until now, “Idol” has made all its
contestants follow the same theme. Some weeks, that's easier for the
men, some for the women.

Now comes a detour: The six women will
do Whitney Houston songs; the seven men will do Stevie Wonder songs.
Then viewers vote, setting up the first elimination Thursday.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Suburgatory,”
8:30 p.m., ABC.

The new guy in school (Dan Byrd of
“Cougar Town”) seems to have a secret. Tess decides he's gay.

That's part of a funny rerun. It
includes a couple of great scenes from Rex Lee – formerly Lloyd on
“Entourage” and now the hapless Mr. Wolfe.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “I Am Bruce
Lee,” 9-11 p.m., Spike.

Bruce Lee seemed to pack many lifetimes
into his 32 years.

He was a tough guy who won real-life
street fights and did push-ups with one thumb. He was also a cha-cha
champion and an addicted “General Hospital” fan.

He was born in San Francisco, became a
child star in Hong Kong, then returned to th U.S. as an unknown,
becoming a star in the U.S. and a superstar overseas. It's a great
story, told with plenty of clips – even an early audition interview
– plus comments by his wife, his daughter and more.

Other choices include:

– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. This
reruns the New Year episode, in which everyone was arbitrarily given
resolutions to follow. The toughest: Brick must read less; Mike must
smile more.

– “Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.
In a rerun, Josh Gad (star of the Broadway hit “The Book of
Mormon”) plays a neighborhood guy who became an Internet
billionaire. Phil doesn't seem pleased.

– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 9 p.m., NBC. This rerun (nudging “Rock Center” to 10
p.m.) peaks with an intense and beautifully acted scene with Benson
(Mariska Hargitay) and a suicidal youth (Cameron Monaghan). There's
also a good (albeit very brief) role for Miranda Lambert, as a
victim.

– “Happy Endings,” 9:31 p.m.,
ABC. After three straight reruns, this is ABC's only new comedy. Alex
and Jane conspire to convince Dave that something didn't happen; he's
sure it did.

– “Revenge for Real,” 10 p.m.,
ABC. “Revenge” takes a two-week break, leaving room for
non-fiction murder stories. Tonight focuses on Ted Ammon, his
glamorous wife Generosa (who was portrayed by Poppy Montgomery in the
cable movie “Murder in the Hamptons”) and her electrician
boyfriend.

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
10 p.m., CBS. Brody (Elisabeth Harnois) has some bad luck in this
rerun: She's on a helicopter that's been hijacked.

– “Hot in Cleveland,” 10 p.m., TV
Land. When a deadly spider is loose, people retreat to a lake house.
They learn that Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli) is dating the former
fiancee of Joy (Jane Leeves).

– “Million Dollar Listing: New
York” debut, 10 p.m., Bravo. The stakes are high, the apartments
and condos are beautiful … and, alas, the featured salesmen are
unlikable.

TV column for Tuesday, March 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Comedies, 8-10
p.m., Fox.

With “Glee” on a break, Fox has
cobbled together a four-comedy night.

That starts with “Raising Hope,”
which has Katy Perry playing Sabrina's odd cellmate in a jail. Then
comes a mismatch – the sometimes-awful “I Hate My Teenage
Daughter” at 8:30, the oft-wonderful “New Girl” at 9. A vastly
improved “Breaking In” starts its second season at 9:30.

Last year, “Breaking” – with a
team testing (and beating) security systems – had slick schemes and
so-so humor. Now Megan Mullally is added as, at first, a mystery
figure; the result is a big jump in humor.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Justified,”
10 p.m., FX.

The opening credits haven't popped up
yet and there's already been a fierce jolt. “Justified” is like
that, but in this case events start to frame Raylan Givens.

Other events frame Boyd Crowder. (To be
fair, both are easy to frame.) There are flaws, with things working
out too easily; still, this hour has the show's knack for sharp
dialog and great characters.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: Election
results, all night.

This is “Super Tuesday,” with 10
states voting and the Republican nomination at stake.

