TV column for Tuesday, April 19


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Parenthood”
season-finale, 10 p.m., NBC.

Last week's episode ended with Amber in
a fierce car accident. Tonight, the family waits and worries.

That's part of a cascade of major
moments. Adam has meltdowns at work and at home … his sister Sarah
(Amber's mom) hears a reading of her first play … their brother
Crosby is desperate to get Joy back … and their dad has a
passionate monologue.

In the style of “Parenthood” (and
real parenthood), all of this brings richly understated emotions.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Glee,” 8
p.m. Fox, and “Hellcats,” 9 p.m., CW.

After languishing in reruns, both
youth-oriented shows start their spring runs of new episodes.

On “Glee,” the kids help another
unpopular club. The hour includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Cheyenne Jackson
(who has done five Broadway musicals) and Charice, the sensational
teen belter.

For “Hellcats,” there's fun as Dan
applies for film school with an offbeat zombie movie starring the
cheer squad. There's also a serious note as Marti has revelations
about the dad she barely knew. In between, clumsy plot twists involve
Dan's hesitance and a cheating scandal.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Black in
Latin America” debut, 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Sharing an island, two nations have
different languages, time zones and values.

Haiti – where slaves overthrew their
masters – takes pride in its African roots. In the Dominican
Republic, pale skin has been so valued that the dictator wore
make-up. In this fascinating start to a four-week documentary series,
Henry Louis Gates studies the history and standards on both sides.

Other choices include:

– “Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution,”
8 p.m., ABC. Banned from bringing his nutrition effort to Los Angele
schools, Jamie Oliver has resorted to demonstrations. Last week, he
filled a school bus with sugar; tonight, he dresses as a tomato. He
finds one school he can enter, then faces fresh obstacles.

– “Dancing With the Stars,” 9
p.m., ABC. Prior to the latest ouster, country star Toby Keith sings
“American Soldier” and “Should've Been a Cowboy.”

– “Raising Hope,” 9 p.m., Fox. In
a so-so episode, Jimmy tries to disrupt the romance of his loved one
and her clueless boyfriend. Also, there's a romance between Jimmy's
grandmother (Cloris Leachman) and a guy (Jerry Van Dyke) who is
equally senile.

– “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). There are powerful moments in this
Oscar-nominated documentary, as artist Vik Muniz returns to his
native Brazil, to capture images of the people who spend their lives
picking through the world's largest garbage dump.

– “16 & Pregnant”
season-opener, 10 p.m., MTV. Jordan has key advantages – a
boyfriend, twin sister and grandmother, all eager to help during her
pregnancy. Still, she faces agony, in a fairly solid hour.

-- "Royally Mad," 10 p.m., BBC America. Here's the second half of a goofy little special in which Cat Deeley takes some royalty-obsessed Americans to England, to meet experts on the upcoming weddng.


“Body of Proof,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. Long ago, one critic complained
that an “L.A. Law” romance (Michael Tucker and Jill Eikenberry)
was extremely unlikely … then learned the actors were married in
real life. This fairly good episode may bring the same reaction, as
the nerdish Ethan (Geoffrey Arend) meets a grieving beauty –
played by Christina Hendricks (Joan in “Mad Men”), Arend's
real-life wife. Also, Megan probes a surgery-turned-fatal.

 

TV column for Monday, April 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “American
Masters,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

John Muir grew up in the isolation of a
Wisconsin farm. He pondered, wandered, invented; self-taught, he went
on to study at the University of Wisconsin.

After losing an eye in a workplace
accident, Muir began a 1,000-mile walk and a transformation.

He would bring fresh insight of the
natural world and then write about it in magazines. Americans –
most of whom would never see the West – were fascinated.

After four days outdoors with Muir,
Theodore Roosevelt preserved 230 million acres of land. Now,
preceding Earth Day on Friday, “Masters” superbly tells Muir's
story, against magnificent backdrops.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “90210, 8 p.m.,
CW.

After a rerun break, CW starts its
batch of new Monday and Tuesday episodes.

The “90210” gang heads on spring
break to Mexico – by private jet, no less – in mid-feud. Adrianna
fumes that Silver took her boyfriend Navid; the dirty tricks begin.

Some of that is way over the top, but
the rest is fun. Annie drags Liam around town. Teddy fears that the
other guys here are all straight. Naomi – afraid to admit that she
and a nerd are making love – passes him off as her math tutor. It's
just your typical spring break.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “William &
Kate,” 9-11 p.m. Lifetime, and/or “20/20,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Eleven days before the royal wedding,
cable and broadcast channels are gearing up.

For ABC, that starts with Barbara
Walters anchoring this hour. It includes a bridesmaid from Princess
Diana's wedding and one from Queen Elizabeth's wedding, plus authors
and experts and more.

For Lifetime, it's a movie that's easy
to watch or to ignore. It depicts Prince William (Nico
Evers-Swindell) as a quietly likable hunk, a cross between a popular
mom and doltish dad; it shows Kate Middleton (Camilla Luddington) as
a natural, good at shooting and swimming and fashion and more. Their
college relationship is easy and sexual; their post-college life has
fierce detours.

