TV column for Sunday, May 11



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Once Upon a Time” and “Revenge” season
finales, 8 and 10 p.m., ABC.

Clearing the night a week before the season’s final Sunday,
ABC has these stylishly filmed tales.


On the two-hour “Once,” Zelena has pulled Emma and Hook into
her time portal; they struggle to get back without changing events. Then
“Revenge” has Emily and Victoria in total warfare; at least one person will be
killed tonight, ABC says.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Rosemary’s Baby,” 9-11 p.m., NBC;
concludes Thursday.


Back in 1968, Hollywood boldly hired Polish director Roman
Polanski, a critics’ favorite, to direct the “Rosemary’s Baby” movie. Boosted
by a popular new star (Mia Farrow), it soared.


Now another acclaimed Pole, Agnieszka Holland, has directed
this new version; she does it beautifully, with Zoe Saldana (“Avatar”)
stunningly good as a prof’s wife who finds strangers obsessed with her
pregnancy. Still, this is a fairly straight-ahead tale, with a final twist;
stretching it out benefits no one.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Penny Dreadful,” 10 p.m., Showtime.


Ethan is a sort of low-rent Buffalo Bill, touring 1891
London with a wild-West show that involves some skill and much hokum. Suddenly,
he meets real people (Eva Green, Timothy Dalton) with real trouble.


Soon, he’s descended into a swirl of killers, both from our
world and beyond. Some of the scenes are way too gory and grisly for most
tastes; still, “Penny” is beautifully filmed and has great dialog emerging from
gifted actors. Green is perfect; Dalton has aged into a Patrick Stewart-style
talent.


Other choices include:


Mother’s Day films, cable. Two feel-good channels have holiday
films. Hallmark’s “Mom’s Day Away” (which debuted Saturday) is noon and 9 p.m.;
UP’s “My Mother’s Future Husband” is 7 and 11 p.m. The latter has arbitrary
twists to extend the story, but glides on the immense likability of Lea
Thompson and, especially, Matreya Fedor as a teen who obsesses on her mom’s
romance, ignoring her own.


“The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox. Marge and Lisa both swear off
trying new friendships.


“The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS. A client’s insensitive remarks
may scuttle a billion-dollar deal.


“Game of Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO. Tyrion confronts his
imposing father; Daenerys expands her power.


“Nurse Jackie,” 9 p.m., Showtime. Last week, Jackie’s
boyfriend spotted her pill-popping. Now she’s rushing to hide her far-flung
stash, in an episode with an odd (and interesting) non-ending.


“Californication,” 9:30 p.m., Showtime. When Hank decides to
get Levon a prostitute – hey, what’s a father for? – everyone gets involved.
What follows is a terrific scene, both comic and chaotic.


“The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS. While deciding whether to
move away with Agent Pike, Lisbon scrambles with Patrick Jane to stop a
kidnapping ring before the victims are sent overseas.


“Silicon Valley,” 10 p.m., HBO. This oft-quiet comedy comes
up with a big, brilliant gag, when one of the guys gets a ride in a driverless
car.


“Mad Men,” 10 p.m., AMC. Don has a visitor from his past;
also, Harry has a new ally at the agency.


TV column for Saturday, May 10



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Orphan Black,” 9 p.m., BBC America; “In
the Flesh” season-opener, 10 p.m.

This terrific-yet-obscure channel may get noticed with a
night of clones, zombies and sheer talent.


“Orphan” continues Tatiana Maslany’s brilliant work as
Sarah, a drifter and scam artist, and the varied clones she’s still learning
about. As tonight starts, she’s been kidnapped away from her daughter; one
clone is a cult captive, another is in rehab. It’s a fierce and compelling hour.


Then “Flesh” starts its six-week mini-season. The first
season (only three episodes) began four years after the dead inexplicably rose.
They’ve finally been released after years of incarceration; in a little English
village, the mood ranges from understanding to an anti-zombie patrol.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: Sports overload, ABC, Fox and cable.