The news channels will obsess on this
all night, but broadcast will also jump in. NBC has a primetime hour
at 10 p.m.; ABC follows with “Nightline” at 11:35.

Other choices include:

– Concerts, 8 and 9:30 p.m., WCET.
First a Beatles re-creation from Rain, The night's second
pledge-drive concert has Yanni in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, a Navy lieutenant has been killed through forced
over-hydration. Meanwhile, Ducky (David McCallum, 78) has a gorgeous
girlfriend (Cheryl Ladd, 60).

– “Last Man Standing,” 8 p.m.,
ABC. Jamie-Lynn Sigler (“Sopranos”) plays Ed's daughter, whose
youth-appeal ideas replace what Mike was doing.

– “Cougar Town,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.
Sarah Chalke (“Scrubs”) plays a college photography prof. Bobby
falls for her instantly, but his son Travis won't introducer her to
him.

– “The Luck of the Irish” (2001),
8:30 p.m., Disney. It's bad enough to lose your lucky charm; now
imagine that your parents keep getting smaller because … well,
they're becoming leprechauns. Ryan Merriman stars in a fun film that
gets us in the mood for St. Patrick Day.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun has the team searching for a software creator who is
linked to a cyber attack on the Defense department.

– “Jane By Design” season-finale,
9 p.m., ABC Family. Ben knows about Jame's double life – a shy high
school student who is also a fashion-designer, pretending to be an
adult. She may have to quit … but Fashion Week is near and her work
is needed.

– “Body of Proof,” 10 p.m., ABC.
This rerun finds a lottery winner killed, leaving plenty of suspects.

TV column for Monday, March 5


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Voice,”
8-10 p.m., NBC.

The blind auditions saw a rich variety
– farmers, waiters, a baker, a secretary and more – being chosen.
They sang lots of pop and country, plus occasional reggae, folk, soul
and flat-out rock 'n' roll.

They had nothing in common, except
strong talent. Now – split into four 12-act teams – they compete.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE (or tape): “The
Bachelor, 8-10 p.m., ABC.

We're a week from the season-finale.
Next week, Ben Flajnik, a California winemaker, will choose Courtney
Robertson, a California model, or Lindzi Cox, a Seattle
business-development manager.

First, however, the others get their
chances to comment on him and on each other. In particular, we can
expect comments on Robertson, who has accumulated enemies.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Love Broker,”
10 p.m., Bravo.

Here's the flip side of the cold
approach of Patti Stanger and “Millionaire Matchmaker.” Lori
Zaslow brings warmth, charm and a strong people sense.

Tonight, she deals with David Fischer,
a 40-year-old man-child who likes baseball caps and tiny women. She
finds Ivy, who is 4-foot-11 and vibrant; it's a fun hour with likable
people.

Other choices include:

– “Alcatraz,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox.
Here are back-to-back hours, searching for former Alcatraz prisoners.
The Ames brothers almost escaped; Sonny Burnett was considered
ultra-violent.

– “Blue Eyed Butcher,” 8 and 10
p.m., Lifetime. This true-life story – a husband stabbed 193 times
– gets a quick rerun. The early portions, as his abuses build, are
repetitive; the second half is fascinating, with Sara Paxton
excellent as a killer who is in deep denial.

– “2 Broke Girls,” 8:30 p.m.,
CBS. It's a night of CBS reruns, including this one focusing on
Chestnut the horse and Peach the mom. One needs a job that will
provide winter warmth; the other tries out for “Real Housewives of
TriBeCa.”

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Devastated by his divorce, Walden still perks up when he meets a
British beauty (Sophie Winkleman)

– “Ice Pilots” debut, 9 p.m.,
Weather Channel. At the edge of civilization – Yellowknife, a city
of 18,000 in Canada's Northwest Territories – is Buffalo Airways.
Using propeller planes from the 1940s, it takes people and freight to
the even-more-distant parts. Often, that's crucial. This mission (a
troubled and interesting one) involves a back-up generator that's
crucial to a small, Northern town.

