TV column for Monday, May 5

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

For eight straight years, Jack Bauer saved officials, his
loved ones and (quite often) the world – always in one day and barely in time.
Then “24” quit and he disappeared.

Four years later, he’s back in a 12-hour version that again
covers 24 hours of story. We’re instantly reminded how preposterous the stories
are; tonight, Jack takes the most circuitous plan possible, needing constant
breaks to survive. We’re also reminded that this doesn’t really matter. Sleekly
conceived and tautly directed by Jon Cassar, this is riveting TV that has us
gleefully suspending disbelief.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “The Blacklist,” 10:01 p.m., NBC.

There are plenty of season-finales tonight, but this one -- the
start of a two-parter – stands out.

Furious about learning that Red was around at the time of
her father’s death, Liz refuses to work with him again; also, she tells the FBI
everything she knows about her husband’s secret life. Red promptly brings in a
case too big for anyone (including Liz) to ignore, leading to next week’s

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Louie,” 10 and 10:30 p.m., FX.

After taking a year off, Louis CK is back with a show that
is even better – and weirder – than before. The stories still offer a
heightened version of his own life – a divorced dad who chats with fellow
comedians (tonight’s poker-game dialog is way too adult for many viewers) and
is often quite weary.

The first episode is about getting older, complete with bad
back (Charles Grodin plays an awful doctor) and iffy sex life; it manages to
tie things together in a wonderfully Seinfeldian way. Appropriately, Jerry
Seinfeld is in the second episode, playing a cruel version of himself. That sparks
a bizarre adventure involving a gorgeous model, played by Yvonne Strahovski
(“Chuck”), who’s also the new “24” antagonist.

Other choices include:

“The Voice,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. The eight finalists push for
a spot in next week’s semi-finals.

“So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Last week,
NeNe Leakes was ousted and Amy Purdy, the Paralympic snowboard star, was
hospitalized with a shoulder injury. Now we learn if she’ll continue.

“2 Broke Girls,” 8 p.m., CBS. It seems that Caroline missed
a test and never graduated from high school. In this season-finale, Max wants
to help her get her degree and re-connect with her mother.

“The Tomorrow People,” 9 p.m., CW. Here’s another
season-finale, with Stephen feeling he may be too late to prevent the end of
the human race. If he’s right, it won’t be much of a second season.

“Mike & Molly,” 9 p.m., CBS. Molly spots an apparent
tryst between her sister Victoria and Mike’s police partner Carl. She’s not
sure if she should tell Mike.

“Warehouse 13,” 9 p.m., Syfy. After three mostly serious
weeks, “Warehouse” has one of its goofiest detours – with an unwilling Pete and
Myka propelled inside a Spanish-language soap opera. It’s fun for a moment, but
we look forward to seeing the show raise its stakes in its next (and final) two

“Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). The
Jayson Blair story defies all logic: A gifted reporter, working for a great
newspaper (the New York Times), fabricated stories. This compelling film
skillfully blends Blair, his colleagues and the El Paso reporter who found her
words under his byline.

“Bates Motel,” 10-11:02 p.m., A&E. One more
season-finale: Romero and Dylan try to wrap up the drug war, while Norman feels
haunted by his past.

TV column for Sunday, May 4

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox.

For 549 episodes, the Simpsons have been comfortably
cartooned. Now they become Lego figures.

They seem happy in a world “where everything fits together
and no one gets hurt.” The bully can be taken apart and put in a drawer … as bullies
should be; when Bart breaks the school, he simply rebuilds it. Still, Homer
recalls being “a hideous flesh monster.” The result is fairly funny and very

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Resurrection” season-finale, 9 p.m.,

After a huge start, this show dwindled to kinda-good ratings.
Now it ends its season in crisis: More of the formerly dead are returning; the
sheriff has his own scheme and Arcadia is in a state of siege.