As seasons collide – summer events meet winter-sports
playoffs – sports take half the big-four networks. Fox has NASCAR (7 p.m. ET at
the Kansas Speedway); ABC has basketball, as the Heat-Nets series move to Brooklyn
for the third of a best-of-seven; it’s 8:15 p.m. ET, with pre-game at 7.


Then go to ESPN for more basketball (San Antonio at
Portland) at 10:30 p.m. ET. There’s more on cable, including hockey play-offs
(Montreal-Boston at 7 p.m. ET, Anaheim-Los Angeles at 9:30) on NBC Sports.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” 9
p.m., CNN.


Imagine spending a pleasant day with Shakespeare, Mantle or
da Vinci. That’s how Bourdain felt when he finally met Chef Paul Bocuse, the
88-year-old master of modern French cuisine. Soon, he was sampling Bocuse’s
best dishes … and even duck-hunting, with Bocuse as the driver.


This rerun – beautifully written, as usual – is also at
midnight. Other reruns visit Mexico City (10 p.m. and 1 a.m.) and Las Vegas (8
and 11 p.m.). The next new hour is 9 p.m. Sunday, visiting Russia.


Other choices include:


“Titanic” (1997), 6:45-10:55 p.m., Oxygen; or “Raiders of
the Lost Ark” (1981), 9-11:30 p.m., Syfy. Here are rare and splendid moment,
when master filmmakers had stories that are broadly popular.


“Mike & Molly,” 8 p.m., CBS. Suspicious of her
neighbors, Molly gets her mom involved with spying. Also in this rerun, the
guys discuss their dreams and aspirations during a poker game.


“Mom’s Day Away,” 8 p.m. and midnight, Hallmark. Ignored by
her husband and kids as Mother’s Day approaches, a woman (Bonnie Somerville) samples
a friend’s high-flying life.


“The Millers,” 8:30 p.m., CBS.  With their parents separated, Nathan and his
sister (Will Arnett and Jayma Mays) each think the other has the easier parent
to house. In this rerun, they switch.


“Da Vinci’s Demons,” 9 p.m., Starz. These journeys have
turned out to be dangerous and ill-advised. In South America, Leonardo faces
execution and his friends face servitude; back in Italy, Lorenzo and his
ex-lover Lucrezia separately face peril. Tonight’s final 15 minutes offer a
spectacular blend of this show’s key elements – action, sex, inventiveness and gifted
actors given splendid dialog.


“Saturday Night Live,” 10 p.m. and 11:29 p.m., NBC. First is
a shortened rerun of the Seth Rogen episode, a good one. Then Charlize Theron
hosts, with the Black Keys as music guests; one assumes it will be better than
last week’s ordeal with Andrew Garfield.


TV column for Friday, May 9



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Hawaii Five-0” season-finale, 9 p.m.,
CBS.


Nick Jonas seems like such a pleasant chap when he’s with
the pop-idol Jonas Brothers; now he returns as Ian Wright, evil genius. The
daughter of Grover (Chi McBride) has been kidnapped; to get him back, Wright
says, Grover must help steal $100 million.


And there’s another villain on the way, to wrap up this fourth
season. Wo Fat has escaped.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “24,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.


If you missed the opener, here’s a second chance before the
next episode Monday. With one exception – the show runs only 12 hours – this edition
is pure “24”: A world-changing story takes place in one day; it’s wildly improbable,
yet immensely riveting.


Jack Bauer has been on the run for four years. Suddenly,
violently, he surfaces in London, just as the president (William Devane)
arrives with his daughter (Kim Raver), Jack’s ex-lover. A suspicious CIA agent
(Yvonne Strahavski of “Chuck”) may be Jack’s equal.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” 8 p.m.,
CMT; “Key & Peele,” 9-10:30 p.m., Comedy Central.


Over the past two years, Keenan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele
have injected TV with fresh wit. Their humor – sometimes racial and often very
clever – works wonderfully in sketches and beyond.


In a new “Line” tonight, Key has his second guest stop. Then
(after a “Line” rerun at 8:30), switch to cable for three reruns of the duo.
And at 11:30, catch a “Playing House” rerun; Key is a regular as Mark.


