TV column for Saturday, June 17


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“In an Instant,” 9-11 p.m., ABC.

On the day before
Thanksgiving in 2014, six inches of snow hit Newburgh, NY. Papito
Martinez, 11, and Jay Rivera, 9, went out at 7 p.m.; when they hadn't
returned at 10, a frantic search began.

The cousins had been
building an epic snow fort when a plow driver unknowingly dumped more
snow on top of them. It was after 2 a.m. before they were located and
pulled out. “Instant” -- a well-made series mixing re-enactments
and first-person accounts – talks to the boys and the cop who found
them.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Orphan Black,” 10 p.m., BBC America.

For some of the
clones – superbly played by Tatiana Maslany – the goal is to
overthrow the steel-willed Rachel. Sarah, however, simply wants to
get her daughter to freedom.

But how can she do
that? And what if the girl doesn't want to go? This is a disturbing
(and sometimes brutal) episode of an excellent series that has just
started its final season.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Turn,” 9 and 10 p.m., AMC, rerunning at 11 and
midnight.

To catch up, you can
see the final five episodes of the third season, from 7:30 a.m. to
12:30 p.m.; then the fourth and final season begins at 9, with George
Washington's spies in deep danger.

As a British
general, Benedict Arnold is relentless in searching for them; still,
Abraham (Jamie Bell) and his dad, the judge, have pulled off a double
life. Tonight's first episode is excellent; the second however,
descends into TV's obsession with torture. That reaches a brutal
extreme, in an hour to skip.

Other choices
include:

“To Tell the
Truth,” 8 p.m., ABC. Since humans really don't fly, it's good to
meet one who got the furthest; one contestant holds the record for
longest flight in a wing suit. Also in this reruns are a sea
survivor, the person who taught Miley Cyrus to twerk and twins whose
restaurant is staffed by twins.

“World of Dance,”
8 p.m., NBC. The third and final round of auditions ranges from
soloists to a 19-member troupe. This rerun also includes
Jabbawockeez, the first “America's Best Dance Crew” winner.

“Scorpion,” 8
p.m., CBS. In a rerun, the team is blackmailed into a nasty
challenge: Break into the United Nations and help kill a menacing
arms dealer.

“Criminal Minds,”
9 p.m., CBS. A dozen bodies have been found along a creek bed. Also
in this rerun, Damon Gupton joins the cast as Stephe Walker, a
veteran profiler.

“Doctor Who,” 9
p.m., BBC America. The story of the Ninth Roman Legion drifts
somewhere between history and legend. Some 5,000 soldiers reached
Britain, then disappeared from record books. Were they defeated by
skilled rebels ... or merely transferred ... or something else? This
hour prefers the more exotic routes, as the Doctor, Bill and Nardole
search for an answer.

“Hell on Earth,”
9 p.m., National Geographic, rerunning at 10:45. Tackling a sprawling
story, Sebastian Junger (“Restrepo”) manages to explain the chaos
of Syria and ISIS, while providng rich human detail.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Scarlett Johansson hosts this rerun, with
music from Lorde.

TV column for Friday, June 16


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Reign” finale, 9 p.m., CW.

Let's stop, for a
moment, and admire the real-life story behind this series: At 6 days
old, Mary became queen of Scotland ... At 16, her husband became king
of France ... At 18 and widowed, she returned to her Scottish throne
... but was the choice of Catholics to also become queen of England.

Now the fourth and
final season concludes. Facing the rage of England's Queen Elizabeth,
Mary ponders a drastic action to save her nation and her newborn son.
From the beginning, “Reign” has been inconsistent in quality;
still, it does have quite a story to tell.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Truth and Lies: Watergate,” 9-11 p.m., ABC.

The first two
editions stuck with famous murder cases – the Manson family and the
Menendez Brothers. Now “Truth and Lies” moves to the foggier
world of political intrigue.

It interviews the
reporters who broke the Watergate story (Carl Bernstein and Bob
Woodward) and the daughter of Mark Felt, their “Deep Throat”
source. It meets the burglars and the officers who arrested them,
plus such key White House and party officials as John Dean, Alex
Butterfield, Hugh Sloan and bookkeeper Judy Hoback Miller. Also
included are home movies shot by presidential advisors.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Great British Baking Show,” 9 and 10 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).