Other choice include:

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. It's the second of three episodes with John Lithgow as
Barney's father. Now Barney wants his friends to lie, to make his
world seem more interesting.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, Alan scrambles for a way to get a good present for
Lyndsey. His solution – steal jewelry from his mother.

– “Gossip Girl,” 9 p.m., CW. This
is the only show in which someone can, with accuracy, say “your mom
sent a man to prison, just to get you back in private school.” Now
that mom (Lily) awaits sentencing for her lie, amid much nonsense
about a “modern royalty” photo shoot. Most of this is absurd, but
it inserts Lily's rebel sister Carol (Sheila Kelley) and gives the
show a new character – Carol's daughter Charlie, an outsider seeing
Manhattan wealth from fresh eyes.

– “Cougar Town,” 9:31, ABC.
Before returning to its Monday spot, ABC gets a Monday spot. Despite
warnings, Jules sdabbles in her son's love life.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Music mogul Sean Combs plays a New York cop, determined to get
vengeance against the crime lord who had his family killed.

TV column for Monday, April 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “American
Masters,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

John Muir grew up in the isolation of a
Wisconsin farm. He pondered, wandered, invented; self-taught, he went
on to study at the University of Wisconsin.

After losing an eye in a workplace
accident, Muir began a 1,000-mile walk and a transformation.

He would bring fresh insight of the
natural world and then write about it in magazines. Americans –
most of whom would never see the West – were fascinated.

After four days outdoors with Muir,
Theodore Roosevelt preserved 230 million acres of land. Now,
preceding Earth Day on Friday, “Masters” superbly tells Muir's
story, against magnificent backdrops.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “90210, 8 p.m.,
CW.

After a rerun break, CW starts its
batch of new Monday and Tuesday episodes.

The “90210” gang heads on spring
break to Mexico – by private jet, no less – in mid-feud. Adrianna
fumes that Silver took her boyfriend Navid; the dirty tricks begin.

Some of that is way over the top, but
the rest is fun. Annie drags Liam around town. Teddy fears that the
other guys here are all straight. Naomi – afraid to admit that she
and a nerd are making love – passes him off as her math tutor. It's
just your typical spring break.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “William &
Kate,” 9-11 p.m. Lifetime, and/or “20/20,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Eleven days before the royal wedding,
cable and broadcast channels are gearing up.

For ABC, that starts with Barbara
Walters anchoring this hour. It includes a bridesmaid from Princess
Diana's wedding and one from Queen Elizabeth's wedding, plus authors
and experts and more.

For Lifetime, it's a movie that's easy
to watch or to ignore. It depicts Prince William (Nico
Evers-Swindell) as a quietly likable hunk, a cross between a popular
mom and doltish dad; it shows Kate Middleton (Camilla Luddington) as
a natural, good at shooting and swimming and fashion and more. Their
college relationship is easy and sexual; their post-college life has
fierce detours.

Other choice include:

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. It's the second of three episodes with John Lithgow as
Barney's father. Now Barney wants his friends to lie, to make his
world seem more interesting.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, Alan scrambles for a way to get a good present for
Lyndsey. His solution – steal jewelry from his mother.

– “Gossip Girl,” 9 p.m., CW. This
is the only show in which someone can, with accuracy, say “your mom
sent a man to prison, just to get you back in private school.” Now
that mom (Lily) awaits sentencing for her lie, amid much nonsense
about a “modern royalty” photo shoot. Most of this is absurd, but
it inserts Lily's rebel sister Carol (Sheila Kelley) and gives the
show a new character – Carol's daughter Charlie, an outsider seeing
Manhattan wealth from fresh eyes.

– “Cougar Town,” 9:31, ABC.
Before returning to its Monday spot, ABC gets a Monday spot. Despite
warnings, Jules sdabbles in her son's love life.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Music mogul Sean Combs plays a New York cop, determined to get
vengeance against the crime lord who had his family killed.

TV column for Sunday, April 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Killing”
(AMC) or “The Borgias” (Showtime), both 10 p.m.

Each Sunday, these two collide. One is
brooding, the other brash; both are brilliantly crafted.

“Killing” is spending 13 weeks on
one crime, with deep portraits of the cops, the suspects and the
grieving parents. Tonight, the police find key pieces – we won't
learn what – of the victim's secret life.

“Borgias,” by comparison, is full
of Vatican spectacle. Tonight, we learn more about the political
schemes of 15th-century Italy; one pawn in those schemes, Lucrezia
Borgia, gets married. There's a great wedding-reception scene
involving her mother.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Extreme
Makeover:Home Edition” return, 8 p.m. ABC.

Now that “Secret Millionaire” has
finished its trial run, this show is back.

Tonight, it goes to Wichita to help
Carl Hall. A former star athlete, he had a busy life with his wife
and four kids; then, a hear ago, a car accident left him paralyzed.
Now the Halls gets a sports vacation while builders and designers
remake their home.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “What Happened
in Waco,” 8 and 11 p.m., CNN.