And yes, the dead will be with us for a while. ABC is
expected to renew “Resurrection”; meanwhile, Sundance will have a second season
of the brilliant French series “The Returned” … and A&E is re-doing “The
Returned” as an English-language series.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Veep,” 10:30 p.m., HBO.

 A fairly good show
for two seasons, “Veep” is a great one in the third, as Vice-President Selena
Meyer runs for president. Once a comedy about frustration, it’s now about raw ambition.

Tonight, Selena finally chooses a campaign manager. Staffers
obsess on this … except for her press secretary, who’s consumed by a fertility
project with his wife. There are collisions with an opponent and blundering
Jonah. This is sharp comedy, a perfect fit for John Oliver’s new show, which
follows at 11.

Other choices include:

“Once Upon a Time,” 8 p.m., ABC. In Storybrook, people fret
that Zelena will steal Mary Margaret’s baby when it’s born. And in Oz, a girl
from Kansas confuses things for Zelena and the other witches.

“The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS. During jury duty, Alicia meets
a charming entrepreneur.

“Game of Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO. While the Lannisters scheme
to fill the power void, Jon Snow starts his new mission and Daenerys plots her
next move.

“Nurse Jackie,” 9 p.m., Showtime. At home, life is the usual
mess, as Jackie meets her ex-husband’s fiancé. At work, however, there are
moving stories about two troubled patents, one a baby.

“Californication,” 9:30, Showtime. One night before doing heavy
dramatic duty in the new “24,” Mary Lynn Rajskub has a funny role here, as a
dark and dreary TV writer.

“The Bletchley Circle,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).
Millie (Rachael Stirling) is free from her captors, who expect her to do
black-market work for them. Instead, she’s desperate to stop their
human-trafficking; her friends, all former wartime code-breakers, can help.
It’s a strong end to a good story.

“Mad Men,” 10 p.m., AMC. Pete underestimates Peggy (as
people often do); Roger has trouble at home.

“David Spade: My Fake Problems,” 10 p.m., Comedy Central.
Here’s a so-so stand-up hour.

“Silicon Valley,” 10 p.m., HBO. This episode is erratic, as
usual, but ends cleverly. It also has a great scene, as the high-tech wizards
struggle with new communication methods.

TV column for Saturday, May 3

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

There are only three weekends left in the “sweeps” ratings
period (and in the official TV season), so “SNL” has fresh episodes. Reruns
will be confined to 10 p.m.; the 11:29 shows are new.

Tonight, actor Andrew Garfield hosts, one day after his
second “Amazing Spider-Man” film opened; Coldplay is the music guest. Next are
Charlize Theron and The Black Keys; the May 17 season-finale has “SNL” alumnus
Andy Samberg, with St. Vincent as music guest.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Orphan Black,” 9 p.m., BBC America.

Sarah has her daughter back, but that’s little comfort. On
the run with Sarah’s foster brother Felix, they hide in a cabin and meet a key
person from the past.

It’s another terrific hour, led by Tatiana Maslany’s perfect
work as Sarah and as all her clones. Watch her tonight as Alison, a homemaker
starring in a community musical … and Cosima, a brainy doctoral student … and
others, from a feral captive to a dying cancer victim. Each has depth and

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “In the Heat of the Night” (1967), 8-10
p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies.

As racism keeps returning to current news, it’s a good time
to see one of the all-time great films.

Sidney Poitier plays a big-city police detective. Visiting
his family in the South, he becomes entwined in a murder case – first as a
suspect and then working with a bigoted sheriff (Rod Steiger). Two great actors
collide brilliantly, backed by Norman Jewison’s direction and Quincy Jones’
score. The result won well-deserved Oscars for best picture and for Steiger,
the script, the editing and the sound.

Other choices include:

“Transformers” (2007), 8-11 p.m., ABC. All this teen (Shia
LaBeouf) wanted was an old car and maybe a chance to meet girls. His car turned
out to be a robot, fighting to save the planet; the girl (Megan Fox) turned out
to be hot. A clever script is paired with director Michael Bay’s usual flair
for action,.