The British Isles
sent their crabbiest cook (Gordon Ramsay) here and kept all the
pleasant ones. This show has no screaming and such; one host
implores: “We want sumptuous drizzle, please.”

Judges also want to
see jaffa cakes and mirror cakes, from a likable batch of home chefs.
There's a clergyman, a hair stylist, two students, a retired
headmistress and more. Interestingly, the judges are often harsher
and more specific than Ramsay; they just make it sound so classy and
British.

Other choices
include::

“Home Alone”
(1990), 7:30 p.m., CMT. This sight-gag delight leads a mostly fun
movie night. At 8 p.m., AMC has Steven Spielberg's “Jurassic Park”
(1993) and IFC has “Revenge of the Nerds” (1984). At 8 and 10
p.m. ET, BBC America has Rob Reiner's jaunty “Princess Bride”
(1987).

"America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a quick rerun of Tuesday's
auditions

“The Originals,”
8 p.m,, CW. This is the opposite of “Reign”; it's a story that
(we really hope) has no roots in real life. In New Orleans, Marcel
has ruled a world of werewolves, witches and vampires. But then came
The Hollow, who is the spirit of an American Indian witch and gets
others to do her dark deeds. Setting up next week's season-finale,
Vincent and Marcel both have schemes to stop her.

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. The original series introduced the Colton family,
dangerous bounty hunters. This rerun brings them back, now with
Sheryl Lee Ralph as the matriarch.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Chin races to Mexico, where his niece has been
kidnapped. This rerun has George Takei as his uncle and bounty-hunter
“Dog” Chapman playing himself.

“So You Think You
Can Dance,” 9 p.m., Fox. After offering golfers (U.S. Open, 6-9
p.m.), Fox shifts to some other remarkable talents. This reruns
Monday's season-opener, filled with dazzling moves.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Frank is frustrated when a priest refuses to divulge
information from a confession, even if it might help find a missing
boy. Also in this rerun, one of Frank's sons (Danny) probes the death
of a prominent socialite; the other (Jamie) goes to a wedding with
his police partner.

“Instant Jam,”
10 p.m., CMT. Country star Brett Eldredge recently had a surprsie
(well, semi-surprise) concert. Through social media, he said there
would be a free show in Las Vegas, then – on the day of the show--
pointed fans to the ticket spot. This special catches the build-up
and the show.

TV column for Thursday, June 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“AFI Life Achievement Award,” 10 p.m., TNT, rerunning at 11:30.

It was 40 years ago
in April that “Annie Hall” opened, with a role Woody Allen molded
around Diane Keaton. She won an Academy Award and has thrived,
ranging from comedies to “The Young Pope.”

Now Keaton is the
45th American Film Institute winner. Originally dominated
by men -- Bette Davis was the only female winner in the first 11
years – it has gradually discovered women. Tonight, we can expect
lots of clips, with the presenters offering humor (Steve Martin,
Ellen DeGeneres) and warmth (Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Reese
Witherspoon).

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Scorpion,” 10 p.m., CBS.

For CBS, Thursdays
remain a win-lose night. The comedies are TV's best, but the drama
attempts -- “Rush Hour,” “Pure Genius” -- have flopped. “Zoo”
will arrive in two weeks; while waiting, CBS has reruns of its
successful shows -- “Bull” last week, “MacGyver” next week.

This “Scorpion”
goes back to November of 2015, when Walter was scrambling for money,
hoping to find a way to cure his sister. Then comes a big-money offer
that involves aircraft at the secret Area 51.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Manchurian Candidate,” (1962), 3:15 p.m.; “North
by Northwest” (1959), 5:30; and “Rebel Without a Cause: (1955), 8
p.m.; Turner Classic Movies.

Even for a channel
with “classic” in its name, this is extraordinary – three great
(and opposite) films.

“Manchurian” is
propelled by a thickly layered plot and John Frankenheimer's stylish
direction. “North” is Alfred Hitchcock at his most entertaining
-- Cary Grant as an ordinary guy on the run, with classic scenes
involving a small plane and Mount Rushmore. And “Rebel” brings
rich depth from young actors James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo.