Other choices include:


“Traffic” (2000), 5:45 p.m., Sundance; or “Training Day”
(2001), 8 p.m., TNT. It’s an Oscar-winners night. In “Day,” Denzel Washington –
usually the good guy – won for playing a corrupt cop; “Traffic” won for director
Steven Soderbergh and supporting actor Benicio Del Toro, plus its editing and
adapted script.


“Unforgettable,” 8 p.m., CBS. Why do fictional versions of
high school reunions so often include murder? Aren’t most real reunions
murder-free? Anyway, that happens again, this time when Carrie goes back home.
Since she remembers every detail of her life, she has lots to ponder in
figuring what happened.


Movies, 8 p.m., cable. You can choose just about any genre –
action (Paul Walker’s 2001 “Fast and the Furious” on Bravo), animation (“Tangled,”
2010, on Disney), broad comedy (“Anchorman,” 2004, on TBS or “Bad Teacher,”
2011, on FX) or just cute (“Puppy Love,” 2012, on Hallmark).


“Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. A double-murder case leads to more: A
father-and-son duo has arrived, with an important artifact to deliver to “the
Portland Grimm.”


“Blue Bloods” season-finale, 10 p.m., CBS. After probing a
case he was supposed to ignore, Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is confined to modified
duty. Suspecting a cover-up, he goes to his dad (Tom Selleck), the police commissioner;
they may be onto something big.


“Hannibal,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. Jack and his team learn the
truth about Freddie Lounds’ disappearance. Also, Alana worries about Will’s
mental health; Mason Verger worries that his sister will usurp him.


TV column for Thursday, May 8



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Two and a Half Men” season-finale, 9:01
p.m., CBS.


Last week’s funny episode ended with Alan realizing that
Gretchen (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) is his ideal – someone who admires how he’s
freeloaded for 11 years. She’ll marry him … if admits to Larry (her brother and
Lyndsey’s boyfriend) that he’s not Jeff Strongman; instead, he’s Lyndsey’s
ex-boyfriend.


Now Larry starts to absorb this. Wedding plans wobble
forward … and Gretchen’s ex-husband arrives, played by real-life husband Brad
Paisley, the country star. There’s potential here.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: American Comedy Awards, 9-11 p.m., NBC.


George Schlatter, the “Laugh-in” producer, figured this out
28 years ago: Award showas are best when funny people win; if you create awards
strictly for comedy, the laughs won’t end.


The show spent 15 years on ABC, Fox and cable, then
vanished. Now NBC (which is also bringing back “Last Comic Standing” this
summer) has the rights, added a Johnny Carson Award for Bill Cosby. It’s a
great idea … tarnished because CBS shows are staying away. For this first year,
the TV nominees are so-so, the movies are lame, but the stand-up comedy categories
are first-rate. Expect some laughs.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Jerry Maguire” (1996), 8-11 p.m.,
AMC; “A Thousand Clowns” (1965), 10 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies.


Comedies really should have clever scripts, you know. These
two had dandy, Oscar-nominated ones.


For “Clowns,” Herb Gardner adapted his own play about a free
spirit who might have to compromise for his nephew and a lovable woman; Jason
Robards, Barry Gordon and Barbara Harris are perfect. For “Maguire,” Cameron
Crowe beautifully directed his own script and gave Tom Cruise a great supporting
cast, including Renee Zellweger, young Jonathan Lipnicki and Oscar-winner Cuba
Gooding Jr.


Other choices include:


“Grey’s Anatomy,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC. In last week’s episode
(rerunning at 8 p.m.), Derek tackled a difficult surgery with his sister Amelia
(Caterina Scorsone). Now he’s out of town and she tells Meredith what she
things of this Seattle experience. Also, Callie gets bad news and Bailey faces
consequences.


“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Before watching the comedy-award
show, catch TV’s best comedy. Tonight, Penny has a role in an awful film,
causing her to re-evaluate her life.


Pro-football draft, 8 p.m., ESPN. Here’s the first round of
the NFL draft. Barring a late move, Houston starts by choosing defensive dynamo
Jadeveon Clowney or quarterback “Johnny Football” Manziel. Then it’s St. Louis
(which also drafts 13
th), Jacksonville and Cleveland (also going 26th).