“The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox. Here’s a rerun of the “Homeland”
take-off, with Kristen Wiig as the jumpy federal agent. It’s followed by a “24”
preview at 8:30 and, at 9, a rerun of Monday’s “Following” finale.

“2 Broke Girls,” 8 p.m., CBS. This rerun is from a year ago,
after the women’s cupcake shop had failed. They agree to deep-clean a hidden
part of the diner and find something that revives their hopes.

“Friends with Better Lives,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. Newly divorced,
Will (James Van Der Beek) isn’t used to the singles scene; Kate is, so she
helps him. Also in this rerun, Andi’s pregnancy heightens her libido and her
sense of smell … leading to a funny discovery about Jules (Brooklyn Decker).

“The Mentalist,” 9 p.m., CBS. Here’s a rerun of the episode
that re-booted the show. Having caught Red John, Patrick Jane has found peace
and a girlfriend (Emily Swallow); then the FBI offers him a job.

“Da Vinci’s Demons,” 9 p.m., Starz; reruns at 10 and 11,
previous episode reruns at 8. In South America, Leonardo sees lethal danger; in
Italy, Clarice gets help from Carlo and Lucrezia attracts the sultan’s son.

“Fargo,” 10 p.m., FX. TV critics – a cantankerous bunch –
seem to agree on this one: The TV version of “Fargo” is superb, with quiet wit,
quick surprises and wonderful characters. There’s still time to catch up,
before the fourth episode airs Tuesday. The first three rerun today at 10 p.m.,
11:36 p.m. and 12:50 a.m.

TV column for Friday, May 2

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Shark Tank: Swimming with Sharks” and
“Shark Tank,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC.

The Friday comedies have ended their seasons now, so ABC
will doubles its sharks for a while.

First, Lara Spencer hosts a look at the show. The six investors
talk about each other and we get follow-ups on previous entrepreneurs, from a
20-year-old with her sugar-scrub product to former football pro Bubba Baker,
with Bubba’s Boneless Ribs. We also learn which product has been the most
successful; then the new pitches begin, including party tableware that turns
into compost.

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE II: “Hawaii Five-0” and “Blue Bloods,” 9
and 10 p.m., CBS.

A week before their season finales, both shows try big

First, McGarrett heads to Afghanistan with Catherine, to rescue
a boy who once saved his life. Then the police commissioner (Tom Selleck) leads
a hunt for an undercover cop’s killer. Also, his granddaughter Nicky gets help
from her uncle Jamie, searching for a former classmate who is living on the

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Matilda” (1996) and “Cloudy with a
Chance of Meatballs” (2009), 7 and 9 p.m., ABC Family.

Two popular kids’ books were adapted into movies, in starkly
different styles.

“Meatballs” is light and animated, as a boy’s invention (turning
water into food) oversucceeds. “Matilda” started with Roald Dahl’s gloomy tale
of a mistreated girl with special powers. Danny DeVito directed it brilliantly;
this may be too dark for some kids, but many adults will savor its wit and

Other choices include:

“Unforgettable,” 8 p.m., CBS. It’s always tough to be stuck in
an elevator with a mayor, especially when a cybercrook threatens to kill both
of you. (Cybercrooks are good at maneuvering elevators.) Now Carrie must save
her boss Elliot and, of course, the mayor.

“Thor” (2011), 8-11 p.m., FX. When they began making their
own movies, the Marvel people skipped the usual action filmmakers. This is
directed by a gifted Shakespearean (Kenneth Branagh), with supporting roles for
gifted stage people (Tom Hiddleston,  Colm
Feore) and an Oscar-winner (Anthony Hopkins).

Radio Disney Music Awards, 8:15 to 9:45 p.m., Disney
Channel. Alongside the awards (One Direction, Justin Timberlake, etc.), this
rerun has performances by Austin Mahone, Ariana Grande, Fifth Harmony, R5, Becky
G and Zendaya.

“Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. Trubel (Jacqueline Tuboni) is being
introduced to this grim world. When Nick and Hank take her on a police ride
with Hank, a murder chase strikes a chord.

“Mountain Monsters,” 10 p.m., Destination America. On the
eastern edge of West Virginia, Pocahontas County people claim to have seen a
1,200-pound aquatic fire creature. The team searches.

“Hannibal,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. Will Graham seems increasingly
willing to put his mind in dark places … and to let Hannibal Lecter guide him
there.  Meanwhile, Jack leads an FBI
probe of another nasty tableau.

Roast, 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central. In this rerun, James
Franco is roasted by Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, Sarah Silverman, host Seth Rogen
and more.

TV column for Thursday, May 1

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

This has been a dandy combination – TV’s best show and one of
the all-time great comedians.

Bob Newhart won his first Emmy, at 83, for his first “Big
Bang” appearance; now his third one starts with the news that his character
(Professor Proton) is dead. Even then, the comedy continue in dream scenes with
Sheldon (Jim Parsons). Two Emmy-winners, masters of dry comedy, blend

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “iHeart Radio Music Awards,” 8-11 p.m.,

The “iHeart” Web site has landed big stars for its CW
specials. Now it moves up to NBC, with performances by Drake, Pharrell,
Pitbull, Kendrick Lamar, Thirty Seconds to Mars and two of NBC’s “Voice”
judges, Blake Shelton and Shakira.

Nominated for artist of the year are Justin Timberlake, Maroon
5, Imagine Dragons, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Rihanna -- who sings on two
of the best-single nominees, “Stay” (with Mikky Ekko) and Eminem’s “The Monster.”
Also nominated are Timberlake’s “Mirrors,” Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” and Drake’s
“Hold On, We’re Going Home.”

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Life Below Zero,” 9 p.m., National

Preparing for winter is imposing when you’re above the
Arctic Circle. We see Sue Aikens shutting down the hunting camp where she’ll
now spend seven months alone … and Erik Salitan, a guide during
hunting-and-fishing season, spending his off-time checking traps … and Andy
Bassich hunting beaver.

Then there’s Agnes Hailstone, a native Inupiaq who has a
husband and seven kids. With no grocery store in sight, she hopes to kill a
moose before winter descends. These are interesting lives to follow.

Other choices include:

“Machete,” 7:45 p.m., IFC; “Saint George,” 9 p.m., FX. It’s
an odd night for Danny Trejo. In the movie, he’s a former Mexican officer,
taking blood revenge; in the series, he’s George Lopez’s goofy uncle.

“Grey’s Anatomy,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC. In a change, ABC is
starting with a rerun of the episode that saw Cristina ponder alternate
futures. Then a new episode has her seek Meredith’s advice. Isaiah Washington,
who played her lover Preston Burke until leaving the show in 2007, is a guest

“Two and a Half Men,” 9:01 p.m., CBS. Alan’s new girlfriend (Kimberly
Williams-Paisley) wants him to confess his real identity to Larry. Also, Alden’s
on a road trip with Jenny and Barry.

“Bad Teacher,” 9:31 p.m., CBS. Even when they’re bluntly heavy-handed,
CBS’ comedies tend to be funny. Last week’s debut, alas, was one without the
other. This episode finds Meredith desperate, when a student won’t let her date
her rich father.

“Portlandia” (IFC) and “Sirens” (USA), 10 p.m. Both cable
comedies end their season. The oft-brilliant “Portlandia” sends its characters
to a feminist retreat. The inconsistent “Sirens” finds Johnny upset because
Theresa may leave town for a new job; his solution is to propose.

“Black Box,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. Brilliant and bipolar,
Catherine has confessed her situation to her lover. But will she do the same to
her boss at the hospital, where she’s a gifted neurosurgeon?