Other choices
include:

Golf, all day. Over
the next four days, the U.S. Open will take up a large chunk of the
time on Fox and its cable channel. Tonign's opening round will be 11
a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, on Fox Sports1; then Fox takes over. It expects to
be done in time for “Love Connection” at 9.

“The Putin
Interviews,” 6-10 p.m., Showtime. If you didn't see the first three
hours of Oliver Stone's interviews with the Russian president, you
can catch them now. The final hour, at 9, is new.

“The Wall,” 8
and 9 p.m., NBC. This game show was a ratings success in its
10-episode winter run. Now it's back with two new episodes; next week
has one, leaving room for “Hollywood Game Night.”

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Last week's rerun had Raj finally decide to
forego his parents' financial support. Tonight's rerun has him
resorting to an extreme – putting Sheldon in charge of his money.
Also, Penny considers going to Comic-Con with Leonard.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. This follows up on last week's terrific rerun, in which we
learned that young Roscoe had been smoking pot. Now his mother and
grandmother feel overwhelmed.

“Nashville,” 9
p.m., CMT, rerunning at 10:03; also, 10 p.m., Nickelodeon. Damien
George, who was Scarlett's video director (and her lover), is back in
town, with big plans for her. Meanwhile, Maddie (the late Rayna's
daughter) and Clay (the street musician) are pulled over by a cop.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. Bonnie Somerville, most
recently of “Code Black,” plays a TV news anchor who says, on the
air, that her boss raped her.

TV column for Wednesday, June 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Little Big Shots” season finale (8 p.m.) and more, NBC.

If some hockey
moments had gone the other way, this line-up would have been bumped.
But the Penguins won, wrapping up the finals in six games; now
“Shots” ends its season as scheduled. Steve Harvey brings back a
12-year-old Welsh singer, a 10-year-old pianist and a 4-year-old
worship leader.

That's followed by a
good, new “Carmichael” episode at 9 (Jerrod is near a mall
shooting) and a “Superstore” rerun (there's a one-day sales goal)
at 9:30. At 10, an excellent This Is Us” rerun has Randall's
adoptive mother secretly meeting his birth father.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Steve Harvey's Funderdome,” 10 p.m., ABC.

It's a two-network
night for Harvey, with shows on NBC at 8 and ABC on 10. You'll also
find his talk show, syndicated to individual stations; and ABC has
his “Celebrity Family Feud” at 8 p.m. Sundays.

This one is sort of
a mix of “Shark Tank” (entrepreneurs pitching products) and
“World of Dance” (circular theater and screaming crowd). The
difference is that the audience decides who gets the funding. This
episode (rerun from Sunday) has loud people pitching so-so ideas.
Saving the show is Harvey, who keeps slowing things down to add a
much-needed human touch.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Undercover Boss,” 8 p.m., CBS.

From Janis Joplin to
Willie Nelson, talented singers keep moving to Austin, Texas. Now, it
seems, they're everywhere ... which Darius Rucker finds here.
Pretending to be a 62-year-old teacher, he sees talent in a club and
on a street-corner; an open-mic host glows with her music and
likability.

Then Rucker starts
to sing; “Is that Hootie?” someone whispers. It is, sort of; once
the Hootie & the Blowfish frontman, Rucker is now a country star
who offers an amiable touch in this rerun.

Other choices
include:

“The Handmaid's
Tale,” any time, Hulu. The acclaimed first season concludes; you
can also binge on the previous nine episodes.

“Queen Sugar,”
7-11 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. Six days before the second season
starts, it's catch-up time. Here are the final four episodes of the
first year; the full season will rerun Sunday.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. Over the first two weeks, the judges picked an appealing
bunch of home chefs. Now those 20 finalists must make something using
the 12 most popular ingredients.

“Kingdom,” 8 and
11 p.m., DirecTV/AT&T. With his championship intact and no
commitments, Ryan seemed ready to get big-time offers. Instead, he
went drinking with Garo and signed a three-fight deal; now Lisa must
prove her worth as manager. Meanwhile, Jay (retired from fighting, he
says) sees a chance for a real-estate deal with Ryan, Also, Alvey has
a health scare and Lisa has a date.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. Rushing to catch a flight, Mitchell and Cameron are
fighting the effect of sleeping pills. Also in this rerun, Phil and
Claire accidentally meet Alex's new boyfriend.