“The Millers,” 8:31 p.m., CBS. One night after playing a
dead-serious lawyer on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” the talented
Jeffrey Tambor returns as Nathan’s boss, now attracted to Nathan’s mom.


“American Idol,” 9 p.m., Fox. The show’s tradition has tonight’s
three survivors getting home-town visits. The loser joins a stellar list of
fourth-finishers, with Chris Daughtry, Tamyra Gray and LaToya London.


“Surviving Jack,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. Frankie tries alcohol,
Rachel wants birth-control and their parents fume.


“Elementary,” 10:01 p.m., CBS. An ordinary-seeming murder
case is suddenly tied into international intrigue and British intelligence.
Also, a shaken Watson ponders her links to Sherlock and his brother.


TV column for Wednesday, May 7



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

The show is down to its final four, after reminding us that
the judges’ reprieve is only temporary.


Last week, Sam Woolf was ousted anew, four weeks after
judges gave him their “save.” His fifth-place finish matched the first saved
singer, Matt Giraud in 2009. Others have finished sixth (Casey Abrams), fourth
(Michael Lynche) and second (Jessica Sanchez). Now the survivors -- Caleb
Johnson, Jessica Meuse, Jena Irene and Alex Preston -- sing of break-ups and
make-ups.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Criminal Minds” and “CSI: Crime Scene
Investigation,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS.


Seasons are wrapping up now. First, “Minds” starts the two-week
finale of its ninth season; Texas prostitutes are being killed (possibly for
religious reasons) and investigators’ lives are endangered.


Then “CSI: ends its 14th year, with a murder
linked to a long-ago heist. That introduces a retired lawman (Treat Williams)
and marks the exit of Captain Brass, who tries to reunite with his troubled
daughter.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Mixology,” 9:31 p.m., ABC.


Sleek and smart, this comedy keeps getting better, even as
its audience remains small. With three episodes left, we can start to guess who
might end up together at the end of all the bar flirting.


Now the most cynical people, Bruce and Maya, are thrown
together. She’s alone at the bar, because her friend Liv is obsessing on a
droll Englishman. Sweet-spirited Tom likes Maya, but moves slowly; Bruce says
he’ll fake-flirt with her to impress Jessica. Stick around, because it wraps
into a clever plot.


Other choices include:


“Survivor,” 8 p.m., CBS. This is one of the few shows in
which beauty doesn’t prevail. Last week, Jefra Bland – the final survivor from
the “Beauty” tribe – was ousted. Now, two weeks from the season finale, three
from “Brains” and three from “Brawn” try to crack a code and reach the final
five.


“The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. Frankie tries “office hours,”
only dealing with kids’ requests from 5-6 p.m.


“Beethoven” (1992) and “Beethoven’s 2nd” (1993), 8 and 10
p.m., AMC. The first film has a giant St. Bernard bring havoc to an ordinary
family; the second adds her pups. Both provide family fun, with lots of sight
gags and occasional cuteness.


“Suburgatory,” 8:30 p.m., ABC. Plans for the teen wedding of
Lisa and Malik are nudging forward. Tessa is planning it on a mini-budget and
her dad might be needed when Malik’s family boycotts the wedding.


“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC. With their wedding budget
soaring, Mitchell and Cam might sell some prized possessions. Also, Jay, Gloria
and Manny challenge each other to go outside their comfort zones.


“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” 9 p.m., NBC.
Usually a worthy show, “SVU” reverts to its ugliest habit – barely disguised celebrity
cases. Despite a disclaimer at the beginning and a few switches, it is clearly
working on Woody Allen, with a tad of Roman Polanski near the end. Bradley
Whitford and Samantha Mathis are excellent, but this is still an underhanded
assault, under the guise of fiction.


“The Americans,” 10 p.m., FX. With three episodes left this
season, things tighten. At the FBI, Stan’s close to discovering the Russian
spies – including his neighbors. Their contact is targeted by a fierce pursuer.
Stan’s marriage is crumbling at the same time that his lover is being
threatened by her Soviet bosses. It’s a strong hour that also adds the talented
Zeljko Ivanek as a bitter and sickly engineer.