The 1993 stand-off between federal
agents and the Branch Davidian cult ended with 86 people dead, 24 of
them children. This documentary calmly and colorlessly views mistakes
on both sides.

It visits two survivors –
apparently, the entire current flock of Branch Davidian – who meet
each Sunday. Also, a man who left the cult has cleared the land, with
hopes for a religious gathering.

Other choices include:

– “Nature,” 8 p.m., PBS (check
local listings). Two years ago, a fire swept through Victoria in
Australia, killing 173 people and scorching a million acres. Then,
almost instantly, a comeback began. Animals recovered, plants grew,
trees survived – all of it recorded beautifully.

– “Human Planet,” 8 and 9 p.m.,
Discovery. Here's the mid-section of this gorgeous series. Tonight
follows Inuit fishermen in the Arctic, then goes to Burma, Ethiopia
for life in jungles and grasslands.

– “Lemonade Mouth” (Disney) and
“The Shunning” (Hallmark), both 8-10 p.m. Here are quick reruns
of two fairly good films, viewing opposite youths – rockers on
Disney, an Amish woman on Hallmark.

– “Desperate Housewives,” 9 p.m.,
ABC. Fresh from a kidney transplant, Susan obsesses on gambling.

– “Masterpiece Classic,” 9 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). Packing a lot into three weeks, this
“Upstairs Downstairs” sequel is beautifully done but crowded.
Tonight has good news for Agnes, dark dealings for her self-centered
sister. Also, a new housekeeper is ushered into and out of the story.

– “Game of Thrones” debut, 9
p.m., HBO. It's a slow start for this epic and violent, 10-week
fantasy series. We need the whole hour to start to know the
characters – even longer to care about them.

– “The Fall of Sam Ax” 9-11 p.m.,
USA. Bruce Campbell's “Burn Notice” character gets his own movie,
a prequel to the “Burn Notice” series.

– “TV Land Awards,” 9-10:30 p.m.,
TV Land. This starts with Liza Minnelli singing “New York, New
York,” then piles up TV memories with Michael J. Fox, John
Travolta, Bill Cosby and more.

– “River Monsters,” 10 p.m.,
Animal Planet. In a strong hour, Jeremy Wade traces stories of a
giant, killer snake in New Zealand. He finds a fierce eel that fits
the description.

TV column for Saturday, April 16


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “The Shunning,”
9-11 p.m., Hallmark.

Katie Lapp's life is quiet and orderly.
Her Amish family is loving; her marriage is coming.

Then she changes her mind and is
shunned, even by her parents. Complicating things is the arrival of
an outsider with a secret.

The story – from Beverly Lewis' novel
– often seems forced, but the execution is first-rate. Michael
Landon Jr. offers his gentle directing touch here, with a fine cast
led by Danielle Panabaker as Katie and Sherry Stringfield as the
outsider.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: “Truth Be
Told,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

Candace Cameron Bure plays a marriage
counselor who may land a dream job on a radio talk show.

The catch: People might distrust a
marriage expert who's not married. Visiting a media mogul, she wants
a widower (David James Elliott) and his kids to pretend to be her
family.

The result is the latest in a series of
family-friendly movies that started on NBC, then moved to Fox.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Law &
Order: LA,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC.

Here's a second chance to see Monday's
episodes, which launched the show's revamp.

The first hour is messy and violent,
but accomplishes its purpose – taking Morales (Alfred Molina) out
of the district attorney's office and into the police station. That
pays off in the second hour, when Molina's masterful work sparks a
strong interrogation scene.

Other choices include:

– Playoffs, all day. This is opening
day of the NBA playoffs, with basketball games set for 3:30 p.m. ET
on ABC and 5:30, 8 and 10:30 on ESPN. It's also opening week for the
NHL playoffs; there's hockey at 1 p.m. on NBC and at 7 and 10 p.m. on
Versus.

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a shoot-out at a gun store may be linked to
a young woman's suicide.

– “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead
Man's Chest” (2006), 8-11 p.m., ABC. Here's the second of three
large (too large, at times) adventures with Johnny Depp, Keira
Knightley and Orlando Bloom.

– More movies, 8 p.m., cable. There
are romantic comedies, good – “Knocked Up” (2007) on E – and
great – “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) on TV Guide. And there's
Jim Carrey in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” (1994) on ABC Family
and “Lemony Snicket” (2004) on TBS.

– “Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.
This reruns the episode that added Taryn Manning as McGarrett's
sister. Balthazar Getty plays a dangerous prison escapee, with D.L.
Hughley as a fellow inmate.

– “Braxton Family Values,” 9
p.m., WE. Here's another chance to see the interesting start of a
reality series that shows Toni Braxton and her four younger (and
noisier) sisters.

– “Law & Order: Special
Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. Giving a rape-prevention talk at his
daughter's college, in this rerun, Stabler comes across an accusation
and a denial.

– “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29
p.m., NBC. In the rerun of a good episode, Gwyneth Paltrow hosts and
Cee-Lo Green does the cleaned-up (“Forget You”) version of his
hit song.