“Blood Drive”
opener, 10 p.m., Syfy. This is, Syfy says, in the grand tradition
(well, semi-grand) of “grindhouse” movies. An honest cop and a
dangerous beauty link for a gory, cross-country race.

“Fargo,” 10
p.m., FX. This northern world has been chaotic since Emmit Stussy
accidentally killed his brother, Ray. Now – a week from the finale
of a terrific tale – Emmit has wandered into the police station,
ready to talk. Nikki, who was Ray's fiancee, has been on the run, but
wants to negotiate.

TV column for Tuesday, June 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Downward Dog.” 8 p.m., ABC.

The main characters
in this clever show sample some new worlds tonight. For Nan, who's a
human, that's the corporate sleekness of Manhattan; it's a huge leap
from her Pittsburgh home. And for Martin, who's a dog, it's the
outside world on trash day; he soon has a feeding frenzey.

These are neatly
layered characters, skillfully played by Allison Tolman (from the
first “Fargo” series) and by ... well, a dog plus Samm Hodges'
voice. They make this a pleasant summer surprise.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“World of Dance,” 10 p.m., NBC.

Here's the last of
the three audition rounds, before duels begin next week. Performers
range from a couple soloists (one tap, one contemporary) to hip hop
from the 19-member Chapkis Dance Family.

One group tonight
may seem familiar. Jabbawockeez was the first winner of Randy
Jackson's “America's Best Dance Crew” in 2008; it has done the
other big shows (“Dancing With the Stars,” “So You Think You
Can Dance”) plus commercials and rock tours and launched a
nine-person Las Vegas hip hop show. Other styles tonight are ballroom
and flamenco, plus lots of jazz and contemporary.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Genius,” 9 p.m., National Geographic, rerunning at
11.

Previous episodes –
three of them rerunning from 6-9 p.m. -- leaped deftly between the
young and old Albert Einstein. But now, a week from the two-hour
finale, is a key moment: Einstein – already famous – is grilled
by a U.S. consul, to see if he can move from Nazi Germany to America.

There's a prologue –
illustrating J. Edgar Hoover's anti-Communist rage – along with
occasional flashbacks. Mostly, though, this simply has three great
actors – Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush, Oscar-nominee Emily Watson and
Vincent Kartheiser of “Mad Men” -- with lives at stake.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Animal Kingdom,” 9 p.m., TNT, rerunning at 10.

Last week, a quick
heist got Deran the money he needs to buy a bar; now he has to decide
what he'll risk to get a liquor license. Meanwhile, Baz plan a much
bigger job stealing from a mega-church ... unaware that Pope is
bonding with a young woman from the church.

Then again, Pope has
other secrets ... including the fact that he killed the mother of
Baz's daughter. And we still don't know much about Manny; tonight,
“Smurf” takes her grandson to his wake.

Other choices
include:

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's the third round of auditions, with
more next week.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. A sailor's dying wish is that an old murder case be re-opened.
That's a rerun, but there's an new “Real NCIS” documentary at 10
p.m.

“iZombie,” 9
p.m., CW. A new episode of this oft-clever show comes up with an
intriguing notion: Liv and Blaine both munch the brains of a
conspiracy theorist ... leading to a surge of paranoia.

“Black-ish,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., ABC. At times, this comedy can turn dead-serious.
That's clear in both of these reruns. First, family members feel
aftershocks from the election; then Bow confronts her own feelings
about being biracial, when her son brings home a white girlfriend.

“Brooklyn
Nine-Nine,” 9:30, Fox. The precinct has a shaky new captain (Ken
Marino). And Captain Holt? In this rerun, he and Jake are suddenly on
the other side of the interrogation table.

“Fresh Off the
Boat,” 10:30 p.m., ABC. Eddie's mom gives him a lesson about hard
work. That's something the family knows about. This time, it's
keeping the restaurant open on Thanksgiving.