– “Smash,” 10 p.m., NBC. Yes,
Julia (Debra Messing) is happily married; so is Michael (Will Chase,
an experienced Broadway star). Still, they once had an affair; now
that he's cast in her musical, they're closer together. Also, Ellis
schemes, Ivy worries, Karen has an alternate use for her acting
skills.

– “Castle,” 10:01 p.m., ABC.
Castle and his mother are held hostage by bank robbers in this rerun.
On the outside, Beckett has trouble helping – especially with a
by-the-books negotiator (played by Dean Norris of “Breaking Bad”).
On the inside, Castle suspects there's a much bigger plot.

TV column for Sunday, March 4


SUNDAY'S MUST-SEE: “GCB” debut,
10:01 p.m., ABC.

Amanda (Leslie Bibb) is a California
beauty, married to a rich guy. Then it all crashes … literally; she
retreats to Dallas, her mom (Annie Potts) and her snarky high school
friends.

Then she realizes how mean they are –
and how mean she was. The perfect “Desperate Housewives”
companion, “GCB” has beautiful people and soapy situations.
Adapting the “Good Christian Bitches” novel, Robert Harling
(“Steel Magnolias”) added warmth and his fondness for Southern
women.

SUNDAY'S MUST-SEE II: “Army Wives”
(9-11 p.m., Lifetime) and “”Breakout Kings” (10 p.m., A&E)
season-openers.

It's the sixth season for “Wives,”
which finds itself in crisis mode. The base (with Joan in charge) is
battered by a hurricane, leaving Pam homeless and the others
struggling.

And it's the second season for “Kings,”
which has convicts speeding their release by helping catch escapees.
This has one of TV's great characters in Lloyd (Jimmi Simpson), a
brainy psychologist with few social skills; tonight's escapee is a
sniper he once helped convict.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: Pledge-drive
specials, PBS.

Each station has its own pledge
line-up, but many have a spectacular “Phantom of the Opera” at 8
p.m.

“Phantom” starts slowly, but
quickly adds power. Soon, the Phantom (Ramin Karimlov) is in his lair
with Christine; strong visuals combine with great voices and a
strident score.

Other choices include:

– “The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox.
Bart finds sudden fame as a graffiti artist.

– “Once Upon a Time,” 8 p.m.,
ABC. Amy Acker of “Angel” is sweeping through the fairy-tale
shows. Fresh from being a “Grimm” villain, she plays a nun named
Nova here. Mary Margaret and Leroy (who are Snow White and Grumpy in
the alternate world) try to help her charity project.

– “Desperate Housewives,” 9 p.m.,
ABC. In the show's final season, the women are facing a fresh
question: Will they help raise their grandchildren? Susan says yes;
Lynette says no.

– “The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS.
Mamie Gummer (Merle Streep's daughter) is back as Nancy Crozier, a
tough opponent. Alicia battles her, defending a student whose
documentary may have led to a suicide,

– “Hollywood Girls Night” debut,
9 p.m., TV Guide. Think of this as a weekly “View.” The opener is
at Alison Sweeney's home, with Ali Landry, Kyle Richards. Sheryl
Underwood and Tracey Gold.

– “CSI: Miami,” 10 p.m., CBS. A
man was killed, just before he could reveal wrong-doing.

– “Luck,” 10 p.m., HBO. Ace
(Dustin Hoffman) keeps nudging his scheme of a massive casino and
horsetrack. Also in this OK episode, things are shaken by an earquake
and overwrought jockeys.

– “The Kandi Factory,” 10 p.m..,
Bravo. On “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” Kandi Burress produced a
successful single for Kim Zolciak. Now she tries to do that for two
strangers, in this 90-minute special.

– “Life's Too Short,” 10:30 p.m.,
HBO. The third episode is darker (and a tad less funny) than the
first two, but still worth catching. Warwick Davis is accused by
other little people of hogging all the jobs and all the attention.